Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

July 17, 2015

About a third of the 119 students participating in a scholarship program that brings Palestinian students to medical school in Venezuela have dropped out, causing tensions in the Palestinian-Venezuelan relationship, the Associated Press reported. Students complained of a lack of rigor in the program.

July 17, 2015

In today's Academic Minute, Martin Krieger, professor of planning at the University of Southern California, provides a close look at the nature of innovation, creativity and the creation of entrepreneurs. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

July 16, 2015

Liberty University, which enrolls more students than any other private nonprofit college, attracts many Republican candidates who give speeches about the dangers of government spending. But The Washington Post noted that Liberty's huge growth has been fueled by federal student aid and loans. In the late 1990s, Liberty was receiving less than $20 million in funds from student aid and loans. Students at the university now receive more than $800 million in federal assistance.

July 16, 2015

Legal Aid of North Carolina on Wednesday announced the settlement of a suit against Shaw University, which admitted that it rescinded an offer of admission to a student after learning that he had a serious disability. The Education Department's Office for Civil Rights also backed the student, and the university agreed to change policies and to admit the student, meet his needs, and pay the student and his family for the expenses they face while preparing to enroll. The student plans to enroll in the fall. WRAL News reported that the student has cerebral palsy.

July 16, 2015

Nike will pay the University of Michigan a total of $169 million in cash and merchandise over 11 years for the exclusive rights to equip its sports teams, The Detroit News reported. The deal was announced last week, but Michigan revealed the terms of the arrangement on Wednesday. Under the deal, which begins in 2016 and runs through 2027 (with a university option to extend it for four more years), Michigan will receive about $122 million in cash in addition to the apparel and equipment for its 31 varsity teams.

The contract replaces one with Adidas that was worth $8.2 million a year, about half of the new arrangement. The existing deal was the biggest for any public university, although the University of Notre Dame's with Under Armour was reportedly worth $90 million. The Portland Business Journal keeps a database of such arrangements.

July 16, 2015

The University of the Witwatersrand, one of South Africa's top universities, announced Tuesday that it will not bring charges against Mcebo Dlamini, a former student leader who in April wrote on his Facebook page that he loved Hitler. The remark was followed by interviews in which Dlamini defended his admiration for the Nazi dictator, saying that he was a "leader" who "uplifted the spirit" of Germans and improved the country's economy. Jewish groups in South Africa called for the university to punish Dlamini, who lost his student government position the previous year for unrelated reasons. South Africa's Constitution exempts hate speech from the normal protections of free speech -- and many in the country said that praising Hitler was hate speech.

The university took a different view on the legal issue, while also criticizing the praise for Hitler. "On the basis of existing case evidence, the legal office found that Mr. Dlamini's utterances did not breach the exceptions to the Constitution regarding freedom of speech. There are grounds for him to be charged for failing to meet his fiduciary requirements as [student government] president. However, given the fact that he has already been removed from this capacity, the university does not deem it appropriate to charge him in this regard," said a statement from the university. "Obviously, the university still holds the view that Mr. Dlamini's remarks were abhorrent and not in standing with the values of this institution. The university remains embarrassed that one of its own could have made such comments. However, given its commitment to freedom of speech as espoused in the Constitution, the university is committed to providing a space for the free exchange of ideas, whether or not it agrees with those ideas."

July 16, 2015

The United States has no national policy on foreign language study in elementary and secondary education, let alone in higher education. A new study by the Pew Research Center shows just how different European nations are in this respect -- just about all require children going through schools to learn one foreign language, while more than 20 require students to learn two foreign languages.

July 16, 2015

The American Council on Education this week announced that 15 more colleges have joined an alternative credit consortium the higher-education umbrella group created last year. The new institutions will join 25 other colleges -- collectively representing a broad swath of higher education -- that have agreed to accept all or most of the transfer credit students seek after successfully completing courses from a council-created pool of about 100 low-cost online courses. The pool includes courses offered by online institutions and nontraditional providers. ACE is collecting data and tracking success rates of students who transfer in with consortium-approved course credits.

"This project already is yielding enormous benefits, adding to our body of knowledge about the most effective ways to go about increasing the number of Americans able to earn a college degree or credential by using education, training and life experiences gained outside of a formal higher education classroom," said Molly Corbett Broad, ACE's president, in a written statement.

July 16, 2015

Drake University announced Wednesday that it is dropping the SAT/ACT requirement for undergraduate applicants with a 3.0 high school grade point average. Those who opt not to submit test scores will need to be interviewed by an admissions staff member, either on campus or through video. Tom Delahunt, vice president for admission and student financial planning, said in a statement: "The test-flexible option ensures that applicants are able to showcase strengths and attributes that test scores cannot reflect."

July 16, 2015

In today's Academic Minute, Lior Shamir, a professor of computer science at Lawrence Technological University, discusses his work to improve the creative intelligence of computers. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

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