Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, September 15, 2011 - 3:00am

Conde Nast, publisher of Vogue, announced plans Wednesday to open a fashion college in London, BBC reported. Initial plans do not call for degrees to be awarded, but officials are in discussion about affiliations with various universities. Topics for courses to be offered include the history of fashion and design, the fashion year, and journalism and business skills related to the fashion industry.

Thursday, September 15, 2011 - 3:00am

The American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday sued Linn State Technical College over its decision to test all of its students for drugs. Administrators at the Missouri college, whose comprehensive drug-testing program is believed to be a first for a public institution, said the approach was justified because many of its students are in programs (such as aircraft maintenance) in which they will operate sometimes dangerous equipment. But the ACLU said that college officials' acknowledgment that they will test students whom they do not suspect of drug use made the program clearly unconstitutional.

Thursday, September 15, 2011 - 3:00am

The Open Society Foundations on Wednesday announced a grant program that will provide $20 million to colleges and universities that integrate debate into the curriculum, across disciplines. "Today’s undergraduates are the first to come of age in a post 9/11 world. Students around the world have few if any recollections of a time before the 'war on terror,' " said a statement from Noel Selegzi, director of the Youth Initiative at the Open Society Foundations. "Debate helps us recognize that public policy is best developed when the force of an argument, and not the argument of force, is most potent."

Thursday, September 15, 2011 - 3:00am

A day after his board approved a plan for yet another round of potential budget cuts, the chancellor of the University System of Georgia told members of the Board of Regents that the 35-campus system needs to study whether merging some campuses might be a more effective way to reduce spending. “I believe it is time for the system to study if campus consolidations are justified and will enhance our ability to serve the people of Georgia at less cost,” Chancellor Hank Huckaby told the regents. Previous such discussions have run into a buzzsaw in Georgia, often because they have involved the possible closure of historically black colleges, inflaming issues of race. Huckaby said that in addition to the study of possible consolidations, the system would examine more closely how it utilizes facilities space on its campuses.

Thursday, September 15, 2011 - 3:00am

The Association of American Universities on Wednesday announced a five-year effort to improve the quality and effectiveness of undergraduate teaching in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, focused on the 61 U.S. and Canadian research universities that are its members but in tandem with similar initiatives in other sectors of higher education. The AAU plan, more details of which can be found here and here, was announced by the group's new president, Hunter S. Rawlings. It seeks to spread the use of existing, successful methods of teaching undergraduates (not just STEM majors) in math and the sciences, through demonstration projects and other means. “A number of our universities are already leading the way in developing and implementing these new ways of teaching," Rawlings said in a news release. "But there is a long way to go, and there is an urgent need to accelerate the process of reform.”

The AAU effort won early praise from several Obama administration officials in a post on the White House's blog.

Thursday, September 15, 2011 - 3:00am

A national survey of college students at four-year colleges and universities has found that many college women are in, or witness to, abusive dating relationships. The findings include the following:

  • 43 percent of dating college women report that they have experienced abusive dating behaviors including physical, sexual, technological, verbal or controlling abuse.
  • 29 percent of college women say they have been in an abusive dating relationship.
  • More than half of college students who report experiencing dating violence said it occurred in college.
  • 58 percent of college students say they wouldn't know how to help someone who is a victim of dating abuse.
  • 38 percent of college students say they wouldn't know how to get help for themselves if they were victims of dating violence.

The survey was released by Love Is Respect, a group that promotes education and policies to promote healthy and non-abusive relationships.

Thursday, September 15, 2011 - 3:00am

Most state directors of community colleges are predicting cuts in state support this year, according to a new survey released today by the University of Alabama Education Policy Center. Other findings:

  • Tuition is expected to increase in most states, with a median projected increase of 5.6 percent -- more than double the inflation rate.
  • A majority of states expect flat funding for state financial aid programs.
  • In 21 states, high unemployment rates have depleted state job training funds for displaced workers.
Thursday, September 15, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Brian Foy of Colorado State University explains his work with a drug that could revolutionize mosquito control in malaria-ravaged areas. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Thursday, September 15, 2011 - 3:00am

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies approved legislation on Wednesday that would fund the National Science Foundation at $6.7 billion in fiscal year 2012 -- 2.8 percent less than the budget for fiscal 2011, and less than the flat-funded NSF budget approved by the House Appropriations Committee in July.

The legislation would also provide $680 million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, $70 million less than in fiscal 2011. It would eliminate funding for Technology Innovation Program grants and the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, which helps organizations -- including colleges -- improve their efficiency and competitiveness.

The full Appropriations Committee will meet to debate and amend the legislation today.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - 3:00am

The programs that train special education teachers for K-12 systems will lose up to half of their faculty members to retirements in the next five years, according to the Special Education Faculty Needs Assessment, a report being issued today by researchers at Claremont Graduate, Vanderbilt and Western Carolina Universities. These retirements pose a significant danger because special education programs already have a shortage of faculty members. The report outlines ways that programs can produce more Ph.D.'s, who in turn can meet the demand for trained teachers for schools.

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