Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

July 8, 2013

Xia Yeliang, an economics professor at Peking University, has confirmed to The South China Morning Post that his department will be voting on whether to expel him. Xia has written and spoken out critically about Chinese government policies. He is currently a visiting professor at Stanford University but plans to return to Beijing to defend his right to speak out and hold a faculty position at Peking University. "This is not coming from Peking University, this is coming from the central leadership," Xia said. "The state of academic freedom is getting worse and worse. Nowadays, you don't have the right to debate anymore. A university is a place that should be free and open."

July 8, 2013

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign  has filed an objection to a unionization bid by faculty members at the University Laboratory High School that the campus runs, The News-Gazette reported. The union organizers say that these faculty members are entitled to collective bargaining. But the university says that these teachers are part of a larger group of non-tenure-track faculty members at Urbana-Champaign, and that any consideration of a union should involve all such instructors, not just those at the high school.

July 8, 2013

Pima Community College has faced a series of controversies and been placed on probation by its accreditor in the last year, all the while generally defending its actions. But The Arizona Daily Star noted that the college's latest report on dealing with its accreditation woes takes a different approach, admitting problems and apologizing for them. Among other things, the college has been accused of ignoring issues of sexual harassment and moving too quickly to change admissions policies. Among the statements in the college's report that the Daily Star highlighted:

  • "We accept full responsibility and say we are profoundly sorry for the serious breaches of integrity."
  • "The era of inattention and heedlessness is over."
  • "We failed to respond quickly and give proper credence to allegations of sexual misconduct."
  • "Our constituents, stakeholders and colleagues spoke, but we did not listen. For this, we are truly sorry."

 

 

July 5, 2013

WASHINGTON — After protests from historically black colleges that new underwriting standards for Parent PLUS loans have hurt their institutions, the Education Department has told colleges it will simplify the appeals process for students who are denied loans but stands by its new criteria. In a notice sent to institutions, the department announced it would create lists of applicants who are eligible to appeal loan denials and inform applicants by e-mail if they qualify. 

Since the department tightened underwriting standards in 2011, 400,000 parents have been denied loans. The denials have fallen disproportionately on historically black colleges, leaders of those institutions have argued in asking the Obama administration to reconsider.

July 5, 2013

The University of California has abandoned plans for large, widespread increases in graduate and professional school tuition, The Los Angeles Times reported. The original plan would have resulted in major increases for about 14,000 students. Now only about 800 students, primarily in nursing, will be affected. And those who still face an increase would see costs go up by about $619 a year, not the $2,700 originally planned. Governor Jerry Brown had strongly opposed the originally planned increases.

July 5, 2013

The U.S. Department of State strengthened its warning against travel to Egypt on Wednesday and is now urging American citizens to leave the country, likely prompting another round of evacuations of American students on study abroad programs. The Arabic Overseas Flagship Program, which enrolls 18 students from five American universities, announced that it was relocating from Egypt to Morocco earlier this week.

Among the other evacuations so far, a spokeswoman for AMIDEAST, a nonprofit organization that runs study abroad programs in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, and Tunisia, said that all 26 of its students in Egypt have left, with many electing to join AMIDEAST programs in other countries. ABC News reported that Fulbright program participants are being required to leave the country. Southern California Public Radio reported that the University of California at Davis has brought home a group of ten students on a faculty-led study abroad program focused on Egyptian authors and filmmakers, as well as the faculty member and her son. The Austin American-Statesman reported that 30 students on the University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Arabic Study Abroad program, which is based at the American University in Cairo, are being flown to a safe place. The program will determine, after six days, whether it is safe to return to Egypt.

The American University in Cairo, which originally had 95 American students enrolled this summer, is not requiring students to leave, a spokeswoman said. Students there have the option of taking their courses in their dormitory or, if they choose to evacuate, completing their studies online. The university's two campuses, in Tahrir Square and New Cairo, remain closed through Saturday.

July 5, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Tal Ezer of Old Dominion University explains why one section of the Atlantic coast is more vulnerable to sea level rise than others. And if you missed Thursday's Academic Minute (on what makes a good citizen) because of the Independence Day holiday, you can catch up on it here. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

July 5, 2013

Lawmakers in Oregon have passed legislation authorizing a study and pilot of the idea of replacing tuition at public colleges and universities with commitments by students to repay a small percentage of future income to the state, The New York Times reported. In Oregon, a class at Portland State University did extensive research on the idea. The idea has also been much discussed (but without legislative action comparable to Oregon's) in California.

July 3, 2013

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker vetoed a budget provision on Sunday that would have kicked the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism off of the University of Wisconsin’s campus and barred any university employee from working with the nonprofit group. Walker said since the journalism center is a private group, relationships between it and the university should be addressed by the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents, not lawmakers in the state budget, according to the Journal Sentinel. The veto comes as a relief to Greg Downey, the director of the School of Journalism at UW-Madison, who fought to reverse the Joint Finance Committee’s budget provision after it was introduced in early June. On his blog, Downey wrote a blog post titled “Ten things to consider if you find your research, teaching, or service under political attack,” in which he explains the lessons he learned from this experience.

 

July 3, 2013

About a month after being banned from postseason competition, the baseball, volleyball, football and men’s basketball teams at Alabama State University have been cleared to play, after the National Collegiate Athletic Association reviewed new data from the institution. The teams had initially been punished for failing to meet the NCAA’s minimum Academic Progress Rate, a score based on athletes’ eligibility, retention and graduation rates. The historically black university accounted for four of the 18 teams banned from postseason play – the NCAA’s harshest punishment for missing APR benchmarks, and one handed down most often to HBCUs – more than any other institution.

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