Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, June 15, 2012 - 3:00am

A panel of finance experts met Thursday at an event sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute – called “Which way out? Confronting the problems of student loans” – to discuss increasing federal, institutional and student responsibility to combat massive student loan debt and high rates of default.

The panel comprised Richard George, chairman, president and CEO of the Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation, Art Hauptman, an independent public policy consultant specializing in higher education finance, and Edward Pinto and Alex Pollock, two AEI scholars focusing on housing and financial policies. Richard Vedder, an economics professor at Ohio University, moderated the event, and Bill Bennett, who was secretary of education under President Reagan, delivered an opening presentation.

The refrain of the discussion – that higher education institutions need to have “skin in the game” by paying a penalty when their students default on loans – is a familiar one in discussions of how to keep colleges from reaping all of the benefits and none of the costs of high tuition rates.

George also proposed that “vulnerable cohorts,” students more likely to drop out of college and default on their student loans, should not be allowed to borrow until they have demonstrated academic persistence toward finishing a degree; until that point, colleges should carry the cost burden for students. He said if colleges participated in this campaign that their “skin in the game” would carry less risk, as students more likely to default on their loans would have been weeded out before being allowed to borrow.

Bennett said it’s time to subject higher education to the same level of scrutiny given to K-12 education: “It’s time to look at the whole enterprise of higher education,” he said. “I expect resistance to that, but the questions are there, and more are coming.”

Thursday, June 14, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Dr. Jennifer Clack of the University of Cambridge reveals how recent discoveries are providing paleontologists with a better understanding of the development of early tetrapods. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

Thursday, June 14, 2012 - 3:00am

Many Greeks are furious with Germany over its stance on the economic crisis in Greece, but Greek students are flocking to German language courses, The Times of London reported. Students are studying at German programs in Greece or traveling to German-speaking countries to learn the language, hoping to stay and find a good job. "I think the situation in Germany and the way they live is of high quality," said Elena Mavromatti, a law student at the University of Athens, who is taking advanced night-classes at the Germanika language school.

 

Thursday, June 14, 2012 - 3:00am

Statements and rumors of all kinds are flying over the decision of the University of Virginia board to oust Teresa Sullivan as president. The decision, announced Sunday, stunned faculty leaders and many others who thought Sullivan was off to a strong start in her nearly two years in office:

  • The Council of Chairs and Directors released a letter blasting the way events have transpired. The letter said that these academic leaders were "very pleased" with Sullivan's "superb" leadership, and that they were stunned by her ouster, and frustrated by the lack of faculty knowledge of the reasons behind the board's action. The letter called for "a full airing" of the issues.
  • A petition is gathering support calling for the board to reverse itself and to keep Sullivan.
  • Helen Dragas, the rector (board chair) released a letter to the faculty in which she said that "the Board of Visitors understands the serious concern and anxiety raised by the announcement of President Sullivan’s agreement to step down. We comprehend how deeply the entire University family feels a sense of loss and distress at what appeared to be an abrupt turn of events." However, citing confidentiality requirements, Dragas said she could not detail the issues that divided Sullivan and the board. She did, however, say that "there was ongoing dialogue with the President over an extended period of time, regarding matters for which we are responsible. These include ensuring the long-term health and well-being of the University through development of a credible statement of strategic direction and a long-term resource plan."

 

 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012 - 3:00am

Slate published an analysis of the relative popularity (as topics to academics) of various pop culture topics. Judging popularity by the total papers, books and essays produced by academics, the most popular topic (by far) is "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," followed by "Alien Quadrilogy," and "The Wire." Far behind is "The Simpsons."

Wednesday, June 13, 2012 - 4:23am

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that the University of Cincinnati's limits on protests or political activity outside a "free speech zone" are too restrictive, Cincinnati.com reported. "It is simply unfathomable that a UC student needs to give the university advance notice of an intent to gather signatures for a ballot initiative,” the judge wrote. “There is no danger to public order arising out of students walking around campus with clipboards seeking signatures.” The ruling barred the university from using its existing policy, but permitted the university to propose new rules.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Daniel Abrams of Northwestern University explains why the level of left handedness is a constant across most societies. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012 - 4:26am

North Dakota residents voted 2-to-1 on Tuesday to let the University of North Dakota stop using the "Fighting Sioux" name, The Bismarck Tribune reported. The vote appears to pave the way for the end to years of debate over a nickname/mascot that some Native American groups find offensive, and that the National Collegiate Athletic Association wants the university to retire. State legislation had barred the university from doing so, but the vote clears the way to end that law.

 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012 - 3:00am

The City University of New York is making big strides on community college student achievement with its Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) effort, according to a report released today by MDRC, an education and social policy research firm. The program, begun in 2005, is an attempt to improve graduation rates. It is aimed at students with remedial needs, and requires participants to enroll full-time in exchange for enhanced support. The study found that it boosts student retention, credits earned and success in remediation -- with a 15 percent increase in students who successfully finish their remedial coursework.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012 - 3:00am

Career Education Corporation is responding to a new inquiry from a national accreditor related to job placement rates, according to a corporate filing by the company. The Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges has asked the company, which owns 90 for-profit college campuses, to "show cause" for why accreditation should not be withdrawn from 10 of its institutions. The inquiry stems from the company's earlier acknowledgment that it lacked sufficient documentation for some job placement data. That revelation led to a similar inquiry by another national accreditor -- the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools -- which later cleared the company.

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