Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

July 2, 2013

A letter from deans at Howard University decries "financial mismanagement" at the institution, including the use of "inaccurate, misleading data" to make decisions on cuts, The Washington Post reported. The deans blame Robert M. Tarola, an independent contractor is senior vice president for administration, chief financial officer and treasurer, and questioned the "fiscal direction" in which he is leading Howard. "We believe this direction places the very survival of the university at risk,” the deans wrote in the letter addressed to Howard trustees. University officials defended Tarola, and said that he has helped improve the university's financial condition.

 

July 2, 2013

An analysis by USA Today has found 265 colleges at which the odds of students defaulting on their loans are greater than the odds of freshmen graduating. Nearly half of the colleges are for-profit institutions, and about one-third are community colleges. However, smaller shares of the students at community colleges borrow, and their loans are smaller, than at for-profit institutions.

 

July 2, 2013

A Stanford University alumnus with a history of major donations has given the university its largest gift ever, Stanford announced Monday. John Arrillaga's $151 million donation will support "a variety of university projects," Stanford said. Arrillaga is a real estate developer in Silicon Valley.

 

 

July 2, 2013

Johnson University, in Tennessee, and Florida Christian College merged Monday, creating the Johnson University System. Florida Christian will now be called Johnson University Florida, and the system will also offer courses online. Current enrollment in Florida is 371, while enrollment in Tennessee is 954.

July 2, 2013

The tendency of black students to enroll in urban and less-selective public universities and the fact that they attend high schools of lesser quality contribute to their lower graduation rates in college -- but the "primary driver" of the black-white graduation gap is a difference in "pre-entry" traits such as ACT scores and high school class rank, according to a study published Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Though the study (abstract available here) is based on data from Missouri, the researchers suggest that the findings could apply nationally, although they cite several limitations, including that the data are derived only from public four-year universities in the state.

July 1, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Glynnis Hood of the University of Alberta explains the ecological importance of the beaver. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

July 1, 2013

A new Gallup Poll has found that the factor adult Americans are most likely to say is most important in selecting a college is the percentage of graduates who are able to find a good job. That factor was picked by 41 percent of those polled, followed by the price of the college (37 percent) and graduation rates (16 percent). The wealthier that respondents were, the more likely they were to say that the job success of graduates was the most important factor.

The same poll also asked questions about tuition.

Asked if higher tuition rates meant that the quality of the college was higher, 25 percent strongly disagreed and another 20 percent disagreed. Only 10 percent strongly agreed, with another 13 percent agreeing.

Gallup also asked what amount would be affordable for one year of full-time tuition (not counting room, board or books). Two percent said no tuition was affordable, 15 percent said less than $5,000, 18 percent said $5,000 to less than $10,000, 26 percent said $10,000 to less than $20,000, 10 percent said $20,000 to less than $30,000, and 5 percent said $30,000 or more. 

Disclosure: Inside Higher Ed works with Gallup on our survey projects, although Inside Higher Ed was not involved with this poll. The trends found by Gallup in this poll of all adults somewhat mirror the results of an Inside Higher Ed poll conduct by Gallup of the parents of high school and junior high school students.

July 1, 2013

An Ohio appeals court ruled last week that the University of Toledo violated its contract with the faculty union by not consulting with it on a planned reorganization, The Toledo Blade reported. The ruling upheld a similar finding by an arbitrator. But it is unclear what impact the decision will have as the reorganization took place in 2010.

July 1, 2013

Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a bill into law last week to encourage the state's K-12 and higher education systems to use massive open online courses, or MOOCs.

The law has narrower scope than early versions of the bill but its critics remain deeply concerned. An earlier proposal could have allowed anyone to create and seek “Florida-accredited” status for courses that Florida's public colleges and universities would have to granted credit for.

The bill Scott signed allows MOOCs, under certain conditions, to be used to help teach K-12 students in four subjects and also orders Florida education officials to study and set rules that would allow students who have yet to enroll in college to earn transfer credits by taking MOOCs.

Tom Auxter, the president of the 7,000-member United Faculty of Florida, said "intense and feverish" opposition from faculty helped scale back the plan. Still, he warned of a generation of "cheap and dirty" online courses offered to students before they enroll in college. “No matter how many times they use ‘quality,’ this is a cheapening of what higher education is all about,” Auxter warned, referring to supporters of MOOCs for credit.

Republican State Senator Jeff Brandes, who sponsored early versions of the bill, did not give the unions or faculty credit for the changes.

Much remains up in the air now, though. Brandes said he expected the scope of the law to eventually be expanded. Much will also be decided in coming months as state education officials study the issue and set rules about how to use MOOCs for college credit. “We’re giving them two years to set up all the rules and procedures they need to allow us to work with Udacity, or edX or Coursera to offer their wealth of knowledge in Florida,” Brandes said, referring to three MOOC providers.

Dean Florez, a former California state senator who leads the Twenty Million Minds Foundation and generally supports efforts to expand online education, said the Florida law encourages "practices that consider the future of the classroom from the early years into college.”

“Florida has recognized the opportunities inherent in MOOCs and in admirable fashion reached consensus on a bill incorporating all public education systems, from K-12 to higher ed,” he said in a statement. 

July 1, 2013

Last week's Supreme Court decision raises questions about whether colleges have explored race-neutral alternatives to the consideration of race in admissions decisions. An article in The Los Angles Times notes that the University of California at Berkeley and the University of California at Los Angeles have had to explore race-neutral alternatives ever since the state in 1996 barred them from considering race. Both campuses have created and expanded various outreach efforts.

But black and Latino enrollments have still not recovered. At UCLA, black students made up 7.1 percent of the class admitted the year before consideration of race was banned. Last fall, they made up 3.6 percent of freshmen. At Berkeley, the fall was from 6.3 percent to 3.4 percent. Latino enrollments are also down, and although the drops are smaller, the state saw large increases during this time period in the share of Latinos in state high schools. Still, at UCLA, the percentage of Latinos dropped from 21.5 percent while consideration of race and ethnicity was allowed to 18.1 percent. At Berkeley, the drop was 15.5 percent to 13 percent.

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