Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Subscribe to Inside Higher Ed | Quick Takes
Wednesday, January 2, 2013 - 3:00am

The National Association of College and University Business Officers has issued guidance for colleges on using debit cards for financial aid refunds, a fast-growing practice that has led to criticism of the companies that offer the cards, which can have high fees. The association asks colleges to encourage students to use a full-fledged bank account rather than a preloaded debit card; to offer direct deposit of refunds; to use a competitive bidding process; and to negotiate no-fee or low-fee options for students from the third-party vendors that offer the debit cards. About one-quarter of colleges said in a NACUBO survey that they already use the debit cards, and 33 percent are considering doing so.

 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 - 3:00am

Wyoming's attorney general has sued DegreeinaDay.com, which is based in Cheyenne, asking that it stop operating as an unaccredited institution, The Casper Star-Tribune reported. The site offered degrees in medicine, cosmetic dermatology, law and teaching based on life experience. The suit charged that the institution had no authority to award degrees. Officials from the website could not be reached for comment.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 - 3:00am

State officials in Pennsylvania are preparing to sue the National Collegiate Athletic Association, perhaps as early as today, over the sanctions imposed on Pennsylvania State University, Sports Illustrated reported. Penn State -- which has accepted the association's penalties -- is not involved in preparing the suit. While many supporters of Penn State have said that the NCAA went too far and may not have had the authority to punish the institution, university officials have defended their stance of accepting the punishments by saying that the NCAA might otherwise have imposed harsher punishments known as the "death penalty."

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Anthony Jack of Case Western Reserve University explains why it’s hard to be analytical and empathetic at the same time. Learn more about the Academic Minute (and listen to the podcasts published over the holiday break) here.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 - 3:00am

The National College of the Arts in Lahore, Pakistan's leading art college, is under heavy criticism from Islamic traditionalists over its journal, which published homoerotic images that also depicted Muslim clerics, the Associated Press reported. The college has shut down the journal, pulled all copies of the journal from bookstores and dissolved the journal's editorial board, the AP reported. But those actions have not stopped the controversy. A court is considering blasphemy charges against the journal's editorial board and the head of the college.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 - 3:00am

The University of Northern Iowa is contesting a recently released American Association of University Professors report on affronts to shared governance and tenure policies last academic year in the midst of a budget crisis. The AAUP criticized university administrators for eliminating 20 percent of academic programs and the K-12 laboratory school without full engagement of the faculty -- who are primary curricular decision-makers, according to association recommendations -- and for making some professors involved in those programs feel forced to accept separation packages or risk being laid off.

In a statement, President Benjamin J. Allen said the institution disagrees with the findings of the report, and that “university leadership is obligated to not only consider the best interests of the faculty, but also the taxpayers, staff, alumni, and most importantly our students. The program changes were made up with all those stakeholders in mind.” Allen called the AAUP report mere “opinion," without punitive teeth at this point, and said it mischaracterizes university policies and agreements.

Dan Power, president of the UNI-United Faculty union, called the events of the past year “unprecedented,” and said that collegial, shared governance is in the interest of everyone in the university community going forward.  “My hope is that we will resolve the outstanding issues identified in the AAUP Committee A investigation," he said in an email. "We need to work [together] to continue to meet the needs of our students and the people of Iowa.”

The AAUP report followed a May 2012 investigation prompted by faculty complaints, said Michael Bérubé, investigation chair and professor of English at Pennsylvania State University, as well as president of the Modern Language Association. "In the future, we would hope and expect that the UNI administration will involve [the union] and the Faculty Senate at every level of decision making with regard to program closures and/or reductions, because UNI's own handbook gives the faculty primary responsibility over the curriculum," he said in an e-mail.
 

 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013 - 3:00am

Emory University students who produce "The Dooley Show," which is intended to be humorous, have issued an apology for a broadcast that angered many at the university. The show referenced the Supreme Court case on affirmative action in college admissions and urged viewers to help identify students who "shouldn’t be here and are only at the school because of affirmative action." Methods suggested for finding such students included lynching, tarring and feathering, and cross-burning. The apology states: "We at 'The Dooley Show' would like to apologize for the Supreme Court segment that has recently caused so much hurt, pain, and anger within the Emory Community.... The referred-to segment was poorly written and in poor taste, which we fully recognize.... As stated, we were not aware of the pain the segment would cause, the wounds existing on our campus it would open, or the dialogue it would recall. We should have considered more fully the horrible history our words recalled, and apologize immensely for not having done so.We too are members of the Emory community, and are deeply ashamed and sincerely sorry for all the pain and hurt our words have caused within it. Never at any point were they meant maliciously or to incite hatred towards anyone, anywhere."

Monday, December 31, 2012 - 6:00am

As politicians try to avert the fiscal cliff, Lake Superior State University wants to ban it -- the phrase at least. "Fiscal cliff" tops the university's 38th annual List of Words to be Banished from the Queen's English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness. The university's press release states: "If Congress acts to keep the country from tumbling over the cliff, LSSU believes this banishment should get some of the credit."

Other words and phrases banned are:

  • Kick the can down the road
  • Double down
  • Job creators/creation
  • Passion/passionate
  • Yolo
  • Spoiler alert
  • Bucket list
  • Trending
  • Superfood
  • Boneless wings
  • Guru

The rationales for the bans -- announced each year on New Year's Eve -- may be found here. Previous lists (and a place to submit a word to ban) may be found here.


 

 

Monday, December 31, 2012 - 8:54am

A New York Times article examines the potential for conflict of interest in Quacquarelli Symonds (known as QS) operating an international rankings system for universities and also a "ratings" system -- with the latter open to those who pay for an audit. The article notes that institutions that do poorly in international rankings (which tend to give the highest marks to research universities known around the world) are evaluated on different criteria, and are then awarded stars that they can use to boast and to recruit students. Two universities in Ireland are cited as examples of institutions that paid QS and now boast five-star ratings. Several international education experts are quoted expressing skepticism about whether the stars are meaningful. But the universities say that if they attract more students, their payments to QS will be worth it.

 

Monday, December 31, 2012 - 2:18pm

Many of the details on a possible deal between the White House and Congress to avert the looming "fiscal cliff" are still unclear -- including, most crucially for higher education, what (if any) spending cuts would be included. But a possible agreement on taxes, reportedly reached today between Vice President Joe Biden and the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, would extend the American Opportunity Tax Credit for college tuition for five years.

The tax credit, originally included in the 2009 stimulus bill, provides up to $2,500, of which $1,000 is refundable. It was scheduled to expire this week without Congressional action.

If a deal is not reached to avert the tax increases, many domestic discretionary programs — including some important to higher education — will see an 8.2 percent cut in 2013. In a statement Monday afternoon, President Obama said the future of the spending cuts remains unresolved, but said he would insist on a balanced approach to avert the across-the-board cuts.

Pages

Back to Top