Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

August 30, 2013

A federal program that provides student veterans with on-campus educational and career counseling will nearly triple its footprint across the country this fall, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced Thursday. Under a program called VetSuccess on Campus, the V.A. plans to provide 62 more campuses with counselors, on top of the existing 32 institutions already participating in the program.

The counselors help veterans navigate their educational and medical benefits. The institutions selected for expansion include about a dozen large public universities, some community colleges and several private institutions.

As large numbers of veterans have returned home from Afghanistan and Iraq, veterans' groups have been pushing for more support services and better consumer protection for veterans using their educational benefits such as the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. A majority of money from that benefit is spent at for-profit colleges (followed closely by public universities), according to a recent government report. The Obama administration, Congressional Democrats and a slew of state attorneys general have also been stepping up their scrutiny of how colleges, especially for-profit institutions, recruit and serve veterans. 

August 30, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Kelly Mix of Michigan State University reveals the connection between math ability and visual spatial training. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

August 30, 2013

African-American studies in the United States is "alive and well," according to a new report issued by scholars at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The report surveyed 1,777 colleges and universities and found that 76 percent have some type of black studies. While some college offer only a course or two, 20 percent of those surveyed have full departments or programs.

 

August 30, 2013

A student at St. Louis Community College was arrested Wednesday for a "violent" threat against the financial aid office, authorities said, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. The Twitter message said that she was so frustrated with the financial aid office that she wanted to kill someone. The tweet didn't name an individual. College officials discovered the post through regular monitoring of social media about the college.

 

August 29, 2013

The University of Liberia has announced that it will admit 1,800 students, even though they (like all 25,000 applicants this year) failed the entry exam, BBC reported. Officials have blamed the mass failures on lack of knowledge of English. It is unclear how the 1,800 who will be admitted were selected.

 

August 29, 2013

The owners of the Charleston School of Law announced Wednesday they plan to sell the institution to the InfiLaw System, which operates a chain of for-profit law schools, The State reported. A recent announcement by the law school that it was turning over some management functions to InfiLaw set off concerns from some students and alumni that the arrangement would lead to a sale. Critics of the idea say that it would decrease the value of the law school's degrees, while law school officials say a sale would bolster the institution.

 

August 29, 2013

A donor has withdrawn a planned $100,000 contribution to Westfield State College to protest what he called the "lavish spending" of President Evan Dobelle, whose personal charges to a university foundation account have him under intense scrutiny, The Boston Globe reported. John P. Walsh, who heads a cosmetics company, told the Globe that he was "appalled" at Dobelle's behavior, in which he reportedly made extensive (and expensive) personal charges for significant out-of-state and international travel, among other things. Dobelle released a statement to the Globe in which he said Walsh had never formally pledged the money he is said to be withdrawing, and that he expected a report to be released today to find that there were "no personal expenses at issue."

 

 

August 29, 2013

Pearson will expands its partnership with the adaptive learning technology company Knewton to offer MyLab and Mastering products to six new subject areas this fall, the education company announced on Thursday. MyLab and Mastering, e-tutoring products that "continuously [assess] student performance and activity in real time," have been available since fall 2012 for students in math, economics, reading and writing. With the addition of topics including biology, anatomy and physiology, chemistry, physics, finance and accounting, Pearson estimates the products will reach about 400,000 students.

August 29, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Edward Hanna of the University of Sheffield reveals the connection between a pattern in the jet stream and recent warm temperatures in Greenland. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

August 29, 2013

A “citation stacking" scheme, in which editors of certain Brazilian journals published articles cross-citing each others' publications in order to raise the journals’ “impact factors” – a measure of a journal’s influence based on the number of times its articles are cited – has been discovered, Nature reported. The four Brazilian journals are among 14 that have been suspended from the Thomson Reuters ranking of journals.

“We’ve been caught wrong-footed,” said Mauricio Rocha-e-Silva, a retired psychologist and former editor of one of the journals, Clinics. Rocha-e-Silva told Nature that the scheme emerged from frustration with the fact that an agency of Brazil’s national education ministry evaluates graduate programs based partly on the impact factors of the journals in which students publish; because emerging Brazilian journals are poorly ranked, researchers don't wish to publish in them and the local journals do not improve.

The article notes that the scheme is not limited to Brazilian journals -- journals in Italy and China are among those that have been sanctioned -- but only in the Brazil case has an explanation been put forward.

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