Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, October 3, 2011 - 3:00am

WASHINGTON -- The Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, which recently gathered hundreds of complaints about federal regulation for a draft report on regulatory burdens, heard more from college administrators about those burdens at its meeting Friday. The committee is charged with identifying federal regulations that are redundant, unnecessary, inconsistent or “overly burdensome," and those that need to be changed or eliminated, and a survey of more than 2,000 college officials found plenty of suggestions.

At the committee, panels of executive officers and office administrators continued that refrain, saying that Higher Education Act regulations are so sprawling that no one person on any campus can keep track of them all and judge which are the most costly or burdensome. Information disclosures came in for particular criticism: Sanford Ungar, president of Goucher College, read a laundry list of information that colleges are required to disclose annually, including reports on fire safety, peer-to-peer file sharing, net price and many others.

Participants had a few suggestions for reducing the burden of regulations, although both the committee and the panelists acknowledged that the pace of increased regulation is faster than deregulation would be. Ungar suggested a "pay-go" system, where for every new regulation added, another would have to be eliminated. Others advocated for sector-based regulation, where different rules would apply to different types of colleges.

And while many respondents in the committee's report supported further study, a comprehensive review will be lengthy and costly, said Troy Johnson, vice provost for enrollment at the University of North Texas. "It's fine to study further, yet in the meantime we should immediately seize all of the knowledge and recommendations" and make some progress on deregulation, Johnson said.

The committee is on track to deliver a final report to Congress by the end of the year, chairman Allison Jones said.

Monday, October 3, 2011 - 3:00am

Private higher education has expanded rapidly in Malaysia in the last 15 years, but with reports of wide variations in quality, the government is stepping up scrutiny of the institutions, The New York Times reported. The government imposed a record number of fines on institutions this year -- even as many credit the private institutions with increasing access to higher education.

Monday, October 3, 2011 - 3:00am

Many Australian academics are frustrated, to the point where they are considering leaving their current universities in the years ahead, according to a new report from the Center for the Study of Higher Education, at the University of Melbourne. Researchers conducted a survey of more than 5,000 faculty members for the project. Australian academics continue to have "a deep commitment to scholarship," the report says. But just under half of them believe that their workload is no longer manageable. And close to half of those who are in the middle or later stages of their careers say that workload issues are sources of "considerable personal stress." Younger faculty members are more likely, the report says, to be frustrated by issues of job security and pay.

Friday, September 30, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, A.G. Rud of Washington State University examines the philosophy
behind the well-known, and not so well-known, actions of Albert Schweitzer. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, September 30, 2011 - 3:00am

Three Latino voters have sued the Cerritos Community College District's system for electing board members because it limits the influence of Latino citizens, the Associated Press reported. The district, which is more than 50 percent Latino, uses an at-large voting system. The seven-member board currently lacks a Latino member and has not had more than one Latino board member since 2003. College officials said that the board is in fact considering a shift to district voting.

Friday, September 30, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of New Hampshire will continue to sell energy drinks, after all. The university had announced in a Monday morning press release that it would stop selling the beverages in its convenience stores and vending machines in January, but then backtracked with an evening release saying that President Mark Huddleston had suspended the ban indefinitely. He'd seen "conflicting evidence" regarding the drinks' health effects, he said, and wanted to involve students in the decision. Another press release sent out Thursday afternoon said Huddleston had nixed the ban completely. He announced the decision to students via his Twitter feed, saying, "After review, UNH will NOT ban the sale of energy drinks. We want students to make their own choices, and be smart and informed consumers."

Friday, September 30, 2011 - 3:00am

Florida International University faced a dilemma this semester when more students applied for and were qualified for work-study than had been expected, and funds were short. The university responded with program cuts that affected 600 students. But The Miami Herald reported that students responded with letters, Facebook posts and other statements about the impact of the cuts. The university has now found an additional $1.5 million in other funds to add to the program, eliminating the need for the cuts.

Friday, September 30, 2011 - 3:00am

With Nobel Prizes being awarded next week, the Ig Nobels (an annual spoof) were awarded Thursday night. Among this year's winners: In physiology, the scholars behind the paper "No Evidence of Contagious Yawning in the Red-Footed Tortoise," and in chemistry, the research team that determined "the ideal density of airborne wasabi (pungent horseradish) to awaken sleeping people in case of a fire or other emergency, and for applying this knowledge to invent the wasabi alarm." The complete list of winners may be found here.

Friday, September 30, 2011 - 3:00am

The former chancellor of City College of San Francisco pleaded guilty last week to charges that he made illegal campaign donations to try to win support for bonds for the institution, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Philip R. Day Jr., who stepped down as president of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators in 2009 after the charges against him became public, agreed to pay $30,000 in fines to resolve the allegations, the newspaper reported.

Friday, September 30, 2011 - 3:00am

Officials involved in running the SAT program have called this week's arrest of an Emory University student on charges that he took the exam, for pay, for six Long Island high school students an isolated incident. But The New York Times reported that some prosecutors and others see a broader problem. The prosecutor said that she is investigating two other high schools and other test-takers, and that she believes the problem is "systemic." School officials said that they agreed.

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