Higher Education Quick Takes
Eleven current and former women's volleyball team members at the State University of New York at Geneseo have been arrested on charges of hazing and unlawfully dealing with a minor, The Livingston County News reported. According to authorities, eight younger members of the team were handcuffed, blindfolded and forced to drink vodka. One of the eight had to be hospitalized for alcohol poisoning. A statement from the university said that all games and practices have been called off while the investigation continues.
The University of California at Los Angeles announced Thursday that it was ordering an end to plans by a labor education center at the university to help create a certificate program for undocumented students. A statement from the university said the following: "UCLA has determined that the agreement between the UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education and the National Labor College (NLC), which resulted in the creation of the National Dream University certificate program, was negotiated without the necessary approvals from UCLA’s academic and administrative leadership. As a result, the agreement has been declared void and UCLA has directed the Labor Center to suspend all work on National Dream University. While these actions do not preclude any future relationships between the center and National Labor College, any agreements would require a comprehensive academic and financial plan that has approval from appropriate parties. It is important to remember that the envisioned certificate program would have been offered through the National Labor College and not UCLA; news reports suggesting that those enrolled in the program would be UCLA students are completely inaccurate."
The University of California Board of Regents on Thursday agreed to settle a suit by 21 students at the Davis campus who were pepper sprayed while they were engaged in a non-violent protest last year, The Los Angeles Times reported. University officials, as well as the lawyers for the students, declined to discuss details of the settlement. Leslie Tang Schilling, a member of the board, said the regents settled the case so they could focus on serious budget issues. Of what happened at Davis, she said that "it was a really unfortunate incident."
The day after the University of Tulsa announced the firing of President Geoffrey Orsak -- after only 74 days in office -- the university issued a vague statement that did not offer any explanation for the action. "Discretion and university policy dictate that I not discuss the specific circumstances surrounding the decision, except to underscore my confidence in the collective wisdom of the University of Tulsa Board of Trustees," said a statement by Duane Wilson, the board chair. The statement called the board's decision "unavoidable," but offered no information on why this was the case.
Today Inside Higher Ed introduces a new feature: a monthly contest in which we ask readers to suggest a caption for our higher ed-themed cartoons, drawn by Matthew Henry Hall. The first cartoon is here, as are the rules. We encourage your participation -- there are opportunities not just to propose pithy and clever captions yourself, but to endorse (and eventually vote on) those you like. And the contest winner will receive a signed version of the cartoon and a $100 gift certificate to Amazon.
We welcome your participation -- click here to have at it.
As participation in higher education worldwide rises and geographic barriers and boundaries fall, collaboration on some postsecondary issues has increased. But most countries and regions still operate independently on many fronts, both purposefully (because countries want to go their own way) and less so, because of inadequate communication and cooperation. That fragmentation can be particularly vexing in areas such as quality assurance, and it is a major reason for a new endeavor announced Thursday by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
Through the new CHEA International Quality Group, the council -- which represents American colleges and universities that are accredited by agencies that it recognizes -- aims to bring together colleges, accreditors, quality assurance agencies and associations from around the world to work together on dealing with quality-related issues in higher education. CHEA itself has been active in international matters, setting aside part of its annual meeting for an international forum and working with entities such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and UNESCO on issues such as diploma mills.
But Judith S. Eaton, CHEA's president, said council officials believed that the "growth in worldwide activity of our institutions, through study abroad and branch campuses, and the expanding international activity of U.S. accreditors" -- as well as the explosion of issues such as cross-border education, for-profit higher education, and massive open online courses -- made this a logical time to expand its involvement. The council does not plan either to accredit institutions or to recognize international quality assurance agencies as it does U.S. accreditors.
"We're trying to create a forum in which we and our partners around the world can work together on quality assurance issues," she said. The new entity, which will be part of CHEA, plans to convene discussions, conduct research, share news and best practices, and provide consulting services on quality assurance issues.
The Council of Independent Colleges, a group representing more than 600 private liberal arts colleges and universities, is arguing against what it says are myths about student debt (and for its members' affordability) in a new presentation, indicating that the concern around growing student debt might be affecting the group. Among the myths: many students owe more than $100,000 at graduation (in fact, six-figure borrowers are a tiny fraction -- less than 1 percent -- of the undergraduate population). It also points out that its members have generous financial aid and that the high sticker price of tuition at private colleges does not take financial aid into account.
The U.S. House of Representatives this week passed legislation requiring the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to require more transparency from colleges that serve students who are veterans. The bill calls for counseling of students and ways to track feedback on the quality of academic programs. Some for-profit institutions, including the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities and the University of Phoenix, supported the bill.
Recent developments in online higher education will likely benefit the credit ratings of brand-name and niche institutions while possibly threatening for-profit institutions and smaller, regional colleges and universities, according to a new report by Moody's Investor Service. In a report that elides the potential implications of massive open online courses (MOOCs) and the continued growth of conventional online programs, Moody's analysts predicted that well-reputed institutions will band together around online offerings to reduce operating costs. Meanwhile, there could "eventually be negative side effects on for-profit education companies and some smaller not-for-profit colleges that may be left out of emerging high reputation online networks," the report said. However, the analysts suggested that well-known institutions that rush too heedlessly into MOOCs could sacrifice their reputational footing. "[T]he rapid pace of the MOOC movement presents the possibility of brand dilution as universities rush to join the trend without controlling the quality of the product/content being posted," they wrote.