Higher Education Quick Takes
Admissions officers at the University of British Columbia medical schools, one of Canada's top medical schools, report increasing pressure from influential parents of applicants to admit them, The Vancouver Sun reported. Quoting from documents the newspaper obtained, the article cited as an example an applicant who ignored repeated e-mail reminders about deadlines for various materials, but who was allowed to file them late -- after an appeal from her well connected father.
Union supporters in Michigan -- faced with a major setback at the University of Michigan -- are pushing for state constitutional protection. Legislation awaiting the governor's signature would classify graduate research assistants as students, not employees eligible for collective bargaining. If the legislation becomes law, it would undo years of efforts to organize the University of Michigan's research assistants. The Detroit News reported that in response to this and other legislative moves, Michigan unions (many of which aren't focused on higher education) are considering a drive to get a measure on the ballot in the state in which voters could add a provision to the state's Constitution declaring that no state law can limit the right of collective bargaining.
Open records requests by The Independent have revealed that British universities have found that 45,000 students cheated in the last three years. Officials blamed the sophistication of digital cheating techniques, the pressure to succeed in higher education and (from critics of the expansion of higher education) increased enrollments of students who may not have been well-prepared. Thirteen universities reported discovering finding, on average, more than one case of cheating a day.
The man who went on a shooting rampage at a University of Pittsburgh clinic last week had been a graduate student in biology at Duquesne University until that institution barred him from its campus, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. John F. Shick, who was shot by police officers responding to the incident, was barred because Duquesne found that he had been sending harassing text and e-mail messages to female students.
China's government is encouraging its universities to hire more Western academics, The New York Times reported. Much of the recruiting is through the Thousand Foreign Experts program, which aims to recruit 1,000 people from outside China to work in Chinese universities over the next 10 years. Similar efforts in the past have focused on Chinese immigrants to Western countries, but the new program is designed to attract top academic talent without existing ties to the country.
Harvey Perlman, chancellor of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, has told an assistant football coach that it was inappropriate for him to give the stadium address as his own when offering his views to the Omaha City Council, The Lincoln Journal Star reported. Ron Brown, the assistant coach, urged the council not to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. While Perman didn't question his right to offer his views, he objected to Brown giving 1 Memorial Stadium as his address. Perlman said that doing so may have created an impression that he was speaking for the university, which does not discriminate based on sexual orientation.
Before he retired last summer as president of the University of Minnesota, Robert Bruininks steered extra money to the institute at the university where he would be spending his post-presidential years, The Star Tribune reported. He moved a total of $355,000 in university funds to the Center for Integrative Leadership. Bruininks told the newspaper that he moved the funds to the center to bolster it as he was seeking major outside grants for the program. "You put it all together in a weird way and it may look like I'm feathering a nest, and that's simply not the case," Bruininks.
Saudi authorities are investigating how about 50 women were injured in a student protest at King Khalid University on Wednesday, BBC reported. The women were reportedly protesting poor management at the university and a lack of appropriate facilities for women.
University of Illinois President Michael Hogan, who faced criticism from faculty in recent weeks about his handling of several initiatives, said in a statement Thursday that he accepted responsibility for a breakdown in communication and was committed to repairing his relationship with the faculty. On Monday, after a board meeting called to address the faculty criticism, the board chairman said he had confidence in Hogan but that the president needed to change how he was running the university or face the loss of his job.
In an interview with Inside Higher Ed on Thursday, Hogan said that coming into office on the heels of the university's admissions scandal, which resulted in significant administrative turnover, meant many changes had to happen quickly. In the rush to address those issues, he said, communication broke down. "We were getting things done so fast that I just gave people the perception that I was more interested in getting things done than I was in hearing opinions,” Hogan said. He said that is not the case, and that he plans to meet with faculty members on the university's three campuses more regularly in the future.
The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday held a hearing to discuss several proposed bills relating to educational benefits for veterans and military service members. One piece of legislation would expand tuition reimbursement for students who attend out-of-state public institutions under the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. Another would require colleges to provide more information and counseling to veterans who are prospective students, while also bulking up reporting requirements for student complaints.
Also Thursday, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators proposed new legislation that would prohibit some for-profit colleges from being eligible for military tuition aid. The bill, introduced by Sen. Jim Webb, a Virginia Democrat, would require that institutions be eligible to receive federal financial aid under Department of Education requirements in order to collect student aid from the G.I. Bill and the military tuition assistance program.