Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, June 13, 2011 - 3:00am

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a legal challenge to New Jersey's rejection of the state grant application of a U.S.-born student whose parents immigrated to the United States illegally, the Associated Press reported. The ACLU says that New Jersey's Higher Education Student Assistance Authority, the state's aid agency, appears to be deviating from the legal norm of recognizing the rights of those born in the United States as citizens. The authority did not respond to questions, citing the ongoing litigation.

Monday, June 13, 2011 - 3:00am

Remember how the Republican-led House of Representatives was going to eliminate earmarks? According to The Boston Globe, the House has allowed hundreds of millions of special authorizations (which in many ways resemble earmarks and which in many cases could benefit individual colleges and universities) to be inserted into the military spending bill. The authorizations are not as specific as earmarks and theoretically are open to competitions. But the Globe noted that many are written with language used by lawmakers to previously insert earmarks into the bills to benefit institutions in their districts, and that the language gives those institutions an apparent advantage, should the measures become law.

Monday, June 13, 2011 - 3:00am

John Wendell, an accounting professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, suspects that the institution is spending too much on outside law firms, so he filed an open records request for three years of legal invoices. The Star-Advertiser reported that the university told him it would cost him $40,000 in fees -- and officials later said that the real bill might be $100,000. The university says that it faces real expenses in producing the records. But Wendell and other faculty critics say that the university is using the fees to discourage requests. "The university administration wants autonomy but not accountability. It's as simple as that," he said.

Monday, June 13, 2011 - 3:00am

Medical students at the University of Alberta were thrilled with the speech their dean, Philip Baker, gave at a convocation banquet Friday -- at least until they found the speech online and apparently written by someone else, CBC News reported. A few phrases in the speech prompted students to do Internet searches and they say they found a nearly identical speech by Atul Gawande, a surgeon who spoke to Stanford University medical students last year. Gawande's speech was subsequently republished in The New Yorker and students said that one of the few changes made by Baker was leaving out a few lines about the U.S. Medicare system. Baker has not commented.

Friday, June 10, 2011 - 3:00am

Officials at Southern Methodist University blocked The Daily Campus, the student newspaper, from including a column critical of the university's board in an issue mailed to incoming students. As recounted by The Student Press Law Center, SMU has asked for prior review of that issue (and not regular issues) as a condition of providing the paper with the addresses of the freshmen. SMU officials said that they didn't see the relevance of the column for that issue. The Daily Campus has now published the column on its website. The topic: the need for more transparency on the Board of Trustees.

Friday, June 10, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, York University's Allan Hutchinson discusses the principles of common law that provide the core of most legal systems. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, June 10, 2011 - 3:00am

Hebrew University of Jerusalem will be awarding 4 of its 10 honorary doctorates at this month's commencement to scholars from Germany. One of them will go to Annette Schavan, the minister of education and research. While the university has awarded honorary degrees to Germans in the past, officials said that the number was unprecedented and reflected growing ties between German and Israeli universities.

Friday, June 10, 2011 - 3:00am

WASHINGTON -- The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity voted to recommend extending the recognition of three accrediting agencies Thursday, although the American Bar Association's accrediting arm proved controversial among the committee's members.

The committee, known as NACIQI, hears reports from Education Department staff members on accrediting agencies and votes on whether to recommend that the department continue to recognize them -- a significant task, since only students at institutions accredited by a federally recognized agency are eligible to receive federal financial aid. Thursday was the second day of NACIQI's three-day semiannual meeting.

As at the meeting Wednesday, when all agencies were granted at least a conditional extension of recognition, the committee made its recommendations despite evidence of problems in some agencies. Among the most concerning was the American Bar Association, which had 17 violations of department requirements -- not a remarkably high number in a season of increased scrutiny, but enough to give accreditors pause. The committee eventually voted 9 to 4 to extend recognition, and the agency is required to show within a year that it has fixed the areas of concern.

The agency extended similar conditional recognition to the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools and the Council on Occupational Education before moving on to discuss its recommended revisions to the Higher Education Act when it comes up for amendment in 2013. The discussion focused on the regulatory burden of data collection. Committee members agreed that data collection for institutional self-improvement and for federal eligibility for student financial aid need to be decoupled, but without offering suggestions for how such a system might work.

The discussion continues at today's meeting.

Friday, June 10, 2011 - 3:00am

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, is proposing legislation to increase tuition at the State University of New York by 5 percent annually for the next five years, with 8 percent increases at the system's four research universities, The New York Times reported. Further, he said that the funds raised would be used for SUNY, ending a long-standing practice -- the source of deep frustration to SUNY officials and students -- that only small portions of tuition increases actually support SUNY while the rest helps with the state budget. SUNY officials have been pushing for regular increases in tuition, and the research universities have been arguing for rates higher than those charged for other campuses. While Cuomo has pledged increased aid for low-income students, some have questioned whether the tuition increases would discourage students.

Friday, June 10, 2011 - 3:00am

An article from Reuters profiles the Venezuelan Indigenous University, which educates 100 students from the country's various tribes, providing a mix of their own traditions and a modern university education.

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