Higher Education Quick Takes
Public universities have a long history of adapting to technological change, but they must speed up their embrace of online education -- and work together to do so -- to remain at the forefront of educating the citizens of their states and the country, argues a new report from two Washington research groups. "State U Online," from the New America Foundation and Education Sector, traces the history of public universities and of online education and suggests that major public universities have been slower than other sectors -- especially for-profit higher education -- to incorporate digital learning into their offerings. The author, Rachel Fishman of New America, argues that the institutions are best positioned to offer a high-quality, affordable digital education that is "grounded in public values," and offers a roadmap for doing so, including creating a clearinghouse where state institutions can "collaborate to provide an easy-to-search library of online courses and degrees," sharing contracts for digital platforms and online support services to meet multiple institutions' needs, and sharing credentialing beyond state borders.
California would move aggressively into performance-based funding for higher education under a draft plan being circulated by Governor Jerry Brown, the Los Angeles Times reported. Under the draft of a revised budget blueprint for higher education, which the newspaper obtained weeks before the governor is due to release it, the state would provide annual budget increases of 4 or 5 percent over the next several years, but tie the money to meeting goals such as significant increases in the number of students transferring from community colleges to public universities and in graduation rates, the Times reported. University officials responded coolly to the reported plan, with one saying: "We'd like to go back to the drawing board."
The American financier Stephen A. Schwarzman is creating a $300 million scholarship program that he hopes will be a Chinese counterpart to the Rhodes, The New York Times reported. The scholarship would annually support 200 students enrolling in yearlong master’s programs at Tsinghua University, in Beijing.
It’s anticipated that 45 percent of the Schwarzman Scholars will come from the U.S., 20 percent from China, and 35 percent from other countries. The students will live in a new residential college facility, Schwarzman College, for which ground breaking is scheduled for later this year.
Schwarzman said he is personally committing $100 million and is raising the additional funds from private donors, including Bank of America, Boeing, BP, Caterpillar, Credit Suisse, and JPMorgan Chase, as well as New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s personal foundation. The Times notes that the endowment for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship, which supports study at Oxford, is currently about $203 million.
A group of experts on African higher education, meeting under the aegis of the African Union this month, has agreed to develop a system of quality assurance for higher education across the continent, a statement released after the meeting announced. Participants in the meeting, which took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, said African nations should collaborate to create the African Quality Assurance and Accreditation Council for Higher Education and a quality assurance framework to help students transfer among African universities.
Officials at the Alberta College of Art and Design are investigating the killing by a student of a chicken in the cafeteria of the college, Maclean’s reported. The student said that he was completing an assignment to film a public protest, and he wanted to create the protest by cutting off a chicken’s head. Richard Brown, chair of the School of Visual Arts, said that “we do not condone the killing of animals in this way.” He added that some who were in the cafeteria weren’t bothered, but that others were “very traumatized.”
A former student who created a website that harshly criticized Thomas M. Cooley Law School is protected by the First Amendment and should not have his identity revealed, a Michigan state appeals court ruled this month. Cooley, a freestanding law school in Michigan, had sued the former student in state court, saying that the site the ex-student created, Thomas M. Cooley Law School Scam, defamed the institution. Cooley officials obtained a California subpoena compelling the company that hosted the website to reveal his identity, and a lower state court refused to block the subpoena. But the appeals court ruled that Michigan law protects such speech, and sent the case back to the lower court for further review.
Student journalists at Lewis & Clark College are criticizing administrators for forcing them to hold for four days an article about a lecture on campus by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. The college said that it wanted to clear the article with the Supreme Court press office before permitting publication. “[T]he college should have refused to send in any independent student publication for prior approval,” said an editorial in The Pioneer Log, the newspaper. Supreme Court officials said that they hadn’t insisted on review of the article, and the college has apologized for insisting that the article await review.
The latest deficit-reduction plan from the two men who led President Obama's deficit reduction committee in 2010 calls for changes to several programs important to higher education. The plan, released Friday by former Senator Alan Simpson, a Republican, and Erskine Bowles, a Democrat, would eliminate the in-school interest subsidy on student loans, end PLUS loans to graduate students, use a market-based interest rate for all student loans, and create a "two-tier" system of income-based repayment. The plan, which is unlikely to be passed in its current form, does not call for significant cuts to the Pell Grant.