Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, September 13, 2012 - 3:00am

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.

Thursday, September 13, 2012 - 3:00am

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.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - 4:25am

Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd. announced that it will join forces with Japan’s National Institute of Informatics to create a robot that can earn admission to Tokyo University, the most prestigious university in Japan, The Wall Street Journal reported. To gain admission, the robot (like other applicants) will have to pass a national entrance exam for universities and one that is given only by Tokyo University. The project is prompting renewed debate over artificial intelligence.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - 4:28am

Jamie Kuntz, who is gay, says he was kicked off of the football team of North Dakota State College of Sciences, for being seen kissing his boyfriend, the Associated Press reported. The kiss took place at a football game where Kuntz could not play because of a concussion, so he was in the press box at a game, filming the competition. His boyfriend was with him and at one point they kissed. The coach of the team asked Kuntz about the kiss and he initially said that his boyfriend (who is older) was his grandfather. He later told the coach the truth, and was subsequently kicked off the team. The coach says he violated team rules by lying to a coach, but Kuntz said that the real reason was that he was seen kissing a man. College officials are investigating whether this was the first time someone was kicked off the team for lying.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - 3:00am

Amy Bishop has reached a plea agreement to resolve the charges that she murdered three of her colleagues in the biology department of the University of Alabama at Huntsville, The Huntsville Times reported. Under the agreement, she entered a guilty plea in one of the murder counts, and also admitted that she tried to kill three others. The agreement means she will spend the rest of her life in prison, but spares her the death penalty.



Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - 3:00am

Tying a college's Pell Grant eligibility to completion rates could undermine college access for poor and minority students, especially at community colleges, Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of FinAid.org, wrote in an analysis Monday. Rather than focus on completion rates, Kantrowitz argued, more focus should be placed on increasing the number of Americans with college degrees -- a focus that could even cause completion rates to fall if more students enroll and do not all complete college. Focusing solely on completion, as some fear a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-supported panel that will focus on student aid as an incentive might do, could end up hurting low-income students, Kantrowitz wrote: "One of the easiest ways to increase graduation rates is to exclude high-risk students. So efforts to boost college completion may directly or indirectly shift eligibility for the Pell Grant program from financial need to academic merit, hurting college access by low-income students."

Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Richard Brutchey of the University of Southern California explains a breakthrough that will allow any surface to become a solar cell. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - 3:00am

The annual college rankings of U.S. News & World Report are out today, with only one change in methodology. The two most recent years of guidance counselor surveys, rather than just one year of data, will be used to calculate the counselors' ratings. The participation of college presidents in the survey (by filling out reports on the reputations of other colleges) is up a bit this year, if still way behind the two-thirds participation levels of a decade ago. For the new edition, 44 percent of all presidents participated, up from 43 percent a year ago. Liberal arts college presidents have been particularly critical of the rankings, but their participation rate was also up this year -- 47 percent, up from 44 percent a year ago.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - 4:19am

The Obama administration's program to give young immigrants who lack legal documentation to stay in the United States a waiver of deportation has attracted more than 72,000 applicants, The New York Times reported. There has been debate over whether those eligible -- a group that includes many college students -- would risk submitting their names and various pieces of information to the government, and the early results suggest that many are willing to do so.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012 - 4:23am

Harvard University's senior basketball co-captains, Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry, are withdrawing from the university after being told that they are among the students being investigated in a cheating scandal, Sports Illustrated reported. Had they stayed enrolled and been found guilty, they would have lost eligibility for the year ahead of athletic competition. By withdrawing, they may be able to re-apply in a year and gain another year of eligibility. One additional basketball player is also among those being investigated, Sports Illustrated reported.


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