Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

May 14, 2013

An Oregon bill scheduled for public hearing Wednesday would allow state universities to sue coaches who “intentionally or recklessly” commit major violations of National Collegiate Athletic Association rules. Coaches would be held responsible for actual damages and legal fees incurred by a university in the wake of the violations and subsequent NCAA investigation. The bill is being introduced in the state House of Representatives as the University of Oregon prepares for the findings of an NCAA investigation into recruiting violations that is expected to levy heavy penalties. Oregon's former football coach, Chip Kelly, left the program after last season, when the NCAA was well into its investigation but at least a few months from closing it. However, the bill would not allow for retroactive application.

May 14, 2013

Legislation that would limit the power of public university trustees -- inspired by perceived micromanaging by the University of Texas System board -- passed the Texas House of Representatives Monday, The Texas Tribune reported. Among other things, the bill would block regents of the state's public university systems from dismissing a campus president without a recommendation from the chancellor of that system, and require -- rather than recommend, as is now the case in state law -- that regents protect the independence of the universities they govern. The sponsors of the legislation, which requires another approval in the House before heading back to the state Senate, said they were motivated by recent steps by UT regents to undermine Bill Powers, president of the system's flagship campus in Austin.

 

May 14, 2013

A committee of a regional accreditor last week recommended that the University of Phoenix be placed "on notice," which is a lesser sanction than the probation a peer review team suggested earlier this year, the university said in a financial statement. The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools is considering the university's 10-year bid for reaffirmation. The peer review team identified alleged governance problems at the university, including a lack of autonomy from its holding company, the Apollo Group. The university made subsequent changes in response to the report. The commission's Board of Trustees is scheduled to make the final ruling on the university's bid next month. The board gets the final call and is not required to take into account the report released last week by the commission's Institutional Actions Council First Committee.

May 14, 2013

Jackson Community College, one of a number of two-year institutions in Michigan that recently earned the right to offer four-year degrees, may soon follow in the footsteps of comparable institutions in Florida by dropping the word "Community" from its name, the Jackson Citizen Patriot reported. Michigan in January became one of several states to allow two-year colleges to offer bachelor's degrees, which Jackson board members cited as a key reason for agreeing to vote next month on a recommendation to drop "community" from the institution's name. Trustees also said the word was an impediment to attracting international students, who are perplexed by the term.

May 14, 2013

Makers of competing learning management systems are coming together to offer prizes to developers for applications that can work across their different products. It's an effort to grow a common "edtech ecosystem." The goal is to spare companies the effort of having to develop every single functionality for themselves. Instead, they can have certain applications that can work across their different products. “I felt for a long time like there aren’t enough integrations and there are too many that are vendor-specific," said Brian Whitmer, co-founder of Instructure, the maker of Canvas. "There’s a lot of lock-in going on.” 

Developers will be given $250 for a program that can run in a common language across Canvas, Blackboard, Moodle, Desire2Learn, and other management systems. Judges will also award $1,000 to developers who come up with the best products.

May 14, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Aaron Sachs of Cornell University reveals how many of America’s iconic urban parks had first lives as cemeteries. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

May 14, 2013

Cengage Learning, one of the world's largest education companies, may file for bankruptcy, its CEO says. Bloomberg reports on continued restructuring talks at the company, which was sold several years ago to a private equity firm.

May 14, 2013

A student at the University of Washington at Tacoma says she was forced to withdraw because the university changed the way it dealt with her severe nut allergy, ABC News reported. The student said that, last year, the university posted "peanut/nut-free classroom" signs on classrooms she used. But this year, the university didn't use the signs but said it would send a letter to all students in the classes asking them not to bring nuts. The student says this approach is not sufficient. But the university says that it can't assure the absence of nuts, and was trying to take reasonable steps to minimize the risk.

 

May 14, 2013

The importance of collaboration with U.S. community colleges to realize India's goal of creating 200 such institutions was a major focus of a roundtable discussion on "Advancing U.S.-India Academic Partnerships" held at the Institute of International Education's Washington office on Monday. Governmental representatives participating in the discussion with college administrators included M.M. Pallam Raju, India's minister of human resource development, and Nirupama Rao, the ambassador of India to the United States, as well as several high-level U.S. Department of State officials.

The discussion portion of the meeting was closed to media (only the opening remarks were open), but participants reported that subjects of discussion included not only community college collaboration but also the role of MOOCs (massive open online courses) in increasing India's higher education capacity and the imbalance in exchanges between American and Indian students. (While there are more than 100,000 Indian students in the U.S., only 4,345 Americans studied in India in 2010-11, according to IIE data.) The subject of long-stalled legislation permitting the establishment of foreign branch campuses in India did not come up during the 45-minute discussion.

Monday's roundtable discussion was intended to inform the ongoing, governmental U.S.-India Higher Education Dialogue, a component of a larger strategic dialogue between the two countries.

 

May 14, 2013

NAFSA: Association of International Educators is concerned about a series of proposed amendments to the comprehensive immigration reform bill that would, in the association’s words, place “unnecessary and counterproductive impediments in the way of foreign students who wish to pursue their educational and professional goals in the United States.”

“Although these amendments may be justified by their proponents as adding to our security, the truth is that targeting foreign students does nothing to enhance U.S. security, and in fact only accomplishes the opposite,” NAFSA wrote in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is expected to continue marking up the bill today.

Proposed amendments that NAFSA is concerned about include six put forward by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa): Grassley 52, 56, 64, 68, 69, and 77. (All are available online here.) These amendments would, among other things, prevent students on F visas from participating in practical training opportunities until full deployment of the long-delayed Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) II and delay the implementation of provisions of the immigration reform bill until one year after completion of a report on the intelligence and “immigration failures” leading up to the Boston Marathon bombings.

Senator Grassley has raised a number of questions and concerns about the student visa program in the wake of the Boston bombings. Neither of the suspected bombers were on student visas, although two citizens of Kazakhstan accused of aiding in the destruction of evidence were. New protocols put in place to verify students’ SEVIS status since the bombings have already led to delays at ports of entry. Inside Higher Ed will have continuing coverage of which amendments, if any, are introduced and their potential implications. 

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