Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 3:00am

A federal judge on Wednesday extended a restraining order barring Linn State Technical College from going ahead with its plan to test all new students for illegal drugs, the Associated Press reported. Judge Nanette Laughrey, while not issuing a final ruling on the legality of the plan, suggested it will run into trouble. Students, backed by civil liberties groups, are challenging the drug-testing plan.

Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 3:00am

Israel is experiencing a growth in private master's programs -- which receive no government support -- at otherwise government-funded universities, Haaretz reported. In the last six years, the number of such programs has increased from 26 to 51. The programs charge much higher tuition than the rest of the universities that house them, and proponents say that these offerings help provide funds for the rest of higher education. But critics say the growth of these programs is creating a two-tiered system, where those who can afford to pay more get better access to high-demand programs than do other students.

 

Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 4:32am

A federal judge has rejected a conservative student group's suit against the University of Wisconsin at Madison over student fees, The Wisconsin State Journal reported. The conservative students noted that a similar liberal group had received funds, but the judge noted that subsequent to the suit being filed, the liberal group's funding was ended. If there is evidence in the future of viewpoint discrimination, the judge said, the conservative group could sue again.

 

Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 4:37am

Southern University at Baton Rouge is ending Friday classes next semester, condensing the course schedule to a four-day week, The Advocate reported. The move is expected to save money on utility costs in classroom buildings, while freeing up more time for student advising and faculty office hours on Friday. Employees will all still be required to work on Fridays.

Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 4:40am

In the year since a student at the University of Notre Dame died when the aerial lift on which he was making videos of practices for the football team fell, many colleges and universities have changed their policies on the use of such lifts, the Associated Press reported. Some universities -- including Notre Dame -- have stopped using the lifts, which were designed for construction sites, not football fields. Others have continued their use but have issued new policies, such as barring their use on particularly windy days.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011 - 3:00am

You may have heard that Smith College was about to ban meat from campus, but don't worry about it -- just present a good argument. That's because the report that the college was going to ban meat and non-locally produced food was never true, but was a rumor started by two professors who teach a course on logic, and who like to spread semi-outrageous rumors to teach lessons about how to make arguments, The Boston Globe reported. Many Smith students believed the rumors and were outraged by the prospect of losing meat options and that staple of most college students, coffee (which isn't grown in New England).

Wednesday, October 26, 2011 - 3:00am

The College Board and the Educational Testing Service have hired a top security firm to review SAT security, and the two organizations will consider any changes that inquiry recommends, the Associated Press reported. The news came Tuesday at a New York State legislative hearing on SAT security, scheduled in the wake of arrests of Long Island students charged with having someone else take the SAT in their names. Lawmakers have suggested that security needs more scrutiny, noting that one of the students arrested was a woman who is alleged to have had a man take her exam.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011 - 3:00am

Trustees of public and private colleges are generally well engaged with the institutions on whose boards they serve, but could also benefit from more education, according to a study released Tuesday by the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges.

While the findings were generally positive, one concern identified was in risk assessment. The AGB study found that only about one-third of all boards have a formal process for comprehensive risk assessment. The top areas for risk assessment include finances, compliance, facilities, and campus security.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011 - 3:00am

Women perform as well as men in engineering courses, but are less likely to stay in the field because of a confidence gap, according to research published in the new issue of American Sociological Review. Women are less likely to feel "professional role confidence," the study found, which has to do both with their view of their own talent and also of their sense that they are in the correct field. "Often, competence in engineering is associated in people’s minds with men and masculinity more than it is with women and femininity. So, there are these micro-biases that happen, and when they add up, they result in women being less confident in their expertise and their career fit," said the lead author of the study, Erin Cech, a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University’s Clayman Institute for Gender Research.

 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011 - 4:33am

Lap-Chee Tsui, president of the University of Hong Kong, on Tuesday announced his plans to retire in August. The Wall Street Journal reported that while he gave no reason for his decision, critics believe it relates to a lingering controversy over the way police treated (many say mistreated) protesters during a visit to the campus in August by Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang. Pro-democracy students were "roughed up," the Journal said, with one locked in a staircase by police officers for an hour. Many at the university questioned why Tsui allowed unprecedented police activity on the university's grounds.

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