Higher Education Quick Takes
The job market for communication faculty members may be better now than it was before the economic downturn that started in 2008. The National Communication Association on Tuesday released data showing that it had listed 661 positions in its publications during 2012. That's up from 534 in 2011, 438 in 2010, and 351 in 2009. In 2008 (when most postings came before the economic downturn started in the fall), there were 597 listings. Not all communication positions are listed with the association, but the rise and fall of the organization's listings tends to reflect the job market generally.
Seven full-time faculty members -- most of them off the tenure track but including one tenured professor -- have received layoff notices, The Bangor Daily News reported. Faculty union leaders said that the university is eliminating jobs as a tactic in contract negotiations, which have been going on without progress since a contract expired in 2011. The university's spokesman said that the layoffs were needed for budgetary reasons.
Fifteen people were stabbed by a studentat Lone Star College's CyFair campus Tuesday, The Houston Chronicle reported. The college closed the campus for the day after the late morning stabbings. The seriousness of the injuries varied, and some of those attacked are hospitalized.
Authorities told CNN that the student admitted to having fantasies of killing people and of having planned the attack.
The European University Association released results of a survey on the internationalization of European universities in advance of its annual conference in Belgium. Respondents ranked “attracting students from abroad” as their top priority, followed by “internationalization of learning and teaching,” “providing our students with more opportunities to have a learning experience abroad,” and “strategic research partnerships.”
The survey also asked about universities’ interest in massive open online courses, or MOOCs, and found that only 58 percent of respondents had heard about MOOCs and 33 percent said they had been discussed at their institutions. When asked whether European universities should further develop MOOCs, 44 percent of respondents said yes, and another 48 percent had no clear opinion.
The survey garnered 180 responses from 175 higher education institutions in 38 countries.
About 60 students and faculty members at Florida Atlantic University held a rally Tuesday to criticize the university for its handling of a complaint about an intercultural communications class in which the instructor, Deandre Poole, had students write "Jesus" on a piece of paper and asked them to step on it, The Palm Beach Post reported. Poole has been placed on leave, with the university citing threats against him. The university also said it would never permit the "Jesus" exercise to be done again -- even though many professors said that it is legitimate and has been unfairly portrayed. Those at the protest said that the university''s response endangered academic freedom by saying that the university would not back professors whose class statements or lessons offend anyone. The university issued a statement Tuesday saying that it "embraces open discourse across its campuses and values its public mission as a venue for free expression…. We will to work with the FAU faculty and staff to address sensitive and controversial subjects, while upholding freedom of expression. A university campus is the best place for discussions of differing opinions."
London Metropolitan University’s license to sponsor visas for international students has been restored. Citing “systemic failures” in the university’s verification and monitoring of students’ English proficiency levels, visa status and course attendance, the UK Border Agency stripped London Met of its ability to host foreign students last August. This led to a court battle and concerns about the fate of the 2,600 foreign students then enrolled.
The UK Border Agency said in a statement that a series of inspections over six months revealed that London Met had improved its processes. The university will be subject to a probationary period during which it will be limited on the number of international students it can enroll.
“This is excellent news for our students and our University, which looks forward to welcoming students from around the world who want to study at one of London’s most diverse academic institutions,” London Met’s vice-chancellor, Malcolm Gillies, said in a statement. The university reported that it has already attracted nearly 5,000 applications from international students for fall 2013 and will begin “a four-month promotional tour across 17 countries.”
An analysis released Tuesday by the National Center for Education Statistics found that students who took out federal loans but later dropped out had a median federal debt load equal to 35 percent of their annual income, and that dropouts from for-profit colleges borrowed the most per credit earned: $350 per credit, compared with less than $120 per credit for students in other sectors. The report looked at student debt for students who enrolled in college in the 2003-04 academic year but did not complete within six years. It also found that 21 percent of noncompleters from four-year private nonprofit colleges, and 31 percent of students from for-profit colleges who did not earn a credential, had student loan debt greater than their annual income.
A new report from the Brookings Institution considers the geographic distribution of international students and their potential economic impact. While New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco host the largest numbers of international students, the report notes that smaller metro areas in the middle of the country have the largest numbers of international students relative to their undergraduate and graduate populations: leading the pack are Jonesboro, Arkansas (home to Arkansas State University), Florence, Alabama (home to the University of North Alabama), and Ames, Iowa (home to Iowa State University).
“If immigration policy changes to make it easier for foreign students to stay and work in the United States after graduation, these metro areas could experience the greatest impact in terms of access to a new labor pool from foreign students residing in their local economies,” the report, authored by Neil G. Ruiz, states.
The report also cites data regarding the disparity between the number of F-1 student visas granted, versus the number of approved H-1B skilled worker visas. While there were 668,513 F-1 visas approved in 2010, there were only 76,627 H-1B visas granted; of these, 26,502 went to foreign students.
Pittsburgh has been the site of some of the most contentious debates in recent years on payments by colleges to localities in lieu of taxes on their property -- and tensions are heating up again. The city recently moved to remove the tax-exempt status of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that, in response, colleges throughout the area have said that they will no longer negotiate with the city on payments they make to support local governments. "Making progress on these long-standing issues is difficult even in the best of circumstances,” said a letter from college leaders to the city. “It would be counter-productive to try to push forward in the adversarial environment that exists today.”