Higher Education Quick Takes
Ron Paul, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, has called for ending the federal student loan program, saying that it has "failed," the Associated Press reported. Paul said that government programs have forced up tuition rates. "Just think of all this willingness to want to help every student get a college education," said Paul, who graduated from Gettysburg College and then earned a medical degree at the Duke University. "I went to school when we had none of those. I could work my way through college and medical school because it wasn't so expensive."
The Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors is among the groups that had scheduled meetings in Arizona prior to the state adopting a law many view as unconstitutional and anti-immigrant. The association went ahead with its meeting, but has now issued a statement about immigration laws and their impact. The statement pledges support for all students at the colleges the counseling center directors serve, regardless of the students' immigration status. "Our organization declares our support for, and intention to promote compassion and inclusion for all who live within the borders of the United States, in our communities and on our campuses," says the statement. "Our work shows that students thrive and achieve their maximum potential in a climate where all can feel safe, valued and respected. As mental health professionals in higher education, we strive to build healthy and inclusive campus and community climates. Our compassion has no borders. We advocate for students who are misunderstood, marginalized, or unfairly devalued despite their efforts to be educated and productive members of our communities. We advocate for all students to take full advantage of the richly diverse learning environment on and off campus, to understand the demands and responsibilities of global citizenship, and to extend a compassionate hand to those yearning to contribute to our robust society."
Guidance counselors and applicants to the University of California are reporting widespread confusion over the system's shift to no longer require SAT subject exams, The Los Angeles Times reported. The controversial decision to keep the main SAT (or ACT) as a requirement but to end the requirement that students take the SAT subject exams was promoted as a way to simplify the process. But many applicants feel that they still must take the exams. That's in part, they say, because the university has said that good scores can still help an applicant, while poor scores or no scores will not hurt an applicant. High school counselors say that this is a message that leaves many applicants feeling no choice but to take the tests, given how competitive University of California admissions are, and many assume that failing to get high scores will hurt their chances of admission.
Facing the prospect of protests from the Occupy Philadelphia movement, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor on Friday called off a planned talk at the University of Pennsylvania, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Cantor said in a statement that he canceled after learning that Penn would allow members of the public to attend. He said that he had agreed to the talk on the belief that it would be restricted to those affiliated with Penn. But a statement from Penn said that the university always has opened such events to the general public, and that it never promised Cantor otherwise.
Israel's government on Sunday announced plans to add financial support for higher education. The Jerusalem Post reported that part of the plan will be to pay for one year of higher education costs for soldiers who have completed their required government service. The other part of the plan will be an increase in funding for higher education in small towns and communities.
The City University of New York, facing an increasing population of students who graduate from high school, sometimes with good grades, and then are identified as needing remediation in several subjects, is having success with an intensive semester-long program, The New York Times reported. In the CUNY program, students take only three subjects, and work on them five hours a day, five days week. So far, students are completing the program and then passing out of remedial education at much higher levels than are the norm for remedial programs. CUNY has been working to expand the effort.
The faculty union at the University of Illinois at Chicago won another victory Friday, with a ruling by the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board rejecting a request by the university to stay an order certifying the union. The union is the result of a major organizing drive conducted by the American Association of University Professors and the American Federation of Teachers, which have hoped that the effort at UIC would pave the way for more faculty unions at doctoral institutions. The university has challenged the right of the union to form, as currently planned, because both tenure-track faculty members and adjunct professors would be in the same unit. The university maintains that this violates state law, but the state labor board in September rejected that argument, and certified the union. The university vowed to go to court to block the union, and requested a stay.
Union officials noted that the board's decision rejecting the stay suggested that the university will lose in court. "We find that granting a stay in this case would be contrary to the public policy that supports a duty to bargain," the board said in its ruling. It added that "we find that there is not a reasonable likelihood that the employer will succeed on the merits."
After this item was originally published, the university released a statement saying that an Illinois appeals court has agreed to an expedited review of the university's appeal, and that the court would soon be asked for a stay.
Journalism students at Moscow State University used Twitter to protest the way an appearance of Russia's president, Dmitri A. Medvedev, was staged on Thursday, The New York Times reported. The appearance was used by the government to portray Medvedev as being in touch with young people, but the students tweeted that the audience was mostly made up of government supporters (many of them from outside the university) selected by a Kremlin team.