Higher Education Quick Takes
Legislators in Florida and Georgia are having contentious debates this week about undocumented students and public higher education. In Georgia, lawmakers are debating legislation that would bar from public higher education all students who lack legal documentation to reside in the United States, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. At a hearing Tuesday, many spoke out against the bill, and lawmakers suggested that they would consider some flexibility for colleges. Last year, the state higher education system toughened its rules on such students, saying that they could not enroll in any college that is turning away qualified applicants. The issue has attracted considerable attention despite the relatively small numbers of students involved. Of the state system's 318,000 students, about 300 are undocumented, down from 500 before rules were tightened.
In Florida on Tuesday, legislation to help such students (by granting them in-state tuition rates) died in a tie vote in committee, the Associated Press reported.
Robert M. Franklin is stepping down as president of Morehouse College at the end of this academic year, after five years in office, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Given Morehouse's prominence among historically black colleges, Franklin has been a highly visible advocate for the education of black students. At Morehouse, he has been a successful fund-raiser, but has also embraced the bully pulpit role of the college president (a role associated with many Morehouse presidents), speaking out regularly about students' moral development and a range of ethical issues.
The Symbiosis University, in Pune, India, has postponed a seminar and the screening of a film on Kashmir amid protests by nationalist Indian students that the programs were "anti-national," BBC News reported. A university spokesman said that the program had been intended as an "apolitical and academic event."
Parents can have an impact on the drinking habits of freshmen who are otherwise at high risk of abusing alcohol, according to a study from researchers at Pennsylvania State University. The study compared the impact of parental and peer interventions. The researchers found that non-drinkers who receiving information from their parents before enrolling were significantly less likely than others to become heavy drinkers. The impact of parental and peer interventions was the same in terms of helping a heavy drinker become a less heavy drinker.
An education analyst and former assistant Education Secretary who became famous for an about-face on No Child Left Behind warned college presidents Monday that changes similar to the 2001 higher education law were coming to higher education. Diane Ravitch, a professor of education at New York University, spoke to the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, criticized many trends in higher education policy and President Obama's new plan to increase college affordability. An increasing reliance on productivity and outcomes data will result in a generation of students who cannot learn or think for themselves, she warned. "The more we attempt to quantify what cannot be quantified, the more we narrow the purposes of higher education," Ravitch said, calling on college presidents to stand up for academic freedom and resist the "accountability juggernaut." Her remarks were met with a standing ovation — but only from part of the audience, and some did not clap at all.
Applications to British universities fell by 8.7 percent this year, with applications from England down 10 percent, Times Higher Education reported. The drop comes amid numerous controversial reforms -- and higher tuition rates -- at most institutions. Officials pledged to study the data in detail to determine whether certain groups were opting not to apply.
Six years after the University of Alabama sued a local artist over his use of images of the storied Crimson Tide football team in his paintings, the institution and Daniel Moore remain locked in a court battle, The New York Times reported. The university's 2005 lawsuit, which the Alabama Appeals Court is due to hear on Thursday, sought to bar Moore from selling his paintings of current and former Alabama players and coaches without a license from the university. A lower court backed Moore's free speech arguments, over Alabama's arguments (and those of its licensing company) that the artist is infringing its trademarks. Moore has also painted scenes involving teams from the University of Tennessee and other Southeastern Conference institutions.
Claremont McKenna College admitted on Monday that it submitted inflated SAT averages to various rankings entities for the last six years, The New York Times reported. College officials said that the scores -- already high at the college -- were boosted by about 10 or 20 points each on the mathematics and critical reading sections. In the most recent data, the college reported a combined median scores of 1410, when the real median was 1400. The 75th percentile was reported as 1510 when it was really 1480. The college said a single individual -- identified by the Times as Richard C. Vos, vice president and dean of admissions -- admitted to inflating the numbers. Vos declined to comment.
Robert Morse, who directs rankings for U.S. News & World Report, said this morning that Claremont McKenna did inform him Monday that it had provided incorrect data. But he said that the college declined his requests to provide raw data that would allow for a re-ranking of colleges. He said that it was possible that there could be modest changes in the college's ranking when correct numbers are provided. Morse said U.S. News would recalculate the data for the college, but only when it provided actual numbers, not just a summary with rough figures. (UPDATE: Morse has since reported that the college has made available all of its data.)