Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, August 13, 2012 - 3:00am

The Indian government appears to be delaying legislation that would allow foreign colleges and universities to open campuses in India, The Economic Times reported. The higher education focus for the government in the next parliamentary session will be on other bills, such as one requiring accreditation for all institutions.

 

Monday, August 13, 2012 - 3:00am

Stephen Bloom, the University of Iowa journalism professor who created a storm late last year by writing an article in The Atlantic that called rural Iowans “an assortment of wasteoids and meth-addicts,” will be teaching at the university again this fall. Bloom, whose essay was criticized by his colleagues and Sally Mason, the university's president, has been teaching in the University of Michigan communication studies department for the last year as a visiting professor. “Yes, he is scheduled to teach,” David Perlmutter, director of the school of journalism and mass communication at the University of Iowa, said in an e-mail.

Friday, August 10, 2012 - 3:00am

Monday is the deadline for briefs backing the University of Texas at Austin in its Supreme Court defense of the consideration of race in admissions. On Thursday, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill filed a brief, and included a new research study arguing for the educational value of diversity. The researchers, who looked at law school students, found that racial differences "contribute to learning because differences foster richer interactions and positive educational outcomes that benefit students, institutions and society," according to a summary by the university. "In addition, when a law school’s racial diversity was significant and group interaction was high, graduating law students perceived their law school as more open and respectful of diverse ideas."

Roger Clegg, president of the Center for Equal Opportunity, a group that opposes the consideration of race in admissions, questioned the study. In an e-mail message, he said: "The issues chosen to show how racial diversity correlates with perspective diversity are deliberately narrow (Anything about property? How about tax? ....), and of course law itself is a discipline in which such correlation is more likely than most others (Is there a Latina perspective in chemistry? Mathematics? Economics? Engineering? Russian? Etc.) Even if there are some educational benefits to having racial diversity in a class on "Race and the Law," that would not justify racial preferences in undergraduate admissions to the University of Texas."

Friday, August 10, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Sandra Russ of Case Western Reserve University examines how the level of imagination in children’s play has responded to recent technology and time restrictions. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

Friday, August 10, 2012 - 3:00am

Spain's government has set up a special committee to consider reforms for Spanish universities, Times Higher Education reported. In part, the move was prompted by Spain's economic woes, which have already led to deep budget cuts, and are likely to lead to more. But the committee is also conducting its review at a time of increasing criticism about non-economic problems facing the universities. "[M]any critics claim that the real drag on Spanish university quality is the culture of politicization and cronyism," the article says. "Critics claim that the power structures in many universities are dominated by nepotistic networks that tolerate and even promote all manner of non-meritocratic and unethical practices among members, while coming down hard on those who dare speak out against them."

 

Friday, August 10, 2012 - 3:00am

Helen Dragas, a University of Virginia board member, last year objected (when she was serving as rector, or board chair) to a course on Lady Gaga, The Washington Post reported. She sent an e-mail to university administrators noting an article by the Heritage Foundation questioning Gaga courses at U.Va. and three other universities. The e-mail is among many being reviewed as reporters and others try to sort out the board's push to remove Teresa Sullivan as president, an action from which the board backed down. The university's provost wrote back to describe the course as one focused on writing and culture. Dragas replied: "I appreciate that the course content can be defended," but she added that the course and the discussion of it "probably aren't helping us justify funding requests." She added that "opinions will, of course, vary on curricular content and direction, but there must be some internal arbiter of what is appropriate."

Friday, August 10, 2012 - 3:00am

Coursera, the company that provides support and Web hosting for massive open online courses at top universities, announced Thursday that more than 1 million students have registered for its courses. The company now serves as a MOOC platform for 16 universities and lists 116 courses, most of which have not started yet. The students registering for the courses are increasingly from the United States. Coursera told Inside Higher Ed earlier this summer that about 25 percent of its students hailed from the United States; that figure now stands at 38.5 percent, or about 385,000 students. Brazil, India and China follow, with between 40,000 to 60,000 registrants each. U.S. students cannot easily get formal credit through Coursera or its partners institutions, but some universities abroad reportedly have awarded credit to students who have taken the free courses.

Thursday, August 9, 2012 - 3:00am

A New Jersey appeals court ruled that the state illegally denied student aid to a woman who is a U.S. citizen, but whose mother lacks the legal right to reside in the United States, the Associated Press reported. The court ruled that there was no reason to judge the student based on anything but her legal status to be in the United States.

Thursday, August 9, 2012 - 3:00am

Campus debit card company Higher One will pay $11 million in restitution to students in a settlement with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. over its fees, the FDIC announced Wednesday. The campus banking company, which specializes in providing debit cards for financial aid refunds to students, will also change the way it charges fees. The FDIC said Higher One violated federal law in several of its overdraft fee practices. About 60,000 students paid the fines between 2008 and 2011.

Thursday, August 9, 2012 - 4:21am

The biggest jump in student borrowing (by economic group) between 2007 and 2010 was from families with incomes of $94,535 to $205,355, according to a new Wall Street Journal analysis of Federal Reserve data. That increase may explain, the article suggested, an increased emphasis on costs when students from families in that group consider colleges.

 

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