With the smoke not yet cleared from the U.S. Education Department's last round of negotiated rule making -- which produced a series of new regulations aimed at strengthening the integrity of federal financial aid programs and took special aim at for-profit colleges -- the agency appears ready for more. In a statement Friday, department officials said that they would soon be announcing the creation of "one or more negotiated rule making committees to prepare proposed regulations under the Higher Education Act of 1965," and that the agency would hold three public hearings this month (in Tacoma, Wash., Chicago, and Charleston, S.C.) "at which interested parties may suggest issues" for the committee(s) to consider. The announcement gave no clue about what the department might seek to explore in the new round of rule making, as the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities noted with a bit of trepidation.
Higher Education Quick Takes
A new WikiLeaks cable shows that the U.S. Embassy in Canada is worried about "anti-American biases" in Canadian universities, The National Post reported. The cable describes incidents observed by an embassy official taking courses at a university in Ottawa of students and faculty members criticizing U.S. policy.
Susan Su, the president of Tri-Valley University, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that the institution was a sham university operated as a front to help non-Americans obtain U.S. visas, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. Authorities said that Su accepted funds -- allegedly for tuition -- in return for visa assistance, not for education.
A study of student use of the Kindle DX at the University of Washington gave the device decidedly mixed reviews, The Seattle Times reported. The study involved first-year graduate students in computer science and engineering -- students who are presumably comfortable with digital information. But seven months into the study, 60 percent of the students had stopped regularly using their Kindles for academic reading. Although the Kindle has note-taking capability, the study found many students preferred to use paper to take notes on what they read on their Kindles.
The U.S. Justice Department has decided to intervene in a lawsuit alleging that Education Management Corp. violated federal law barring incentive compensation for recruiters, the company announced Monday. Qui tam lawsuits, as they are known, are filed under the federal False Claims Act by an individual who believes he or she has identified fraud committed against the federal government, and who sues hoping to be joined by the U.S. Justice Department. Interventions by the Justice Department, which in this instance came in a case filed in a Pennsylvania federal court, are rare, though. Education Management, which operates the Art Institutes, Argosy University, and South University, among others, said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it expected several states to join the qui tam action alleging violations of their state False Claims Acts, too.
It's now complete: all five of the varsity teams that the University of California at Berkeley planned to kill or downgrade for financial reasons will now survive for the foreseeable future. The university announced last fall that it would eliminate four teams (baseball, men's and women's gymnastics, and women's lacrosse) and change the status of rugby so that it was no longer a full-fledged varsity team. But in February, Berkeley said that alumni had raised enough money to restore rugby, women's gymnastics and lacrosse. A similar announcement about baseball came last month, and Monday, the university said that it had raised $2.5 million for gymnastics -- enough to keep the program alive for at least seven years with some budget cuts.
Don Giljum, a lecturer at the University of Missouri at St. Louis, and an uninvited observer of his labor studies course were arrested after an altercation in the class, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. The uninvited observer had a camera with him. The course has been the subject of video postings by conservative bloggers -- postings that the instructors and the university have found to be distorted.
The Faculty Senate at the University of Wisconsin at Madison voted Monday to support the proposal backed by Chancellor Biddy Martin and Gov. Scott Walker that would give the university "public authority" status and split it from the rest of the Wisconsin university system, The Capital Times reported. The vote came on the same day that a cadre of Madison professors came out against the proposal, which they said would undermine the university's support for low- and middle-income students.
Following a faculty vote, Tufts University will note successful participation in a Reserve Officer Training Corps on graduates' final transcripts. Though Tufts does not have a ROTC unit on campus, some students train with other ROTC units in the Boston area, and that is not expected to change. But in the wake of the law authorizing the end of "don't ask, don't tell," faculty members voted to more formally acknowledge ROTC service, which has not previously been listed on transcripts. The faculty voted down a proposal that would have noted that service semester-by-semester, opting only for the designation on final transcripts.