Higher Education Quick Takes
The British Council has joined with Futurelearn, the United Kingdom’s homegrown MOOC (massive open online course) platform. Futurelearn now has 19 partners, including 17 U.K. universities, the British Library, and the British Council, which promotes British higher education internationally.
“The British Council has been bringing the UK’s education sector to people around the world for almost eighty years, so it’s very exciting that with Futurelearn we’re able to expand that to millions more people through the MOOC platform,” the organization’s chief executive, Martin Davidson, said in a statement. “We hope that our recognized experience in English language learning and delivering assessments and examinations in nearly a hundred countries will contribute to making Futurelearn even more attractive for ambitious learners around the world.”
Futurelearn marks the first significant entry of a foreign player into the MOOC market, which heretofore has been dominated by elite American universities. The first Futurelearn courses are expected to be offered later in 2013.
Ten of the former Florida A&M University band members who were charged in May with felony hazing for the death of drum major Robert Champion are now being charged with manslaughter, the Associated Press reported Monday. Prosecutors also said they have charged another two defendants with manslaughter. Champion died in November 2011 after other students on the university’s famed marching band, long plagued by a culture of hazing, “punched, kicked and suffocated” him on a bus during a trip.
Some Stanford University students are up in arms about a proposal to start some high-demand classes at 8:30 a.m., the San Jose Mercury News reported. More than 1,700 students have signed an online petition that calls the proposal -- which Stanford administrators hope will allow the university to use its facilities more efficiently -- "deplorable" and complains that students were not sufficiently consulted.
Connecticut's Manchester Community College has decided to end its three remaining sports programs, citing a desire to use the program's $370,000 annual costs for other purposes given its limited resources, the Hartford Courant reported. Manchester's decision, which President Gena Glickman said she made reluctantly given that athletics is an important "access point" for students who tend to graduate at a high rate, will leave Gateway Community College as the only two-year institution in the state with a sports program, down from nine two decades ago, the Courant said.
The University of Chicago has placed two employees on administrative leave and started an investigation into the actions of a police officer who posed as a protester during a protest over the university hospital's policies on trauma care, The Chicago Tribune reported. Robert Zimmer, president of the university, said that that strategy of posing as a protester was "totally antithetical" to the university's values.
Oberlin College canceled classes and "non-essential activities" on campus Monday, after reports of a person walking near its Afrikan Heritage House in “a hood and robe resembling a Ku Klux Klan outfit.” College officials said they and the Oberlin Police Department are investigating the sighting, which follows a string of hate-related incidents on campus. Anti-Semitic, racist and homophobic graffiti appeared on multiple occasions last month, according to The Oberlin Review, and one student told public safety he was robbed and assaulted by a person who made derogatory ethnic remarks. Oberlin hosted a teach-in, “demonstration of solidarity,” and community convocation Monday afternoon in lieu of classes.
The chair of architecture at the University of Utah, Prescott Muir, has agreed to stay on, reversing his decision to leave the position, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. Muir's departure was widely blamed by students and faculty members on Brenda Case Scheer, dean of the College of Architecture and Planning at Utah. She issued an apology for making decisions about Muir "without full information," and that apology cleared the way for Muir to stay on.
William Stewart has resigned as a trustee of Southwestern College, a community college in California, saying that the administration was not providing accurate information to trustees or the faculty union with which it is negotiating. The college's student newspaper, The Sun, published the resignation letter, in which Stewart said that "without information, without all information, oversight is a sham." Stewart is a philosophy professor at San Diego City College. A spokeswoman for Southwestern told NBC 7 San Diego that "we would have to respectfully disagree with" Stewart's statement. "We've been providing all the budget information the board and the union has asked for. We're just sorry he chose to resign."