Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011 - 3:00am

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal of a California Supreme Court ruling that upheld a state law letting some undocumented immigrants pay in-state tuition rates at the state's public colleges. The California court's decision last November upheld AB 540, which allows students whose parents came into the United States illegally to pay resident tuition rates if they graduated from an in-state high school and had attended one for three or more years. By declining to hear the appeal, which was sought by a group of students from outside California who said the law discriminated against them because they were forced to pay non-resident rates at California public colleges, the U.S. Supreme Court lets the state ruling stand. California community college and university officials applauded the U.S. court's stance.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Union Graduate College's Bruce Tulloch examines a disagreement over reforms to science education in the United States. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011 - 3:00am

Net price calculators, which attempt to show students and parents how much they will pay for college after financial aid, are useful tools but suffer from limitations, the federal Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance wrote in a report issued Monday.

The committee, which advises the Education Department on matters related to financial aid, summarized the conclusions of two panel discussions held in March in its report, "The Bottom Line: Ensuring that Students and Parents Understand the Net Price of College." The report concluded that students and families need to use net price calculators early in a college search, but that the calculators are limited by several factors, including their inability to calculate whether students are likely to receive a merit scholarship. Financial aid award letters need to be standardized so students can better compare institutions, the report's authors wrote. "Financial aid award letters may prove a cautionary tale for net price calculators, unless a consensus about uniformity can be built within the community to avoid confusion and complexity for families," they wrote. But in lieu of additional legislation or regulations, the committee recommended that institutions voluntarily adopt more standardized versions of each tool.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011 - 3:00am

Houston police officers are criticizing Rice University for dismissing a member of its police force after he left campus to assist law enforcement dealing with a man who shot two police officers in a non-campus incident, The Houston Chronicle reported. The Rice officer who lost his job said he rushed to assist when he heard about the incident on a police scanner, and local police officers are calling him a hero. Rice declined to comment on the specifics of the case, but said in a statement that the fired officer "left his post when only two other officers were on duty and failed to notify his supervisor of his whereabouts for nearly an hour, which could have endangered the safety of our students and campus."

Tuesday, June 7, 2011 - 3:00am

Goshen College, which last year started playing an instrumental version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" before athletic events, will stop doing so and will seek an alternative way to honor the country in ways consistent with the college's pacifist, Mennonite faith. Goshen students, faculty members and alumni have a range of views (and a range of faiths). But the news Monday that the college will stop playing the anthem follows criticism from some alumni and others that it glorifies war and a kind of nationalism that is inconsistent with the college's values.

Monday, June 6, 2011 - 3:00am

The board of Hocking College voted Friday to end the presidency of Ron Erickson that day, The Columbus Dispatch reported. While board members did not discuss the rationale behind their decision, Erickson had predicted the outcome. He has accused the board of trying to micromanage the two-year Ohio college. Board members previously said they were surprised that Erickson went public with his criticisms. The relationship between Erickson and the board seemed doomed from the start, as even the search that resulted in his hiring was contested.

Monday, June 6, 2011 - 3:00am

The Alabama Legislature has passed legislation, expected soon to be signed into law, that would bar students without the legal documentation to be in the United States from enrolling at public colleges in the United States. The measure is part of a far-reaching bill -- receiving attention for going beyond even Arizona's controversial immigration law. Many states bar undocumented students from receiving in-state tuition rates -- and such policies effectively bar students from enrolling because these students don't qualify for government student aid and rarely have the financial resources to afford out-of-state rates. Michael A. Olivas, a law professor at the University of Houston and an expert of higher education and immigration law, said that there has "never been any evidence" that undocumented students in any way restrict the access of other students. He said that the Alabama bill exemplified "mean-spiritedness."

Monday, June 6, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of Chicago's Oriental Institute has finished a 90-year project to create a dictionary of Assyrian, The Chicago Tribune reported. Since 1921, 88 scholars have worked on the 21-volume, 28,000-word dictionary. The institute will sell the dictionary for $1,400 a set.

Monday, June 6, 2011 - 3:00am

Fourteen academic luminaries -- among them A.C. Grayling, Richard Dawkins, Ronald Dworkin, Niall Ferguson and Steven Pinker -- have announced the creation of the New College of the Humanities, which will be affiliated with the University of London. The new college promises many things that critics fear are disappearing from British universities, such as close student-faculty interaction and an emphasis on the humanities. Tuition will be 18,000 pounds a year (nearly $30,000), or twice the charges at the most expensive British public universities.

Monday, June 6, 2011 - 3:00am

Students who pay extra fees for online course material at California community colleges may be entitled to refunds on the fees, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. Fees charged by publishers for online materials are common in higher education, and college officials have defended them in California. But the dispute in California -- prompted by a student grievance -- concerns a state regulation that fees for instructional material provide students with "tangible personal property." Under that measure, the fee would be legal if students could download and store the online material, but they can't.

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