Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

March 26, 2013

A new report from the European Commission examines the effect of the financial crisis on education budgets. The report shows that nearly half of the 28 countries for which data were available cut their spending on tertiary and adult education from 2010 to 2011, with the greatest decline observed in Slovakia (nearly 15 percent), and reductions of more than 5 percent in the Czech Republic, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, and Northern Ireland. In 2012, even larger cuts took place in Cyprus and Lithuania (more than 30 percent), and Greece (25 percent).

Only a few countries say that budget reductions have resulted in increased tuition fees. The report cites Spain and the United Kingdom as two countries where tuition fees are being increased “with the objective of aligning them with the real cost of studies.”

The report examines educational spending at all levels, from pre-primary to tertiary education.

March 26, 2013

South Carolina's attorney general has ordered Richard Routh, a professor at the University of South Carolina Upstate, to stop seeking investors for his business, Invictus University, the Associated Press reported. A cease and desist order accused Routh of selling unregistered securities. But Routh says that the business doesn't exist and that the website for the university, which he took down, was partly for a class project.

 

March 26, 2013

Regent's College in London has gained approval from British officials to become the second private nonprofit university in the United Kingdom, The Guardian reported. Regent's University London, as the institution will be known, will be the largest private institution in Britain, at 4,500 students. The University of Buckingham became the first private institution there, in 1983.

March 26, 2013

The U.S. Education Department's Office for Civil Rights has announced that it found the South Carolina Technical College System and two of its colleges to be failing to comply with civil rights statutes requiring that websites be accessible to people with visual disabilities. The system and the colleges have agreed to make changes to come into compliance, and OCR said it would monitor progress on those changes.

 

March 26, 2013

Billy Donovan sure seems pretty popular as men's basketball coach at the University of Florida, so maybe he'll break the trend and won't get fired if his team loses next week. But the team his Gators beat in third round of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's men's basketball tournament on Sunday, the University of Minnesota, fired its men's basketball coach, Tubby Smith, on Monday. And the team that Minnesota had beaten in the tournament's second round on Friday, the University of California at Los Angeles, fired its coach, Ben Howland, on Saturday after 10 seasons.

Smith had taken Minnesota to the NCAA tournament three times in his six years, and Howland had won the Pacific-12 Conference championship four times and made the Final Four three times in his decade as coach.

March 26, 2013

Harvard University on Monday sent a letter to thousands of alumni, asking them to volunteer to serve as discussion leaders for a new massive open online course based on a class they took at the university, The New York Times reported. The professor who teaches "The Ancient Greek Hero," said he was thrilled with the idea of a MOOC reaching many more students than he could in Cambridge. But Claudia Filos, editor of content and social media for the course, said that there was a need for more help with discussions. She said that, in some MOOCs, discussions "tend to run off the rails." Alumni who volunteer will be screened before taking on duties monitoring and helping to guide discussions.

 

March 26, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Jason Keller of Chapman University explains how organisms alter one of life’s most fundamental processes in oxygen-poor environments. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


 

March 26, 2013

CourseSmart, a company that provides online course materials, said it has now partnered with 100 campus learning management systems and campus portals to provide content to students.

That, officials at the six-year-old company said, makes it the industry leader in this space. The company offers 40,000 electronic textbooks from more than 50 publishers, including Pearson and McGraw-Hill Education. Cindy Clarke, the senior vice president of marketing at CourseSmart, said the company’s online offering plugs right into different learning portals, including Blackboard, Desire2Learn, Pearson LearningStudio, Moodle and custom software created by some universities. By integrating its offerings with such portals, the company can give students at the different institutions immediate access to the course materials it sells alongside other class materials posted by instructors and used by students.

Now, the company is beta testing an analytics package, Clarke said. The goal is to produce a program to track how and if students are using materials to let educators see how engaged students are.

Simba, which analyzes publishing trends, predicts the overall market for digital course materials will account for 14 percent of the textbook market by 2014, CourseSmart said.

March 26, 2013

California's community colleges would be serving 600,000 additional students if the system had not absorbed $1.5 billion in budget cuts over four years, according to a new report from the Public Policy Institute of California. Since 2007, the state's 112 community colleges have been forced to substantially reduce staffing, which in turn led to a 21 percent dip in course offerings, the report found. And first-time students were the most likely to be turned away, with a 5 percent enrollment decline even as the number of California high school graduates increased by 9 percent.

March 26, 2013

Republican legislators in Louisiana are accusing Governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican, of trying to oust Jim Purcell as higher education commissioner, The Baton Rouge Advocate reported. The legislators say that Jindal is upset with Purcell because he has criticized the governor's proposed budget for next year. Officials of the Board of Regents say that they know that there are tensions between the governor and higher education commissioner, but that they are not being pressured to get rid of Purcell. One state representative told the newspaper: "Clearly, the governor would prefer to run the state like a dictatorship. He shouldn’t be in the business of trying to fire people for telling the truth."

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