Higher Education Quick Takes
The University of Oxford has agreed to review policies under which its St. Hughes College has required applicants to demonstrate -- as a condition of admission -- that they can afford the living expenses, BBC reported. The agreement resolved a suit filed by an applicant who said he was rejected when he could not demonstrate that he had that money on hand. The applicant said that the rules were a human rights violation.
The University of Maryland at College Park doesn't have a copy of the contract it signed to join the Big 10, The Washington Post reported. The Post filed an open records request for the contract, and was told that the university didn't have a copy. The Big 10, which is not subject to open records requests, keeps all such copies. Maryland officials said that not keeping a copy was in line with Big 10 policies, which are designed to reflect that most of its members are public universities, subject to open records requests.
The president of Ryerson University, in Toronto, is condemning as "completely unacceptable" a tradition in which engineering students who wish to be leaders in the next year's orientation program go through a series of events, including crawling through slush while wearing only their underwear. Sheldon Levy, the president, said that "anyone who contends it is ‘just fun’ or ‘builds community’ has no place at Ryerson." Students told The Toronto Star that the president was overreacting, and that the event was fun and did build community. YouTube video of the event has drawn attention to it.
A key state legislator told reporters Thursday that one way North Carolina lawmakers may deal with budget cuts would be to consolidate campuses of the University of North Carolina System. "I think our members definitely envision that there could be some consolidation between campuses, and we might need to go from 16 down to 15, 14, something like that," said Senator Pete Brunstetter, co-chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, WRAL News reported. On Wednesday, Governor Pat McCrory, a Republican, called for a $135 million cut in funding for the UNC system, a reduction that would follow several large cuts in recent years.
A former student at California State University-San Marcos on Thursday admitted to federal charges of wire fraud, access device fraud and unauthorized use of a computer, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported. The student had stolen the passwords of 745 students to vote for himself for student body president. After the fraud was discovered, a new election was scheduled.
Nationally, teacher education programs are boasting about tougher admissions standards. But in Mississippi, the state's higher education board is being criticized for not raising standards for entering teacher education. Governor Phil Bryant, a Republican, criticized the board for not backing his proposal to require college students entering teacher education to score 21 or higher on the ACT and to have a 3.0 grade-point average on college work prior to starting the major, the Associated Press reported. Currently, the average for teacher ed majors is 20.8 on the ACT. College officials said that if they adopted the governor's plan, half of their students would no longer be eligible.
In a press call coinciding with the kickoff of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s men’s basketball tournament, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said college presidents, trustees and coaches need to take up a “different set of values” and worry more about graduation and less about on-court victories. Citing the large gap in graduation rates between white and black male athletes (up to 30 percentage points on some basketball teams) and the 11:1 difference in value of contractual coach bonuses for athletic success vs. academic success, Duncan called for a “better, healthier balance.”
“It will take courageous leadership by governing boards and college presidents and willingness to engage,” Duncan said, “and challenge the status quo.” Duncan suggested more financial incentives for better, more equal graduation rates – or disincentives for failure to produce such a result – could improve athletes’ academic performance.
The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities said Thursday that the Rev. Michael J. Sheeran, the former president of Regis University, will become the group's new president. Father Sheeran, who was president of Regis for 20 years, oversaw the development of the college's online programs. The Rev. Gregory Lucey, the previous president of the group, which represents the nation's 28 Jesuit colleges, will return to Spring Hill College as chancellor. Father Lucey had led Spring Hill before he became president of the Jesuit college group in 2011.
The Oregon Senate on Thursday joined the House in approving a bill that would grant in-state tuition rates to undocumented students who graduated from high schools in the state, The Oregonian reported. Governor John Kitzhaber has said he will sign the legislation. The success for the bill follows several failed attempts in recent years.