Higher Education Quick Takes
Israel's Council for Higher Education has passed a series of reform proposals designed to assure higher levels of competence in English by university graduates, Ynet News reported. The changes raise the scores required in English on entrance requirements and also require more instruction in English while enrolled at universities.
Cardiff University, in Wales, is running a "free tuition for life" contest being compared to the "golden tickets" offered by the fictional Willy Wonka or the competitions of allegedly real "reality" television shows. The university will be unveiling a series of challenges that need to be completed, leading to a live challenge at the university. The winner will not be charged tuition for any program for the rest of his or her life -- and can enroll in an unlimited number of undergraduate and multiple graduate degree programs. Applicants must be from Britain or other European Union countries.
Fans of the University of Connecticut and others are debating a new practice there of asking those attending home football and basketball games to say the pledge of allegiance to the flag before the traditional playing of the national anthem, The New York Times reported. While some see the pledge as a welcome sign of patriotism and unity, others question a public university asking people to say anything with the words "under God" and note concerns for international athletes.
For-profit colleges have done a better job of being mindful about efficiency and effectiveness than their nonprofit peers, U.S. Representative Virginia Foxx, who heads the House subcommittee on higher education, said during a panel discussion on Monday. The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools hosted the event, which was on workforce training. Representative Foxx, a North Carolina Republican, also said the federal government has not scrutinized nonprofit colleges with the same vigor as for-profits, noting that "accountability hits the new kid on the block hardest."
Clayton Spencer -- a key figure in higher education policy setting -- was named Sunday as the next president of Bates College. Spencer is currently vice president for policy at Harvard University, and previously served as associate vice president for higher education policy there. From 1993 to 1997, she was the education counsel on the U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources, where she worked for the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy.
Spencer takes over as the president of a private liberal arts college at a time of increased national scrutiny of college costs -- including a White House meeting today. At a press briefing Sunday, she said that she anticipated working to raise more money for financial aid in part because she doesn't think colleges like Bates are going to become less expensive. As long as liberal arts colleges focus on providing a high quality education, with top faculty members, small classes and a full residential experience, she said, "I don't see a way to make that fundamentally, structurally less expensive." But she said that increasing financial aid is essential, given that the sticker prices at institutions like Bates (total costs exceed $55,000) would otherwise seem too high to many prospective students and families.
An article in The Syracuse Post-Standard reviews many of the questions circulating about Syracuse University's inquiries into allegations that Bernie Fine, formerly an assistant basketball coach at the university, molested boys. The story focuses on whether trustees should have been informed of the allegations in 2005 (when the university says it was unable to corroborate them), and whether the university should have used a law firm (rather than professionals trained in sexual abuse) to look into the allegations.
Duncan Eddy, a student at Rice University, has created a website called Save Duncan's Butt to try to raise enough money for him to pay for damage he caused while attempting to participate in a campus tradition. The tradition involves running through the library naked and leaving body marks by covering certain body parts in shaving cream and pressing those parts against glass surfaces. Eddy's attempts broke a window in the library and he now must raise $15,000 to replace it -- or leave the university, according to his website. So far, he has raised more than $9,000.
The Iowa Board of Regents will consider proposed rules this week that would bar public universities going forward from naming centers or institutes after public officials who are still in office, The Cedar Rapids Gazette reported. The proposal is a response to criticism of the board's decision in April to name a center at Iowa State University the Harkin Institute for Public Policy, honoring U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat. Many Republicans criticized the decision.