Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

November 20, 2012

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida is among the Republicans being talked about as one who might lead his party to more moderate positions on issues such as immigration. Rubio sits on the Senate science committee, and an interview with GQ created much Internet buzz over his statement in response to a question about the age of the earth. "I'm not a scientist, man," said Rubio. "I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that's a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I'm not a scientist. I don't think I'm qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in seven days, or seven actual eras, I'm not sure we'll ever be able to answer that. It's one of the great mysteries."

 

I'm not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that's a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I'm not a scientist. I don't think I'm qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I'm not sure we'll ever be able to answer that. It's one of the great mysteries.

Read More http://www.gq.com/news-politics/politics/201212/marco-rubio-interview-gq-december-2012#ixzz2CicphQT6
November 20, 2012

Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts, a Democrat, has ordered state higher education officials to allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition rates as long as they receive work permits through President Obama's new program to eliminate their risk of deportation, The Boston Globe reported. Thousands of students may eventually benefit. Because these students aren't eligible for federal aid, non-resident tuition rates can be prohibitive for many of them.

November 20, 2012

Administrators of intensive English programs are concerned about guidance from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that could change the way colleges make conditional admission offers to international students. Conditionally admitted students typically must complete English language coursework as a prerequisite for entering their degree programs.

In such cases, many colleges have made it a practice to issue an I-20 certifying admission to the degree program in question. Recent verbal guidance from DHS suggests, however, that the institution must issue an I-20 for admission to the English language program instead. Patricia Juza, director of global programs at Baruch College and vice president for advocacy for the American Association of Intensive English Programs, said this could complicate efforts to attract top foreign students. “In some countries it has been easier for a student to get a visa if they have conditional admission to a degree program as opposed to an intensive English program,” said Juza. She added that government scholarship bodies also generally prefer that students have an admission offer -- conditional or not -- to a degree program in hand.

Officials at DHS' Student and Exchange Visitors Program said there’s been no change in policy, but that the agency is simply enforcing current guidelines stipulating that colleges can issue an I-20 only after the student meets a number of conditions, including that “the appropriate school authority has determined that the prospective student's qualifications meet all standards for admission” and “the official responsible for admission at the school has accepted the prospective student for enrollment in a full course of study.” A spokeswoman for DHS, Ernestine Fobbs, said that the department is refining its policy on this subject. She said new draft guidance on conditional admissions and pathway programs – which blend intensive English and academic coursework – will be posted for comment soon, likely before the end of the year.

November 19, 2012

New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts has announced it is closing its branch campus in Singapore. Tisch's dean, Mary Schmidt Campbell, cited “significant financial challenges that have required increasingly unsustainable subsidies totaling millions of dollars per year.” Tisch projects that its total subsidy for the Tisch Asia campus, which opened in 2007, will exceed 30 million Singapore dollars, or about $24.4 million, by September 2013 -- “and will continue to grow.”

“It was never contemplated that Tisch would need to subsidize Tisch Asia to the extent it has,” Campbell wrote. “Neither the leadership at Tisch, the leadership at NYU, nor the Economic Development Board of Singapore would have approved Tisch Asia going forward had it been clear it would have come to the financial state at which it has now arrived, requiring such a large and ongoing level of subsidy.”

The plan is to close the graduate-level campus at some point over the next couple of years, and no earlier than summer of 2014. Tisch has pledged that all students currently enrolled will be able to finish their degrees, either in Singapore or at one of NYU’s other campuses or overseas academic centers.

November 19, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Zachary Blount of Michigan State University explains how scientists have observed bacteria evolve new capabilities over thousands of generations. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.
 

November 19, 2012

New Zealand's government is threatening to force Auckland University to admit more engineering students, while the university asserts that it shouldn't be forced to expand some programs and not others, The New Zealand Herald reported. The government has provided more funds to the university for this year, and designated the funds for engineering programs. But the university said that spending all of the money on engineering and other government priorities would have resulted in cuts to other programs.

November 19, 2012

The University of Maryland at College Park, a founding member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, is along with Rutgers University contemplating a switch to the Big Ten Conference, The Baltimore Sun and other publications reported. Newspaper reports indicated that the board of the University System of Maryland was scheduled to receive a written proposal Sunday about such a move, which, if consummated, would give the Big Ten 14 members. Big Ten officials had said as recently as September that they were contented having grown to 12 members this year, and Maryland officials had said they planned to stay in the Atlantic Coast. But Maryland was one of two institutions to oppose an increase to $50 million (from $20 million) in the fee imposed on members that leave the league. (The increase passed despite Maryland's opposition.) Rutgers is a member of the Big East Conference, which has been raided frequently in recent years.

November 19, 2012

Colleges have long tried (with limited success) to make sure classes are in fact held on the Wednesdays before Thanksgiving break or the Fridays before various weeks off, but many professors have reported that they call off class in part because few students show up.

At the University of Florida this year, for the first time, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving will be an official holiday, but the university is now campaigning to be sure classes are held today and tomorrow. Some students are planning to be away for all of this week. But The Gainesville Sun reported that Bernard Mair, associate provost, told faculty members last week that they should not let vacations start early. "I'd just like to encourage you to reinforce that with your students and spread the word in your departments that Monday and Tuesday are not holidays," he told the Faculty Senate. "If students start to try to make that such, you should disabuse them of that idea."

 

November 19, 2012

The Association of American University Presses on Friday named Peter Berkery Jr. as its next executive director. Berkery is currently serving as the vice president and publisher of the U.S. law division of Oxford University Press. He has previously worked as a lawyer and as an association official at the National Society of Accountants, the National Paint and Coatings Association, and the American Trucking Association.

November 19, 2012

Jewish alumni of Queen’s University, in Ontario, are distressed by the institution’s decision to award former U.S. President Jimmy Carter an honorary degree due to his critical views on Israel, the National Post reported. Carter, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of the Carter Center for advancing human rights, wrote a 2006 book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, that described Israel as an apartheid state.

Shimon Fogel, CEO of the Toronto-based Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said the organization has received about 50 complaints from Queen’s alumni. Of Carter, Fogel told the National Post, “He simply doesn’t meet the test of somebody that is seeking to offer a constructive contribution towards advancing peace. And it’s in that context that we’d express real disappointment that a leading institution like Queen’s would further legitimize or validate him by conferring on him this kind of award.”

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