Higher Education Quick Takes
Mitt Romney continues to be vague about what he would do about President Obama's new policy of not deporting undocumented students who meet certain criteria -- a policy widely praised by education groups. But on Thursday Romney, the Republican presidential candidate this year, proposed an immigration change that is consistent with the proposals of many education groups, and advocates for international graduate students. He proposed that foreign students who obtain advanced degree in math, science or engineering at American universities should be granted permanent residency. Many experts on international education have said that other countries are becoming more competitive in attracting foreign students because of those nations' willingness to keep foreign talent in the country.
In a move that has been feared for months, Rutgers University has announced plans for a major construction project that will block access to the parking lot known as home to many of the grease trucks that are popular with students, The Star-Ledger reported. While university officials have pledged to come up with someplace for the trucks to be located, their many fans are worried about any change. "You can’t fault Rutgers for expanding, but when you have something that is known nationally, you don’t want to get rid of that for another astronomy classroom," said D.J. Skopelitis, a former Rutgers graduate student. He was interviewed while he was eating a "Fat Beach" sandwich -- a cheese steak with chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, lettuce, ketchup and French fries.
As more college admissions counselors are seeking specialized training, a newly released paper from the National Association for College Admission Counseling argues that high school college readiness counseling requires standardized training, too. Author Mandy Savitz-Romer wrote that high school college readiness counseling lacks pre- or in-service requirements, or a unified certification or body of knowledge, and she proposed a set of core areas of competency that should be part of a pre-service training program for prospective counselors:
- Psychological processes associated with college readiness
- Social environments that affect students’ resources for succeeding in college
- Microeconomics, especially related to individual decision-making behavior
- Educational reform policies related to college readiness
- Higher education research, including college access and enrollment and college choice theories
- Family engagement models
Weixing Li, a professor at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln who was detained in China while there with a student group, will be allowed to return to the United States, The Lincoln Journal Star reported. The professor contacted family members to tell them he will be able to leave.
The commissioners of six major football-playing conferences (plus the University of Notre Dame) reached agreement Wednesday on the framework for a four-team playoff for big-time college football, to begin in 2014, ESPN reported. The plan needs the approval of the college presidents on the committee that oversees the Bowl Championship Series, which is scheduled to meet next week in Washington. Under the proposal, the existing BCS system for choosing a national champion would be replaced as of 2014 by a system in which a committee would choose four teams to play in two semifinal games (based on the current bowl games) leading to a championship game.
Several law schools have in the last year been found to be doctoring the statistics about their entering classes, trying to make the incoming students look more impressive so that their institutions would rise in the rankings. Now the American Bar Association and the Law School Admission Council have announced a new program in which they will verify the accuracy of such data. The groups will compare data from various sources to provide an assurance that law schools are being truthful. "Many schools have expressed an interest in such a program," said John O’Brien, chair of the Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. "In an environment where the actions of a few schools have raised questions in the minds of some about the integrity of data reporting by law schools more generally, this program gives schools a straightforward and efficient method to have their admissions data verified."
Advocates for Asian-American students are criticizing a new report from the Pew Research Center, which is well known for its demographic studies. The Pew report, "The Rise of Asian Americans," is generally quite positive about their status in American life. Citing survey and other data, the report begins: "Asian Americans are the highest-income, best-educated and fastest-growing racial group in the United States. They are more satisfied than the general public with their lives, finances and the direction of the country, and they place more value than other Americans do on marriage, parenthood, hard work and career success."
But a joint statement from the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund and the National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education said that the data presented by Pew obscured continuing challenges facing recent Asian immigrants (as opposed to those here for several generations). The report "only reinforces the mischaracterizations of Asian American and Pacific Islander students that contribute to their exclusion from federally-supported policies, programs, and initiatives. Presenting such findings offer nothing in the way of positive changes for this historically underserved student population. This data only further burdens down Asian American students who have to fight against the 'model minority myth,' a misleading falsehood that deems them to be well-educated and financially successful."
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on Tuesday announced $9 million in grants for "breakthrough learning models" in higher education:
The awards include:
- $3.3 million to EDUCAUSE for four winners of the Next Generation Learning Challenges' latest RFP. These winners include state systems, four-year and two-year programs, and all have signed up to deliver significant improvements in completion at scale, at affordable tuition rates.
- $3 million to MyCollege Foundation to establish a nonprofit college that will blend adaptive online learning solutions with other student services.
- $1 million to Massachusetts Institute of Technology to develop and offer a new, free prototype computer science online course through edX, a joint venture between MIT and Harvard, and partner with a postsecondary institution that targets low-income young adults to experiment with use of the course in a "flipped classroom."
- $1 million to the Research Foundation of the City University of New York to support the launch of the New Community College (NCC) at CUNY.
- $500,000 to University of the People to support the pursuit of accreditation.
- $450,000 to the League for Innovation in the Community College to develop and pilot a national consortium of leading online two- and four-year colleges that will help increase seat capacity in the community college system and support more low-income young adults in attaining a postsecondary credential. The consortium will initially include Coastline Community College (CA), the University of Massachusetts Online, Pennsylvania State World Campus and the University of Illinois-Springfield.