Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

June 17, 2013

WASHINGTON -- The Education Department is hoping to streamline its process for reviewing and recognizing accrediting agencies to focus more on what it considers key criteria -- 25 of the 95 factors that include accreditors' standards and how they are applied, as well as the agencies' fiscal health. While the streamlined standards won't be in effect for another two years, they're likely to be a relief to accrediting agencies, who have grumbled in recent years that the department has grown increasingly "granular" in evaluating accreditors for official recognition.

"This will result in a better, more targeted process that is simpler and less burdensome for accrediting agencies, NACIQI and the federal government," Martha Kanter, the under secretary of education, wrote in a blog post. "It is our hope and expectation that these improvements will also enable the postsecondary institutions they accredit to focus additional time and effort on quality enhancement and value."

June 17, 2013

Chen Guangcheng, the dissident from China who has held a fellowship at New York University for the last year, said that NYU was kicking him out because of concerns that his criticism of China was harming the university's interests there, The New York Times reported. While speculation about Chen's departure has circulated for several days, his statement Sunday was Chen's first on the matter. He and others have noted that NYU has a new campus in Shanghai and that many NYU faculty members need visas to travel back and forth to China. “The work of the Chinese Communists within academic circles in the United States is far greater than what people imagine, and some scholars have no option but to hold themselves back,” Chen said. “Academic independence and academic freedom in the United States are being greatly threatened by a totalitarian regime.”

NYU responded with its own statement, denying that Chinese politics had anything to do with Chen's departure. The issue was simply that his fellowship was over, the university said. “We are very discouraged to learn of Mr. Chen’s statement, which contains a number of speculations about the role of the Chinese government in N.Y.U.’s decision-making that are both false and contradicted by the well-established facts,” said an NYU spokesman.

 

June 17, 2013

The budget bill for California higher education for the coming year will include increased reporting requirements, but not a direct linkage between increased funding and accomplishing certain goals, The Los Angeles Times reported. Governor Jerry Brown had wanted public higher education -- as a condition of more money -- to improve graduation rates, enroll more low income students and freeze tuition. But higher education leaders said that those goals might not be possible given the severity of budget cuts over the last decade. Legislators generally accepted that argument.

 

June 17, 2013

Students who enroll at a Roman Catholic college are more likely to receive a degree within four years than their peers at public or for-profit institutions, and graduation rates at Catholic colleges also exceed the rates at private nonprofit colleges in general, according to a report released Friday by the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities. The report found higher four-, five- and six-year graduation rates for all entering students at Catholic colleges than the average for the public, for-profit or private nonprofit sectors.

June 17, 2013

Six Chinese students studying wine-making in the Bordeaux region of France were attacked Saturday morning in an incident the country’s interior minister has condemned as xenophobic, Reuters reported. One student was seriously injured after being struck in the face by a bottle. Two suspects have been arrested.

June 17, 2013

Goddard College is cutting faculty and staff pay to deal with a $550,000 deficit in a budget of less than $13 million, The Rutland Herald reported. Goddard is a nontraditional college where students have relatively short residency periods at the Vermont campus and work remotely with faculty members on individualized academic programs. Officials blamed the deficit on enrollment declines. The pay cuts will be tiered, with no reductions for those earning up to $30,000. The college will also be suspending retirement contributions, and eliminating severance pay, but no layoffs are planned.

 

June 17, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Amy Kelley of Mount Sinai School of Medicine examines the average Medicare recipient’s medical expenses during the last five years. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

June 17, 2013

Some typos are more visible than others. Yahoo! Sports noted that the banner on top of dugout at the College World Series had a non-baseball error: College was spelled as "colllege" with an extra L, prompting considerable discussion on Twitter and elsewhere.

 

June 17, 2013

Sports Illustrated has published damning new reports on the investigative arm of the National Collegiate Athletic Association and of the football program of the University of Miami.

The enforcement division has "gone from bad to worse," one article says. It notes many departures of key people in the division, a campaign (much mocked internally) to boost morale through the use of corporate buzzwords and complaints about Mark Emmert, the NCAA president. Emmert is said to focus more on publicity -- he is called by some "King of the Press Conference" -- than on the association's challenges. One former enforcement official told the magazine: "The time is ripe to cheat. There's no policing going on." Emmert declined to comment for the piece.

The article on Miami meanwhile includes allegations that a one-time booster, Nevin Shapiro, whose past allegations have already led to numerous problems for the university, "used inside information from Hurricanes players, coaches and athletic department staffers to win bets on 23 Miami football games" between 2003 and 2009.

 

 

 

June 14, 2013

Three current or former Purdue University students face charges of conspiracy to commit computer tampering and conspiracy to commit burglary to hack into computer networks to change grades, The Indianapolis Star reported. Some of the alleged grade changes were from A to A+ while others were from F to A. The investigation that led to the charges started when an engineering professor noticed that his password had been changed.

 

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