Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011 - 3:00am

It's rankings season, and that means everyone is rushing out lists of best college for this and best college for that, all leading up to next month's annual celebration by colleges that fare well in U.S. News & World Report's rankings, and denunciation of the magazine by those that do poorly (and a few principled colleges that did well). Gawker responded to this rankings frenzy Monday by releasing a list of the "25 most unranked colleges in America." The website had a problem though when it found out one of the colleges on its list, the Thunderbird School of Global Management, is in fact ranked (just check out its website), and so subbed in another college.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011 - 3:00am

Hilary Pennington wrote to recipients of education-related grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to announce that she would be leaving the position of director of education, postsecondary success and special initiatives. The foundation has been highly influential in recent years in pushing colleges to pay more attention to college completion issues, and this focus has been most notable at community colleges. "Given the momentum we’ve built for the next phase of the postsecondary success strategy, I have decided this is a good time for me to pass the baton. I am eager to get closer to work on the ground than my role at the foundation allows, and to replenish my energy and spirit. And I want to engage more directly the challenges that face societies (the U.S. and elsewhere in the world) seeking to balance the needs of a rising generation of ethnically and racially diverse young people with those of a more homogeneous aging generation –- especially now, at a time when slower economic growth often seems to pit the interests of the young against those of the old." Pennington did not announce details on her next steps, but said she would remain on for a transition period into 2012.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011 - 3:00am

Under a new agreement between Pearson and the Eminata Group, students at three for-profit colleges in Canada will begin getting their course content exclusively via Apple iPads, the companies announced on Monday. Beginning in September, all new students enrolled at CDI College, Vancouver Career College and Reeves College will get iPads from Eminata, which operates the colleges, and will buy e-textbooks from Pearson. Over the next three years, all programs at the colleges will deliver their course content via Pearson's iPad-optimized e-texts.

Monday, August 29, 2011 - 3:00am

Twenty-five colleges and universities in Boston -- public and private -- are starting a campaign to make sure that more graduates of Boston high schools finish college, The Boston Globe reported. The effort was prompted by a study two years ago finding that most graduates of Boston's public high schools who start college don't graduate. Efforts being tried by various colleges include scholarship aid, special (and free) summer programs and "learning communities" in which cohorts of students take multiple courses together.

Monday, August 29, 2011 - 3:00am

Kaplan has abandoned plans to create a university in Adelaide, Australia, The Australian reported. Kaplan officials said that they would explore other ways to increase the for-profit university's presence in South Australia. A for-profit competitor, Laureate, is exploring a campus in the region as well.

Monday, August 29, 2011 - 3:00am

A professor has been removed from his job at Peking University, following an affair that led to a blackmail attempt, Xinhua reported. The university investigated after a report appeared in The Beijing Times about a professor who had an affair with a woman, who then tried to blackmail him when he did not keep a promise to help her gain admission to the university.

Monday, August 29, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Dan Caldwell of Pepperdine University outlines the relationship between the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, August 29, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of Indonesia is facing considerable criticism for awarding an honorary degree to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, The Jakarta Post reported. The university says that the honor was appropriate because of the king's work on behalf of moderate Islamic teachings, interfaith dialogue and various humanitarian efforts. But Saudi Arabia has become deeply unpopular in Indonesia since the beheading, two months ago, of an Indonesian maid who was working in the country and was accused of murder. Her execution has focused attention on what many see as the abuse of impoverished Indonesians working in Saudi Arabia, many of whom say they have no rights.

Monday, August 29, 2011 - 3:00am

The University of Southern California on Sunday announced a $6 billion fund-raising campaign, which would be the largest ever in higher education, The Los Angeles Times reported. Half of the funds would be used to increase the size of the university's endowment (to support faculty hiring and student aid in particular) and the rest would support construction and research. In December, Columbia University upped its campaign total to the then-record of $5 billion. Harvard University is currently planning a campaign that could top the USC goal.

Monday, August 29, 2011 - 3:00am

Nearly half of those who've graduated college in the last decade report having taken a course online, but only 28 percent of Americans under 30 say that a course taken online "is equal in value to a course taken in person," according to a report on online education published Sunday by the Pew Research Center. The report is based on a survey of 2,142 adults last spring.

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