Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011 - 3:00am

The American Bar Association has been engaged in a long process of updating accreditation standards for law schools, and the latest draft features tougher reporting requirements on job placement, The National Law Journal reported. Under the new draft, law schools would disclose the percentage of students whose employment status is unknown after nine months, the percentage in jobs funded by the law school, the percentage in jobs requiring passage of a bar exam and the percentage in non-legal jobs. The inclusion of those changes reflects criticisms of current, minimalist reporting requirements that critics say hide the extent of unemployment of law school graduates. The new draft also maintains controversial provisions from earlier versions that would eliminate requirements that law schools have tenure systems and use the LSAT in admissions.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011 - 3:00am

California's three public college systems cannot educate the state's citizens without more help from their private nonprofit and for-profit peers -- and state politicians and regulators should acknowledge the role of the latter, a new report argues. The report, produced by two researchers at the University of Southern California's Center for Higher Education Policy Analysis and funded by the National University System, argues that "the three public higher education systems in California cannot, by themselves, respond to increased demand for higher education," and that "they, and the two private higher education systems, need to be re-engineered to function as five parts of one coherent system, collectively growing in capacity to keep pace with the state’s demand for an educated work force." Among the ideas put forward by the authors, which are certain to face pushback from public college and university leaders at times of state funding cutbacks: allowing "state funding for students to take classes offered by private institutions, especially in high-demand majors such as nursing, science, engineering and math," creating a common course numbering system to allow for easy transfer among colleges of all types, offering "state incentives for nonprofit private institutions to increase student enrollment by up to 10 percent," and changing "the 'quasi-cartel' licensing requirements used to keep some out-of-state programs from competing in California."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011 - 3:00am

The union that represents professors in Pennsylvania's 14-campus public college system agreed on Sunday to negotiate a pay freeze for 2012, with its leaders saying they want to "do our part" to help the state deal with its budget gap. The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties, which represents 6,000 faculty members and coaches in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, said its members would agree to a one-year freeze "in the context of similar sacrifice shared by our administrative and management counterparts.” But the union's statement went on to urge legislators to do their part "by meeting the Commonwealth’s obligation to the State System of Higher Education by restoring the critical funds necessary for our students to have the same opportunities their brothers, sisters, and parents had to improve themselves and to secure Pennsylvania’s future.” Governor Tom Corbett has proposed a 50 percent cut in the budgets for the state college system and Pennsylvania State University.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011 - 3:00am

WASHINGTON -- Vice President Biden will today urge every state's governor to produce a plan to increase college completion, and announce a set of resources (though no new money) designed to help them do that. The announcement, which will come at an education summit here, includes the release of a new “college completion toolkit,” which lays out for states and governors a set of "no-cost or low-cost" programs that some of their peers have used to improve student persistence, increase the productivity of public colleges, or otherwise help states contribute to President Obama's much-touted goal of giving the U.S. the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020. The vice president's announcement also discusses a new grant program within the current budget of the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education and two proposed programs that are contained in the Obama administration's 2012 budget, all of which are designed to reward institutions that increase completion rates. The Department of Education also announced a state-by-state outline of how much each state has to increase its graduation rate to further the administration’s goals. For most states, that will mean increasing their graduation rates by about 50 percent by 2020. “Right now we’ve got an education system that works like a funnel when we need it to work like a pipeline,” Biden said in a press release. “We have to make the same commitment to getting folks across the graduation stage that we did to getting them into the registrar’s office.”

Tuesday, March 22, 2011 - 3:00am

In 2009, the Association of Research Libraries urged its members to stop agreeing to nondisclosure agreements on pricing of journal packages, finding that these pacts were undercutting the ability of universities to negotiate fair deals. The Cornell University Library has now taken a public stand consistent with the ARL recommendation. A statement posted on the library website explains: "Occasionally in licenses governing electronic resources, publishers will request that the Cornell University Library (CUL) treat the subscription price as confidential information and not disclose it to third parties. In the past, some libraries have tolerated these clauses in the belief that they might result in a lower cost. This, however, is a position that CUL can no longer accept. It has become apparent to the library community that the anticompetitive conduct engaged in by some publishing firms is in part a result of the inclusion of nondisclosure agreements in contracts."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011 - 3:00am

More than 150 prominent academics from the United States, Britain and elsewhere have signed a petition calling on École Normale Supérieure, in Paris, to lift a ban on a debate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, The Guardian reported. A pro-Palestinian student group attempted to organize the event and was blocked from doing so by the university's administrators. The petition calls for the institution to restore "its long history of free speech and political expression."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011 - 3:00am

Two Alabama community colleges -- Bevill State and Northwest Shoals Community Colleges -- have announced that they will deal with state budget cuts in part by shutting down athletic departments, The Huntsville Times reported. Bevill State has men and women's basketball, softball, baseball and track teams. Northwest Shoals has teams in baseball, men and women's basketball, softball, women's volleyball and cheerleading.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011 - 3:00am

The decision by The New York Times to start charging for online content has prompted considerable debate here and elsewhere. A political science blog, The Monkey Cage, responded by announcing that it would start to charge Times staffers a monthly fee to have access to the blog. At the same time, the political scientists have indicated that they will permit -- at no charge -- posting on the blog by Times employees "if the comments are essentially positive and invoke the words 'insightful' or 'counter-intuitive." Further, Times employees are assured that free links will be available on Twitter.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011 - 3:00am

Sallie Mae announced Monday that it will begin offering checking accounts for students with federal financial aid refunds. The company will be competing with Higher One, which has focused on the service.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011 - 3:00am

Rev. James St. George, a gay priest, on Monday announced that he had reached "an amicable resolution" with Chestnut Hill College that will end the controversy over its decision to end his work teaching as an adjunct. "This resolution is consistent with each party's respective religious beliefs and was arrived at over this past weekend," said his statement. "Chestnut Hill College and I have expressed our respect for each other's churches, however different our religious principles may be. We are committed to moving forward and tending to our respective ministries." Chestnut Hill is a Roman Catholic college, and it revoked contracts with Father St. George after senior officials received a complaint about his being a gay priest. Father St. George is part of the Old Catholic Apostolic Church of the Americas, which split from the Roman Catholic Church in the 1870s over a number of issues. Today it practices many Catholic rituals and shares some Catholic theology, but also permits priests to be married or gay. A college spokeswoman said that Father St. George's statement was consistent with Chestnut Hill's views on the settlement.

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