Higher Education Quick Takes
Stevens-Henager College, which has multiple campuses in Idaho and Utah, has become the latest for-profit postsecondary institution to change its tax status: The Idaho Statesman reports that the institution became a nonprofit as of Jan. 1. The college's chief executive, Eric Juhlin, told the newspaper the change would allow the college to accept tax-deductible donations for its scholarship programs scholarship programs and accept donated equipment, among other things. Keiser University changed its tax status in 2011.
The Council of Canadian Law Deans is opposing a proposal by Trinity Western University, an evangelical institution, to start a law school, The Vancouver Sun reported. The deans say that the accreditor for law schools in Canada should block the new institution from opening because Trinity Western's policies bar gay relationships by students or employees. Trinity Western officials said that they are entitled to hold their religious views, and also to start a law school.
Days after the other public institutions in the state announced expanded initiatives to incorporate massive open online courses into their curriculums, leaders of the University of California said they would soon bolster their own efforts to use digital courses to expand student access in a more cost-effective way, the Los Angeles Times and Associated Press reported. Speaking at a Board of Regents meeting at which officials of the MOOC providers Coursera, Udacity and edX made presentations and regents discussed a position paper on online learning, President Mark G. Yudof said the university had "hit a wall with regard to traditional instructional methods," and suggested that online learning was largely the way way out. Yudof said the university would soon be announcing several expansions of its fledgling campaign to expand online learning, which has faced significant pushback from some faculty members. He vowed that the new efforts would be of high quality and not lead to layoffs of instructors.
With great fanfare and big names in the student learning world behind it, the Lumina Foundation two years ago unveiled its Degree Qualifications Profile with the hope that it would prod faculty members and college leaders to better define and drive their students to show what they should know and be able to do at various degree levels. Despite experimentation on scores of campuses and by accreditors and others, the profile's impact has been muted, and in a new paper released today by the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment, two of the crafters of the profile, Peter Ewell and Carol Geary Schneider, seek to give faculty members and administrators reasons (and tools) to embrace its use.
Both Ewell's paper, which is the core of the document, and Schneider's afterword, subtly concede that the degree profile has not been fully accepted or understood. Ewell offers a "tasting menu" of practical ways that faculty members and institutions can develop "the needed assignments, examination questions, and projects that enable the collection of meaningful evidence of student mastery," the profile's underlying goal. Contrary to the widely assumed view (from some faculty critics) that the profile is designed to lead to a standardized, reductionist way of capturing student learning, Ewell writes, "engaging assessment in the context of the DQP requires faculty to be much more systematic and intentional than is currently the case at most colleges and universities."
Schneider more pointedly seeks to understand and explain why the degree profile "faces very real challenges" on campuses, which she attributes largely to faculty fears about standardization and the fragmented way (in departments, programs, etc.) learning is delivered on many campuses. The profile, she writes, "is a bold effort to help higher education move beyond credit hours to competency and beyond the fragmented learning too many students experience to intentionally preparing students to integrate and apply their learning to unscripted problems and responsibilities."
The University of Amsterdam held its annual faculty party last week, and many who attended wish they hadn't. The Associated Press reported that apparent food poisoning left 230 guests sickened, many of them violently ill with stomach ailments.
Rasmussen College, a midsized for-profit institution with roots in the Midwest, this week announced a tuition cut that averages 12 percent across the institution. Some students will see a 24 percent tuition reduction, the college said. Rasmussen is also locking in tuition rates for continuously enrolled students. The college has joined several other for-profits that are cutting their prices, freezing tuition rates and offering scholarships amid broad enrollment declines across the sector. Rasmussen said it was able to cut prices by having reduced overall operating expenses.
The Aspen Institute's College Excellence Program has released a guide to labor market data aimed at community colleges. The guide seeks to help college leaders find and use data from various sources to boost student success by tracking the employment and earnings of graduates. For example, colleges could use good data on labor markets to decide which academic programs to offer and how many graduates the college should ideally produce to fill available jobs in that field.
Tulane University, which late last year acknowledged having submitted inaccurate information about its M.B.A. program to U.S. News & World Report for rankings, has now issued more information about the fabricated data. The university said that "a single business school employee falsified data and submitted it" and that the "individual is no longer at the school." The university also said that it now believes that inaccurate data were submitted for the classes that entered the program from 2007 through 2011, and that U.S. News has been provided with details on the information submitted.
A statement from Michael Bernstein, the provost, said that "I sincerely regret that these events occurred and that one person could so negatively impact how others see us as a place of learning." However, Bernstein said he was "proud" of the way the business school was open about the false data, and the steps it has taken to assure the accuracy of data going forward.