Higher Education Quick Takes
Enrollment in professional science master's programs increased by 15.4 percent in 2011, according to data released today by the Council of Graduate Schools. The enrollments are highest in computational sciences, biology/biotechnology, environmental sciences and mathematics and statistics.
A report released Tuesday by Law School Transparency, a nonprofit advocacy group, found that the majority of law schools do not provide data on whether their graduates are employed as lawyers or whether they find part-time work, among other categories. The report, which comes amid increasing questions about whether law school students are able to find jobs and pay off their debt -- and the value of a law degree -- found that 27 percent of law schools provide no employment data at all on outcomes for the class of 2010. Of schools that did provide such data, 26 percent indicated whether the jobs were legal jobs and 11 percent indicated whether those jobs were full time or part time. "Taken together, these and other findings illustrate how law schools have been slow to react to calls for disclosure, with some schools conjuring ways to repackage employment data to maintain their image," the report's authors wrote. But they also note some changes in recent years, including proposed changes to American Bar Association accreditation standards that would require more data disclosure.
The American Association of University Professors last week sent a letter to the City University of New York chancellor and board chair, citing concerns about the “Pathways to Degree Completion Initiative,” a move by CUNY to enable smoother transfer for its community college students to CUNY's four-year institutions. The initiative was approved by CUNY’s Board of Trustees in June 2011. In the letter, the AAUP said that faculty members had complained about the new framework for the transfer of credits between CUNY’s 19 undergraduate colleges and the way these changes were adopted by “an administration-appointed Task Force and its associated committees,” bypassing elected faculty bodies. The faculty members have also complained about the soundness of the initiative itself and the consequences for academic freedom. (Some faculty members at community colleges have backed the changes, saying that they were necessary to help their students.)
Jay Hershenson, senior vice chancellor for university relations at CUNY, said the process had been a struggle, but that the initiative would raise quality and increase accountability. “CUNY’s Board of Trustees unanimously adopted the Pathways Initiative after extensive consultation, hearings, and meetings. Hundreds of faculty have participated in the curricula development process and CUNY’s elected student leadership hailed the reforms as long overdue,” he said.
Officials of the London School of Economics and Political Science are investigating reports that a Jewish student was assaulted and had his nose broken after he objected to a Nazi-themed drinking game played on a student trip to France, AFP reported. The game, called "Nazi Ring of Fire," involves a series of cards arranged in the shape of a swastika.
Many community colleges "struggle" to "effectively meet the needs of immigrants," says a new report from the Community College Consortium for Immigrant Education. The report notes that community colleges and immigrant groups vary, but suggests that certain parts of "a framework" are needed regardless of groups served or the characteristics of the college. These parts include high-level commitment to serving immigrant students, "proactive outreach" to immigrant students, a redesign of English as a second language programs, a "holistic, integrated" approach to student services and efforts to support leadership qualities in immigrant students.
Classes are scheduled to be held today in Northern Illinois University's Cole Hall -- which will be used for the first time since a gunman opened fire and killed five people four years ago, The Chicago Tribune reported. The building has been extensively renovated, but the return to the facility won't feature the kind of celebratory ribbon-cuttings typically used for such events. Provost Ray Alden said that Cole Hall "now stands as testament to this university's resolve."
Stackable pods, slightly larger than the space needed for a twin bed, are the latest housing alternative in Hong Kong, and students are among those trying out the unusual accommodations, Reuters reported. The pod concept was originally envisioned for tourists, but student demand led to the creation of a capsule dormitory. Most universities have long waiting lists for more traditional housing.
Washington and Lee University will hold classes today, over the objections of students who wanted classes called off to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day, The Washington Post reported. Colleges' practices on calling off classes for the holiday vary. While some colleges observe the day without classes, many colleges hold classes on most federal holidays, not wanting to have fewer sessions held on Mondays than on other days. And many colleges have long January breaks, so that classes wouldn't be held today in any case. At Washington and Lee, the issue is complicated by the university's observance (later this week) of Founders' Day on the birthday of Robert E. Lee, one of those for whom the university is named. On that day, students have a shorter class schedule so that they can attend a convocation. A university spokesman said that the university honors King's memory with programs that show respect for the late civil rights leader's legacy. "We believe that canceling classes is not the only way, or even necessarily the most meaningful way, to demonstrate that respect," the spokesman said.