Higher Education Quick Takes
Some faculty members at the University of Sydney are calling for officials to call off a campus event with Israeli scientists, saying that such a program would offend Muslim students, The Australian reported. An e-mail circulated among faculty members said that Israeli universities are complicit in government mistreatment of the Palestinians, and that Israeli universities should teach in Arabic. Organizers of the event with Israeli scientists note that another such event is planned with Arab scientists. Manuel Graeber, a neuroscientist at the university, e-mailed colleagues in defense of the planned program. "The event with Israel should go ahead exactly as planned," he wrote. "There is absolutely nothing questionable about it. Academics must not be held hostage by ideologies."
The number of first-time applicants to medical school increased by 2.6 percent in 2011, to 32,654, the Association of American Medical Colleges reported on Monday. The AAMC also reported an increase of 3 percent, to 19,230, in the entering class in 2011. Medical educators have been pushing for increases in enrollments, citing projected physician shortages in the years ahead, especially in general medical fields.
Enrollment increases were also reported this month by the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, which found that total enrollment at osteopathic medical colleges now tops 20,600, a 6.5 percent increase.
Adjuncts at Northern Michigan University have voted to join a union of tenured and tenure-track faculty members. The expanded unit is affiliated with the American Association of University Professors. The vote of adjuncts to join the union was 54-5. That means that about 100 adjuncts will join the roughly 300 faculty members already in the union.
Ron Paul, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, has called for ending the federal student loan program, saying that it has "failed," the Associated Press reported. Paul said that government programs have forced up tuition rates. "Just think of all this willingness to want to help every student get a college education," said Paul, who graduated from Gettysburg College and then earned a medical degree at the Duke University. "I went to school when we had none of those. I could work my way through college and medical school because it wasn't so expensive."
The University of New Mexico has announced that it will not renew a permit that has enabled the local "Occupy" movement to gather on the campus, KOB News 4 reported. The university says that it is not comfortable keeping the protest going on campus because homeless people and others are being attracted to the event, making it dangerous. One participant in the protest said it was unfair for the university to blame the protest movement for the homeless. "We didn't bring them. It's the capitalist system in this country that has brought that," said Amalia Montoya.
StraighterLine, a low-cost online course provider, has signed up the University of Phoenix as its 27th partner college. A larger group of colleges typically accepts credits earned for StraighterLine courses that are evaluated by the American Council on Education's Credit Recommendation Service. Partner colleges, however, have agreed to accept credits earned through the provider and also offer a streamlined application process to StraighterLine students.
Phoenix joins other for-profit partner colleges, including Kaplan University, DeVry University and Capella University. StraightLine's nonprofit partners include Western Governors University and several public universities, such as Albany State University and Charter Oak State University. Inside Higher Ed last year published a three-part series on the curricular experiment undertaken by StraighterLine. The provider later brought in an outside firm to conduct a study of the quality of its offerings. (Note: This article has been updated from an earlier version to correct erroneous information provided by the company.)
The Student Aid Alliance, a group of 74 higher education associations, advocacy groups and other organizations, announced a lobbying campaign Monday to fight possible cuts to federal financial aid as the Congressional committee on deficit reduction enters the final month before its Nov. 24 deadline.
Pell Grants are considered a possible target of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, known as the "super committee," which is charged with cutting $1.2 trillion from the long-term deficit before Thanksgiving. In a statement of support intended to be signed by college presidents, faculty members, associations and others, the alliance said that, given the tough economy, it is "more important than ever to preserve, protect and provide adequate funding for the core federal student aid programs -- such as Pell Grants and student loan benefits." By the end of the business day Monday, it had 618 signatures and was quickly growing. The campaign is also urging members to contact their Congressional representatives to discuss federal aid programs. The drive came amid reports that the White House will announce new measures Wednesday aimed at helping student loan borrowers -- focused on letting more of them consolidate their loans at a savings.
The City University of New York, facing an increasing population of students who graduate from high school, sometimes with good grades, and then are identified as needing remediation in several subjects, is having success with an intensive semester-long program, The New York Times reported. In the CUNY program, students take only three subjects, and work on them five hours a day, five days week. So far, students are completing the program and then passing out of remedial education at much higher levels than are the norm for remedial programs. CUNY has been working to expand the effort.
The faculty union at the University of Illinois at Chicago won another victory Friday, with a ruling by the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board rejecting a request by the university to stay an order certifying the union. The union is the result of a major organizing drive conducted by the American Association of University Professors and the American Federation of Teachers, which have hoped that the effort at UIC would pave the way for more faculty unions at doctoral institutions. The university has challenged the right of the union to form, as currently planned, because both tenure-track faculty members and adjunct professors would be in the same unit. The university maintains that this violates state law, but the state labor board in September rejected that argument, and certified the union. The university vowed to go to court to block the union, and requested a stay.
Union officials noted that the board's decision rejecting the stay suggested that the university will lose in court. "We find that granting a stay in this case would be contrary to the public policy that supports a duty to bargain," the board said in its ruling. It added that "we find that there is not a reasonable likelihood that the employer will succeed on the merits."
After this item was originally published, the university released a statement saying that an Illinois appeals court has agreed to an expedited review of the university's appeal, and that the court would soon be asked for a stay.