Higher Education Quick Takes
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 Illinois attorney general is planning to sue Westwood College, a for-profit institution with four campuses in the Chicago area, saying that it has misled students about its criminal justice program in ways that have left the students facing serious debts without employment prospects, The Chicago Tribune reported. The suit will charge that Westwood is inappropriately recruiting students for the program for a law enforcement career when Illinois requires its police officers to be graduates of regionally accredited institutions. Westwood is nationally accredited so its graduates aren't eligible for the jobs. The suit will say that Westwood "made a variety of misrepresentations and false promises." The students who are enrolling are paying much more than they would have to for a degree that would qualify them for the jobs, the suit says. It notes that to complete a degree in criminal justice at Westwood costs $71,610 (with many students borrowing heavily to pay), compared with $12,672 from the College of DuPage, a nonprofit regionally accredited college.
A Westwood spokesman issued this statement: "We continue to cooperate with the Illinois [attorney general] to resolve any outstanding issues. We are proud of our legacy of helping students obtain their educational goals. We have hundreds of graduates working in the private and public criminal justice field throughout the state of Illinois."
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.
Ward Connerly, a national leader of the fight to end the consideration of race and ethnicity in college admissions, is being accused of mismanaging the group he created for this effort, The New York Times reported. The critic is Jennifer Gratz, who shares Connerly's views on affirmative action and was the named plaintiff in a suit challenging the consideration of race at the University of Michigan. After the suit, Gratz worked for Connerly. She is accusing him of misusing funds sent to advance his work, paying himself a large salary rather than devoting funds to his cause. Connerly called Gratz a "disgruntled former employee" trying to "besmirch me personally."
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.
The union trying to organize research assistants at the University of Michigan will hold a press conference today at which it will charge that a graduate student lost funding and was kicked out of her program for being involved in the union, The Detroit Free Press reported. The student will share an e-mail she received from a faculty member saying "I realize you have other things going on but an increased [sic] in your focus on research is urgently needed.... This will probably require you to decrease your involvement in non-research [activity]." Because the student says her only non-research activity was the union, the union says this was an inappropriate order to stop involvement in the union. A university spokesman denied the allegation, saying that "this is an academic matter. While we are precluded by law from discussing publicly a student's academic record, we believe certain of the union's factual claims are unfounded."
The salaries of new head coaches at big-time college football programs increased by 35 percent in 2011, USA Today reported. The new average salary is $1.5 million a year.
Taiwanese universities are loosening the rules for admitting students from mainland China, China Daily reported. Applicants had been restricted to one potential major, but now can identify five potential majors. In addition, a previous age limit (40) has been lifted.
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.