Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

April 10, 2013

The European University Association released results of a survey on the internationalization of European universities in advance of its annual conference in Belgium. Respondents ranked “attracting students from abroad” as their top priority, followed by “internationalization of learning and teaching,” “providing our students with more opportunities to have a learning experience abroad,” and “strategic research partnerships.”

The survey also asked about universities’ interest in massive open online courses, or MOOCs, and found that only 58 percent of respondents had heard about MOOCs and 33 percent said they had been discussed at their institutions. When asked whether European universities should further develop MOOCs, 44 percent of respondents said yes, and another 48 percent had no clear opinion.

The survey garnered 180 responses from 175 higher education institutions in 38 countries.

April 10, 2013

About 60 students and faculty members at Florida Atlantic University held a rally Tuesday to criticize the university for its handling of a complaint about an intercultural communications class in which the instructor, Deandre Poole, had students write "Jesus" on a piece of paper and asked them to step on it, The Palm Beach Post reported. Poole has been placed on leave, with the university citing threats against him. The university also said it would never permit the "Jesus" exercise to be done again -- even though many professors said that it is legitimate and has been unfairly portrayed. Those at the protest said that the university''s response endangered academic freedom by saying that the university would not back professors whose class statements or lessons offend anyone. The university issued a statement Tuesday saying that it "embraces open discourse across its campuses and values its public mission as a venue for free expression…. We will to work with the FAU faculty and staff to address sensitive and controversial subjects, while upholding freedom of expression. A university campus is the best place for discussions of differing opinions."

April 10, 2013

London Metropolitan University’s license to sponsor visas for international students has been restored. Citing “systemic failures” in the university’s verification and monitoring of students’ English proficiency levels, visa status and course attendance, the UK Border Agency stripped London Met of its ability to host foreign students last August. This led to a court battle and concerns about the fate of the 2,600 foreign students then enrolled. 

The UK Border Agency said in a statement that a series of inspections over six months revealed that London Met had improved its processes. The university will be subject to a probationary period during which it will be limited on the number of international students it can enroll.

“This is excellent news for our students and our University, which looks forward to welcoming students from around the world who want to study at one of London’s most diverse academic institutions,” London Met’s vice-chancellor,  Malcolm Gillies, said in a statement. The university reported that it has already attracted nearly 5,000 applications from international students for fall 2013 and will begin “a four-month promotional tour across 17 countries.” 

April 10, 2013

An analysis released Tuesday by the National Center for Education Statistics found that students who took out federal loans but later dropped out had a median federal debt load equal to 35 percent of their annual income, and that dropouts from for-profit colleges borrowed the most per credit earned: $350 per credit, compared with less than $120 per credit for students in other sectors. The report looked at student debt for students who enrolled in college in the 2003-04 academic year but did not complete within six years. It also found that 21 percent of noncompleters from four-year private nonprofit colleges, and 31 percent of students from for-profit colleges who did not earn a credential, had student loan debt greater than their annual income.

April 9, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Tom Smulders of Newcastle University explains why our fingers become wrinkly after prolonged exposure to water. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

April 9, 2013

Some Yeshiva University alumni and supporters are calling on the university to block a planned award by a law school student group to President Carter. The student-run Journal of Conflict Resolution plans to give Carter its "Advocate for Peace Award" on Wednesday. A statement from alumni urging that the award be called off says: "Jimmy Carter is anathema to the aspirations of the Jewish people and the survival of the State of Israel. Honoring him at a bedrock of the American Jewish community does not bring wisdom to life or combine a fine education with the teachings of Torah. Honoring Jimmy Carter makes the statement that, notwithstanding the empty claims by the administration that the journal’s choice does not necessarily represent the views of the institution, this individual is someone deserving of recognition. Awarding this honor to someone with Carter’s anti-Israel record that includes whitewashing the genocidal aims of Hamas, mainstreaming the notion that Israel is a racist state, and validating a nuclear Iran is quite simply abhorrent."

Richard M. Joel, president of Yeshiva, issued a statement Monday that also criticized Carter, but said that the award did not imply an endorsement by the university. "While he has been properly lauded for his role in the Camp David Accords of 1978, I strongly disagree with many of President Carter’s statements and actions in recent years which have mischaracterized the Middle East conflict and have served to alienate those of us who care about Israel. President Carter’s presence at Cardozo in no way represents a university position on his views, nor does it indicate the slightest change in our steadfastly pro-Israel stance," Joel wrote. "That said, Yeshiva University both celebrates and takes seriously its obligation as a university to thrive as a free marketplace of ideas, while remaining committed to its unique mission as a proud Jewish university."

 

 

 

April 9, 2013

Pittsburgh has been the site of some of the most contentious debates in recent years on payments by colleges to localities in lieu of taxes on their property -- and tensions are heating up again. The city recently moved to remove the tax-exempt status of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that, in response, colleges throughout the area have said that they will no longer negotiate with the city on payments they make to support local governments. "Making progress on these long-standing issues is difficult even in the best of circumstances,” said a letter from college leaders to the city. “It would be counter-productive to try to push forward in the adversarial environment that exists today.”

April 9, 2013

Professors at Transylvania University, in Kentucky, have sent a letter to President Owen Williams objecting to what they call "a climate of distrust and demoralization which affects daily operations of the college and the future aspirations of the faculty, administration and board," The Lexington Herald-Leader reported. The letter follows the rejection by Williams of two candidates for tenure who had been approved by the relevant faculty committees. Williams said that he had deferred, not rejected, the tenure bids and that the faculty members had only to publish in a peer-reviewed journal to win tenure. But faculty leaders said that this was a new requirement, not one that was in place when the faculty members prepared for their tenure reviews, or when panels considered their candidacies.

 

April 9, 2013

The obituaries of Margaret Thatcher, who died Monday, noted that the late British prime minister had enormous influence on her country -- with many divided about whether that influence was for the good. An article in Times Higher Education quoted supporters of Thatcher saying that she had promoted accountability and efficiency in ways that have had a positive impact. But the article also noted criticism from others that her budget policies started an erosion of the quality of Britain's universities.

April 9, 2013

The Iowa Senate on Monday rejected two nominees of Governor Terry Branstad, a Republican, for the Board of Regents, The Des Moines Register reported. The votes were largely along party lines, with Democrats opposing the nominees, who fell short of the two-thirds majority required for confirmation. Critics of the nominees cited concerns over whether they would be supportive of academic freedom, but Branstad and other Republicans said that the nominees were treated unfairly.

 

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