Higher Education Quick Takes
The skills students learn from a vocational education may ease their transition into the labor market, according to a new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research. However, those initial labor-market advantages fade as workers age. The study found that individuals with a general education are more likely to be employed at age 50 than are those with a vocational education. A general education was particularly helpful in countries that experienced faster economic growth and larger technological change.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has found no violation by Psalm 100, a Christian singing group at the university, in the way it decided to exclude a member shortly after he announced he was gay. The university bars discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. But UNC officials said that they could not determine whether the student was excluded for being gay (as critics of Psalm 100 suggested) or because he expressed views with which the group disagrees (views supporting gay rights and disputing any conflict between supporting gay rights and being a good Christian).
Two Football Bowl Subdivision conferences announced Friday that they would combine their football programs to form one 22-team league. The members of the two leagues, Conference USA and the Mountain West Conference, have often been on the outside looking in when it comes to the high-profile Bowl Championship Series that crowns the national champion in big-time football. And the recent rounds of cannibalism involving other big-time-football playing leagues has left Conference USA and Mountain West vulnerable to raiding by some of the conferences whose own members have been wooed away by other leagues. "Rather than await changes in membership due to realignment, it became clear the best way to serve our institutions was to pursue an original concept," Craig Thompson, commissioner of the Mountain West, said in a news release. "The Mountain West and C-USA share a number of similarities, and the creative merger of our football assets firmly positions our respective members for the future."
Six people were shot in the legs and buttocks Saturday at an off-campus party of an unrecognized University of Akron fraternity, The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported. Authorities said that six people crashed the party, were thrown out and returned to shoot some of the guests. Six people were subsequently arrested.
When Illinois adopted a civil unions law this year, Northwestern University decided to grant full partner benefits to same-sex couples who have civil unions, but not opposite-sex couples, who have the option of getting married to receive benefits, The Chicago Tribune reported. An opposite-sex couple is complaining that the policy is unfair, and the university said that it will be reviewing the policy down the road.
Two U.S. senators -- Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, and Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat -- have asked the U.S. Department of Education to gather information about the accuracy of key law school data, such as figures on job placement, student loans and other topics. The letter from the senators comes amid lawsuits and considerable public debate over whether some law schools are being less than honest about the odds of students landing good jobs. A statement from Senator Boxer notes that the request to the Education Department follows "repeated calls" from her "to the American Bar Association to provide stronger oversight of reporting by law schools and better access to information for students."
Seymour Schulich, a Canadian philanthropist, is setting up a $100 million fund to provide scholarships for undergraduates in Canada and Israel who are pursuing degrees in STEM fields, The Globe and Mail reported. Five Israeli universities and 20 Canadian universities have been invited to nominate potential recipients from 1,600 high schools.
Tripoli University has started, under new leaders, to try to transform itself for the post-Qaddafi era, The New York Times reported. Many students and academics are excited about the possibilities, but Feisel Krekshi, the new dean, told the Times that the challenges are great. He called the faculty "90 percent contaminated" and noted that the old curriculum forced students to spend much of their time in college studying years studying Muammar Qaddafi’s philosophy. “This was not a university,” Krekshi said. “It was a place of intelligence and torture, a weapon to support all oppression.”
In what is considered a breakthrough, Seoul National University has announced plans to start a Japanese studies department next year, ending what many have considered an unusual hole in the institution's curriculum, The Korea Times reported. Many Koreans remain ambivalent about studying Japan, given the treatment of their country by the Japanese during the first half of the 20th century. Several years ago, the university abandoned plans to start an undergraduate program in Japanese studies, in the face of anti-Japanese sentiment.