Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, August 2, 2012 - 4:32am

The Canadian government is planning to tighten visa rules for foreign students, Postmedia News reported. New rules will seek to prevent people from arriving in Canada on a student visa and then seeking full-time work while not actually enrolling anywhere. Other rules will seek to prevent the issuing of student visas for those planning to enroll at substandard institutions.


Thursday, August 2, 2012 - 3:00am

Only about 0.2 percent of undergraduates finish college with more than $100,000 in student debt, even though that group has received considerable media and public attention, from the Occupy movement to The New York Times, according to a new analysis. (Among graduate and professional students, about 6 percent graduate with six-figure debt.) The study, by Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of Finaid.org, finds that most of the undergraduate borrowers attended colleges that cost more than $30,000 per year, and the majority -- about three-quarters -- attended private nonprofit colleges. Kantrowitz's analysis is based on data from the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study. Students majoring in architecture, theology and history were more likely than those in other majors to graduate with high debt. Nearly one-third of students borrowing more than $100,000 came from families whose income was at least $100,000 per year.

Thursday, August 2, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Jack Tuszynski of the University of Alberta explores the physical process that allows the brain to store and retrieve memories. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


Thursday, August 2, 2012 - 3:00am

Wheaton College, the evangelical Christian college in Illinois, has filed suit again over the Affordable Care Act's requirement that employer-provided health plans cover contraception -- including emergency contraception -- at no charge to consumers, which took effect Wednesday. While church-affiliated employers, including Roman Catholic and some Protestant colleges, have an additional year to comply with the requirement, Wheaton does not qualify for the temporary reprieve, said the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. Wheaton is excluded because its health plans already cover some forms of birth control; the college's objection is to the emergency contraception requirement, since it believes those pills can prevent a human embryo from implanting.

The Becket Fund filed a motion on Whetaon's behalf Wednesday for a preliminary injunction against the law. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012 - 4:19am

John Pike, the police officer who used pepper spray last year on students who were protesting peacefully at the University of California at Davis, is no longer employed by the university, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. He was suspended with pay after the incident. A Davis spokesman confirmed that Pike's last day of employment was July 31, but declined to comment further. Pike could not be reached for comment.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012 - 3:00am

The football and men’s basketball teams at the University of Central Florida will have to sit out the upcoming postseason, the National Collegiate Athletic Association announced Tuesday, as the Committee on Infractions cited the university for lacking institutional control and failing to monitor its sports program, by allowing impermissible recruiting activities and extra benefits for athletes. The NCAA's decision comes just two years after the association punished Central Florida for recruiting violations by former athletics officials.

At issue was “an ever-increasing problem in intercollegiate athletics today,” the committee said in its public infractions report. Third parties, “who through their activity became athletics representatives of UCF,” had significant unallowable telephone and in-person recruiting contact with men’s basketball and football athletes, the committee said. Further, one representative provided prospects and current athletes with $16,000 in cash payments, travel expenses, tuition and a laptop computer. The committee also found unethical conduct on the part of the former athletics director and assistant football coach, who “knowingly provided false and misleading information” in interviews with NCAA enforcement officials. Athletic department employees not only knew about the recruiting violations, the committee said – “in some cases” they “encouraged” it. The same third parties also received benefits and favors from the program, including event tickets. The failure to monitor charge stems from the men’s basketball coach’s neglect to stop or discourage and report the violations.

The NCAA’s penalties add to a number of self-imposed sanctions, including vacation of men’s basketball wins from 2008-9, and a reduction in recruiting days and official paid visits. Other sanctions include a $50,000 fine, five years’ probation, scholarship reductions in football and men’s basketball, and three-year show-cause orders for the former athletics director and two coaches, meaning that if they move to another institution the penalties will follow them there unless the college can show the NCAA why they shouldn’t apply.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012 - 4:25am

In the wake of a federal investigation, Xavier University in Ohio has agreed to reform its procedures for dealing with complaints of sexual harassment and assault, Cincinnati.com reported. The investigation was prompted by complaints from two female students who said that a male student was twice allowed to stay on campus after being found responsible for sexual assaults. Another student charged that Xavier did not treat her fairly when she filed a complaint about sexual harassment and stalking.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012 - 3:00am

Officials at California State University and the California Faculty Association announced Tuesday that they had reached a tentative agreement on a new contract that will preserve current terms and will not lead to any salary increases. The contract, which will now have to be ratified by the university’s board of trustees and CFA members, is valid through June 2014. The new contract leaves open the possibility of more salary negotiations in the next two years. Union leaders hailed the new agreement because it preserved salaries and benefits amidst deep budget cuts in the state. The new contract comes after two years of bruising talks between the two sides, and included a vote by CFA members earlier this year to authorize strikes if disputes over the contract were not resolved. The union represents 23,000 faculty members, coaches, counselors and librarians across 23 campuses in the state.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012 - 3:00am

Most for-profits operating in California have been deemed ineligible to participate in Cal Grants, the state's generous need-based financial aid program. The California Student Aid Commission on Tuesday released a list of 154 ineligible institutions or branch campuses, 137 of which are for-profits, including the University of Phoenix. The rest are mostly small, private religious institutions. The program's rules were tightened to save money amid California's budget crisis, and were drafted in such a way that they were aimed specifically at for-profits. For example, they apply only to colleges where more than 40 percent of students take out loans. That effectively exempts community colleges, which don't charge enough in tuition for federal loans to be a major issue.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Gert Lanckriet of the University of California at San Diego explains efforts to create a search engine for music. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


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