Higher Education Quick Takes
Leighton Andrews, the minister of education for Wales, is calling for the merger of three Welsh universities -- University of Glamorgan, Cardiff Metropolitan University and University of Wales, Newport -- Times Higher Education reported. Cardiff Metropolitan has already rejected the idea. Andrews said that a merged institution would have "real critical mass."
State community college leaders say they are struggling to meet workforce training needs because of high unemployment levels and budget woes, according to a new report from the University of Alabama's Education Policy Center. The report, which was based on a survey of two-year system leaders in 50 states, found strained job training capacities at community colleges in 35 states. And federal workforce training funds have been exhausted in 21 states, according to the report. "Right now, workforce training is an underfunded Band-Aid," said Stephen G. Katsinas, the center's director and a coauthor of the report.
A federal advisory panel has asked scientific journals not to publish some details of experiments involving certain viruses, saying that the information could be used by terrorists to create and spread deadly viruses, The New York Times reported. The panel does not have the power to force the journals to keep anything secret, and suggested that the journals find ways to share information with scientists to allow them to further advance work on the viruses. The editor of Science said that the journal was considering the request and might hold back some information.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I Board of Directors moved unusually quickly at its October meeting to approve legislation that would allow institutions (if their conference permits it) to award up to an additional $2,000 per student in scholarship funds, to better fill the gap between what full scholarships cover and the actual cost of attendance. Maybe too quickly, in fact: 125 colleges want the decision overturned, prompting an automatic suspension of the rule and an item on the docket for the board's next meeting Jan. 14 that could eliminate it entirely. At the meeting, the board can eliminate the rule, do nothing and allow an override vote by all Division I members to proceed, or alter the proposal to appease the colleges.
Collectively, they are concerned about four things, the NCAA said: how quickly the rule was implemented, possible impact on competitive equity, implications for gender equity laws under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and "application of the allowance" for athletes in equivalency sports, which are subject to NCAA limitations on how much scholarship money they can award. NCAA President Mark Emmert indicated in a statement that the legislation can be modified to address all the colleges' concerns. "Similarly, changes can be made that will clarify how this legislation can be implemented more smoothly and with less confusion," Emmert said. "Based on conversations I have had, I am confident that there remains a very high level of support for this permissive legislation to provide better support for our student athletes."
The president of the University of South Florida, Judy Genshaft, on Tuesday fired the head of the university's Polytechnic branch campus, the Associated Press reported. The dismissal comes amid an escalating dispute over the branch. Its supporters want it to become independent -- a move opposed by Genshaft. Others have said that construction costs at the new campus are too high.
Rebuffing a request by Governor Rick Scott, a Republican, the board of Florida A&M University decided Monday not to suspend James Ammons as president, The Miami Herald reported. The governor has pushed for the suspension amid an investigation into hazing in the university's marching band, hazing that has led to several arrests in recent weeks and that has been blamed in the death of a student. The board has already reprimanded Ammons, but resisted the governor's request. “We will stand firm against outside influence regardless of how well intended,” said the board chair, Solomon Badger.
The University of Cambridge and the University of Hong Kong have teamed up to recruit top students from China, Times Higher Education reported. Students will be recruited to the University of Hong Kong with the promise that the best among them, after a successful year there, will be offered a spot at Cambridge.
The National Association for College Admission Counseling has named the members of a panel studying the use of agents -- paid in part on commission -- to recruit international students. The practice has been deeply controversial within the association, and its leaders hope the panel can point to principles that can guide colleges. The panel includes some college admissions leaders whose colleges use the agents, and others who do not. NACAC officials said that they wanted a range of views represented on the committee.
Indian lawmakers are considering another round of changes in legislation -- closely watched by universities in the United States and other countries -- that would allow non-Indian universities to open degree-granting campuses in India, Indian Express reported. Some of the changes would make it easier for prominent institutions, by allowing those deemed "reputed" to bypass some of the regulatory processes being created. Other changes may be challenging for some institutions' plans. For example, one change would require Indian officials to make sure that the addition of foreign institutions does not exacerbate inequities between rural and urban areas, given the concentration of universities today in urban areas. Many foreign institutions are likely to want to be in urban areas as well, but the bill would encourage the government to give preference to institutions locating in rural, less developed parts of the country.