Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 13, 2012

The winners of the 2012 McGraw Prize in Education include a prominent innovator in non-credit online education, and a journalist. The winners are:

  • John Merrow, an education reporter for National Public Radio and "NewsHour" and president of Learning Matters.
  • Sal Khan, who created the Khan Academy, which provides free online videos on a huge range of education topics.
  • Two leaders of TNTP -- CEO Ariela Rozman and President Timothy Daly -- whose organization helps to produce and retain top teachers.
September 13, 2012

Concordia University-St. Paul announced Wednesday that it was dropping its undergraduate tuition and fees by a third for next year, joining a handful of institutions including the University of the South and the University of Charleston to cut their sticker price in the face of increased price sensitivity in the market. The sticker price for tuition and fees, currently set at $29,700, will be $19,700 next fall for all students, including those currently enrolled.

Administrators at Concordia said they were becoming concerned that students their traditional demographic -- middle- and lower-income students in Minnesota -- were ruling out Concordia as an option based on its price, despite the fact that after aid few students actually ended up paying that much. According to federal data, 99 percent of students at Concordia received some form of institutional aid.

Much of the student population at Concordia currently pays less than the new sticker price. The college's discount rate was 48 percent, meaning that students paid just over 50 percent of the sticker price on average. Concordia administrators said some revenue is likely to be lost by lowering the price, but that they hope to offset that by increasing enrollment.

September 13, 2012

Last fall, Occupy Student Debt, an activist group, called on students to stop paying their student loan bills as a form of protest. Now another group has called for burning those bills on Sept. 22, promising a 20-foot high "ceremonial fire" in Hollywood. Hard Block, a group that supports the goals of the Occupy movement and describes itself as a "developer and enabler of the burgeoning protest culture," has organized the event and says that an "elected official" will dump the ashes of the student loan bills on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

It's unclear how successful the protest will be: Occupy Student Debt promised that students would stop repaying their bills if 1 million students signed on. So far, just over 4,000 have.

September 13, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Richard Lankau of the University of Georgia reveals how some native plants are responding to an ecological shift caused by invasive species. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.
 

September 13, 2012

The Council of Independent Colleges, a group representing more than 600 private liberal arts colleges and universities, is arguing against what it says are myths about student debt (and for its members' affordability) in a new presentation, indicating that the concern around growing student debt might be affecting the group. Among the myths: many students owe more than $100,000 at graduation (in fact, six-figure borrowers are a tiny fraction -- less than 1 percent -- of the undergraduate population). It also points out that its members have generous financial aid and that the high sticker price of tuition at private colleges does not take financial aid into account.

September 13, 2012

The U.S. House of Representatives this week passed legislation requiring the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to require more transparency from colleges that serve students who are veterans. The bill calls for counseling of students and ways to track feedback on the quality of academic programs. Some for-profit institutions, including the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities and the University of Phoenix, supported the bill.

September 12, 2012

Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd. announced that it will join forces with Japan’s National Institute of Informatics to create a robot that can earn admission to Tokyo University, the most prestigious university in Japan, The Wall Street Journal reported. To gain admission, the robot (like other applicants) will have to pass a national entrance exam for universities and one that is given only by Tokyo University. The project is prompting renewed debate over artificial intelligence.

 

September 12, 2012

Jamie Kuntz, who is gay, says he was kicked off of the football team of North Dakota State College of Sciences, for being seen kissing his boyfriend, the Associated Press reported. The kiss took place at a football game where Kuntz could not play because of a concussion, so he was in the press box at a game, filming the competition. His boyfriend was with him and at one point they kissed. The coach of the team asked Kuntz about the kiss and he initially said that his boyfriend (who is older) was his grandfather. He later told the coach the truth, and was subsequently kicked off the team. The coach says he violated team rules by lying to a coach, but Kuntz said that the real reason was that he was seen kissing a man. College officials are investigating whether this was the first time someone was kicked off the team for lying.

 

September 12, 2012

Amy Bishop has reached a plea agreement to resolve the charges that she murdered three of her colleagues in the biology department of the University of Alabama at Huntsville, The Huntsville Times reported. Under the agreement, she entered a guilty plea in one of the murder counts, and also admitted that she tried to kill three others. The agreement means she will spend the rest of her life in prison, but spares her the death penalty.

 

 

September 12, 2012

Tying a college's Pell Grant eligibility to completion rates could undermine college access for poor and minority students, especially at community colleges, Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of FinAid.org, wrote in an analysis Monday. Rather than focus on completion rates, Kantrowitz argued, more focus should be placed on increasing the number of Americans with college degrees -- a focus that could even cause completion rates to fall if more students enroll and do not all complete college. Focusing solely on completion, as some fear a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-supported panel that will focus on student aid as an incentive might do, could end up hurting low-income students, Kantrowitz wrote: "One of the easiest ways to increase graduation rates is to exclude high-risk students. So efforts to boost college completion may directly or indirectly shift eligibility for the Pell Grant program from financial need to academic merit, hurting college access by low-income students."

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