Higher Education Quick Takes
The Pentagon -- responding to criticism from Congress and higher education associations -- has agreed to delay by 90 days (until March 30) new rules on tuition benefits for service members. A letter to senators who opposed the new rules said that the additional time will be used to deal with concerns various groups have expressed. Many colleges say that the guidelines go too far in prescribing how programs must award academic credit and process student payments, among other issues. And many fear that the system -- if used for service members -- could be extended to veterans or other groups of students.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has arrested a student at Loyola University in New Orleans, charging that she threatened to blow up a building and to kill five professors -- all to avoid taking a test, The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported. The first of two e-mail threats said: "Mamba pistol with five bullets in it for five professors in Monroe Hall.... I have no sympathy for any accidental casualties!!!" The second e-mail said: "You are really trying my patience! I am on the verge of blowing that bitch up and you'll be renovating from the foundation!" The student, who is free on bail, denies intending to harm anyone and says that the messages were a joke.
The National Institutes of Health announced Thursday that it is accepting an Institute of Medicine panel's recommendations to cut back on most research involving chimpanzees. A statement by Francis S. Collins, director of the NIH, noted that scientists have valued research with chimpanzees as "the closest relatives" to humans. And he said key medical advances have been based in part on work with the animals. "However, new methods and technologies developed by the biomedical community have provided alternatives to the use of chimpanzees in several areas of research," he said. While further research with chimpanzees may still be needed in a few key areas, the NIH wants to move away from supporting work where the use of chimpanzees is not truly necessary, he said. While the NIH is developing procedures to to adopt this approach, the agency will not make new awards for research involving chimps.
It turns out that Tiger Mother may be almost a pushover compared to Wolf Dad, the nickname of Xiao Baiyou, who has written a book about how he managed to get three of his four children prepared for and admitted to Peking University, NPR reported. He told his story in a book originally titled Beat Them Into Peking University. He extols the values of discipline. "I have more than a thousand rules: specific detailed rules about how to hold your chopsticks and your bowl, how to pick up food, how to hold a cup, how to sleep, how to cover yourself with a quilt," Xiao said. "If you don't follow the rules, then I must beat you."
The Michigan Employment Relations Commission has forwarded to an administrative law judge a proposal to permit the unionization of graduate research assistants at the University of Michigan, The Detroit Free Press reported. The move is a win for union advocates. Opponents of the union had wanted the commission to shut down the union drive based on past rulings that the graduate students are students, not employees. But the commission said that these were issues for the judge to consider.
Wayne State University, which has had graduation rates in the 30 percent range in recent years, is considering a plan to toughen admissions standards, The Detroit Free Press reported. About 5 percent of current students would not have been admitted under the proposed system, which would give some applicants the option of earning admission by doing well in a summer "bridge" program. Critics fear that the applicants excluded are likely to be low-income, minority Detroit residents.
In the nine months after the Affordable Care Act raised from 19 to 25 the age through which dependents could be covered by their parents’ plan, about 2.5 million more young adults gained health insurance than would have been able to without the law, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday. Of that age group, a population that is traditionally less likely than others to be insured, 64 percent were covered before President Obama’s health care overhaul legislation took effect in September 2010, and 73 percent were covered in June 2011. It is unclear how many of the newly insured are college students. HHS announced in January that 1 million 19- to 26-year-olds had gained insurance thanks to the legislation, meaning that the pace of new coverage slowed somewhat. The rise in coverage is clearly attributable to the Affordable Care Act, HHS said, because the percentage of adults age 26-35 with health insurance stayed stable at 72 percent.
The University of Vermont has suspended Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity over reports that it circulated a survey in which it asked members about their preferred rape victims, The Burlington Free Press reported. Fraternity members did not respond to requests for comment, but the national office of the fraternity said it was launching an investigation.