Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

March 26, 2013

Faculty members in arts and sciences at Rollins College have voted no confidence in President Lewis Duncan, The Orlando Sentinel reported. Faculty leaders said that Duncan has not worked well with them, or communicated well to the college. In a statement, he said that he disagreed with the criticism, and that he has "honored" the principles of shared governance.

March 26, 2013

A new report from the European Commission examines the effect of the financial crisis on education budgets. The report shows that nearly half of the 28 countries for which data were available cut their spending on tertiary and adult education from 2010 to 2011, with the greatest decline observed in Slovakia (nearly 15 percent), and reductions of more than 5 percent in the Czech Republic, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, and Northern Ireland. In 2012, even larger cuts took place in Cyprus and Lithuania (more than 30 percent), and Greece (25 percent).

Only a few countries say that budget reductions have resulted in increased tuition fees. The report cites Spain and the United Kingdom as two countries where tuition fees are being increased “with the objective of aligning them with the real cost of studies.”

The report examines educational spending at all levels, from pre-primary to tertiary education.

March 26, 2013

South Carolina's attorney general has ordered Richard Routh, a professor at the University of South Carolina Upstate, to stop seeking investors for his business, Invictus University, the Associated Press reported. A cease and desist order accused Routh of selling unregistered securities. But Routh says that the business doesn't exist and that the website for the university, which he took down, was partly for a class project.

 

March 26, 2013

Regent's College in London has gained approval from British officials to become the second private nonprofit university in the United Kingdom, The Guardian reported. Regent's University London, as the institution will be known, will be the largest private institution in Britain, at 4,500 students. The University of Buckingham became the first private institution there, in 1983.

March 25, 2013

A student at Florida Atlantic University says that he was suspended from a course for refusing to engage in an activity he said was insulting to his faith. While the university has announced that the activity won't be repeated, it is contesting many details of the student's story.

The student says that as part of a class in intercultural communications, students were told to write the word Jesus on a piece of paper, fold it, and then to stamp on it, CBS4 News reported. The student, who is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said that when he refused, saying the exercise was insulting to his faith, he was suspended. The story was quickly picked up by conservative news and websites, with headlines such as "Professor Makes Students 'Stomp on Jesus.'"

The university released a statement in which it said that it could not comment on experiences of any one student, citing privacy laws. The university said that "no students were forced to take part in the exercise; the instructor told all of the students in the class that they could choose whether or not to participate." Further the university said that "no student has been expelled, suspended or disciplined by the university as a result of any activity that took place during this class."

Nonetheless, the university statement added: "This exercise will not be used again. The university holds dear its core values. We sincerely apologize for any offense this caused. Florida Atlantic University respects all religions and welcomes people of all faiths, backgrounds and beliefs."

 

 

March 25, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Ben Horton of the University of Pennsylvania reveals what we know about sea level change over the past two millennia. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.
 

March 25, 2013

The University of Oxford has agreed to review policies under which its St. Hughes College has required applicants to demonstrate -- as a condition of admission -- that they can afford the living expenses, BBC reported. The agreement resolved a suit filed by an applicant who said he was rejected when he could not demonstrate that he had that money on hand. The applicant said that the rules were a human rights violation.

 

March 25, 2013

The University of Maryland at College Park doesn't have a copy of the contract it signed to join the Big 10, The Washington Post reported. The Post filed an open records request for the contract, and was told that the university didn't have a copy. The Big 10, which is not subject to open records requests, keeps all such copies. Maryland officials said that not keeping a copy was in line with Big 10 policies, which are designed to reflect that most of its members are public universities, subject to open records requests.

March 25, 2013

The president of Ryerson University, in Toronto, is condemning as "completely unacceptable" a tradition in which engineering students who wish to be leaders in the next year's orientation program go through a series of events, including crawling through slush while wearing only their underwear. Sheldon Levy, the president, said that "anyone who contends it is ‘just fun’ or ‘builds community’ has no place at Ryerson." Students told The Toronto Star that the president was overreacting, and that the event was fun and did build community. YouTube video of the event has drawn attention to it.

 

 

March 25, 2013

An effort in Wisconsin to create standards for for-profit colleges has collapsed, The Wisconsin State Journal reported. The state panel had been considering rules that would have required for-profit colleges to show that 60 percent of students who started programs finished them and found jobs. But the panel working on the standards was disbanded, the newspaper reported, amid criticism from the for-profit colleges and some lawmakers.

 

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