Higher Education Quick Takes
Three researchers who focus on immunity were today awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in Medicine. Bruce A. Beutler and Jules A. Hoffmann will share half of the prize "for their discoveries concerning the activation of innate immunity." The other half of the prize goes to Ralph M. Steinman "for his discovery of the dendritic cell and its role in adaptive immunity."
Beutler is professor of genetics and immunology at the Scripps Research Institute. He formerly did research at Rockefeller University in New York and the University of Texas at Dallas. Information about his lab at Scripps may be found here. Hoffman formerly was director of the Institute for Molecular Cell Biology in Strasbourg, France, and during 2007-8 was President of the French National Academy of Sciences. Steinman is professor of immunology and director of the Center for Immunology and Immune Diseases at Rockefeller University. More information about his work may be found here.
WASHINGTON -- The Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, which recently gathered hundreds of complaints about federal regulation for a draft report on regulatory burdens, heard more from college administrators about those burdens at its meeting Friday. The committee is charged with identifying federal regulations that are redundant, unnecessary, inconsistent or “overly burdensome," and those that need to be changed or eliminated, and a survey of more than 2,000 college officials found plenty of suggestions.
At the committee, panels of executive officers and office administrators continued that refrain, saying that Higher Education Act regulations are so sprawling that no one person on any campus can keep track of them all and judge which are the most costly or burdensome. Information disclosures came in for particular criticism: Sanford Ungar, president of Goucher College, read a laundry list of information that colleges are required to disclose annually, including reports on fire safety, peer-to-peer file sharing, net price and many others.
Participants had a few suggestions for reducing the burden of regulations, although both the committee and the panelists acknowledged that the pace of increased regulation is faster than deregulation would be. Ungar suggested a "pay-go" system, where for every new regulation added, another would have to be eliminated. Others advocated for sector-based regulation, where different rules would apply to different types of colleges.
And while many respondents in the committee's report supported further study, a comprehensive review will be lengthy and costly, said Troy Johnson, vice provost for enrollment at the University of North Texas. "It's fine to study further, yet in the meantime we should immediately seize all of the knowledge and recommendations" and make some progress on deregulation, Johnson said.
The committee is on track to deliver a final report to Congress by the end of the year, chairman Allison Jones said.
Private higher education has expanded rapidly in Malaysia in the last 15 years, but with reports of wide variations in quality, the government is stepping up scrutiny of the institutions, The New York Times reported. The government imposed a record number of fines on institutions this year -- even as many credit the private institutions with increasing access to higher education.
Many Australian academics are frustrated, to the point where they are considering leaving their current universities in the years ahead, according to a new report from the Center for the Study of Higher Education, at the University of Melbourne. Researchers conducted a survey of more than 5,000 faculty members for the project. Australian academics continue to have "a deep commitment to scholarship," the report says. But just under half of them believe that their workload is no longer manageable. And close to half of those who are in the middle or later stages of their careers say that workload issues are sources of "considerable personal stress." Younger faculty members are more likely, the report says, to be frustrated by issues of job security and pay.
Two top administrators are leaving their positions at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, amid reports of possible conflicts (in one case) with President Shirley Jackson, The Albany Times-Union reported. Jackson has long had a contentious relationship with faculty leaders. Those leaving their positions include Provost Robert Palazzo, who is returning to the faculty, and Laban Coblentz, chief of staff and associate vice president, who left suddenly and with no public explanation. The Times-Union reported that he left because he had criticized Jackson and her administration, and university officials declined to comment.
The Association of American Colleges and Universities is today announcing a new project to work with state systems and individual colleges and universities so that faculty members and state system leaders and assessment experts can test ways to assure that students demonstrate achievement of key competencies. Funds for the program come from the Lumina Foundation for Education, and the project represents a beta test of Lumina's Degree Qualifications Profile.
The state systems in the new effort are in California, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Oregon, Utah, Wisconsin and Virginia.
The University of British Columbia has started a campaign to raise $1.5 billion -- more than has been raised in any Canadian university campaign -- by 2015. The university has already raised just over half of that amount in the quiet phase of the campaign. Other Canadian universities are also the midst of major campaigns. McGill University is nearing its goal of $750 million.
Faculty members who staged a one-week strike returned to work Friday at Cincinnati State Community College, The Middletown Journal reported. The union, affiliated with the American Association of University Professors, says that it always planned for a strike of only a week -- not wanting to disrupt students' educations. The main issue dividing the union and the administration is faculty workload.
A proposal to create a center on constitutional law at North Carolina Central University has been withdrawn amid criticism of the source of funds, The Raleigh News & Observer reported. The money would have come from the John William Pope Foundation, which is led by Art Pope, who has spent large sums of money funding conservative organizations and Republican politics. Some faculty and alumni of the university have questioned whether it should take funds from Pope or entities he leads.
The nation's educators must work to improve college completion rates for Latino students if the United States is to remain economically competitive in the world, according to a report released Friday by the College Board. While Latinos make up the fastest growing group of students in the nation, they are behind the national average for college completion by more than half. At present, 19.2 percent of Latinos who enter college complete college, while the national average hovers around 40 percent, according to the report.
Gaston Caperton, president of the College Board, said the report is a "call to action." “Our nation will not become No. 1 again in college completion unless we commit ourselves to giving these students the support they need to achieve their full potential,” Caperton said.
To attain better completion rates for Latino students, the report recommends making voluntary preschool education available to low-income students, improving middle and high school counseling and simplifying the financial aid system, among other things.