Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

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Monday, April 13, 2015 - 3:00am

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, on Friday called for all college expenses to be tax deductible, The Los Angeles Times reported. He did so while criticizing President Obama's proposal to make community college free. "The president says, 'I want to give you free college.' It sounds good at first, but think about it? How could it be free?"

Paul added, "I have a better idea. Let’s let college students deduct the entire cost of their educations over their working careers. Let’s make college tuition entirely deductible." He did not provide details in the speech, given to students at the University of Iowa. There currently are federal tax deductions for some college expenses, but in many cases they would not cover the entire cost of college, as Paul suggested they should.

Monday, April 13, 2015 - 3:00am

Florida authorities have charged two Troy University students with participating in a gang rape of a woman, an attack that was videotaped, AL.com reported. Bay County (Fla.) Sheriff Frank McKeithen said that the two students were part of a group that assaulted a woman while others did nothing. "Within 10 feet from where this is happening there are hundreds, hundreds of people standing there watching, looking, seeing, hearing what is going on, and yet our culture and our society and our young people have got to the point where obviously this is acceptable somewhere, but I will tell you it is not acceptable in Bay County," McKeithen said.


Monday, April 13, 2015 - 4:19am

The University of Michigan last week called off a screening of the film American Sniper after the Muslim Student Association objected to the movie, but the university reversed itself and the film was shown without incident. At Eastern Michigan University, however, four protesters were detained briefly after they disrupted a Friday night screening of the film, MLive reported. About 40 students in total participated in the protest, holding signs. After a delay, the film was shown, but a second showing that night was called off because of the delays in the first screening.

Monday, April 13, 2015 - 4:17am

Ohio State University at Newark is planning to eliminate varsity athletics programs, The Newark Advocate reported. Officials cited the need to cut costs at a time of declining state support. The university currently has six varsity teams.


Monday, April 13, 2015 - 3:00am

Florida police have arrested a student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University who allegedly wrote an anonymous note threatening to kill a professor, The News-Journal reported. Authorities said that when they arrested Konstantinos Kostakis, the student, he admitted to sending the note. The note threatened an assistant professor of commercial space operations. The note was left under her office door and said she would be killed by two heavily armed students, in class.


Monday, April 13, 2015 - 3:00am

Kenya and Kenyan higher education, still reeling from the recent mass murder of Christian students at Garissa University College, suffered another tragedy Sunday. One student at the University of Nairobi died in a stampede and more than 100 were injured after an electrical explosion, Reuters reported. The students feared that their campus was being attacked by the same terror group that was responsible for that attack on Garissa, and so jumped out of windows and did anything they could to leave a dormitory.


Monday, April 13, 2015 - 4:27am

Divest Harvard, a student group pushing Harvard University to sell its investments in fossil fuel companies, blockaded some entrances to the university Sunday night, with some students vowing to spend the night (see photo below) to resume protests this morning. The group's website outlines its arguments for selling the holdings, a policy that Harvard has rejected.

Monday, April 13, 2015 - 3:00am

An article in The Orlando Sentinel explores the issue of segregation in Greek systems. At the University of Central Florida, which has a diverse student body, the Greek system is not nearly as diverse. White students make up 55 percent of total enrollment, but 70 percent of fraternity and sorority members. While 11 percent of the student body is black, only 5 percent of Greek members are. The article notes that while this pattern is believed to be true elsewhere, some universities -- such as Florida State University and the University of Florida -- say that they don't track demographics of their Greek systems.


Monday, April 13, 2015 - 3:00am

Higher education software provider Ellucian's plans for the next two years include transitioning to the cloud and preparing for more colleges and universities to experiment with competency-based learning.

At its user conference in New Orleans, Ellucian announced the acquisition of Helix Education's learning management system. The company will "blend" the software, which supports nontraditional methods of tracking student progress, into its student information system, said Mark Jones, chief product officer at Ellucian. While he stressed that the company is not planning to become a major learning management system provider, Ellucian will make the system available to departments interested in offering competency-based education.

"The initial goal and focus is on enabling competency-based education programs to flourish," Jones said. "In terms of being a broader L.M.S. solution, if our customers find value… we will certainly have that conversation."

Ellucian also announced plans to offer its full enterprise resource planning software, Banner and Colleague, as cloud-hosted services. The option to host the software in the cloud, rather than on campus, will be rolled out incrementally and completed by the end of 2016. Ellucian already offers some products, such as its recruitment and continuing education software, in the cloud.

Jones said he expects higher education will be slower to move to the cloud than the commercial sector, and that the transition would take "the better part of a decade."

Monday, April 13, 2015 - 3:00am

The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce regularly releases analyses on education and job-market trends. A new report out today looks back over decades to track some of the long-term trends -- and they reinforce the importance of higher education. For example, college-educated workers make up only 32 percent of the workforce but produce over 50 percent of the nation’s economic output. That's up from 13 percent in 1967. "The dramatic increase in the economic value generated by college-educated workers is directly linked to the rise of a college-educated service economy," says a summary of the report.


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