Advocates for Maryland's historically black colleges and representatives of the state have agreed to settlement discussions in a suit charging Maryland with bias against the colleges, The Baltimore Sun reported. The suit -- charging unfair treatment of the black colleges -- is five years old. Key issues in the settlement talks will be whether state funding formulas hurt black colleges, and the status of "duplicative" programs that the black colleges say the state should not have authorized at nearby predominantly white institutions.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Tihomir Petrov, a mathematics professor at California State University at Northridge, is facing two counts of urinating in a public place -- in this case on a colleague's office door. The Los Angeles Times reported that he's now a wanted man, after he failed to show up for a pre-trial hearing.
A survey of graduate program directors by the American Sociological Association has found that 17 percent believe their master's programs are very or somewhat likely to close, and another 21 percent said that their programs were "somewhat unlikely" to close. While a majority sees no immediate concern about closure, the significant minority that sees the possibility prompted analysis on funding patterns and curriculums in the master's programs.
A report being released today by the European University Association finds that international university rankings provide an “oversimplified picture," in part because their methodologies are focused on research, which is just one role of universities. The report says that rankings can promote accountability, but that the lack of transparency in rankings creates "unwanted consequences," with universities investing more in research than teaching, seeking to improve their rankings.
A new organization -- the Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education -- has been launched to defend the state's higher education system from a barrage of criticism, much of it from allies of Governor Rick Perry. The new group has prominent business, political and academic leaders (Democrats and Republicans) who question the ideas being put forward by the governor's allies (some of them on boards of regents). "The Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education was necessitated by the strong belief that there is a right way to improve higher education and that there is a wrong way that could have long-term damaging effects on our institutions of higher learning, our state's economy and on our future," says an announcement on the group's website. "Current recommendations being floated -- from dramatically expanding enrollment while slashing tuition to separating research and teaching budgets, and seceding from a recognized and respected accreditation organization -- are decidedly the wrong way."
Westwood College, which has been among the institutions singled out by U.S. senators critical of for-profit colleges, announced Wednesday that it would provide up to $500 a month for six months to certain graduates who fail to find jobs in their fields within six months of earning their degrees. The "employment pledge," as Westwood calls it, would be available to students who earn at least a 3.0 grade point average and work with the college's career office to actively pursue a job. In return, eligible bachelor's degree recipients could earn up to $500 a month and associate degree recipients up to $250 a month for six months. "We're so confident that an education at Westwood will prepare you for a brighter future, we're putting our money where our commitment is -- on your success," the college said in a news release. A spokesman for Westwood said that about half of its graduates earn a 3.0 average, and that the program was designed in part to give more of them an incentive to do so.
A new poll by the University and College Union, the main faculty union in Britain, has found deep skepticism of for-profit higher education, which is starting to eye British markets, Times Higher Education reported. The poll found that 88 percent of British academics strongly disagree with any move to allow for-profit colleges to have access to public funds, and 85 percent believe for-profit offerings will be of lower quality than those at nonprofit institutions.
With Minnesota facing a government shutdown because its political leaders are at odds over a budget plan, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system has received assurances from Governor Mark Dayton that it will be able to remain open even if other agencies close their doors. Officials of the 32-college system, whose two- and four-year institutions enroll about 67,000 students in the summer, announced that the governor had assured them that the state's payroll office would provide enough services that the colleges -- funding the rest of their operations with funds from tuition and their own reserves -- would be able to stay open.