Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011 - 3:00am

A student at Cape Cod Community College has been diagnosed with the 2009 strain of H1N1, The Boston Herald reported. The last academic year saw many colleges deal with large outbreaks of H1N1, but Cape Cod saw no reported cases. The college is offering free vaccinations for students and faculty members.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011 - 3:00am

Educause and the New Media Consortium have released the 2011 Horizon Report, an annual study of emerging issues in technology in higher education. The issues that are seen as likely to have great impact:

  • Over the next year: e-books and mobile devices.
  • From two to three years out: augmented reality and game-based learning.
  • From four to five years out: gesture-based computing and learning analytics.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011 - 3:00am

The February 2011 edition of The Pulse, our monthly technology podcast by Rod Murray, features an interview with Brian Hughes, associate director of design, publishing and service at Teachers College's Library at Columbia University. He discusses the best ways to get faculty members comfortable with using social media in teaching. Find out more about The Pulse, and listen to selections from its archive, here.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011 - 3:00am

Another day, another flurry of activity related to federal regulation of for-profit colleges. The Government Accountability Office announced Tuesday that an internal investigation into its August report on for-profit institutions had concluded that the office had shown "no bias or conflict of interest" in producing the report, which was released months later with numerous corrections. Advocates for the colleges have gone so far as to sue the agency for "professional malpractice," but the GAO inquiry concedes only that "there were process, supervisory and analytical weaknesses that led to errors and missing context" that were corrected in the followup report. Officials at the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities said they were "extremely disappointed" by the agency's statement and by its failure to make the internal report public. “The fox is not only guarding the henhouse, he’s writing reviews about his own performance,” said Harris Miller, the group's president. “Forgive us if we are not convinced.”

Meanwhile, in a speech on the Senate floor late Monday, Senator Tom Harkin laid out a new series of accusations about the recruiting practices of for-profit colleges. Citing documents collected as part of his committee's investigation into the sector, he discussed comments in which admissions officials at Kaplan University and ITT urge recruiters to capitalize on students' "pain" and "fears" about their futures to encourage them to enroll. “Rather than offering students a better life, these types of strong-arm, emotionally abusive tactics are all too typical of schools that have little or no interest in providing students the academic help and support they need to succeed," Harkin said. "When these types of deceptive and exploitative tactics are used to enroll students, we should not be surprised to see high drop out and high default rates as a result.”

Wednesday, February 9, 2011 - 3:00am

Utah legislators are considering a proposal to raise tuition rates substantially (to cover the full costs of instruction) for students who earn 120 percent of the credits needed to graduate, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. Lawmakers say that these students should be encouraged to leave public colleges and universities or to share more of the costs of higher education. But others note that many of these students have so much credit because they are top students who enter college with Advanced Placement or dual-enrollment credit and pursue double majors or minors in addition to a standard program.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Alma College's William Gorton reveals that while Americans have displayed increasing intelligence over the past century, our political discourse has yet to follow. Find out more about the Academic Minute here. (This podcast can be downloaded directly here.)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011 - 3:00am

College financial aid offices are so pinched by the costs of complying with federal regulations that they are shortchanging students as a result, aid directors said in a survey by their national group. The survey by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators found that 90 percent of campus financial aid officers "reported having fewer resources to dedicate to critical student services that promote college access, success, and successful student loan repayment," and that most respondents cited the increased demands of complying with federal rules as a primary cause of the dearth of resources.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011 - 3:00am

The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges -- which accredits two-year institutions in California, Hawaii and several Pacific island nations and territories as part of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges -- has placed one two-year institution on probation and taken several others off. At its meeting last month, the accreditor placed San Jose City College on probation on the basis of a comprehensive evaluation. The San Jose Mercury News reports that, among a number of deficiencies cited in a recent letter from the accreditor, San Jose City College was told “to make changes to ensure financial solvency,” “establish a climate of trust and respect” with the new chancellor of its district, and “better assess student learning outcomes.” Crafton Hills College, Diablo Valley College and Solano Community College were removed from probation after follow-up visits. The Western accreditor continued the probations of Berkeley City College, College of Alameda, Cuesta College, Laney College, Merritt College, and Southwestern College.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011 - 3:00am

Canadian universities are once again debating whether it is appropriate to support anti-abortion groups. Carleton University, in Ottawa, revoked the club status of Carleton Lifeline, saying that it violated campus rules by seeking to limit the rights of women, The Canadian Press reported. Several other universities have made similar moves, but critics of the decisions (who are not necessarily anti-abortion) say that these actions limit freedom of expression.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011 - 3:00am

The heads of the California State University and University of California systems said Monday that their boards would absorb hundreds of millions of dollars in state budget cuts without raising tuition, The Sacramento Bee reported. At a news conference before UC President Mark G. Yudof and Cal State Chancellor Charles B. Reed testified at a legislative hearing, they and the president of the California Community Colleges, Jack Scott, said the institutions would absorb a total of $1.4 billion in cuts ($500 million each for the university systems and $400 million for the two-year colleges) through program cuts and some enrollment limits. (The community colleges plan a $10 per unit increase in student fees.) The university systems have raised tuitions sharply in recent years, but said they would forgo increases this year unless voters reject tax extensions that Governor Jerry Brown has proposed for a June election.

The campus leaders said that they hope legislators will give the systems increased flexibility and more stable financing going forward in exchange for the newest round of cuts. "We're saying, 'I don't like it. I don't want to do it, but I'm willing to do it for the CSU if there is a future to reinvest in California and have a conversation about what kind of California do we want for our kids, what kind of economy do we want, what kind of people do we want in the work force," Reed said. "So this one time, sure. I'm willing to sacrifice because every public agency is going to have to sacrifice something."

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