Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

March 25, 2014

Federal student aid is not conducive to competency-based education, according to a new report, because the current system is designed to fund education that occurs within structured, discrete time periods. Mastering competencies, however, can happen outside of the credit-hour standard or through learning that lacks designated start and end dates. Stephen R. Porter, a professor of education at North Carolina State University, wrote the report, which the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funded. In the report Porter calls for "thoughtful experimentation" with federal aid programs to test the promise of competency-based education.

March 24, 2014

The University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa has for much of this academic year debated the segregation of much of its Greek system, although an all-white sorority system -- following nationwide attention -- pledged several black women. But controversy has returned with the decision of student government leaders not to vote on a resolution endorsing the idea that all Greek houses should be integrated. AL.com reported that student government leaders said that they were just following procedure in referring the resolution to a committee (in which it will die this academic year because the end of the term is approaching). But supporters of the resolution said that some student government leaders didn't want to endorse the resolution or be public in opposing it.


March 24, 2014

An associate professor of feminist studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara has been charged with theft, battery and vandalism stemming from an on-campus incident this month, the Santa Barbara Independent reported. Mireille Miller-Young allegedly took a sign belonging to a group of anti-abortion demonstrators, following a heated discussion about the graphic imagery on the protesters’ materials. Members of the group, which was not affiliated with the university, followed Miller-Young and several of her students to an elevator, where the professor allegedly scratched a 16-year-old demonstrator in the struggle for the sign that ensued. She allegedly later destroyed the sign. 

Miller-Young did not immediately respond to a request for comment. An arraignment is scheduled for April 4.

March 24, 2014

Luke Dzierzanowski lost an election to the student government at San Diego State University last week, but not before prompting a widespread debate over campaign tactics. Dzierzanowski posted a video to YouTube in which he appears in a suit, and four women in bikinis help him light a cigar, play around in a pool and bounce on a trampoline. He says nothing. The women close the video by saying that they are voting for him.

A column in The Daily Aztec, the student newspaper, said: "While I must commend Dzierzanowski for being the only memorable candidate, as I can’t even recall the other candidates’ names, the video makes him memorable for all the wrong reasons as a degrading, attention-grabbing gimmick. As it is now, San Diego State  already suffers from a negative party school image. Whether we like it or not, it’s an image that characterizes all Aztecs as binge-drinking sexual deviants. Despite our great academics and notable status as one of the top business schools, both the school and its students are haunted by this reputation."

In a comment on the column Dzierzanowski said that the point about the columnist not remembering the names of other candidates showed why the ad was appropriate. "Did you know that last year 18 percent of the student body voted for A.S. Elections? I think we can both agree that number is much lower than it should be," Dzierzanowski wrote. "The job of a representative is to represent the students and be their link to the faculty and administration. I believe in order to do that successfully, more than 18 percent of the school needs to know who you are. If you couldn't remember the other candidates names, who would you go to if you had a suggestion for the College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts? I understand that not everyone agrees with my commercial or likes it, but hopefully all PSFA Students remember it and remember my name."

For those seeking to judge for themselves, here is the ad.



March 24, 2014

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Sunday that college coaches and athletics directors should be paid based on how well their players are performing in the classroom.

In an interview on NBC's “Meet the Press,” Duncan said he was concerned that too many athletes make money for their university but don’t end up earning degrees.

"The incentive structures for coaches, the incentive structures for ADs, have to be changed so much more of their compensation is based not upon wins or losses but around academic performance and graduation,” Duncan said. "University presidents and boards have been very complacent and soft on this issue, and you have to really look at the leadership of universities here."

Penalties for athletes performing poorly should not only hit the universities, but should apply to and follow coaches as well, he added.

March 24, 2014

Leaders of 52 universities in Taiwan have urged the government to respond and engage with a student protest movement that has occupied the legislature and generated considerable debate, Taipei Times reported. The students oppose a new trade pact with China that they believe does not help Taiwan and could endanger democratic traditions on the island. The anthropology blog Savage Minds features a backgrounder with many links and videos about the growing student movement in Taiwan.

March 24, 2014

Update: This article has been revised to include more details about the report.

Slightly more than half of military veterans who used Montgomery and Post 9/11 G.I. Bill benefits have completed the academic or training program they pursued, according to new data released today.

The study, released today by Student Veterans of America (SVA) in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Student Clearinghouse, showed that 51.7 percent of a sample of 788,915 former military service members who pursued some kind of postsecondary credential earned one within a 10-year time frame. That completion rate only slightly lags that of the general student population. Veterans also take longer to earn their credentials, but that may be due in part to their often lengthy military deployments.

"The majority of student veterans accessing their G.I. Bill benefits are completing degrees and showing unparalleled determination to do so, despite many unique barriers," said Wayne Robinson, SVA's president and CEO, in a written statement. "A single deployment can interrupt a student veteran’s education for at least 9 to 13 months, but they’re returning to the classroom and completing.”

The sample reflects about 22 percent of the student veterans who received G.I. Bill benefits between 2002 and 2010. While the Veterans Affairs Department in recent years has processed more than four million education claims at a cost of more than $30 billion, there has been no way to track completion rates for those students. The SVA aims to change that with this ongoing research effort, which the group dubbed the Million Records Project.

The report found that 80 percent of students in the sample enrolled in public institutions, while the rest were split fairly evenly between private nonprofit institutions (10.7 percent) and for-profits (10.1 percent). The role of for-profits in serving student veterans has been controversial at times, sparking recent scrutiny from several Democrats in the U.S. Congress. However, the report notes that the for-profit sector's coverage rate in the data sets was less complete than for other types of institutions.

Student veteran completion rates were higher at public and private nonprofit institutions than at for-profits (see graphic).

"The results, while not definitive due to the varying coverage rates previously discussed in this report, show that private nonprofit institutions, public schools and proprietary schools can all improve their postsecondary completion rates. However, some sectors may need to improve more than others," the report said. "If student veterans initially enroll at a public or private nonprofit institution of higher learning, they are more than likely to earn a degree over the course of their lifetime from any school. The converse is potentially true for those first enrolling in a proprietary school; they may be less likely to complete a degree in their lifetime from any school."

More than one third of student veterans earned a degree or certificate prior to tapping their G.I. Bill benefits, according to the report. And nearly half of that group went on to earn another degree. 

Several fields of study were particularly popular among veterans. At the associate-degree level, the most common were in liberal arts and sciences, business, homeland security, law enforcement and health professions, according to the report. The top five bachelor's degree programs were business, social sciences, homeland security, law enforcement and computer and information sciences.

March 24, 2014

Russia plans to convert Tavrida National University, in Crimea, into a federal university in the Russian system, The Voice of Russia Radio News reported. Some other higher education institutions in Crimea may be merged into the university.

March 24, 2014

Only 33 percent of the public favors paying college athletes anything more than the scholarships they receive, according to a new ABC News-Washington Post poll; 64 percent oppose the idea. The poll found a racial split on the idea. While 73 percent of white people oppose pay for athletes, a small majority (51 percent) of non-white people support the idea.

March 24, 2014

A 19-year-old Georgetown University student faces federal charges for possessing a biological toxin, WTOP reported, after ricin was found in his dorm room last week. Daniel Harry Milzman was arrested after an FBI investigation and said he made the ricin about a month ago. Georgetown Police Chief Jay Gruber said there was never a threat to students.


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