Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

June 17, 2014

In today's Academic Minute, Marsha Regenstein, a professor of health policy at George Washington University, observes how the Affordable Care Act will benefit inmates in the short and long term. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


June 16, 2014

When children have health insurance, they are more likely to finish high school, enroll in college and earn a bachelor's degree, according to a study released today by the National Bureau of Economic Research (abstract available here). The study uses Medicaid expansions of the 1980s and 1990s that expanded the share of children in the United States with health insurance and tracks the impact on those who became eligible as children.

The study found that a 10 percentage point increase in average Medicaid eligibility for those 0-17 years old leads to a decrease of 0.5 of a percentage point in the high school dropout rate for the population and increases in college enrollment of between 0.7 of a percentage point and 1.0 percentage point, and increases in bachelor's degree attainment of 0.9 to 1 percentage point. "These estimates translate into declines in high school non-completion of about 5 percent, increases in college attendance of between 1.0 percent and 1.5 percent and increases in B.A. attainment of about 3.3 percent - 3.7 percent relative to the sample means," the study finds.

The authors note the relevance of their findings to the expanded coverage many children may be receiving under the Affordable Care Act enacted in 2010.

The paper is by Sarah Cohodes of Harvard University; and Samuel Kleiner, Michael F. Lovenheim and Daniel Grossman, all of Cornell University.

June 16, 2014

An outside investigation has concluded that Michael Marzion, the police chief at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, engaged in "inappropriate and unprofessional conduct" when he sent online messages of a sexual nature to a student, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. But the inquiry found that the conduct did not violate university rules, noting that the student encouraged the discussion, including the sexual tone. The student had filed a complaint saying that she felt she was being harassed. Marzion admitted that he traded messages with the student, the investigation found, but could not explain his conduct. The investigator -- a former Wisconsin judge -- recommended that Marzion be disciplined, receive training on sexual harassment, or both. Marzion did not respond to requests for comment.

June 16, 2014

An independent panel on Friday instructed City College of San Francisco's accreditor, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, to reconsider its decision last year to terminate the college's accreditation. The commission appointed a five-member panel to rule on the college's appeal of the termination decision. While City College may have deserved that decision when it was made, the panel ruled, the college's efforts to fix its problems during the last six months deserve a look by the commission.

"CCSF was not in substantial compliance with accreditation standards and eligibility requirements as of June 7, 2013," the panel said. "However, for the reasons discussed above, ... there is 'good cause' for a consideration of CCSF’s achievement of compliance with accreditation standards and eligibility requirements though January 10, 2014 and up to and including the end of the evidentiary hearing sessions on appeal (May 21, 2014)."

The panel directed the commission to set aside its termination decision until it can consider the expanded body of evidence on City College's progress.

There are two other ways the college could avoid losing its accreditation, and almost certainly shutting down as a result. Last week the commission announced a change in its policies to create the option of a "restoration" period during which the college could get an extra two years to come into compliance. And a lawsuit San Francisco's city attorney filed, which seeks to block the commission's termination action, is due in court in October.

A statement the commission distributed on Friday included the headline "CCSF Loses Appeal on Termination." That claim apparently was based on the panel's rejection of much of City College's arguments in its appeal.

The college quickly fired back to "set the record straight" with a news release of its own.

"The ACCJC’s statement earlier today creates the misleading impression that City College of San Francisco has 'lost' its appeal to the ACCJC," the release said.

June 16, 2014

The National Labor Relations Board on Friday upheld an earlier, Atlanta-based NLRB judge's decision that Laurus Technical Institute violated the National Labor Relations Act when it enacted a "no gossip" rule for employees, including instructors. The for-profit institution's policy prohibited employees from talking about other employees' personal lives while they were not present, other employees' professional lives if their supervisors were not present, and spreading rumors.

The earlier decision found the policy to be so "overly broad and unlawful" as to prohibit employees from complaining about any aspect of their work lives, and the national board agreed. It also agreed that Laurus was in violation of the labor relations act when it terminated an admissions employee who was found to be in violation of the no-gossip rule. Jeffrey A. Schwartz, Laurus's attorney, said via email that the decision was "not well founded."  

June 16, 2014

In the latest "This Week" audio newscast, the financial aid expert Sandy Baum joined Inside Higher Ed's Scott Jaschik and the moderator Casey Green to talk student loan policies and politics, and the consultant Robert C. Dickeson and Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District's Cindy Miles discussed the issues raised by the game of chicken surrounding the accreditation of City College of San Francisco.


June 16, 2014

A trio of distance education advocates is pressing the U.S. Department of Education to scale back its proposal that would require online programs to be overseen by regulators in each and every state in which they enroll students.

In a letter sent Friday to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, the groups warn that the Department of Education’s most recent draft of a “state authorization” rule would, if enacted, lead to “large-scale disruption, confusion and higher costs for students in the short-term” with no long-term benefit. The missive was signed by the heads of The Sloan Consortium, the University Professional and Continuing Education Association, and WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies.

The department, citing a concern that some states aren’t doing enough to oversee higher education programs offered to their residents, is again seeking to require that online programs obtain approval from every state in which they enroll students after a court in 2012 blocked such an effort on procedural grounds.

But this time around, department officials have indicated they want to take the rule a step further. Their most recent draft proposal would allow federal funds to flow only to distance education providers that are actively reviewed by state regulators. Such a requirement would essentially require that many states change their current practice of exempting some types of distance education programs from their review process.

A negotiated-rulemaking panel failed to reach consensus on the rule earlier this year. The Education Department is now free to move ahead with re-writing its own version of the rule.  

June 16, 2014

The South Carolina Legislature has approved a measure -- signed into law by Governor Nikki Haley, a Republican -- that will require the College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina Upstate to spend $70,000 teaching works related to the founding of the United States. The measure is designed to punish the colleges for assigning gay-themed books last year. The measure is being called a "compromise" because initial versions of the legislation simply stripped the $70,000 (the cost of the gay-themed books used for first year programs) from the budgets of the colleges.

But a coalition of academic and civil liberties groups -- including the American Association of University Professors and the Modern Language Association -- issued a statement on Saturday denouncing the measure. "The provision is ostensibly a compromise, replacing a previous version in the House to cut funding in amounts to reflect the cost of the books," the statement says. "The version enacted poses exactly the same concerns as the initially proposed cuts: it represents unwarranted political interference with academic freedom and undermines the integrity of the higher education system in South Carolina. The history of the legislative debate makes it 100 percent clear that the legislature’s primary concern is to force schools to eliminate educational content that some legislators dislike, or risk financial penalties."


June 16, 2014

Ron Webster was a research assistant at the University of Liverpool in 1953 when he accidentally took a library book with him when he moved to continue his research in London. Recently, when working to thin out his library, he discovered that he had held on to Structure and Function in Primitive Society for 61 years. Planning a trip to Liverpool, he decided to return the book, even as friends warned him that he might face a huge fine. In theory, he owed a fine of £4,500 (more than $7,600). But the university library, amazed by someone returning a book so many years past due, agreed to waive the fine provided that Webster, 91, agreed to "live an exemplary life and return all his books on time." He agreed to the terms.


June 16, 2014

King's College in New York is styling itself the first U.S. institution to allow students to pay for their tuition with the cryptocurrency bitcoin, The New York Times reported. The Christian liberal arts college, located in lower Manhattan, enrolls about 500 students. A semester at the college will cost about 27.6 bitcoins (or $15,950), based on Friday afternoon's exchange rate.


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