Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

October 12, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Jeff Clune of Cornell University reveals why the biology of life often takes a winding path through seemingly unnecessary developmental stages. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

October 12, 2012

More than 40 percent of students and recent graduates with high levels of student debt report that they never received the loan counseling required by federal law, according to a new survey released by NERA Economic Consulting and Young Invincibles. The overwhelming majority of such students favor recent Education Department initiatives to standardize aid award letters so students have a better idea of college costs, and what they may need to borrow. Far too many student borrowers "lack adequate counseling and do not understand basic student loan terms," said Rory O’Sullivan, policy director at Young Invincibles and co-author of a report on the survey.

October 12, 2012

The University of Phoenix on Thursday announced an immediate tuition freeze for all new and currently enrolled students. Tuition rates will be locked in for students as they work toward degrees, university officials said, as long as they meet eligibility requirements and stay enrolled. The university said the freeze was an effort to keep tuition levels affordable at Phoenix, which is the largest for-profit institution. Tuition rates vary at the university, but some bachelor's degree programs are $420 per credit.

October 12, 2012

"Meatless Monday" is a program embraced at a number of colleges to encourage vegetarian dining one day a week. At California State University at Chico, officials agreed to offer more non-meat meal selections on Mondays, but have decided not to associate their effort with the "Meatless Monday" slogan, The Mercury Register reported. Chico State has an agriculture college and some of its officials and alumni objected to the university associating with an effort seen by some as denigrating the parts of the agriculture industry that produce meat.

 

October 12, 2012

A small group of women in China are protesting discriminatory admissions policies by shaving their heads, ABC News reported. The women are protesting policies under which some universities are admitting men with lower scores on the national admissions test than the minimum required for women at their institutions.

October 11, 2012

College completion gets plenty of attention these days. But the challenges many students face in transferring from community colleges to four-year institutions is less visible, according to a new report from the American Association of Community Colleges. In addition to examining those challenges, the report looks at the role of transfer as a pathway to the bachelor's degree and the mobility of credits between institutions. For example, students are almost twice as likely to earn a bachelor's degree when all of their community college transfer credits are accepted by four-year institutions, according to the report, which was written by Christopher M. Mullin, the association's program director for policy analysis.

October 11, 2012

Gallaudet University placed its chief diversity officer on leave Wednesday, citing her decision to sign a petition endorsing a Maryland voter initiative designed to overturn the state's gay marriage law, the Associated Press reported. Angela McCaskill's signature on the petition was first reported in July, but on Wednesday, T. Alan Hurwitz, president of the Washington, D.C., university that specializes in educating the deaf, announced that he had placed McCaskill on paid administrative leave. "It recently came to my attention that Dr. McCaskill has participated in a legislative initiative that some feel is inappropriate for an individual serving as Chief Diversity Officer; however, other individuals feel differently," Hurwitz wrote. "I will use the extended time while she is on administrative leave to determine the appropriate next steps taking into consideration the duties of this position at the university."

October 11, 2012

Dozens of students at the University of South Alabama protested Wednesday over a recent deadly shooting by a police officer of a naked, unarmed student, the Associated Press reported. The police officer said that the student was charging at him. Since the death, authorities found that the student was on LSD at the time. Critics, including those at Wednesday's protest, said that the police should have used tasers or non-lethal force, and that the student -- by virtue of being naked -- was clearly unarmed. Others held a protest to back the police officer.

 

October 11, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Susan Perry of the University of California Los Angeles explores how early stability can shape the adult lives of social creatures. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

October 11, 2012

Much of the work of the HathiTrust (a consortium of universities) to make books in university collections more easily searchable and accessible to people with disabilities is protected by "fair use" and is not subject to a copyright suit brought by authors' groups, a federal judge has ruled.

"The totality of the fair-use factors suggest that copyright law’s 'goal of promoting the progress of science ... would be better served by allowing the use than by preventing it," said the ruling by Judge Harold Baer Jr. "The enhanced search capabilities that reveal non-copyright material, the protection of defendants’ fragile books, and, perhaps most importantly, the unprecedented ability of print-disabled individuals to have an equal opportunity to compete with their sighted peers in the ways imagined by the [Americans With Disabilities Act] protect the copies made by defendants as fair use...."

The judge added: "Although I recognize that the facts here may on some levels be without precedent, I am convinced that they fall safely within the protection of fair use such that there is no genuine issue of material fact. I cannot imagine a definition of fair use that would not encompass the transformative uses made by Defendants’ MDP and would require that I terminate this invaluable contribution to the progress of science and cultivation of the arts that at the same time effectuates the ideals espoused by the ADA."

A blog post by James Grimmelmann, a professor at the New York Law School who has followed the case, said that "on every substantive copyright issue, HathiTrust won."

 

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