Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

May 10, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Michael Poulin of the University of Buffalo reveals that while offering a helping hand to others, you may also be helping yourself. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

May 10, 2013

A new report from the American Association of University Women makes several recommendations for furthering women’s success in community colleges, a goal the report calls “too often overlooked.”  Based on their research, authors Andresse St. Rose and Catherine Hill make two primary recommendations: “Support student parents” and “Increase the number of women in nontraditional fields, including STEM.”

"While we celebrate the accessibility that community colleges provide women … access alone is not enough," St. Rose said in a conference call Thursday.

According to the report, women make up 57 percent of the students who attend community colleges; many of these women are financially limited and/or academically underprepared, and about 25 percent have children. As such, the report recommends increases in on-campus child care at community colleges, which is offered at fewer than half of such institutions.

The report also singles out the Career Pathways Initiative (CPI), a program for low-income parents offered at all of Arkansas' community colleges, for praise. CPI offers assistance to low-income parents through a combination of tutoring, academic advising and career services. "More schools and states need to follow this example," St. Rose said during the call.

Associate Degrees Conferred by Community Colleges, by Gender, 2009–2010

Major Women Men
Health professions and related programs 84,526 15,778
Education 11,577 2,877
Computer and information sciences 3,359 10,860
Engineering technologies 2,628 15,629
Personal and culinary services 2,500 1,560
Mechanic and repair technologies/technicians 785 11,332
Mathematics and statistics 317 690
Engineering 282 1,902
Construction trades 210 3,073

Source: AAUW analysis of U.S. Department of Education, 2010.

St. Rose and Hill also call for expanded information and support for women seeking degrees in STEM fields; women enrolled in community colleges, they say, currently tend toward traditionally female fields such as nursing, education and cosmetology, and are therefore underrepresented in STEM-related areas (see table). Their recommendations on this include more active recruitment, ensuring that academic advising programs are not reinforcing gender stereotypes and bolstering the gender equity provisions found in the Perkins Act, which provides federal support for technical education.

May 10, 2013

Cheating concerns have led the Educational Testing Service to call off the SAT in South Korea this month, The Wall Street Journal reported. The move followed reports that questions from the May SAT were circulating in some test-prep centers. Some Korean students planning to apply to colleges in the United States are trying to find other countries where they can take the exam.

 

May 10, 2013

The Committee on Academic Freedom of the Middle East Studies Association has written a letter to the president of Egypt’s Suez Canal University protesting its investigation and informal suspension without pay of an English professor variously accused of “contempt of religion” and “insulting Islam.” As the letter details, Mona Prince is accused by a student of making “untoward” statements about Islam in a lecture on sectarian tensions in Egypt. 

The letter describes the incident as a misunderstanding or disagreement between Prince and a student complainant. "It seems to us, indeed, that Dr. Prince acted precisely as a professor should, particularly in a discussion section of a course designed to teach critical thinking skills,” states the letter, signed by MESA’s president, Peter Sluglett. “She encouraged her students to tackle matters that, while sensitive and unpleasant, are among the most pressing socio-political issues in contemporary Egypt.”

“We are quite disturbed, therefore, that the university has opened an investigation at all,” the letter continues. “The mere fact that the university deems this innocuous incident worthy of inquiry could exercise a chilling effect  upon academic freedom."

The president of Suez Canal University did not immediately respond to an email message on Thursday. 

May 10, 2013

Students at California State University at San Marcos held a protest outside the president's office Thursday to protest the university's decision not to punish Alpha Chi Omega sorority following a racially insensitive incident, KPBS reported. The sorority held an event in which members posed for photographs dressed as Latina gang members, and then posted the photos to social media. One of the students who protested said: "To come to school where people don’t understand that there’s real struggles behind these things; that they’re real, we have to go home to them whenever we go home to our families or our communities. And it’s not funny. It’s not funny to us. In fact, it’s hurtful."

 

May 10, 2013

An all-time high of 69 percent of Hispanics graduating from high school in 2012this is Latinos, right? make this "of the Hispanic students graduating from high school in 2012..."? -sj enrolled in college that fall, according to analysis by the Pew Research Center. This is a greater proportion than that of white graduates from the same class, of whom 67 percent enrolled in college.

According to Pew, Hispanic college-going has seen a long-term increase, especially since the recession hit, whereas enrollment by white high school graduates has gradually declined since 2008.

In addition, the high school dropout rate among Hispanic 16 to 24-year-olds has been cut in half since 2000, when it was 28 percent, compared to 14 percent currently. The white high school dropout rate has also declined, albeit only two percentage points and from a lower base (7 percent to 5 percent).

Recent High School Dropouts (numbers in thousands)

Race/ethnicity 1999-2000 2011-2012
Hispanic 101 134
White 384 197
Black 111 124
Asian (unavailable) 19

Ratio of High School Completers to Dropouts

Race/ethnicity 1999-2000 2011-2012
Hispanic 3:1 5:1
White 6:1 12:1
Black 4:1 4:1
Asian (unavailable) 9:1

(Both tables from Pew Research Center)

Although they surpass white students in the percentage of high school graduates enrolling in college, Pew added, Hispanic graduates still lag behind in some aspects; for instance, Hispanic high school graduates have a 56 percent likelihood of enrolling in a four-year college, as compared to 72 percent for white graduates. They are also less likely than whites to be full-time students or earn a bachelor's degree.

Pew offers two possible explanations for the increased Hispanic enrollment: the worsening job market (unemployment among Hispanics 16-24 has increased seven percentage points post-recession, compared to five points among whites) and the emphasis Hispanic families are likely to place on a college education (according to two separate 2009 Pew surveys, 88 percent of Hispanics 16 and over agreed that a college degree is necessary for success, compared to 74 percent of Americans overall who said that).

 

 

May 10, 2013

A new report, "The Changing Face of Historically Black Colleges and Universities," was released Thursday by the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education and the Center for Minority Serving Institutions. The report details the role of black colleges, outlines demographic trends in enrollments and discusses educational and financial challenges facing the institutions.
 

May 10, 2013

An associate professor of Arabic at Hunter College was being treated at a Cairo hospital on Thursday after being stabbed in the neck just outside the U.S. Embassy, NBC News reported. The broadcaster reported that Christopher Stone was challenged by a man who asked him twice about his nationality and then stabbed him. Stone received a  National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship to study Sheikh Imam at the American Research Center in Egypt this academic year.

May 10, 2013

The University of Montana must make numerous, comprehensive changes to its sexual assault policies and procedures, under a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights. The resolution agreement ends a year-long investigation into whether the university and its campus safety department had a systemic problem in responding to sexual assault allegations promptly and effectively.

The resolution agreement -- which officials said was tailored to Montana but should be heeded by other colleges as a model for sexual assault prevention and response -- indicates that the university, while it has made some progress, still must take several steps to comply with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, as well as Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibit sex discrimination and sexual assault and harassment in education programs. Those steps include educating students, employees and public safety officers on what constitutes sexual harassment, and how to report it; implementing a system to track sexual harassment complaints from initial report to final resolution; conducting annual student climate surveys and evaluating whether remedies are effective or more changes are needed; ensuring that campus safety officers, as first responders, meet victims’ needs immediately and make sure the justice system is known, open and available to them; and increasing efficiencies in the Office of Public Safety.

Federal officials acknowledged the positive work that Montana has already done. Last summer, it began requiring all students to take a sexual assault tutorial before registering for second-semester classes. The investigation followed nearly a dozen sexual assault reports at Montana, the most high-profile of which (and the one that prompted federal officials to enter the fray) involving athletes, and a university-commissioned report that determined Montana had “a problem” and should be investigated further. The Justice Department is still investigating city law enforcement in Missoula, and encouraged better cooperation between campus and local police.

May 9, 2013

Inside Higher Ed is today releasing a free compilation of articles -- in print-on-demand format -- about massive open online courses, or MOOCs. The articles aren't today's breaking news, but reflect long-term trends and some of the forward-looking thinking of experts on how MOOCs may change higher education. The idea is to provide these materials (both news articles and opinion essays) in one easy-to-read place. Inside Higher Ed will be releasing more such compilations in the months ahead, on a range of topics.

You can find "The MOOC Moment," the debut in this series, here.

And we invite you to participate in a free webinar with Inside Higher Ed's editors to talk about the issues raised in the articles and the latest developments involving MOOCs on Thursday, May 30, at 2 p.m. Eastern. To register, please click here.

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