Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, May 13, 2011 - 3:00am

Jill McDonald, the head of the British division of McDonald's, gave a talk this week in which she said that many of those put off by the increasing tuition rates at universities should consider working at McDonald's instead, Financial News reported. "We need to acknowledge that the road many young people take today may not be the one we took in the past," she said. "We need to remove the snobbery." Added McDonald (who happens to have the name of her employer): "I am definitely not saying that people shouldn’t go to university if they have the opportunity to do so, but I do believe it might not be the right route for everyone."

Friday, May 13, 2011 - 3:00am

The National Junior College Athletic Association's board has voted to limit the number of non-U.S. athletes to one-fourth of scholarship players, USA Today reported. In basketball and volleyball, for instance, that would be three per team. The move follows reports of growing numbers of foreign athletes -- some of them older than most American team members, some of whom it may be questionable to call amateurs -- on some teams.

Friday, May 13, 2011 - 3:00am

The economic downturn of fall 2008 left many colleges -- even wealthy institutions -- with cash flow problems, as their suddenly sagging investments were anything but flexible in providing money in the short term. A new report from Moody's finds that most colleges have recovered and are in much healthier condition with regard to liquidity. "Liquidity risks have stabilized for most universities nearly two years after unexpected cash shortages caused fifteen highly rated private universities to borrow more than $7 billion in taxable debt to bolster their liquidity," says the report's summary. "The healthy liquidity position of most U.S. colleges and universities has also aided bank liquidity facility renewals for the sector thus far in 2011. Nevertheless, significant uncertainty remains for some universities that face potential liquidity risks from variable rate debt structures, weak tuition pricing power, investment volatility and cuts in government funding."

Friday, May 13, 2011 - 3:00am

Carl Wieman, the Nobel laureate at the University of British Columbia, has released new findings to show that the right approaches to teaching can have a big impact on student understanding of science. The findings, published in Science, show that exercises in which students work through problems together are far more effective than lectures.

Friday, May 13, 2011 - 3:00am

In the latest of a slew of higher-ed publishers to join forces with lecture capture companies, the e-learning giant Pearson this week announced a partnership with Panopto, a leading player in the growing market for technology aimed at recording and storing classroom lectures. Last October, the publisher McGraw-Hill bought the lecture-capture company Tegrity; Macmillan, another major publisher, formed a partnership with Panopto a week later. Lecture capture has emerged rather quickly as widely sought technology: The consulting firm Frost & Sullivan last year reported that lecture companies did $50 million in business last year, a figure that could triple in the next five years.

Publishers seem to regard lecture capture as both a sound investment and a natural fit. "The big publishers, (McGraw-Hill, Pearson, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Reed Elsevier), all realize that unless they change, they will suffer a similar fate as the music publishers," wrote Joshua Kim, an instructional technologist at Dartmouth College and tech blogger for Inside Higher Ed, last fall. "...Lecture capture platforms will be one source in which faculty (and later student!) created content can be seamlessly folded into professionally produced (publisher) content."

Pearson not only sells course materials and learning-management platforms but also co-manages online curriculums for some big-ticket institutions. "With this partnership, Pearson will work directly with administrators and faculty to integrate Panopto into their program offerings and curriculum," the company said in a press release.

Thursday, May 12, 2011 - 3:00am

A federal jury on Wednesday convicted Phil Hamilton, a former member of the Virginia House of Delegates, of bribery and extortion in relation to a job he received at Old Dominion University, The Virginian-Pilot reported. Hamilton was charged with, as a powerful state legislator, obtaining $500,000 in state funds for Old Dominion to create a program he went on to lead as director of the university's Center for Teacher Quality and Educational Leadership. Hamilton has denied wrongdoing.

Thursday, May 12, 2011 - 3:00am

Authorities arrested 25 students at the University of Washington Wednesday, following sit-ins in the president's office and a conference room, The Seattle Times reported. The students were demanding that the university stop doing business with Sodexo, a food services company. The students charge that Sodexo mistreats its workers -- a charge the company denies.

Thursday, May 12, 2011 - 3:00am

An outbreak of a norovirus (or similar virus) has led Spring Arbor University to postpone its commencement, scheduled for May 14, until May 21. More than 170 students are ill.

Thursday, May 12, 2011 - 3:00am

As Speaker of the House John Boehner prepares to address graduates of the Catholic University of America Saturday, a group of professors at Roman Catholic colleges and universities has publicly rebuked the Ohio Republican for, they say, abandoning church teachings on social justice with a legislative agenda that neglects "the desperate needs of the poor." Saying they hope Boehner's visit to Catholic will "reawaken your familiarity with the teachings of your Church on matters of social justice," the scholars specifically cite his leadership on a 2012 House budget that, they say, would remove "long-established protections for the most vulnerable members of society," and that they call "particularly cruel to pregnant women and children." A spokesman for Boehner said the Congressman will be honored to deliver the speech and receive an honorary degree "from the only Catholic college in our country that is chartered by Catholic bishops.”

Thursday, May 12, 2011 - 3:00am

The Presidential Oversight Committee of the Bowl Championship Series announced Wednesday that the Fiesta Bowl will remain part of the BCS -- the controversial group of contests that determines the national champion in big-time college football -- but that it must pay a $1 million fine for illegal campaign contributions and inappropriate spending. Duane Woods, the Fiesta Bowl's chairman, told the Associated Press: “The Fiesta Bowl Board of Directors understands and accepts the sanctions imposed by the BCS. We think that these tough but fair measures are consistent with our commitment to reform the Fiesta Bowl's governance and rebuild trust.” Bob Williams, spokesman for the National Collegiate Athletic Association, wrote in a statement: “The BCS task force actions regarding the Fiesta Bowl are serious and constructive steps in the right direction. The NCAA postseason bowl licensing subcommittee will review the task force report as it considers whether to reaffirm the Fiesta Bowl ... for the coming season. The subcommittee is planning to meet next week and expects to make a decision in the near future.”

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