Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, April 27, 2012 - 3:00am

The Kentucky Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that public colleges and universities do not have the right to bar guns in student or employee vehicles on campuses, The Louisville Courier-Journal reported. Kentucky does permit its colleges and universities to bar guns on the persons of people on campuses. But the Supreme Court said that going beyond that would be "contrary to a fundamental policy, the right to bear arms."

Friday, April 27, 2012 - 3:00am

Top Russian universities may be poised to use debt to finance major improvements in their facilities, according to a new report by Standard & Poor's. The Moscow Times reported that the S&P report follows a new Russian law giving about 30 universities new financial authority, opening up the possibility for them to use debt. The report found that Russian universities -- which have depended on government grants for facilities -- lag their international peers in investments in their physical plants.

Friday, April 27, 2012 - 3:00am

Creighton University has announced plans to sell its struggling medical center in Omaha to a regional health care network. The university, which sold off a large share of the hospital's ownership to another health care company, Tenet, in 1995, said Wednesday that Alegent Health would buy the entire Creighton University Medical Center, and that Alegent would become the university's primary partner for its medical and other health professions students. The university did not disclose the terms of the deal.

Friday, April 27, 2012 - 4:30am

The conference commissioners and other college football bigwigs who run the Bowl Championship Series emerged from a three-day meeting saying they had reached general agreement for the first time on creating a playoff to decide the sport's annual champion each year, the Associated Press reported. The BCS, the sport's current method of picking a winner each year, has been much derided by sports fans and others, but opposition to a playoff has come from some college presidents and from those in college football (particularly in the Big Ten and Pacific-12 Conferences) loyal to the bowl games, which many believe would be threatened under a playoff system.

Details of the new arrangement have yet to be worked out (and college presidents were generally not involved in the discussions), but a four-game playoff is likely. “Yes, we’ve agreed to use the P word,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott told the AP.

Thursday, April 26, 2012 - 3:00am

As President Obama continued his barnstorming tour to campuses in key election swing states calling for Congress to stop the interest rate on federally subsidized student loans from doubling, several bills were introduced to do just that, including one from House Republicans. The key difference among the bills is how they would pay for an extension of the 3.4 percent interest rate, estimated to cost about $6 billion in the first year. A bill from Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, would pay for the extension by changing a tax loophole for so-called S corporations. A House version announced by Representative George Miller, a California Democrat, would cut oil subsidies, and a version from House Republicans, introduced by Illinois Republican Judy Biggert, would cut money from a portion of the health care law used for disease prevention and public health.

The bill represents a reversal for House Republicans, who had previously said they weren't interested in a short-term extension. Future debate is likely to center around what will be cut to pay for the extension, without which student loan rates will increase July 1.

Thursday, April 26, 2012 - 4:28am

The University of Florida is backing off a controversial plan that would have stripped most of the research functions from its computer science department. Bernie Machen, the university's president, issued a statement Wednesday in which he said that new plans were being developed to preserve the department's research role -- the elimination of which outraged many students, faculty members and alumni. The cuts are part of large reductions at the university, resulting from state appropriations cuts. Referring to the computer science proposal, Machen wrote: "As many of you know, the proposal has been met with overwhelming negative response, much of which I believe has been based on misunderstanding." At the same time, he said that some faculty members had come forward with proposals that would meet budget goals and also preserve the research mission in the computer science program. While work is needed to further develop those plans, Machen said that the previous proposal would be "set aside."

Thursday, April 26, 2012 - 3:00am

Sophia, an online learning platform recently acquired by Capella Education Co., on Wednesday released 25,000 free tutorials aimed at college and high school students. The for-profit Capella plans this summer to introduce "Sophia Pathways for College Credit," a souped-up version through which students' competency in subject areas, beginning with college algebra, will be assessed for the granting of Capella credits, company officials said. "It's a low-cost path to getting college credit," said Steve Anastasi, Sophia's interim CEO.

Anastasi describes the open platform as a "social teaching and learning environment" in which teachers, most of them not affiliated with Sophia or Capella, create online tutorials on a variety of subjects that will soon be organized by the learning preferences of students. The crowdsourced content is ranked and given an "academic seal" by self-identified academic experts, who themselves are rated by students. A Capella spokesman said Sophia would be a "sandbox" for experiments on open course content, as well as a resource for Capella students and professors.

 

 

Thursday, April 26, 2012 - 4:33am

The Student Veterans of America this month announced that it has suspended 40 chapters at for-profit institutions, saying that they were "using the SVA brand to legitimize their programs." At the time, the group did not name the chapters. Today it released a list of 26 chapters at for-profit institutions that continue to have their charters revoked. "In addition to being a peer support group, SVA chapters exist as campus and community based advocacy organizations. It appears that some for-profit schools do not understand our model, or worse, they understand our model and they choose to exploit it for personal gain," said a statement from Michael Dakduk, executive director of the association.

 

Thursday, April 26, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Wally Covington of Northern Arizona University explains why the forests of the American West have become more susceptible to large fires and outlines efforts to restore their natural ecology. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Thursday, April 26, 2012 - 3:00am

Civic leaders in El Paso are furious at Francisco Cigarroa, chancellor of the University of Texas System, for calling off a planned boxing event in the University of Texas at El Paso's Sun Bowl, the Associated Press reported. Cigarroa said he acted based on a "higher than normal" risk assessment; he did not provide details on the risk. El Paso leaders said that they feared the chancellor's actions would scare people away from El Paso based on the belief that some sort of spillover violence from Mexico was likely -- which they said was not the case.

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