Higher Education Quick Takes
StraighterLine, a low-cost online course provider, has signed up the University of Phoenix as its 27th partner college. A larger group of colleges typically accepts credits earned for StraighterLine courses that are evaluated by the American Council on Education's Credit Recommendation Service. Partner colleges, however, have agreed to accept credits earned through the provider and also offer a streamlined application process to StraighterLine students.
Phoenix joins other for-profit partner colleges, including Kaplan University, DeVry University and Capella University. StraightLine's nonprofit partners include Western Governors University and several public universities, such as Albany State University and Charter Oak State University. Inside Higher Ed last year published a three-part series on the curricular experiment undertaken by StraighterLine. The provider later brought in an outside firm to conduct a study of the quality of its offerings. (Note: This article has been updated from an earlier version to correct erroneous information provided by the company.)
The Student Aid Alliance, a group of 74 higher education associations, advocacy groups and other organizations, announced a lobbying campaign Monday to fight possible cuts to federal financial aid as the Congressional committee on deficit reduction enters the final month before its Nov. 24 deadline.
Pell Grants are considered a possible target of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, known as the "super committee," which is charged with cutting $1.2 trillion from the long-term deficit before Thanksgiving. In a statement of support intended to be signed by college presidents, faculty members, associations and others, the alliance said that, given the tough economy, it is "more important than ever to preserve, protect and provide adequate funding for the core federal student aid programs -- such as Pell Grants and student loan benefits." By the end of the business day Monday, it had 618 signatures and was quickly growing. The campaign is also urging members to contact their Congressional representatives to discuss federal aid programs. The drive came amid reports that the White House will announce new measures Wednesday aimed at helping student loan borrowers -- focused on letting more of them consolidate their loans at a savings.
Steven Maranville has sued Utah Valley University, charging it with breach of contract after he left a tenured appointment with the University of Houston to teach at Utah Valley and then was told after a one-year probationary period that his style was not working with students, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. The suit charges that the decision was based inappropriately on student complaints. The university has said that it will defend itself against the suit, but has not provided details of its perspective on the issues.
Some faculty members at the University of Sydney are calling for officials to call off a campus event with Israeli scientists, saying that such a program would offend Muslim students, The Australian reported. An e-mail circulated among faculty members said that Israeli universities are complicit in government mistreatment of the Palestinians, and that Israeli universities should teach in Arabic. Organizers of the event with Israeli scientists note that another such event is planned with Arab scientists. Manuel Graeber, a neuroscientist at the university, e-mailed colleagues in defense of the planned program. "The event with Israel should go ahead exactly as planned," he wrote. "There is absolutely nothing questionable about it. Academics must not be held hostage by ideologies."
The number of first-time applicants to medical school increased by 2.6 percent in 2011, to 32,654, the Association of American Medical Colleges reported on Monday. The AAMC also reported an increase of 3 percent, to 19,230, in the entering class in 2011. Medical educators have been pushing for increases in enrollments, citing projected physician shortages in the years ahead, especially in general medical fields.
Enrollment increases were also reported this month by the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, which found that total enrollment at osteopathic medical colleges now tops 20,600, a 6.5 percent increase.
Adjuncts at Northern Michigan University have voted to join a union of tenured and tenure-track faculty members. The expanded unit is affiliated with the American Association of University Professors. The vote of adjuncts to join the union was 54-5. That means that about 100 adjuncts will join the roughly 300 faculty members already in the union.
Ron Paul, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, has called for ending the federal student loan program, saying that it has "failed," the Associated Press reported. Paul said that government programs have forced up tuition rates. "Just think of all this willingness to want to help every student get a college education," said Paul, who graduated from Gettysburg College and then earned a medical degree at the Duke University. "I went to school when we had none of those. I could work my way through college and medical school because it wasn't so expensive."
The University of New Mexico has announced that it will not renew a permit that has enabled the local "Occupy" movement to gather on the campus, KOB News 4 reported. The university says that it is not comfortable keeping the protest going on campus because homeless people and others are being attracted to the event, making it dangerous. One participant in the protest said it was unfair for the university to blame the protest movement for the homeless. "We didn't bring them. It's the capitalist system in this country that has brought that," said Amalia Montoya.
The Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors is among the groups that had scheduled meetings in Arizona prior to the state adopting a law many view as unconstitutional and anti-immigrant. The association went ahead with its meeting, but has now issued a statement about immigration laws and their impact. The statement pledges support for all students at the colleges the counseling center directors serve, regardless of the students' immigration status. "Our organization declares our support for, and intention to promote compassion and inclusion for all who live within the borders of the United States, in our communities and on our campuses," says the statement. "Our work shows that students thrive and achieve their maximum potential in a climate where all can feel safe, valued and respected. As mental health professionals in higher education, we strive to build healthy and inclusive campus and community climates. Our compassion has no borders. We advocate for students who are misunderstood, marginalized, or unfairly devalued despite their efforts to be educated and productive members of our communities. We advocate for all students to take full advantage of the richly diverse learning environment on and off campus, to understand the demands and responsibilities of global citizenship, and to extend a compassionate hand to those yearning to contribute to our robust society."