Higher Education Quick Takes
How financially risky are some international branch campuses? The Boston Globe reported, in explaining why some American colleges are having second thoughts on the outposts, that Suffolk University lost $10 million on a branch in Senegal. When the university shut down the campus this year, it decided it would be easier to educate the remaining 104 African students by moving them to Boston than by keeping the operation in Senegal. Suffolk is hardly the first American college to reconsider branch campuses. Here is an article from Inside Higher Ed about the decision of Michigan State University to pull out of Dubai.
New England Law Boston announced that it recovered $173,000 that its former controller, Douglas Leman, stole between September 2008 and March 2011, The Boston Globe reported. Law school officials said that they believed the wrongdoing was isolated to one employee. Leman pleaded guilty to the theft last week in federal court.
The Contra Costa Community College District has angered many unions and labor advocates by announcing plans to reconsider a policy governing the companies hired to work on construction projects, The Contra Costa Times reported. The policy requires local labor to be hired whenever possible, and for prevailing wages to be paid. Critics say that it removes flexibility and denies work to non-union labor, but supporters say that it assures fair treatment for workers and supports the local economy.
Stanford University, one of the frontrunners in a competition held by New York City to secure a plot of land and city money to build a high-tech campus, has joined with the City University of New York System to create Stanford@CCNY, a demonstration site at the university's City College campus. The site will serve as a pilot site for Stanford's undergraduate curriculum in entrepreneurship, technology management, and related areas. If Stanford's proposal to build a new campus is accepted by the city, it will offer joint degree programs created by faculty from both institutions through 2016, when the new campus would become operational.
Colleges have until Oct. 28 to submit proposals under the competition staged by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Stanford and Cornell University have been the most public about their interest in generating proposals, but other universities, including Columbia, New York University, and Carnegie Mellon University, are also working on proposals. The city plans to select the winner by the end of the calendar year.
Western Oklahoma State College has become a powerhouse in community college baseball, and The New York Times explains why. The college, in a remote part of its state, recruits Latino stars from Eastern cities -- and has attracted talent overlooked by other programs.
As enrollment at for-profit colleges boomed and the economy weakened, more students took out private loans, according to a report released Tuesday by the Education Department's National Center for Education Statistics. Between 2003-4 and 2007-8, the percentage of undergraduates with private student loans rose from 5 percent to 14 percent. The increase was steepest at for-profit colleges, where 13 percent of students took out private loans in 2003-4, and 42 percent did so in 2007-8. “In general, the higher the tuition, the higher the rate of private borrowing,” the report’s authors wrote, noting that private nonprofit colleges also saw a sharp increase (from 11 percent of students taking out private loans in 2003-4 to 25 percent in 2007-8).
Many of those students had not exhausted federal student loan programs, which often offer better rates than do private lenders: only 46 percent of private-loan borrowers had borrowed the maximum from Stafford loan programs before turning to private loans. The Education Department strongly recommends that students use federal student loans before turning to private borrowers, and regulations on private borrowing that took effect in 2010 include new disclosure requirements. The NCES data predate the new regulations.
Czech officials have released a draft plan for a reform of the nation's universities, and one controversial measure would add tuition charges, The Prague Monitor reported. Many academics say that tuition would discourage some students from enrolling. Other ideas in the draft include linking funding of universities to their quality, and the mergers of smaller institutions.
The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities today released a guidance document for how its member institutions should work with third-party vendors. The release follows newly-strengthened federal rules for misrepresentations about degree programs, such as through online or television advertising for prospective students. Colleges can now be held accountable for virtually any false or misleading claim made by a third-party vendor. For-profits often hire outside companies to help in "lead generation" for students, which means the colleges face new vulnerability if those vendors run afoul of the rules.
However, officials at the association said the new guidance document was in the works before the new regulations were devised. Brian Moran, APSCU's interim CEO and president, said for-profits recognize their responsibility in being proactive about the "Wild West of Internet ads" generated by unethical companies. The guidelines show how members should exercise control in their relationships with outside marketing firms, and how they should monitor the advertisements themselves.
Moran said for-profits are not directly responsible for the actions of third-party vendors, but that "we are tarnished by the criticism" of shady advertising. He said the new rules create "enormous exposure" for APSCU's members. "There's lots of danger for the unaware."
The president of Edison State College said Tuesday that he plans to fire the institution's top academic administrator for insubordination and a "complete lack of collegiality" -- citing among other incidents the official's decision to tell the college's accreditor about what became a highly publicized controversy over the potentially improper awarding of credits. In a letter released to local reporters, President Kenneth P. Walker, whose leadership of the Florida college has been enmeshed in controversy for much of the year, told Steve Atkins, the vice president for academic affairs, that he would ask trustees to dismiss Atkins and that Atkins could not come on campus without permission from the human resources office. Walker cited a range of actions that he said showed that Atkins could "no longer serve in the position." In an interview with a local television station as he left the campus Tuesday, Atkins said he had told Edison State officials Saturday that he planned to sue the institution for creating a hostile work environment and retaliating against him.