Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

December 7, 2012

The new "Pay As You Earn" program, which lowers the amount that student loan borrowers pay per month in the income-based repayment program from 15 percent of discretionary income to 10 percent, and forgives loans after 20 years rather than 25, will go into effect on Dec. 21, according to a notice in today's Federal Register. Final rules for the program were issued in November.
 

December 7, 2012

Senator Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, is calling on Iowa State University to end restrictions on agriculture-related research at a new public policy institute named for Harkin at Iowa State University, The Des Moines Register reported. Harkin said that the restrictions violate academic freedom, and that he might ask to have his name removed from the center if the measures aren't lifted. The university has said that the new institute must coordinate all agriculture-related research with Iowa State's Center for Agricultural and Rural Development. Faculty members involved in the new institute say that this requirement could limit their work, and some see the requirement as a way to assure that research agendas are consistent with those of the state's major agriculture industries, which support the Center for Agriculture and Rural Development.

December 7, 2012

Tufts University has cleared the way for the Tufts Christian Fellowship to be recognized as an official student group, The Boston Globe reported. The fellowship was denied recognition because its requirement that leaders support "the basic biblical truths of Christianity" violates the university's anti-discrimination policies by imposing a religious test. But the university has decided that, for religious groups that wish to have an exemption for their leaders, an exemption to the anti-bias rules will be permitted.

 

December 7, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Jenny Stuber of the University of North Florida explains why students from different socioeconomic backgrounds experience college differently. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

December 7, 2012

Baylor University is investigating a party at which students dressed as Mexican immigrants, KXXV News reported. Photographs of the party appeared on students' Facebook pages, showing women in sombreros, fake dirt on their faces and with signs (in green) labeled "green cards." Pennsylvania State University officials are currently investigating a similar incident.

 

December 7, 2012

In April, the Department of Defense said it would issue a revised version of the memorandum of understanding that colleges and universities must sign to participate in military tuition assistance programs in order to address concerns from some in higher education. On Thursday, after months of delay, a draft of the new version of the memorandum was officially announced.

The memorandum, first proposed in March 2011, was intended to crack down on abuses and raise the standard for participating in the military tuition assistance programs. But some selective institutions of higher education protested requirements that they conform to the principles of Servicemember Opportunity Colleges, a voluntary association. That would have required more lenient residency and transfer of credit requirements (such as giving credit for military training) than some colleges wanted to accept, and the American Council on Education argued that it would interfere with colleges' right to set their own academic policies. The new version requires that colleges either join the voluntary association or disclose their policies before service members enroll.

Institutions must sign the memorandum by March 1 in order to participate in tuition assistance programs.

December 7, 2012

Utah's Dixie State College, founded in a part of the state that attracted settlers from the South who once dreamed of turning the area into a cotton-producing region, is debating whether its name suggests support for Confederate causes. While that debate continues, the university has removed a statue from campus that shows a Confederate soldier with the Confederate battle flag, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. The statue has been the site of some rallies calling for the university to change its name. "The statue has become a lighting rod. We feel bad about that," said Stephen Nadauld, president of Dixie State. "It’s a beautiful piece of art. We are nervous something might happen to the statue. It might be vandalized."

Jerry Anderson, the Utah sculptor who created the work, told the Tribune that the university should not have removed it. "It looks like they have succumbed to the adversary," Anderson said. "They are a bunch of wusses. That’s the first action taken to get rid of it. The other people are winning. That’s the way it is in the world. We are giving in to people who really aren’t Americans."

December 7, 2012

Faculty members at several universities in Ukraine say that they are being urged by their bosses to give low grades to students, Kyiv Post reported. The professors say that they have been told that the government doesn't have enough money for all the student stipends that have been awarded, and that low grades will disqualify some recipients. The Education Ministry did not respond to requests for comment.

 

December 6, 2012

The University of Notre Dame on Wednesday announced that it would create a recognized gay-straight alliance as a student organization at the Roman Catholic university, one result of a review of the college's policies on gay and lesbian students. Students and faculty have pushed for more resources for gay and lesbian students, including both the gay-straight alliance and the addition of sexual orientation to the university's nondiscrimination clause. While the plan announced Wednesday includes a range of changes, including a new advisory committee on gay and lesbian issues and a full-time staff member to oversee resources for gay students, it does not include any new plans for dealing with faculty issues or action on the nondiscrimination clause.

December 6, 2012

The National Science Foundation on Wednesday announced an expansion of its graduate fellows program that will allow selected graduate students to work for 3-12 months in one of eight countries. The idea is to encourage international collaboration early in researchers' careers. The countries are Denmark, Finland, France, Japan, Norway, Singapore, South Korea and Sweden.

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