Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Hamilton College's Paul Wyckoff examines why holding teachers and students responsible for poor school performance ignores the single greatest factor that determines individual educational outcomes. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 - 3:00am

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.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 - 3:00am

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.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 - 3:00am

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.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 - 3:00am

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.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 - 3:00am

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.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Brent Stockwell of Columbia University reveals why the past decade has seen a dramatic decrease in the number of new drugs. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - 3:00am

An instructor in a history class at County College of Morris told a student with a stutter that he should not ask questions during class, and she declined to call on him in class, The New York Times reported. The article uses the case of Philip Garber Jr., the student, to show how students with a stutter are treated. The instructor declined to discuss the matter, and the college declined to tell the Times whether the instructor had been disciplined.

A spokeswoman sent Inside Higher Ed an e-mail saying that college officials were "delighted that Philip is now in a history class where he is fully participating and answering and asking questions. Our standard practice is that once college officials are alerted to any problems a student is experiencing, they take immediate action to resolve those issues. As we do with all students seeking accommodations, we have taken action to resolve Philip's concerns so he can successfully continue his education." Asked if the college considers it legitimate for an instructor to tell a student with a stutter not to talk in class, the spokeswoman responded, "No, CCM does not consider that acceptable behavior."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - 3:00am

A federal judge has ordered Brown University to release fund-raising records related to an alumnus whose daughter, a student, accused another student of rape, Bloomberg reported. The student who was accused has sued the university, charging that it falsely found him to have committed sexual assault, and forced him out of the university, in part (the suit alleges) because of a desire to maintain good ties to the alumnus. In that context, the suit sought access to the records, which Brown had argued it should not be required to turn over.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - 3:00am

Despite a rapidly growing Asian American and Pacific Islander population in the United States, these students are constantly overlooked in federal higher education policy, including the national college completion agenda, according to a new report by the National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education.

There is a large disparity among ethnic groups, the report states, with more than four out of five East Asians and South Asians enrolled in college earn at least a bachelor's degree. At the same time, a large percentage (almost 50 percent for each of the subgroups) of Southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders report attending college but not earning a degree.

“With globalization as a mantra in the college completion agenda, it is essential to look at the importance of reaping the full benefits of diversity in American society and increasing degree attainment among all underserved communities," said Robert Teranishi, principal investigator at the commission and an associate professor of higher education at New York University.

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