The U.S. Department of Justice has asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit in which for-profit colleges challenged the legality of three rules the Education Department has promulgated to tighten regulation of federal student aid. The lawsuit, filed in January by the Association for Private Sector Colleges and Universities, asks the courts to invalidate three of the dozen-plus new rules that the Education Department issued in October; the disputed regulations relate to state authorization of colleges, incentive compensation for recruiters, and misrepresentation of colleges' programs and results. In their brief asking for dismissal of the lawsuit, government lawyers argued that the Education Department was well within its legal authority under the Higher Education Act in promulgating all three rules. The New America Foundation's Higher Ed Watch blog first reported the government's response.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Kent State University, facing deep budget cuts, has limited enrollments in American Sign Language courses to those students who need the language for their majors or minors, The Ravenna Record Courier reported. Students say that the limits are discriminatory because non-majors are still permitted in introductory Spanish and other languages. But officials say that sections of those languages have been cut as well, and that there is no money for more ASL sections.
These meetings, conferences, seminars and other events will be held in the coming weeks in and around higher education. They are among the many such that appear in our calendar on The Lists on Inside Higher Ed, which also includes a comprehensive catalog of job changes in higher education. This listing will appear as a regular feature in this space.
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The American Bar Association has been engaged in a long process of updating accreditation standards for law schools, and the latest draft features tougher reporting requirements on job placement, The National Law Journal reported. Under the new draft, law schools would disclose the percentage of students whose employment status is unknown after nine months, the percentage in jobs funded by the law school, the percentage in jobs requiring passage of a bar exam and the percentage in non-legal jobs. The inclusion of those changes reflects criticisms of current, minimalist reporting requirements that critics say hide the extent of unemployment of law school graduates. The new draft also maintains controversial provisions from earlier versions that would eliminate requirements that law schools have tenure systems and use the LSAT in admissions.
Budget and other pressures are prompting legislators in several states to consider the normally unthinkable: merging or closing public campuses. Ten days after regents of the Nevada System of Higher Education voted to table a plan to close or merge four of its eight campuses, saying doing so would be too disruptive to students and communities, members of a Nevada legislative subcommittee directed the system to study the idea anew, the Associated Press reported. The lawmakers acted after higher education officials presented a list of possible budget cuts that did not approach the $162 million in reductions to the system's operating budget that Governor Brian Sandoval's fiscal plan would require, the wire service reported. In Maryland, meanwhile, a legislative panel directed the University System of Maryland to consider combining the system's flagship campus, the University of Maryland at College Park, with the University of Maryland at Baltimore, which houses several professional schools. System officials said they would study the idea, which they said might be a smart strategic decision but is not expected to save the system money.
The Maryland Senate on Tuesday unanimously approved legislation to increase regulation of for-profit colleges, The Baltimore Business Journal reported. Among other things, the legislation would authorize the Maryland Higher Education Commission to create a fund, to be financed by all the for-profit colleges operating in the state, that would reimburse students enrolled at for-profit colleges that close or enter bankruptcy.
Western Michigan University on Tuesday announced a $100 million gift -- its largest ever -- to create a new medical school. While the university is public, it plans to rely on private funds for the new medical school. The donor is anonymous.
The University of Massachusetts at Amherst will today announce a major effort to attract more transfer students from community colleges, The Boston Globe reported. UMass will offer those who transfer from community colleges in the state with a grade-point average of at least 2.5 a range of benefits, including priority course registration and housing, scholarships and special advising services. The university is hoping for an increase of at least 20 percent from the 300 community college transfers it typically enrolls each fall.