Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

December 10, 2012

A majority of Americans want education programs protected from the possible deep, mandatory spending cuts that will go into effect at the end of this year if Congress does not reach a budget deal, according to a poll released Friday by the Committee for Education Funding and the Foundation for Education Investments. The poll, conducted by YouGov, found 55 percent of Americans thought education spending should be protected from the cuts. The Pell Grant was considered among the most important education programs: 53 percent of respondents said it should be protected. (In fact, the Pell Grant program is not immediately threatened by sequestration, as the mandatory budget cuts are called.)

Scientific research, another priority for many colleges and universities in the federal budget crunch, fared less well. Only 34 percent of respondents said they believed research should be protected from cuts. When asked about specific education programs, only 30 percent said it was very important to protect scientific and biomedical research at universities.

December 10, 2012

Georgetown University announced today that it is joining edX, one of the major providers of MOOCs (massive open online courses), The Washington Post reported. Georgetown is expected to offer courses in the social sciences and humanities, starting next fall.

December 10, 2012

The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey has agreed to pay $4.65 million to settle a class action charging the institution with bias against female faculty members, NewJersey.com reported. The university declined to comment on the agreement. The suit charged sex discrimination was behind a $20,000 gender gap in the mean salaries of full professors who had been at the university for at least 10 years -- even though women in the sample brought in more research grants and also had more teaching responsibilities than did male professors.

 

December 10, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Damian Scarf of the University of Otago reexamines the conclusions of an experiment that claimed to detect a sense of morality in infants. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

December 10, 2012

Faculty at Yale-NUS College say they weren’t consulted on the American Association of University Professors’ recent open letter raising concerns about academic freedom at the Singapore-based institution. A response signed by 25 members of the Yale-NUS faculty states that no members of the AAUP consulted with them "about any of our own assessments of, concerns about, and active efforts to promote and secure (i) academic freedom; (ii) the rights of faculty, staff, and students; and (iii) shared faculty governance at Yale-NUS College." The letter invites the AAUP to consult with Yale-NUS faculty in the future. 

Yale University’s joint campus with the National University of Singapore has been a source of controversy in New Haven; in April, Yale College faculty approved a resolution expressing concern about Singapore's historical lack of respect for civil and political rights, and urging Yale to promote principles of non-discrimination and uphold civil and political liberties on campus and in the society at large.

Jill Campbell, a Yale professor of English who helps maintain a Web site on Yale and Singapore, said that members of the AAUP had access to that site and its extensive archive of public statements and documents on Yale-NUS, as well as news articles and op-eds from critics and supporters of the campus. “Thus, the members of the AAUP Committee had access to all the statements about Yale-NUS policies and positions that members of the Yale community, alumni, or the general public have access to,” she said.  

December 10, 2012

Swarthmore College on Saturday announced a $50 million gift from Eugene Lang, an alumnus and philanthropist, for engineering and science facilities and for programs to link engineering and the liberal arts at the college. Swarthmore is unusual among liberal arts colleges in having an engineering program. The gift is the largest in Swarthmore's history.

 

December 10, 2012

Online education appears to be a growing target for financial aid fraud, The Arizona Republic reported. Authorities have uncovered three schemes In the last three years at Rio Salado College, an online campus of the Maricopa Community Colleges, and those schemes involved hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Apollo Group, the parent company of the University of Phoenix, has referred 850 potential fraud cases to federal authorities since 2009, and about 25 of those cases have been prosecuted.

 

 
December 10, 2012

Chinese authorities closely monitor student organizations and use the power to deny recognition or interrogate members to send strong signals about topics or activities to avoid, The Los Angeles Times reported. Further, the oversight may become more intrusive. Xi Jinping, presumed to be China's future president, recently said that universities should increase "thought control" over students, adding that "university Communist Party organs must adopt firmer and stronger measures to maintain harmony and stability in universities."

 

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.

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