Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 24, 2012

Texas Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, is calling for public colleges and universities to offer students a four-year freeze on tuition, such that each entering class would be assured of paying the same tuition rate for the next four years, The Austin American-Statesman reported. He said this would encourage students to graduate in four years, and would help students avoid high debt levels. "If you get out of the University of Texas with a $50,000 debt, I don’t know if we’ve served you well," he said. In fact, student debt load at UT is not close to that level. Only about half of bachelor's recipients at the University of Texas at Austin borrow, and the average total debt for those who do borrow is just over $25,000.

 

September 24, 2012

A survey commissioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association found that despite rules changes and legislation, the frequency of concussions among football players in all three divisions has remained steady in the past seven years. The survey, which relied on accurate reporting from athletics programs (concussions are notoriously difficult to diagnose, and there has been concern athletes might be reluctant to report one and risk sitting out), found that such head injuries occurred 2.5 times per 1,000 "game-related exposures." Each game or practice counts as one exposure, regardless of the length. That figure is down from 3.4 per 1,000 in 2004-5, but the NCAA said the year-to-year difference is not statistically significant.

The NCAA has put in place a number of safety regulations designed to deter concussions since then, stiffening penalties for blows to the head and requiring players who are injured or show signs of a concussion to sit out a play and be cleared by medical staff before returning to the field. It has also stepped up its emphasis on concussion awareness; in 2010, it began requiring all programs to have a concussion management plan.

When factoring other fall sports of soccer, field hockey and volleyball, concussion frequency also stayed stable, at 1.9 for every 1,000 exposures. David Klossner, director of health and safety for the NCAA, said in a press release that the information is helpful in monitoring trends, “we do not yet have enough information to draw final conclusions.”

September 24, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Darryl de Ruiter of Texas A&M University reveals what we can lean about the diet of Australopithecus through a chemical analysis of their fossilized teeth. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

September 24, 2012

A new report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York finds a relationship between state appropriations cuts and tuition increases in public higher education. The report notes increased interest in the views espoused by critics of higher education that the availability of federal grants and loans has encouraged colleges to increase their charges. But the report looks at the tuition shifts since 2008, and finds that the greatest increases are in states that made the deepest cuts in spending on higher education.

September 24, 2012

London Metropolitan University’s international students will have the opportunity to continue their studies at the institution, assuming their visa status is in order, a High Court judge ruled Friday. The decision comes almost a month after the U.K. Border Authority revoked London Met’s right to sponsor international students, citing “systemic failures” in the verification and monitoring of students’ English proficiency levels, visa status and course attendance.

The university also has gained permission to seek a judicial review of the UKBA's decision, although in the meantime it remains unable to recruit new students from outside the European Union, Times Higher Education reported.

September 24, 2012

The American University in Cairo announced Sunday that it is suspending operations -- including classes -- because protesting students have for the last week been closing the gates to the campus. Closing the gates creates a safety hazard, the statement said, because emergency vehicles would be unable to enter. "The obstruction of access and the prevention of other students from receiving the education to which they are entitled will not be tolerated. The administration will be taking disciplinary action against those students who obstructed access and behaved in ways inconsistent with university policy," said the statement. The students are angry over tuition increases. University officials said that they have been negotiating with the students, but that some of the protest demands (such as rescinding this year's tuition increase) are not possible.


 

September 21, 2012

A Republican-backed bill to increase the number of visas for foreign graduates of U.S. universities with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields failed to pass the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday. The vote was 257-158, short of the two-thirds tally needed for a bill to pass under a suspension of House rules.

The STEM Jobs Act would have eliminated the Diversity Visa Lottery program, which allocates slots to immigrants from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States – a sticking point with Democrats, who have introduced their own bill to increase visas for STEM graduates without affecting the Diversity Visa Program.

September 21, 2012

Clerical workers at the University of Vermont have voted, 339 to 278, to unionize, The Burlington Free Press reported. The ballots included a question on whether to form a union, and which union should represent the workers. On the second question, the top union (but short of a majority) was the Vermont chapter of the National Education Association, so a runoff vote will be scheduled to ask the workers whether they want to be represented by the NEA or not.

 

September 21, 2012

The Ig Nobel Prizes, an annual spoof of the real Nobels, for 2012 were awarded Thursday night. Among the research achievements honored were work on why coffee spills when you walk (the fluid dynamics award), why some people in a town in Sweden have their hair turn green (the chemistry award), why chimpanzees can recognize other chimpanzees individually from photographs of their rear ends (the anatomy award) and a report about reports about reports (the literature prize). Details of this year's awards may be found here. The first real Nobel for 2012 will be announced October 8.

 

September 21, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Justin Halberda of Johns Hopkins University examines how our ability to work with numbers changes over time. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

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