The Educational Testing Service announced last week that it is suspending registrations in Iran for the Test of English as a Foreign Language. ETS cited the new sanctions against Iran adopted by the United Nations and the United States, which make it impossible for ETS to handle payments from Iran. The New York Times reported that many experts on international education are outraged by this news, given that the TOEFL is taken by Iranians who want to come study in the United States -- precisely those Iranians who may someday promote democracy in their home country. An official with the International English Language Testing System, a British-based system known by the acronym IELTS, which is a competitor to TOEFL, told Inside Higher Ed that IELTS continues to be offered in Iran.
Higher Education Quick Takes
An abundance of articulation agreements doesn't assure easy transfer of credit from community colleges to four-year institutions. That's the conclusion of an article in The Indianapolis Star, which examined the situation in Indiana. Ivy Tech Community College, a statewide community college system, has 500 course-specific transfer agreements with 65 universities, the Star found, but it said that the agreements "can be confusing -- and they are not binding." Even when a university agrees to transfer credits, individual departments sometimes do not.
Three artists whose work was to have been displayed in an exhibit at Brandeis University in the fall have pulled permission as a protest of the university's policies on its own collection of art, The Boston Globe reported. The university originally planned to sell its noted collection of modern art, likely worth hundreds of millions of dollars. While the university -- facing widespread criticism -- put the plan on hold, it has yet to rule out sales. The three artists are Bill Viola, who works with videos, and the painters April Gornik and Eric Fischl. Gornik told the Globe: "Frankly, I had thought the whole controversy had been resolved and that the collection was safe and not in danger of being sold.... I didn’t realize there was so much possibility of it being sold. We’ve been very encouraged that the president of the university apparently stated that he doesn’t intend to sell the collection, but without some sort of legally binding evidence, we’ve decided to postpone the show.’’
A jury on Thursday awarded $545,000 to Trev Kiser, the former women's basketball coach at Clark College, in Washington State, who charged wrongful termination over his advocacy for female athletes, The Columbian reported. Clark's president, Bob Knight told the newspaper: “I would just have to say we are disappointed in the verdict. Clark College is reviewing our options. It would be inappropriate to comment further.” Knight was not at the college when Kiser was dismissed.
NBC News today announced "Education Nation," a week of events in September that will bring together leaders from politics, all levels of education and policy experts, focused on a two-day summit at Rockefeller Plaza. Attendees are expected to include U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and Al Sharpton. University presidents who will be participating include Susan Hockfield, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Bill Pepicello, president of University of Phoenix. Several hundred people -- including students and parents -- are expected at the summit. Content from the summit and special stories on education issues will be featured on “NBC Nightly News,” “Today,” “Meet the Press,” “Your Business,” MSNBC, CNBC, Telemundo, msnbc.com and nbclearn.com. NBC announced that the effort is also being supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the University of Phoenix, the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, American Express, Raytheon, Tishman Speyer and Scholastic.
The House of Representatives Appropriations Committee approved a 2011 spending bill Thursday that would increase funds for the National Institutes of Health by $1 billion and provide $5.7 billion to keep the maximum Pell Grant at its current level, closing an existing shortfall. Most other student aid programs would be held at their 2010 levels under the legislation, but Rep. David Obey, the Wisconsin Democrat who heads the panel, noted that the measure would provide the first significant increase in a decade in job training grants through the Workforce Investment Act.
The University of Texas Investment Management Company is worried enough about the state of the markets that it spent $500 million (about 3 percent of its value) on buying gold, The Houston Chronicle reported. Bruce Zimmerman, CEO of the fund, told the University of Texas Board of Regents this week that the move reflected "a lack of confidence in financial markets," adding that " I wish I could tell you the future looked rosy. Unfortunately, that's not our view. At best, we believe the future is uncertain."
American University is expanding its test-optional admissions program. Last year, the university allowed early decision applicants to skip the normal requirement of either an SAT or ACT score. This year, the university wants students to apply early, but they need to not be early decision (binding) applicants. Anyone who applies by Nov. 1 can skip the standardized test scores.
An Education Department study published Wednesday examines the outcomes of a wide range of ethnic and racial groups through the entire educational pipeline, from pre-kindergarten through graduate school, and into the work force.
A group called Jewish Voice for Peace -- which is highly critical of Israel's government -- is organizing petitions and hoping to force votes by TIAA-CREF to divest from holdings in companies that the group says "proï¬t from the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem." The group notes past TIAA-CREF policies on investments in companies linked to the Sudan and says that Israel should be the next country sanctioned in this way. TIAA-CREF is opposing the divestment idea. "While TIAA-CREF acknowledges participants’ varying views on Israeli and Palestinian policies and the Gaza Strip and West Bank, we are unable to alter our investment policy in accordance with those views. Our responsibility to earn a competitive financial return on the retirement savings entrusted to us by 3.7 million participants obliges us to invest in a diverse line-up of companies across all sectors of the global economy," said a statement from the pension giant. As to the Sudan comparison, TIAA-CREF noted that its policies there have been consistent with those of the U.S. government, which does not endorse a boycott of Israel. "We believe that concerns about the situation in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are best addressed by U.S. foreign policy and lend themselves less to using one’s shareholder status to influence portfolio companies," said the statement.