Higher Education Quick Takes
Harvard University is shifting the plans for its new science campus in Allston, The Boston Globe reported. While the new campus will still include a major facility for science and health researchers who currently are running out of space elsewhere at the university, a major emphasis of the new campus will be on corporate research. As many as 12 buildings are expected to be used by pharmaceutical, biotechnology and venture capital companies, adding an industry component to the project.
The government agency in Wales charged with deciding whether local universities have developed adequate plans for ensuring accessibility to low-income students beginning in 2012-13 has rejected all of the institutions' initial proposals, Times Higher Education reported. The Higher Education Funding Council for Wales told 14 postsecondary institutions that their tuition plans, as currently constructed, "do not meet the necessary requirements." Several Welsh universities have proposed raising their tuitions to £9,000 under the new tuition regime there, which is similar to a controversial process now unfolding in Britain.
Critics of college trustees frequently accuse them of being isolated. The Board of Governors of Rutgers University on Wednesday literally built a wall to keep protesting students out of the room, The Star-Ledger reported. Board members said that they were unable to conduct business with rowdy protesting students in the audience.
A new organization -- the Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education -- has been launched to defend the state's higher education system from a barrage of criticism, much of it from allies of Governor Rick Perry. The new group has prominent business, political and academic leaders (Democrats and Republicans) who question the ideas being put forward by the governor's allies (some of them on boards of regents). "The Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education was necessitated by the strong belief that there is a right way to improve higher education and that there is a wrong way that could have long-term damaging effects on our institutions of higher learning, our state's economy and on our future," says an announcement on the group's website. "Current recommendations being floated -- from dramatically expanding enrollment while slashing tuition to separating research and teaching budgets, and seceding from a recognized and respected accreditation organization -- are decidedly the wrong way."
Westwood College, which has been among the institutions singled out by U.S. senators critical of for-profit colleges, announced Wednesday that it would provide up to $500 a month for six months to certain graduates who fail to find jobs in their fields within six months of earning their degrees. The "employment pledge," as Westwood calls it, would be available to students who earn at least a 3.0 grade point average and work with the college's career office to actively pursue a job. In return, eligible bachelor's degree recipients could earn up to $500 a month and associate degree recipients up to $250 a month for six months. "We're so confident that an education at Westwood will prepare you for a brighter future, we're putting our money where our commitment is -- on your success," the college said in a news release. A spokesman for Westwood said that about half of its graduates earn a 3.0 average, and that the program was designed in part to give more of them an incentive to do so.
A new poll by the University and College Union, the main faculty union in Britain, has found deep skepticism of for-profit higher education, which is starting to eye British markets, Times Higher Education reported. The poll found that 88 percent of British academics strongly disagree with any move to allow for-profit colleges to have access to public funds, and 85 percent believe for-profit offerings will be of lower quality than those at nonprofit institutions.
With Minnesota facing a government shutdown because its political leaders are at odds over a budget plan, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system has received assurances from Governor Mark Dayton that it will be able to remain open even if other agencies close their doors. Officials of the 32-college system, whose two- and four-year institutions enroll about 67,000 students in the summer, announced that the governor had assured them that the state's payroll office would provide enough services that the colleges -- funding the rest of their operations with funds from tuition and their own reserves -- would be able to stay open.
Carolyn A. (Biddy) Martin is leaving the chancellor's position at the University of Wisconsin at Madison for the presidency of Amherst College. Martin has been at Madison for three years, during which she had notable successes early on in building student support to pay more for improved undergraduate education. But in the last year, she has been a key player in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to gain significant independence for Madison from the university system. Martin argued that the changes were needed for Madison to compete with the best research universities nationwide, but other campuses said that the system would be hurt if Madison left. Martin, an advocate for low-income students and more diversity in higher education, noted in the announcement of her move to Amherst the extent to which the college has a strong commitment on those issues, as well as an outstanding academic reputation.