Many Australian academics worry that the availability of online tools is encouraging more students to skip class, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. The article cites professors who talk about lots of empty chairs in their classes -- and there are surveys to back up their impressions. One survey found that 19 percent of students spend more than 20 hours on campus each week, down from 32 percent in 1994.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, a Republican, is trying to end the newly gained right of faculty members at the University of Wisconsin System to unionize. But faculty members at the university's La Crosse campus voted this week to unionize, following similar votes by professors at the Eau Claire and Superior campuses. Faculty members at the campuses have voted to affiliate with the American Federation of Teachers, which also has organizing drives going elsewhere in the system. Union organizers said that the governor's push to end collective bargaining rights has made made faculty members more committed to the union. At La Crosse, the vote for collective bargaining was 249 to 37.
The U.S. Education Department has vowed to revamp a program designed to forgive the student loan debt of disabled borrowers after an investigation by the nonprofit journalism entity ProPublica found significant abuse in the program. ProPublica, which conducted the investigation with the Center for Public Integrity, reported Thursday that the Education Department had committed to making a series of changes aimed at improving responsiveness to borrowers, among other things.
Lambuth University announced Thursday that the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has denied an appeal of a decision to revoke its accreditation, The Jackson Sun reported. At the same time, however, the private university in Tennessee won a court injunction barring SACS from following through on its decision while a legal challenge is pending. The revocation of accreditation would mean that Lambuth students could no longer receive federal student aid. Lambuth has been suffering from serious financial difficulties for several years.
A Louisiana judge has refused to block a study for the Louisiana Board of Regents on the idea of merging Southern University of New Orleans and the University of New Orleans, The Advocate reported. Governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican, has called for consideration of the merger -- an idea strongly opposed by advocates of the historically black Southern system. Some of those supporters charge that the lack of diversity on the Board of Regents makes the body unconstitutional -- an argument rejected by the judge.
A lawsuit against Texas Christian University -- which has been enjoying national publicity over the success of its athletics programs -- charges the university with fraud for failing to protect students from athletes with patterns of inappropriate and dangerous behavior. The Associated Press reported on the suit, filed by a woman who says three university athletes raped her in 2006. Records in the suit indicate that two of the athletes were allowed to remain on campus despite numerous violations of university rules, and that the instructor of one of the athletes considered him "dangerous."
A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that state immunity bars a national pharmacy association from suing the University System of Georgia for copyright violations. The ruling, by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, came in a long-running legal fight in which the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy is seeking redress for the alleged misappropriation by a University of Georgia professor of material from the association's licensing examinations. While legal claims against the professor are still pending, the 11th Circuit panel concluded that the Board of Regents of the university system is immune from suit.
Nearly 2,000 applicants to Virginia's Christopher Newport University are the unlucky ones this year: recipients of an e-mail telling them they had been accepted when they actually had not (at least not yet), The Daily Press of Newport News reported. The e-mails, which went out Wednesday bearing the subject line "Welcome to CNU!," were intended to encourage students who had already received paper acceptances to attend orientation. But because of an error, the notices went to a group of presumably anxious students who are awaiting word from Christopher Newport, and will not get their answers until March 15, the newspaper reported. "We understand that for some students this is a highly emotional time, and we would like to express our regret for any additional anxiety this may have caused," Maury O'Connell, vice president for student services, said in a followup e-mail that went out Wednesday, four hours after the originals.
The American Association of University Professors announced Wednesday that it will likely investigate the recent decision by the Idaho Board of Education to suspend the Faculty Senate at Idaho State University. The suspension followed a vote of no confidence in the university's president, Arthur C. Vailas, who is backed by the board.