Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

December 7, 2012

A federal district judge on Thursday upheld a bankruptcy court's ruling last summer that an accrediting agency had made false representations to the U.S. Education Department that helped lead to the demise of Decker College, a for-profit college that closed in 2005. The Council on Occupational Education had appealed the bankruptcy court's July 2012 decision to a federal district court in Kentucky, arguing that the bankruptcy judge had erred in concluding that the agency's officials had misled federal officials by reporting that Decker had delivered three of its programs online without the agency's approval. But Judge John G. Heyburn II's 13-page ruling said: "The bankruptcy court reasonably found COE to be dishonest when it told the department it did not approve the hybrid programs to be offered in such a manner."

 
December 6, 2012

The University of Notre Dame on Wednesday announced that it would create a recognized gay-straight alliance as a student organization at the Roman Catholic university, one result of a review of the college's policies on gay and lesbian students. Students and faculty have pushed for more resources for gay and lesbian students, including both the gay-straight alliance and the addition of sexual orientation to the university's nondiscrimination clause. While the plan announced Wednesday includes a range of changes, including a new advisory committee on gay and lesbian issues and a full-time staff member to oversee resources for gay students, it does not include any new plans for dealing with faculty issues or action on the nondiscrimination clause.

December 6, 2012

The National Science Foundation on Wednesday announced an expansion of its graduate fellows program that will allow selected graduate students to work for 3-12 months in one of eight countries. The idea is to encourage international collaboration early in researchers' careers. The countries are Denmark, Finland, France, Japan, Norway, Singapore, South Korea and Sweden.

December 6, 2012

The American Historical Association, trying to build buzz for its annual meeting in January in New Orleans, is asking historians for names of drinks to be served at hotel bars during the meeting. Among the nominees that have come in so far: ABD, Postmodern Turn, Oral History ("your mouth will never forget it"), the Jacobite Rebellion ("Scotch with just a soupcon of haggis floating in it") and the Dead White Male.

 

December 6, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, James Tabery of the University of Utah explains how a psychological diagnosis of a defendant can influence the length of their sentence if convicted. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

December 6, 2012

Roger Williams University has announced that it will no longer require applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores. "While we recognize that standardized tests accurately measure aptitude for many students, there are many others whose talents are not measured by such tests and they can serve as an artificial barrier to many highly qualified students, preventing them from even considering an RWU education," said a statement from the university.

 

December 5, 2012

A University of Alabama graduate student faces criminal charges of stalking and making terroristic threats against officials there in e-mail messages, The Tuscaloosa News reported. The newspaper said that Zachary Burrell, a doctoral student in physics, had been jailed since Friday as a result of “erratic” e-mails that included video clips of a movie ("Dark Matter") that depicted a graduate student's 1991 shootings of professors and a peer at the University of Iowa. While the e-mails "did not contain direct threats to the general campus population,” according to a university spokeswoman quoted by the newspaper, a deposition filed in court said that he had been dismissed from the university for "various behavioral issues.”

December 5, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Scott Lilienfeld of Emory University reveals the traits shared by psychopathic individuals and successful U.S. presidents. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

December 5, 2012

Coursera, the largest platform for massive open online courses (MOOCs), on Tuesday announced Coursera Career Services, a match-making tool aimed at connecting its most talented students to companies that are looking to hire. The company will offer its students the chance to opt in to a database that employers can then browse in search of job candidates. "If you do well in a Coursera class and allow us to share that information with potential employers (who will have agreed to keep this information in strict confidence, and use only for the purpose of considering you for employment), this could make you even more appealing to employers," wrote the company in a release.

At first the service will focus on software engineering. Coursera says it has relationships with several software companies, including
Facebook, Twitter, AppDirect and TrialPay, and has successfully gotten students hired during a pilot phase the company has been running for several months. As MOOC providers explore revenue models in lieu of charging tuition for their massive courses, recruiting services such as this may figure prominently. Udacity, another for-profit MOOC provider, has also been pursuing a "headhunter" model whereby companies pay for introductions to talented students.

In Coursera's contract with the University of Virginia the company lists "employee recruiting" as one of its potential monetization strategies. "Company will allow prospective employers to execute queries against end user records," stipulates the contract. "These queries might involve end user performance in relevant courses... as well as end user-supplied demographic information." A percentage of the revenue generated by Coursera Career Services would go to the universities that are running the relevant courses.

December 5, 2012

Xavier University of Louisiana is planning layoffs and other cuts to deal with a $5 million deficit created when fewer students enrolled this year than had been expected, The Times-Picayune reported. At this point, faculty members will not be subject to layoffs. The university is cutting its contribution to all employees' health insurance. Enrollment this fall is 3,178, down more than 200 from last fall, and below the 3,300-3,400 estimates the university made for the year. Officials blame the poor economy and tighter student loan eligibility rules for the decline.

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