Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

July 2, 2012

International applications at top universities in Hong Kong are seeing sharp increases, The New York Times reported. Foreign applications are up 55 percent at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, 50 percent at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and 42 percent at the University of Hong Kong. (Most universities in Hong Kong keep separate statistics for those from Hong Kong, from the rest of China, and the rest of the world, so these are figures for that latter category.)

July 2, 2012

Marilyn Haring, dean of the College of Education at Purdue University from 1991 to 2001, is so upset by the university's selection of Governor Mitch Daniels as the next president that she has removed a $1 million bequest from her will, The Journal and Courier reported. Haring cited the governor's lack of experience in academe. "I regard the appointment of Mr. Daniels as a travesty and insult to academics," she said. Haring added that "his record is a political one, not an academic one. Purdue has been widely respected for its many academic accomplishments by faculty, professional staff, students, and alumni — not for its politics." Purdue officials have said that they originally sought a president with an academic background, but came to believe Daniels could do the most to advance the university.

 

July 2, 2012

New e-mail records suggest that Joe Paterno, the late head football coach at Pennsylvania State University, may have influenced the decision by the university not to report allegations of possible sexual abuse of a child by Jerry Sandusky, who last month was convicted of dozens of counts of such abuse, The New York Times reported. The e-mail records suggest that senior Penn State officials -- after receiving a report of inappropriate behavior by Sandusky -- were considering reporting him. But the records suggest that, after one official talked to Paterno, that plan was abandoned.

 

July 2, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Anna Balazs of the University of Pittsburgh explains how a synthetic material could provide robots with a sense of touch. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

July 2, 2012

The University of California at Santa Cruz on Friday opened an exhibit showcasing some of its Grateful Dead archive, and The Los Angeles Times reported that the display is already being called "Dead Central." Interest from the public and scholars is high. Archivist Nicholas Meriwether was hired from a pool of more than 400. Meriwether, who is 47, said he could spend the rest of his life documenting for the archive the many items that keep arriving.

 

July 2, 2012

In a new report the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning describes various "showcase" models of competency-based degree programs, which are efficient at eliminating redundant coursework or unnecessary degree requirements. There are a variety of sound approaches to competency-based education, the report found, which ensure the quality of a degree by focusing on outcomes rather than the amount of time students spend on coursework. The council also encourages the use of student assessments, which can be used to measure students' prior learning.

July 2, 2012

Businesses owned by two trustees of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Board were awarded contracts for nearly $14 million from system universities in the last five years, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported. Guido Pichini, one of the trustees, said that there was nothing wrong with the practice. "They went through the bidding process without me. I don’t oversee any of the contracts," he said. Celestino Pennoni, the other trustee, did not respond to requests for comment.

June 29, 2012

The Research Universities Futures Consortium, a group of 25 research universities across the country released a report Thursday highlighting the challenges facing the universities. The report identifies six major issues: increased competition over scarce resources, the increased cost of regulatory compliance and the lack of indirect cost recovery, the lack of standardized performance metrics, the lack of proper infrastructure to analyze data, poor communication about the value of research universities, and the lack of proper understanding of the complexities of research administration and leadership.

The report echoes many of the concerns found in the National Research Council's latest report on actions that state and federal lawmakers, research universities, and businesses can take to ensure that the country's research universities maintain their position as the best in the world.

June 29, 2012

The 2012 platform of the Texas Republican Party contains a number of provisions raising eyebrows among Texas academics. For instance, the platform says, "We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning), which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority." With regard to college tuition, the platform wants to end the policy (endorsed by Governor Rick Perry in the Republican primaries) of granting in-state tuition rates to some students who lack the legal documentation to live in the United States. And the platform wants "merit-based" admissions for all public colleges, and seeks to eliminate the "10 percent" plan -- which admits students from the top 10 percent of high school classes and which has helped to diversify Texas colleges.



 

 

June 29, 2012

The Supreme Court's 5-4 decision Thursday to uphold most parts of the Affordable Care Act, the health care law passed in 2010, means that several parts of the law applicable to colleges will remain in place. College health plans will still have to comply with more stringent regulations, including the eventual elimination of lifetime benefit caps, following rules put forward in March. And one of the law's most controversial features -- the requirement that employers include contraception as a fully covered preventive care measure with no cost-sharing -- will also stay in place. Several Roman Catholic and evangelical Christian colleges have sued over the requirement, saying it interferes with their right to practice their religion. Those cases could eventually end up before the Supreme Court in a later term.

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