Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

October 23, 2012

"College 101" courses -- in which students learn how to be effective students -- have strong campus support, but need to improve if they are to have a long-term positive impact on students, says a new report by the Community College Research Center of Teachers College of Columbia University. While the information the courses provide is "valuable," the courses typically "did not offer sufficient opportunities for in-depth exploration and skill-building practice," the report says. The analysis was based on an investigation of the courses at three community colleges in Virginia.

 

 

October 23, 2012

A federal judge has rejected a lawsuit by Hebrew University of Jerusalem against GM for the auto company's use of an Albert Einstein image pasted onto a muscled physique, The Detroit News reported. Hebrew University said that Einstein's will gave it rights to the use of his image. In this case GM used the image in an ad that ran in People magazine with the tag line "Ideas are sexy too." Judge Howard Matz ruled that GM was within its rights. "[Einstein] did become the symbol and embodiment of genius. His persona has become thoroughly ingrained in our cultural heritage. Now, nearly 60 years after his death, that persona should be freely available to those who seek to appropriate it as part of their own expression, even in tasteless ads," he ruled.

October 22, 2012

The Arizona Daily Wildcat, the student newspaper at the University of Arizona, has fired a cartoonist, whose depiction of a conversation between a father and a son has been denounced as anti-gay. The cartoon is visible on an online petition calling for the dismissal not only of the cartoonist but of editors who approved the work's publication. The cartoon shows the father saying, "You know son.... If you ever tell me you're gay... I will shoot you with my shotgun, roll you up in a carpet and throw you off of a bridge." The son replies "Well I guess that's what you call a fruit roll up." The newspaper published a letter apologizing for publishing the cartoon and pledging that procedures would be changed so that such a cartoon would not appear in the future.

 

 

October 22, 2012

Iranian students enrolled at universities outside Iran are struggling with the impact of the collapse of the value of their country's currency, Reuters reported. As Western nations have strengthened sanctions against Iran, the Iranian currency lost one-third of its value compared to the dollar in just 10 days this fall. For some students abroad, they suddenly lacked enough money to pay tuition. Iran's government estimates that it has 35,000 students enrolled in other countries.

October 22, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Terry Gates of Ohio University reveals how shifting geographic features contributed to the creation of two distinct groups of North American dinosaurs. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

October 22, 2012

A study in Colorado has found little difference in the learning of students in online or in-person introductory science courses. The study tracked community college students who took science courses online and in traditional classes, and who then went on to four-year universities in the state. Upon transferring, the students in the two groups performed equally well. Some science faculty members have expressed skepticism about the ability of online students in science, due to the lack of group laboratory opportunities, but the programs in Colorado work with companies to provide home kits so that online students can have a lab experience.

 

October 22, 2012

Senator Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, periodically releases lists of projects on which he believes the federal government has wasted its money. His new "Wastebook 2012," includes several research and education projects at colleges, and one of them is fighting back. That is number 79 on Coburn's list: "Duplicate magazine preservation," in which he blasts the National Endowment for the Humanities for awarding a $270,000 grant to Brown University and the University of Tulsa for the Modernist Journals Project, which is digitizing early 20th century publications. Coburn's book says that the project duplicates work being done by Google and others. Robert Scholes, a Brown professor who is co-director of the project, published a defense of it on the blog Magazine Modernisms. Scholes wrote that Coburn has the dollar figures wrong, ignoring that Brown and Tulsa are paying for half the work. Further, he says that the Google versions do not provide complete reproductions of the publications. And finally, he notes that the project also supports original scholarship. "Stepping back from these factual errors in the report, it’s important to understand that magazine and periodical studies constitute a vibrant and expanding area of teaching and research," Scholes writes.

 

October 22, 2012

Historically, the United States has been a popular destination for Israeli graduate students, but not undergraduates. That is starting to change, Haaretz reported. A decade ago, only a handful of Israelis came to the United States before graduate school, but now 70-100 do so. Last week, EducationUSA held its first undergraduate college fair in Israel (where it has previously organized events for graduate and professional schools). More than 600 young people attended.

October 22, 2012

California's budget cuts to public higher education are leading more students to look at private colleges and universities, the Associated Press reported. Some public students, frustrated by being closed out of sections of courses, are transferring. Others, hearing such reports, aren't going public in the first place. Enrollment at the University of La Verne has increased 70 percent in the last five years. Saint Mary's College of California has seen a 51 percent increase in applications since 2009.

 

October 19, 2012

Many members of the military with student loans are missing out on important benefits, in part because loan servicers aren't giving them accurate information, according to a report released Thursday by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau dealing with how student debt is handled for active-duty members of the military. Those in service are eligible both for benefits available to all Americans with federal loans, such as income-based student loan repayment, as well as some benefits available just to them, like military deferments, post-active duty deferments and an interest rate cap while on active duty. 

The report found that loan servicing errors lead to unnecessary hurdles and, in some cases, deferments and forbearances. Some members of the military were denied the 6 percent interest rate cap on both federal and private loans. Others were put into forbearance they did not request, meaning that interest continued to capitalize. In some cases, these errors could cost members of the military tens of thousands of dollars, according to the report, which marked the bureau's first steps into identifying problems with federal student loans as well as private loans.

The bureau urged loan servicers to give members of the military complete and accurate information, and regulators and enforcement agencies to hold servicers accountable. "Servicemembers who are concerned about financial problems and who must struggle to get complete information or assistance from their lenders will have difficulty focusing on their mission and accomplishing their critical national security role," the authors, the student loan ombudsman Rohit Chopra and Hollister Petraeus, assistant director of the bureau's office of servicemember affairs, wrote.

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