Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010 - 3:00am

Canada's privacy commission is seeking a court order in that country to block the collection and storage of fingerprints of Canadians who take the Medical College Admission Test, The Ottawa Citizen reported. The MCAT is used by many Canadian medical schools so Canadian pre-meds take the exam even if they aren't applying to institutions in the United States. The Association of American Medical Colleges collects and stores the fingerprints to make sure that the people who take the tests are the same ones who show up later at medical schools that admit them. But the suit says that this violates Canadian law in that the fingerprint records -- stored in the United States -- could be subject to release to U.S. authorities if they invoke the Patriot Act.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010 - 3:00am

An instructor at Aliah University, a Muslim institution in India, has won the right not to come to class in a burqa, Indian Express reported. The student union had demanded that she be barred from teaching without a burqa and she refused to do so, even though other female instructors had complied. But the administration broke the standoff and told her she would be backed up teaching without one.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010 - 3:00am

Parents and students are both having to dig deeper into their own resources -- with their own funds and with loans -- to finance higher education, according to an annual report on college financing released today by Sallie Mae and Gallup. The breakdown of who contributed how much for 2009-10:

  • Parent income and savings: 37 percent.
  • Parent borrowing: 10 percent.
  • Student income and savings: 9 percent.
  • Student borrowing: 14 percent.
  • Friends and relatives: 7 percent
  • Grants and scholarships: 23 percent.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010 - 3:00am

Westwood College said on Monday that it has begun a series of reforms aimed at cleaning up questionable, misleading and allegedly fraudulent recruitment practices made public last week in the findings of a Government Accountability Office investigation and in the testimony of a former Westwood recruiter before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. At a Texas campus of the for-profit institution, an undercover GAO investigator was encouraged to falsify information on his financial aid form to become eligible for Pell Grants.

The college, based in Denver, said it will implement a new recruiter pay structure on Aug. 21 that will no longer reward employees for reaching enrollment targets and will instead pay them a fixed salary. The college said it has begun an internal investigation into admissions and financial aid at all 17 of its campuses and plans to step up its "mystery shopping" efforts and other self-policing mechanisms. Westwood will also implement more stringent admissions standards.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010 - 3:00am

The number of Iranian students enrolling at colleges in the United States is up 50 percent since 2005, although still at levels far below the tens of thousands who enrolled before the fall of the Shah, The New York Times reported. The students say that they are attracted by the quality of education offered, which they see as a more important factor than the tensions between the governments of Iran and the United States.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010 - 3:00am

The president of the Faculty Senate at South Carolina State University is suing the university, charging that she was replaced as a department chair because of her criticisms of university leaders, The State reported. The university denies wrongdoing. The university has faced a series of controversies involving its leadership and finances, with faculty leaders playing a prominent watchdog role.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010 - 3:00am

Officials from Broward College, a two-year institution in Florida, spent Monday dispelling erroneous media reports that a terrorist was an instructor at the college in the mid-1990s. Adnan Shukrijumah, whom recent media reports identify as the new “head of global operations” for al-Qaida, attended Broward from summer 1996 to summer 1998 under the name “Jumah A. El-Chukri.” He majored in chemistry but did not graduate. Shukrijumah was indicted earlier this year for plotting suicide bomb attacks on New York City’s subway system in 2009. His current whereabouts are unknown.

Correcting recent news stories that mistakenly reported that Shukrijumah had been a professor at the college, an official Broward press release states, “at no time was this person employed by Broward College.” Of the media mix-up, J. David Armstrong Jr., Broward president, said, “Unfortunately, everytime something about this story comes up, we get dragged back into it. To our knowledge, we have not had any contact with him since he was a student, more than a decade ago. It is deplorable that misinformation about his connection to the college has been repeated in the media without any verification. We support the FBI and other officials in their efforts to find him, and as was reported by CNN, one of our professors who remembered him from 14 years ago apparently was instrumental in helping the FBI identify him through a tape recording of him taken in class.”

Tuesday, August 10, 2010 - 3:00am

Marc Hauser, a prominent psychologist at Harvard University, is on leave amid investigations into research misconduct, The Boston Globe reported. The inquiry has already led to the retraction of an influential article published in 2002 in the journal Cognition and two other journals have been informed of concerns about papers on which Hauser was a major author. Hauser did not respond to requests by the Globe for comment, but the newspaper saw a letter he sent to colleagues in which he referred to mistakes he had made.

Monday, August 9, 2010 - 3:00am

An adjunct at Oklahoma City Community College has decided not to teach there anymore -- after 17 years of doing so -- following a student complaint that he taught creationism alongside evolution in a biology course, The Oklahoman reported. A college spokesman said that the complaint was handled informally, and that the instructor was urged to follow the syllabus. The adjunct, Michael Talkington, made the decision not to teach again, the spokesman said. Talkington told the newspaper that he had never taught creationism, but had told students that there are "other schools of thought" beyond evolution.

Monday, August 9, 2010 - 3:00am

The State University of New York at Buffalo's Jewish studies program is getting criticism for its failure to renew the contract of Rachel Lipsky, who taught Hebrew there for 23 years and whose supporters say that she lost her slot so it could be given to the wife of a new hire, The Buffalo News reported. Among those backing Lipsky are Elie Wiesel. An inquiry by SUNY found no wrongdoing and Buffalo officials note that adjuncts are not assured long-term employment.

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