Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

June 27, 2013

WASHINGTON — A key higher education policy aide to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will move to the Education Department, filling one of the many vacancies in higher education policymaking that have added up since President Obama won re-election last November. Spiros Protopsaltis, who has worked for two and a half years as a senior education policy adviser for the committee's Democrats, will join the Education Department's Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development. That office has been without a leader since assistant secretary Carmel Martin left for the Center on American Progress, and has seen departures from other policymakers as well.

June 27, 2013

WASHINGTON -- The Education Department's announcement earlier this year that it would better accommodate same-sex couples, and unmarried couples, on its Free Application for Federal Student Aid beginning in the 2014-15 academic year means that the Supreme Court decision Wednesday allowing the federal government to recognize same-sex marriage will have little impact. 

The Supreme Court voted 5-4 to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, which had prohibited the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. That means same-sex couples may file joint tax returns, and the children of those couples should list both parents on the FAFSA, according to a fact sheet released Wednesday by gay and lesbian advocacy groups.

June 27, 2013

Mark G. Yudof, president of the University of California, has approved a controversial proposal by the University of California at Los Angeles business school to make its M.B.A. program "self-supporting." Under the plan, the business school would gain more autonomy and flexibility for managing the program in return for giving up the $8 million it would otherwise receive from the state for the program. UCLA officials have argued that since that money is now a small share of operating funds, it can make up the difference -- and stands to gain more from increased autonomy. Some faculty critics have called the plan "privatization" -- a word avoided by proponents of the plan. The announcement of Yudof's approval noted conditions he placed on the concept. On issues of academic quality, the M.B.A. program remains subject to the same policies governing other professional schools in the UC system. Further, financial aid for low-income students must be provided at similar levels to those of other UC M.B.A. programs.

 

June 27, 2013

Building on research earlier this year that showed colleges are failing to reach high-achieving, low-income students, two researchers on Wednesday called for a nationwide expansion of a pilot program that sends information packets to those students. In a discussion paper for the Hamilton Project, part of the Brookings Institution, the researchers, Caroline Hoxby of Stanford University and Sarah Turner of the University of Virginia, renewed a call from their earlier work for sending high-achieving poor students information about their college options in a partnership with the College Board or ACT.

June 26, 2013

More than half of all student loan borrowers are concerned they will be unable to repay their debt, according to a paper released today by the Urban Institute, a Washington think tank, using data from the 2012 National Financial Capability survey. The report found that 57 percent of all student loan debtors are concerned about repayment, and 9 percent of student loan borrowers never attended college at all — either because they borrowed for vocational certificates or because they borrowed on behalf of family members.

June 26, 2013

Babson College will today formally apologize to Brandeis University for an anti-Semitic incident in 1978, The Boston Globe reported. When the two institutions competed in a soccer game that year, some Babson players placed a sign in their gym that said "Happy Holocaust," while others wore swastikas to practice and yelled "Holocaust" and anti-Semitic phrases at one another. In addition to apologizing, Babson will work with the Anti-Defamation League to train students to study and oppose anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry.

 

June 26, 2013

About 1,400 recent graduates of Radford University will be receiving new diplomas because the ones the university handed out had two spelling errors, The Virginian-Pilot reported. An "i" was missing in "Virginia" and an "e" was missing in "thereto." Officials said that the errors were introduced when a software upgrade required that the university retype the words to be used on diplomas.

 

June 26, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Emily Elliott of the University of Pittsburgh explores aging sewer systems and reveals the threat they pose to the environment. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

June 26, 2013

Colleges have special responsibilities to support young parents and pregnant students under Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972, the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights said in a “Dear Colleague” letter Tuesday. The letter is an update and expansion of previous guidance issued on the topic in 1991. The letter cites studies saying that only 2 percent of women who had a child before the age of 18 earned a degree by 30, and notes that Title IX prohibits discrimination of these students in any educational program, including extracurricular activities. OCR sent the letter -- along with a pamphlet of guidelines, strategies and best practices to support pregnant and parenting -- to all colleges.

June 26, 2013

Moody’s has downgraded the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s credit outlook to negative on account of a major lawsuit threatening the future finances of the NCAA, The Wall Street Journal reported. “Increased public discourse about the best interest of student-athletes combined with highly publicized litigation could destabilize the current intercollegiate athletic system and negatively impact the NCAA and its member universities," the Moody’s report said. The lawsuit in question is is currently awaiting class action certification. Led by former University of California at Los Angeles basketball player Ed O’Bannon, the lawsuit, which is currently awaiting class action certification, argues that current and former athletes are entitled to some of the revenue that universities, the NCAA and other parties make by promoting images of those students. An NCAA spokeswoman said she the association does not anticipate any "substantive issues" based on the Moody's report, as it is a long-term projection and the NCAA's financial rating did not change.

(Note: This headline and article have been updated from a previous version.)

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