Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

June 8, 2012

Veterans' affairs and financial aid officers hoping for a clearer understanding of the requirements of an Obama administration executive order on recruiting of veterans and service members were left wanting (and frustrated) Thursday when many were shut out of the first of several webinars at which federal agency officials planned to explain the new policies. The executive order, announced in April on a visit by President Obama to a Georgia military base, will force colleges to disclose more information about financial aid and graduation rates, as well as requiring the Department of Defense to set rules for recruiting at military installations, among other things. Listservs were ablaze Thursday afternoon with complaints from the many who had been shut out as well as from those who participated, who said most of their questions went unanswered.

Officials of the Defense, Veterans Affairs, and Education agencies apologized for the "computer glitch" that allowed more than 1,000 participants to sign up for webinar that was limited to 1,000 spaces, and scheduled a third event for next week.

June 8, 2012

Data released Thursday are likely to add to scrutiny of law schools and the question of whether applicants are being admitted who are unlikely to find career advancement worth the cost. The overall employment rate for those who graduated law school in 2011 is 85.6 percent, the lowest since 1994, according to a report issued Thursday by NALP: The Association for Legal Career Professionals. But that figure, association officials noted, doesn't reflect just how bad the job market is. Only 65.4 percent of new law grads are employed in jobs for which bar passage is required. That figure is down 9 percentage points since 2008 -- and is consistent with the reports of many law graduates that they are landing jobs for which they didn't need to go to law school (many times taking out loans to do so).

James Leipold, executive director of NALP, wrote in the report that "for members of the Class of 2011, caught as they were in the worst of the recession, entering law school in the fall of 2008 just as Lehman Brothers collapsed ... the entry-level job market can only be described as brutal. When this class took their LSATs and applied for law school there were no signs that the legal economic boom was showing any signs of slowing, and yet by the time they graduated they faced what was arguably the worst entry-level legal employment market in more than 30 years."

June 7, 2012

The Iowa Board of Regents voted Thursday to create a committee to find ways to phase out the use of tuition revenue for student aid, The Des Moines Register reported. Colleges and universities have for generations used some tuition revenue from those who can afford it to provide scholarships to those who would be otherwise unable to enroll for financial reasons. But this year, Republicans in several states have challenged the practice, saying it creates a burden on the middle class. In Iowa, about 20 percent of tuition goes to such uses, and it is unclear how the state universities would replace those funds to preserve financial aid, which is a goal the board members said they have.

 

 

June 7, 2012

Some academics and consumer advocates are worried about a shift in support for agriculture research, the Associated Press reported. Citing data from a recent report from Food and Water Watch, the AP noted that nearly 25 percent of the funds for agriculture research now come from corporations, foundations and trade groups, an all-time high. Meanwhile, federal support has dropped to 15 percent, the lowest level in nearly two decades.

 

June 7, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Nicholas Leadbeater of the University of Connecticut explains how fluorine can be used to create useful new pharmaceuticals. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

June 7, 2012

Student borrowers with federal direct loans who want to enroll in the government's income-based repayment program will be able to apply directly through the Education Department rather than through loan servicers, the Obama administration announced Wednesday. The department will allow borrowers to import Internal Revenue Service income data directly to their application. It will require servicers to inform borrowers about income-based repayment before they begin repaying their loans. The program caps payments at 15 percent (soon to be 10 percent) of a borrower's monthly discretionary income.

The department has struggled with servicing problems in the past year, including glitches with enrolling borrowers in income-based repayment. Administration officials said the streamlined application process should be in place by September.

June 7, 2012

Chapman University has agreed to pay $175,000 to a former film professor who says she was denied tenure because she is a woman, The Orange County Register reported. A faculty grievance committee backed her claim, but another university panel did not. At that point, she took her case to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which agreed she had a case. Then, Chapman settled, saying that it did nothing wrong but wanted to resolve the matter.

 

June 7, 2012

The Modern Language Association's Executive Council has approved a statement on the importance of language learning to U.S. policy. The statement calls the learning of foreign languages "vital" and goes on to explain why. "We believe this view should be uncontroversial; anyone interested in the long-term vitality and security of the United States should recognize that it will be detrimental for Americans to remain overwhelmingly monolingual and ill informed about other parts of this increasingly interdependent world," the statement says. "We are therefore deeply alarmed by the drastic and disproportionate budget cuts in recent years to programs that fund advanced language study. We believe that advanced language study is important for the same reasons many policy makers, advisers, and elected officials do: Americans need to be literate about the languages and cultures of the United States’ major trading partners, and Americans need to be literate in the so-called strategic languages important to national security."

 

June 6, 2012

New York State's highest court on Tuesday ruled that Shawn Bukowski did not have the right to sue Clarkson University over injuries he suffered during a baseball practice. Bukowski was a pitcher who -- in his first "live" practice -- had a ball hit right back at him, striking his jaw and breaking a tooth. His suit argued that he was not fully introduced to the circumstances and dangers he would face in practice. But the court found otherwise. "[P]laintiff was an experienced and knowledgeable baseball player who assumed the inherent risk of being hit by a line drive," the court ruled.

June 6, 2012

Barbara Walters apologized Tuesday when e-mail records revealed her efforts to help Sheherazad Jaafari, an aide to Syria's president, get a job or get into Columbia University's journalism school, The Telegraph reported. Walters got to know Jaafari when the journalist was pushing to interview Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president whose government has been holding on to power in the country with brutal crackdowns on protesters. The e-mail records indicate that Walters approached a Columbia professor, praising Jaafari, and that he then offered to help.

Richard Wald, the professor, said he would try to get the admissions office "to give her special attention." Wald told the Telegraph that Jaafari had not applied so he didn't do anything on her behalf, but he said that "I would ask the admissions office to give special attention to anyone with a recommendation from Ms. Walters or anyone else in journalism." Walters issued a statement in which she said: "In the aftermath [of the Assad interview], Ms. Jaafari returned to the U.S. and contacted me looking for a job. I told her that was a serious conflict of interest and that we would not hire her. I did offer to mention her to contacts at another media organization and in academia, though she didn't get a job or into school. In retrospect, I realize that this created a conflict and I regret that."

 

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