Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, July 18, 2011 - 3:00am

Officials at Edison State College suspended two administrators with pay, and admitted Thursday that the college had awarded degrees to students who didn't complete program requirements, The News-Press reported. A public records request from the newspaper led to the focus on the issue. The inappropriate degrees were awarded to students who were given permission to substitute in electives for required courses. "Substitutions were often provided to enhance matriculation rates into a baccalaureate degree program," Steve Atkins, vice president for academic affairs, said at a news conference.

Monday, July 18, 2011 - 3:00am

The number of credit cards issued by colleges or alumni associations dropped in 2010, suggesting that a federal law aimed at restricting the marketing of cards to students appears to be having an impact, USA Today reported. The article cites a report this month by the Federal Reserve Board finding that the number of credit cards issued by colleges and alumni associations fell by 17 percent, and that the revenue colleges and alumni groups received from marketing agreements with credit card providers declined by 13 percent. A 2009 law aimed at limiting credit card excesses included several restrictions on the marketing of cards to undergraduates.

Monday, July 18, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Elizabeth Jakob of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst explains why a better understanding of how vision works in the insect world can lead to technological innovations that will help us all. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Monday, July 18, 2011 - 3:00am

Many German academics have been angered to learn of a deal between Deutsche Bank, Humboldt University and the Technical University of Berlin, under which the bank gave $17 million to finance the Quantitative Products Laboratory, to pay the cost of two endowed professorships. As The New York Times reported, the controversy is because of what the bank received: a say in the hiring of the professors, the right to have bank employees designated as adjunct professors, and a role in selecting topics for research by the research center.

Monday, July 18, 2011 - 3:00am

Federal authorities on Thursday charged Thomas C. Briggs, formerly an administrative support specialist for international students at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, with falsifying student visa records, The Charlotte Observer reported. Briggs is charged with indicating that 66 foreign students were enrolled full time (a requirement for their visas) when he knew that was not the case. A lawyer for Briggs said that he acted not for profit or political motive, but to help students about whom he was concerned.

Monday, July 18, 2011 - 3:00am

To strengthen their states' capacity to graduate students and produce workers, governors should develop better measures of their public colleges' performance and productivity, use those measures to allocate state funds for the institutions, and free colleges and universities from overly restrictive regulations, the National Governors Association says in a new report. The report, released in conjunction with the association's annual meeting, is part of the Complete to Compete initiative of the group's chair, Governor Chris Gregoire of Washington.

Monday, July 18, 2011 - 3:00am

Cornell and Columbia Universities announced Friday that they are expanding their efforts to collaborate in the management of their libraries. The latest step will be granting complete borrowing privileges and access to expert staff members at both universities' libraries to all students, faculty members and employees of the two institutions. In the last two years, the two library systems have been working to join forces in various ways, with the goals of saving money and improving services. Some of the efforts include the sharing of expert librarians in the fields of Slavic studies and Southeast Asian studies and expert catalogers in multiple languages, and creating a buying plan for Chinese materials that will reduce selection and processing costs at both institutions.

Friday, July 15, 2011 - 3:00am

A research report released last month by two George Washington University professors argued for weakening the role of the Federal Housing Administration with regard to insuring mortgages, and didn't disclose that it was partially funded by Genworth Financial Inc., a major player in providing private mortgage insurance, American Banker reported. The authors of the paper are Robert Van Order, chair of the Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis, and Anthony Yezer, director of the university's Center for Economic Research. Yezer told American Banker that he didn't realize he had failed to note the sponsorship, but he didn't see it as a major issue. "I am not getting anything out of it, and Bob Van Order is not getting anything," he said. "They are using up our time, so they make a contribution to the university. The small amount that is involved is trivial compared to my billing rate [as a consultant] if I was doing this ordinarily."

Friday, July 15, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, John Fitzpatrick of Cornell University explains what we can learn about climate change by observing Snowy Owls. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Friday, July 15, 2011 - 3:00am

Japanese universities are reporting, to their relief, that most of the international students who left the country after the tsunami and associated nuclear worries, and whose programs haven't ended, are returning, The Japan Times reported. The universities have been pushing -- with help from the Japanese government -- for students to return. Visa procedures were simplified for those who didn't realize they would need a re-entry permit. And the Japanese government is paying for some return airfares for those who had to evacuate certain areas.

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