Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

March 16, 2012

Students and other experts on spring break (bartenders in spring break locales) report that students have become tamer, even "prudish" while on the vacations once known for every kind of excess, The New York Times reported. The reason? With video cameras everywhere, students fear that their exploits will be posted online in ways that will embarrass them. One piece of evidence for this trend: Only one bar in Key West is featuring a wet T-shirt contest, and it takes place only once a week.

 

 

March 16, 2012

State and local funding for higher education remained almost constant in 2011, according to a State Higher Education Executive Officers Association study released today.

Instead of the marked decreases in state and local support for colleges seen the previous two years, overall funding saw a slight uptick from $87.2 billion in 2010 to $87.5 billion in 2011.

But that’s not cause for celebration, said Andrew Carlson, the association’s policy analyst. For one, that number is still considerably lower than the $88.8 billion awarded to colleges in 2008. And even though overall funding remained basically steady last year, enrollment grew. Having more students on campus means fewer government dollars per student and an increased reliance on tuition to pay university bills.

Nationally, state and local funding per full-time student fell $242 last year while net tuition revenue per full-time student increased $225. That exaggerates a long-term trend in which tuition went from supporting 23.2 percent of educational revenues in 1986 to 43.3 percent last year.

Complicating matters, Carlson said, is that next year’s numbers are projected to be worse. Enrollment is again expected to grow, while state funding dropped.

March 16, 2012

Smith College will be the chief academic planning partner with a group creating a women's university in Malaysia, tentatively called the Asian Women's Leadership University. The new institution is being founded as a nonprofit by three Smith alumnae. Starting in 1916, Smith supported a then young women's institution in China, Ginling College.

March 16, 2012

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is pushing a plan to merge Rutgers University at Camden into Rowan University, a plan that is hitting opposition from some on both campuses who see their missions as distinct. One talking point for supporters of the plan has been that SAT averages of Rowan are higher than those of the Camden campus, part of the state's flagship university. It turns out they aren't. The Record reported that Rowan's figures excluded the scores of disadvantaged students. When they are included (as Rutgers does and as colleges are generally required to do by those who make SAT score comparisons), Camden's SAT average is higher than that of Rowan.

 

March 16, 2012

The Education Writers Association has honored the University of Venus -- an Inside Higher Ed blog by and about Gen X women in academe, all over the world -- with second prize for community blogging in the association's annual contest. Inside Higher Ed salutes the great writers of University of Venus, and all the winners in this year's EWA contest.

March 16, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Tanya Leise of Amherst College explains how the body reacts to travel and the best method for overcoming jetlag. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

March 16, 2012

The New York Legislature on Thursday passed a plan supported by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo that will cut retirement benefits for future state and local government workers, The New York Times reported. The cuts would affect new employees at public institutions such as the State University of New York and the City University of New York. According to the Times, the measure would save $80 billion for state and local governments over the next 30 years, even though one of the more contentious proposals in the measure -- a plan that would let new workers opt out of a traditional pension and let them choose something similar to a 401(k) --– would now be open only to new non-unionized workers who earn $75,000 or more, under a concession made by Cuomo.

Barbara Bowen, president of the Professional Staff Congress, a union representing 20,000 faculty members and staff at CUNY, said the plan -- also referred to as Tier 6 -- flowed from an ideological agenda of protecting the rich. “Tier 6 will hit CUNY especially hard; it will undermine CUNY’s ability to attract and retain the best faculty in national searches.  I remember being told more than 20 years ago when I came to CUNY that one thing CUNY was able to offer was good benefits, including a decent pension,” Bowen said.

“We were hoping it would be defeated but that is not the way it turned out,” said Denyce Duncan Lacey, Director of Communications for the United University Professions, a union representing 35,000 faculty members and professional staff at state-operated SUNY campuses.
 

March 16, 2012

Santa Monica College's plans for two-tiered tuition rates (higher prices for high demand courses) have drawn criticism from those who view it as going against the traditional values of community colleges. But a local couple is responding to the news by donating $250,000 to pay for scholarships for those who can't afford the higher prices, The Los Angeles Times reported. Daniel Greenberg, who is giving the money with his wife Susan Steinhauser, told the Times that he admired the college's president, Chui Tsang, for proposing an innovative solution to the college's financial and capacity problems. "He has not dealt with this by avoiding the issues but by confronting them and hopefully has found a really good way of tackling them," Greenberg said.

 

March 15, 2012

Colorado's attorney general on Wednesday announced a $4.5 million settlement with Westwood College Inc., over allegations that the for-profit higher education provider engaged in deceptive business practices. Westwood will pay $2 million to the state and credit $2.5 million toward restitution for students who used the college's tuition financing plan. The state's complaint had alleged that Westwood inflated its job placement rates and misled prospective students about the average wages of graduates, transferability of course credits and the total cost of Westwood degrees. It also alleged that the college failed to disclose the terms of its student financing program.

Westwood made no admission of liability as part of the settlement. In 2009 the college agreed to a $7 million settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice related to a complaint about filing false claims for federal student aid. It is also the subject of an investigation by the Illinois attorney general. Sen. Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, on Wednesday called for the college's accreditors and federal agencies to "immediately review whether the school has the sufficient institutional integrity and academic quality to continue receiving taxpayer-funded financial aid."

March 15, 2012

A jury on Wednesday sided with the parents of two students killed in the 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech, finding the university negligent for waiting to inform the campus about the gunman, the Associated Press reported. After deliberating for three and a half hours, jurors awarded $4 million each to the families of two women who were among the 33 dead. Lawyers for the state -- who had argued that university officials did all they could in the face of an unprecedented tragedy -- immediately filed to reduce the size of the verdict, the AP reported.

 

 

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