Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

September 18, 2012

About 70 percent of the British public believes that caps should be placed on the number of foreign students who can enroll there, according to a poll discussed by Times Higher Education. Anti-immigrant groups cheered the results. Andrew Green, chairman of MigrationWatch UK, said: "This gives the lie to those who have been claiming that the public are not concerned about student inflows. When the questions are posed in their factual and policy context the public display the firm common sense that one would expect."

 

September 18, 2012

Lees-McRae College, in North Carolina, has dropped a requirement that applicants submit SAT or ACT scores. Ginger Hansen, vice president of enrollment management and communications at the college, explained the shift in an e-mail: "Our decision to go test optional is largely based on our institutional philosophy of giving all students, regardless of a singular standardized test score, an opportunity."

September 18, 2012

A faculty member at Brevard Community College has requested and been granted an unpaid leave after she was alleged to have used class time to urge students to vote for President Obama and handed out campaign material on behalf of the Obama campaign and other Democratic candidates for office, Florida Today reported. Sharon Sweet, the faculty member, did not respond to requests for comment. College officials said that a parent of a student complained reported the allegations, setting off an investigation. "We are a nonpartisan, public institution,” a spokesman for the college said. "It is very important that all of our faculty and staff act in that manner at work and while they’re on campus."

 

September 17, 2012

Emory University on Friday announced a series of program eliminations, saying that it needed to focus resources on a smaller number of academic units. The university will close programs in educational studies, physical education, visual arts and journalism. In addition, graduate admissions will be suspended in Spanish and economics, pending a "reimagining" of the role graduate education at Emory will play in those fields. Tenured faculty members in the departments will be assured of their lines moving to other departments. But staff and non-tenured faculty members are expected to lose jobs, and their positions are guaranteed only for the current academic year.

A letter from Robin Forman, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Emory, explained that "these steps are not in response to the deficit, and will play no role in reducing our expenses." Rather, the letter, said, "for the college to reach its intellectual goals requires more than simply breaking even; we must have the flexibility to make the investments that our aspirations require. All of the funds that will gradually become available through the changes I have described will be reinvested in the college, strengthening core areas and expanding into new ones."

Comments posted on the student newspaper's website, and social media suggest that some students and faculty members are not accepting the logic offered by the administration.

 

September 17, 2012

A report much awaited by Australian academics has called for the nation's universities to double their enrollments of Aboriginal students, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. Such a doubling would bring Aboriginal enrollment to 2.2 percent, roughly the share of the Aboriginal population among Australians who are 15 to 64 years old.

September 17, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, David Kisailus of the University of California at Riverside explains how understanding the structure of a powerful little shrimp could lead to materials that are both stronger and lighter. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

September 17, 2012

A state judge in Wisconsin on Friday struck down many portions of a controversial state law that stripped most collective bargaining rights from public employees, The New York Times reported. Specifically, the ruling invalidates provisions of the law that limit collective bargaining rights of county, school and city employees, but not for state employees. For higher education faculty and other unionized employees, this probably means that collective bargaining could resume at locally run technical colleges, but not for the University of Wisconsin System. State officials plan to appeal the ruling, so the fate of unions in public higher education in Wisconsin is far from settled by the latest ruling.

September 17, 2012

California State University is planning to send letters to hundreds of thousands of applicants to the system's campuses, warning them that if voters in November defeat the governor's proposal to raise taxes, far fewer slots will be available, The Los Angeles Times reported. To drive home the point, Cal State has decided not to make admissions decisions until after Election Day. Typically, the university system starts admitting students in October. Anti-tax advocates are accusing the university of inappropriately campaigning for the governor's plan. But a spokeswoman for Cal State said that "we are just laying out the facts of what the budget is and what impact this will have on our budget."

September 17, 2012

WitsOn (for Women in Technology Sharing Online) will start October 1 as a six-week effort to encourage female undergraduates pursing science and technology degrees. The program will match students who sign up with a mentor for six weeks of online discussions, with the aim of encouraging these students to then find in-person mentors. The program is organized by Harvey Mudd College and Piazza (a social learning platform). While a number of colleges and universities have signed on as institutional participants (meaning they will publicize the effort) students at any college can join.

 

September 17, 2012

Three campuses -- the University of Texas at Austin, North Dakota State University and Hiram College -- received bomb threats Friday that were taken seriously enough to lead to mass evacuations, the Associated Press reported. But in all three cases, the threats appeared to be false and students and employees were permitted to return to the campuses.

 

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