Higher Education Quick Takes

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010 - 3:00am

Trustees of the Connecticut State University System on Monday backed down on the size of raises for top administrators, bowing to pressure from Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who not only criticized the raises of 8-10 percent, but called for a change in system governance, The Hartford Courant reported. Until Monday, trustees said that the large raises -- now largely cut in half -- were needed to be competitive for top talent.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010 - 3:00am

The U.S. Copyright Office on Monday promulgated a number of new exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, including one allowing university staffers and students to hack DVD content and display it for educational purposes. If a university or student lawfully obtains copy of a DVD, the agency says, they can bypass the encryption so long as "circumvention is accomplished solely in order to accomplish the incorporation of short portions of motion pictures into new works for... Educational uses by college and university professors and by college and university film and media studies students." The exemption applies when professors or students want to use excerpts of the hacked DVD in documentary films or "non-commercial videos." Tracy Mitrano, director of I.T. policy at Cornell University and a technology law blogger for Inside Higher Ed, called the decision "very big news," and "good news," for higher education, noting that advocates in academe have been lobbying for an expansion of fair use exemptions for some time. One campus that might take heart is the University of California at Los Angeles, which an educational media group threatened to sue last spring for copying and streaming DVD content on course websites. The university had refused to stop the practice, and a UCLA spokesman said the group, the Association for Information and Media Equipment, has not followed through. He said UCLA is reviewing the new rules.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010 - 3:00am

India's Bangalore University has decided to reserve one slot in each of 52 academic departments for transgendered students, The Hindu reported. Indian universities operate under quota systems for admitting students from various groups that have suffered discrimination.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010 - 3:00am

Fixing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid may not be enough to ease low-income students' access to federal financial assistance, a new report suggests. The study, by the Institute for College Access & Success, lays out the significant barriers that face students after they've filled out the FAFSA, which the Education Department is working to simplify. The major impediment, the group argues, is a process in which the department seeks to verify the financial information submitted by applicants -- a process that disproportionately affects Pell Grant recipients and disqualifies significant numbers of them. The report includes a series of recommendations aimed at lowering the barriers while still ensuring the integrity of the federal financial aid awards process.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010 - 3:00am

Nike announced Monday that together with its subsidiaries, it would provide $1.5 million and vocational training for workers who lost jobs at company suppliers in Honduras. The University of Wisconsin at Madison and Cornell University have moved to end lucrative relationships with Nike over the issue of the company's treatment of these workers. Nike has until now largely argued that it couldn't be held responsible for the actions of some of its subcontractors. A statement from Madison said that its "decision to end its licensing agreement with Nike over the treatment of Honduran factory workers has had a major, positive impact." A spokesman said that it was now possible the university could again negotiate contracts with Nike.

Monday, July 26, 2010 - 3:00am

British officials have decided to let BPP, a for-profit institution affiliated with the Apollo Group, the parent company of the University of Phoenix, call itself a "university college," a closely controlled and significant term in Britain, Financial Times reported. The new status will also see the British branch, which has focused on business programs, move into many other academic areas. David Willetts, universities and science minister, said that "what matters is the quality of the teaching experience, not the exact legal status of the institution."

Monday, July 26, 2010 - 3:00am

Rutgers University has declined a request from Gov. Chris Christie that the institution start growing medical marijuana under the provisions of a new state law, NewJersey.com reported. The law allows for the designation of several nonprofit groups to grow the pot, but the governor had hoped to centralize the operation at Rutgers. University officials said that they feared the impact of growing marijuana -- even at the request of the state -- on the institution's ability to obtain federal research grants.

Monday, July 26, 2010 - 3:00am

The University of Texas at Austin last week unveiled a new bottled water - H2Orange -- in bottles shaped like the university's main tower -- as a way to raise money for scholarships. But on Friday, protesters held a rally to criticize the use of plastic instead of refillable aluminum bottles, News 8 reported. University officials said that the plastic being used can be recycled and that there are plans for reusable bottles in the future.

Monday, July 26, 2010 - 3:00am

Centenary College, in New Jersey, is closing business programs it operates in Beijing, Shanghai and Taiwan after finding rampant cheating among students there, The Star-Ledger reported. The college is also withholding degrees from 400 students at the programs -- giving them the choice of taking an exam to qualify for their degrees or receiving tuition refunds.

Monday, July 26, 2010 - 3:00am

Gov. M. Jodi Rell on Friday called for the elimination of the central office of the Connecticut State University system. Governor Rell's statement followed earlier suggestions she made -- thus far rejected by the system's board -- to rescind raises of more than 8 percent for the system chancellor and presidents. University officials have defended the raises as "equity" measures needed to keep the system competitive. The governor's statement said: "Frankly, I am at a loss to understand why, in these difficult times, the trustees would approve salary increases of as much as 8 percent, 10 percent or 10.27 percent for people who are paid between $285,000 and $360,000 a year."

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