With demand for higher education far outpacing capacity in India, the role of standardized tests has increased as has obsession over doing well, The New York Times reported. The article looks at the range of tests students take and the evidence -- include a recent suicide -- of the pressure they create.
Higher Education Quick Takes
In the wake of a revealing investigation into major academic improprieties committed by the men’s basketball program at the State University of New York at Binghamton, the system’s chancellor took steps to prevent such abuses at other SUNY institutions on Tuesday. Nancy L. Zimpher said at a Board of Trustees meeting that the system will appoint an “athletic oversight officer” who will report only to her and the board. Zimpher also said she will “regularly convene campus presidents, athletic directors and [faculty athletics representatives] to discuss cross system interests, guidelines and benchmarks.” She added that the system “will use the principles and guidelines developed from those meetings to hold presidents accountable for campus activities.”
The American Federation of Teachers released a report Tuesday on steps colleges should take to diversify their faculties. The report reviews data on the lack of racial and ethnic diversity on most faculties, and discusses ways to recruit more diverse pools and to retain minority professors.
President Obama has nominated Carl Wieman, who shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2001, as associate director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Wieman, who teaches at the University of British Columbia and the University of Colorado at Boulder, is a leading proponent of reforming science education.
Harvard University's secretive seven-member governing board is reviewing its functioning, Bloomberg reported. While few details about the review are known, it is being welcomed by critics of a system that is seen as lacking in accountability or transparency. The Harvard Corporation, created in 1650, is the oldest incorporated body in the United States.
Adam Habib of the University of Johannesburg and Tariq Ramadan of the University of Oxford University are about to once again travel to the United States to participate in academic meetings. Both scholars were denied visas during the Bush administration, but those restrictions were ordered lifted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in January. Habib will arrive this week and participate in several university visits, including a discussion of ideological exclusion on March 31 at Harvard Law School. Ramadan, who will arrive in April, will participate in several events, including a panel discussion in New York City on April 8 entitled “Secularism, Islam & Democracy: Muslims in Europe and the West,” co-sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Association of University Professors, PEN American Center and Slate.
Organizers of a talk by Ann Coulter at the University of Ottawa said that a "threatening" crowd of 2,000 student protesters forced her to call off a talk Tuesday night, the Associated Press reported. Those who organized the protest said she engaged in hate speech and questioned why she was invited to the university. The conservatives who brought her to campus said that the protest was squelching free speech. On Monday, Coulter spoke at the University of Western Ontario, and she told a Muslim student that rather than traveling via a flying carpet, he should "take a camel."
Stanford University is talking up a new model of engineering education, with less emphasis on traditional courses and more focus on solving big problems such as global warming, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. While Stanford reports that students are embracing the new approach, officials say that they run into difficulty with the engineering accrediting body, which prefers more traditional engineering courses.
The Common Application continues to grow -- on Monday announcing an additional 25 members, bringing the total number of colleges to 414. While the program was originally most popular among private liberal arts colleges, the new members reflect a broadening of membership. With the addition of the University of Connecticut and the University of Michigan, the program now has flagships from 10 states. And the addition of Columbia University means that the entire Ivy League is signed up. Jacobs University Bremen has become the group's first international member. The Universal College Application, a competitor to the Common Application, has 85 members (including some that participate in both programs).
For the second time this month, students have organized a major event in California to draw attention to state budget cuts to higher education. Unlike the earlier protest, which involved rallies throughout the state, Monday's event focused on Sacramento, where community college students attracted thousands to demand more state support. Jack Scott, chancellor of the state's community college system, thanked the students for organizing to demand more funds, the Los Angeles Times reported.