Category Archives: Government

Politics and policy in higher education.

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Lawmaker Blasts Kean U. for Buying $219,000 Table

Kean University, in New Jersey, is taking heat from a state legislator for spending roughly $219,000 on a conference table, the Bergen Record reports. The university’s governing board authorized spending up to $270,000 on the table, which seats 23 people and has microphones and a world map in the middle, among other amenities.

“Whether or not this is legal, it’s certainly not ethical, and it’s a waste of taxpayer money,” said Joseph Cryan, a Democratic member of the state’s General Assembly who …

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Community-College Leaders Expect State Appropriations to Recover Slowly

Report: “Recovery Continues, but Competition Is Fierce”

Organization: Education Policy Center at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa

Summary: The annual survey of the National Council of State Directors of Community Colleges shows that states continue their slow recovery from the recession.

Midyear state budget cuts are becoming rare. But hoped-for increases in appropriations for higher education are being displaced, in some cases, by other spending priorities, including Medicaid, elementary…

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U. of California Committee Approves Tuition Increases Amid Protests

A committee of the University of California Board of Regents on Wednesday approved a plan that could raise tuition by as much as 5 percent in each of the next five years, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The meeting, at the university’s San Francisco campus, saw fireworks inside and out. Hundreds of student protesters gathered beforehand, attempted to keep the regents from entering, and jostled with campus police officers when they intervened. Karl Pister, an 89-year-old former chancellor of the s…

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Senior Democrats Criticize Changes in Education Dept.’s Default Rate

Two senior Democratic lawmakers sent a letter on Tuesday to the education secretary, Arne Duncan, criticizing changes the Education Department has made in how it calculates cohort default rates on student loans. Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa and Rep. George Miller of California took the department to task for exempting from penalties some colleges with default rates of 30 percent or more.

“With few exceptions, any institution or program where students consistently default over the 30% threshold should…

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Performance-Funding Formulas Spur Some State Colleges to Raise Admissions Standards

Report: “Unintended Impacts of Performance Funding on Community Colleges and Universities in Three States”

Authors: Hana Lahr, Lara Pheatt, Kevin Dougherty, Sosanya Jones, Rebecca Natow, and Vikash Reddy

Organization: Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College

Summary: New policies in Indiana, Ohio, and Tennessee that link significant portions of state budget allocations to colleges’ graduation and persistence rates are causing some four-year colleges to become m…

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U. of Houston to Audit Portion of Stadium Cost

The University of Houston says it will look into how $5-million in state funds, designated for classroom construction, was used in the building of its new football stadium, the Houston Chronicle reports.

The internal audit, announced by the chancellor, Renu Khator, is meant to ensure that the money will go, as intended, toward building classrooms at the stadium for members of the university’s band.

The stadium is open as construction continues, but the classrooms have not been built, the Chronic…

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U.S. Needs More Power to Crack Down on Colleges’ Academic Failings, Official Says

As Republicans regain control of the Senate—led by Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who is likely to be the new education-committee chairman—large-scale changes in the Higher Education Act seem like a sure bet.

For Senator Alexander, that might mean simplifying the labyrinth of regulations overseen by the Education Department. But the department’s under secretary, Ted Mitchell, offered a different vision on Wednesday at a panel on the act’s reauthorization: A revision of the key law, he sa…

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U. of California System Proposes Ending Tuition Freeze

The University of California system’s administration has proposed ending a three-year tuition freeze and charging students as much as 5 percent more in each of the next five years, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The increases are aimed at bringing in much-needed revenue as the system considers expanding its enrollment and hiring more faculty members, among other things. Janet Napolitano, the system’s president, said the proposed increases could be reduced or eliminated if the state raised its co…

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Princeton’s Sex-Assault Policies Violate Federal Law, Education Dept. Says

The U.S. Education Department has found that Princeton University violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 by not “promptly and equitably” responding to complaints of sexual assault, the department announced on Wednesday. The institution also failed to end a “sexually hostile environment” in the case of one student.

The university has already instituted a series of reforms that correct problems the department identified, including by resolving cases of sexual assault using the “prep…

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President of ‘Sham’ College Is Sentenced to 16 Years in Prison

The head of what officials have called a “sham university” that issued foreigners visa-related documents in exchange for tuition and fees has been sentenced to 16 years in prison for running the scam, the San Jose Mercury News reports. Susan Xiao-Ping Su, president and chief executive of Tri-Valley University, was convicted this year of 31 counts of fraud, harboring undocumented immigrants, and other charges.

The California-based university was raided by federal agents in January 2011. The gove…