Dept. of Education Failed to Hold Loan-Management Company Accountable, Audit Finds

The Education Department failed to hold Xerox Education Solutions, a company it had contracted to track defaulted student loans, accountable for fixing persistent problems in its student-debt-management system, the agency’s inspector general said in an audit report released on Thursday.

According to the report, the department failed to ensure that Xerox met milestones for fixing the system and routinely offered extensions when the company missed its deadlines. At the same time, the agency did no…


Are College Football Coaches About to Start Fining Players?

Earlier this year, the NCAA voted to allow colleges in the five biggest athletic conferences to increase athletes’ scholarship money so that it would cover the total cost of attendance — not just tuition, fees, room and board, and books.

In the ensuing months, colleges have moved to define exactly how much extra they’ll begin offering players, with some deciding to spring for more than $4,000 extra per athlete.

But for some athletes, that money might come with strings attached.

The defensive coo…


Auburn Reversed Course on Cutting a Major Favored by Athletes

Auburn University was on the verge of scuttling a low-enrollment, unpopular academic major in 2013, but changed course after the athletics department weighed in, The Wall Street Journal reports.

According to documents and emails reviewed by the newspaper, the provost had recommended suspending the program, called public administration, in 2012. The political-science faculty, which oversaw the program, agreed that it contributed little to the academic mission of the university and voted 13-to-0 t…


South Carolina State U. Will Pay $332,500 to Settle Ex-President’s Suit

South Carolina State University will pay $332,500 to settle a former president’s breach-of-contract lawsuit, The State reported. The historically black institution fired the former president, Thomas J. Elzey, in March, after putting him on leave as the university was suffering from severe financial and accreditation problems. The university said the settlement did not pass judgment on Mr. Elzey’s performance as president, or the decision to dismiss him.


Rutgers Will Give Aid to Health Majors to Offset Tuition Increase

Rutgers University will offer scholarships to freshmen to offset the costs of a 60 percent increase in tuition that some students said surprised them, NJ Advance Media reported.

Tuition rates for some majors in the health professions were expected to jump to $552 per credit, up from $345 per credit. The administration said the increase was necessary to get the rates closer to the cost of similar professional programs. But some students complained that they did not receive enough notice about the…


NLRB Official Orders Count of Adjuncts’ Ballots at Manhattan College

A regional official of the National Labor Relations Board has ordered the tallying of ballots in a union election for Manhattan College’s part-time faculty members. She based her decision on a finding that such instructors do not contribute to the religious environment of the Roman Catholic college enough to be excluded from the board’s jurisdiction for First Amendment reasons.

Karen P. Fernbach, director of the NLRB’s regional office in New York, said in the decision on Wednesday that she had f…


Ta-Da! U. of Pennsylvania’s ‘No-Loan’ Financial-Aid Policy Becomes ‘All-Grant’

The University of Pennsylvania has a new financial-aid policy. Or, at least, a new name for it.

The university’s student newspaper, The Daily Pennsylvanian, reports that Penn changed the name of its financial-aid policy this summer from “no-loan” to “all-grant.” A no-loan policy is one in which the university does not give out loans as part of financial-aid packages, instead relying primarily on grants.

Ron Ozio, director of media relations, told the newspaper in an email that the step was “just an effort to simplify the way we talk about” the university’s financial-aid program.

The newspaper also notes a student group protested Penn’s policy in the spring semester, saying the institution’s rhetoric on accessibility was out of line with its policies. The students pointed to the fact that many of them are forced to take out loans for expenses not covered by grants.

The financial aid program at Penn – touted as one of the best in the country – has been rebranded as an “all-grant” policy. Prior to the change made this summer, the program was referred to as a “no-loan” policy. The change is limited to name only – the program remains the same, according to the University’s financial aid webpage.

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Virginia College Leaders Ponder Sharing Resources in Cases of Sexual Assault

Colleges in Virginia are thinking about pooling their resources to handle cases of sexual assault on campus, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. College presidents discussed the idea on Monday at a meeting of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.

Teresa M. Sullivan, president of the University of Virginia, said establishing a shared system would help smaller colleges comply with federal rules. She also commented on her own university’s effort toward that end, saying it came at a significant cost. “Would I have rather hired four faculty members with that money? Yes, I would,” she said. “But we needed to do this to be in compliance.” A UVa spokesman said the institution had spent about $1.5 million in recent years to comply with Title IX.

The proposal comes as colleges struggle to find their footing amid heightened attention to campus sexual assault in recent years.

Amid the mounting cost and complexity of new federal mandates to address sexual violence, Virginia’s colleges and universities are considering whether to establish a network of shared resources and investigators to address campus assaults. The idea was among issues discussed Monday during a meeting of presidents of public institutions at the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.

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Filling Out That McSweeney’s Faculty-Meeting Bingo Ballot? Send It to Us

If, in these hectic first days of the semester, you’ve been spending your time on Twitter, you’ve probably seen the funny “First Faculty Meeting of the Year Bingo,” written by Lisa Nikolidakis for McSweeney’s. If you haven’t, go there for a good laugh.

Catharsis achieved. The bingo ballot certainly sounds like an accurate portrayal of higher-ed rhetoric, but is it? There’s only one way to find out: By asking our audience of faculty members to print out the lovely McSweeney’s ballot, take it to t…


This Is How Students Cheat in MOOCs

Researchers at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have identified a way students are cheating to earn credit in MOOCs. The method is the subject of a working paper, “Detecting and Preventing ‘Multiple-Account’ Cheating in Massive Open Online Courses,” published online on Monday.

According to the researchers, some students are creating at least two accounts in a MOOC — one or more with which to purposely fail assignments in order to discover the correct answers, wh…