Sham US colleges expose student visa scams

A case working its way through a federal court in California has exposed huge student visa scams by “sham” universities cashing in on Indians and other foreigners looking for a quick path to jobs in the United States, the AFP reports. Enrollment at Tri-Valley University, an unaccredited self-styled Christian graduate school, surged from a handful of students to 1,500, almost all from India, in a two-year period before federal authorities shut it down in January. The university’s president, Susan Su, was arrested in May and charged with fraud, money laundering, harboring aliens and making false statements. Four others also have been charged in the case…

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Want to earn more money? Study STEM.

My colleague Peter Whoriskey, a math major, made a big splash last spring with a story that cited groundbreaking research by Georgetown University economist Anthony Carnevale. He showed that STEM majors earned up to 50 percent more over their lifetimes than humanities majors earned, Daniel de Vise for the Washington Post. Carnevale sent me some new charts last week that take the argument further. Math-science majors can earn more than humanities majors even with a lesser degree. Carnevale believes the economy has shifted over the past 30 years to reward academic fields over educational attainment. In other words: It doesn’t matter how long you have studied; it matters what you study…

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Transgender student expelled from university for ‘fraud’

A California nursing student claims she was expelled from a private Christian university after revealing herself as transgender on an MTV reality program, the Huffington Post reports. As The Riverside Press-Enterprise is reporting, 24-year-old Domaine Javier, who has identified as female since she was a toddler, said California Baptist University officials told her she was expelled for falsely claiming on her application form that she is female. Letters sent to Javier from university officials say she was expelled for “committing or attempting to engage in fraud, or concealing identity” in university judicial processes…

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Northeastern putting down stakes across the country

Northeastern University is going south and west: It plans to open a regional campus in Charlotte, N.C., today and a similar outpost in Seattle within the year, with hopes of eventually planting flags in Austin, Minneapolis, the Silicon Valley area, and beyond, Boston.com reports. The campuses will offer graduate degrees tailored to the workforce needs of local economies, with courses taught partly online and partly by Northeastern faculty flown in every few weeks. They will also help students work with local employers on research projects in an extension of the school’s signature co-op program. The ambitious expansion comes as many other colleges are retrenching in response to economic hardship…

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Students developing technology to aid in medical care

Camporesi controls the movements of an animated avatar on a large 'power wall' 3D screen in real time.

In a dark room lit only by the razor-thin beams of infrared cameras, University of California at Merced graduate student Carlo Camporesi spends most days—and many nights—in the company of avatars.

This isn’t the next big sci-fi movie in the making, or the latest Nintendo Wii video game. Camporesi is part of a research team working to solve a very real problem: how to overcome an expected shortage of physical therapists who will work with aging baby boomers.

UC Merced received a $75,000 grant through the UC system for five graduate students to begin creating a software program this year that uses avatars to provide physical therapy to the elderly.

Professors say the project has the potential to improve the health of thousands of people. It offers a blueprint for future projects that college administrators hope will bolster UC Merced’s reputation as a research institution and help it compete better for its share of the dwindling supply of federal research dollars.

There isn’t much budget talk in the cramped room where Camporesi works, immersed in a world that teeters between fantasy and reality. Camporesi positions himself in front of a 3D, floor-to-ceiling projection screen—researchers call it a “power wall”—wearing sensors so the infrared cameras can track his every movement.

On the screen, an avatar stands in a virtual-reality kitchen. Each time Camporesi moves, so does the avatar. He’s training the avatars to mimic people so perfectly that, on a computer or TV screen, they could be mistaken as human.

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Some recommend working for colleges for free tuition

Madeline McGuinness started working at College of Mount St. Vincent in Riverdale, N.Y., in 1997 as a data entry clerk in the admissions office. When the single mom learned about the tuition remission program, she was thrilled, U.S. News reports.

“As the first in my family to attend college, [finishing college] was a special goal for me to achieve,” says McGuinness, who earned a B.A. in business and is midway through an M.B.A. program at Mount St. Vincent. Her son, John, also used her tuition benefit to earn a B.A. in sociology. McGuinness is one of 17 staff members of 150 eligible full-time employees currently using the Mount St. Vincent’s tuition benefits, according to Erin Walsh, director of college relations…

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Making school free through 14th grade

The Wilson Quarterly, published by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in the District, sounds like something you have to read for homework and find excuses not to, says Jay Mathews for the Washington Post. Yet, one autumn issue article is a must-read, shedding new light on our national debate about college. The author of “College for All?” is Kevin Carey , policy director of the Education Sector think tank and the most interesting writer on higher education today. He realigns our education system, at least theoretically, and suggests how to resolve our clash over who should go to college and who shouldn’t…

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HP says it will keep personal computer unit

Hewlett-Packard Co. has decided against spinning off or selling its PC division—a plan first brought to light in August by the technology conglomerate’s now former CEO, the Associated Press reports. HP said Thursday that it reached its decision after evaluating the impact to the company of jettisoning the business unit, which is the world’s biggest manufacturer of desktop and notebook computers for consumers and businesses. The unit supplies a third of HP’s revenue, and PCs are an area where the company is a market leader. But it is HP’s least profitable division, and its disposal was meant to be part of former CEO Leo Apotheker’s plan to transform the Silicon Valley stalwart into a twin of East Coast rival IBM Corp.: a company focused on businesses, rather than both businesses and consumers…

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Death on Notre Dame lift spurs schools to action

Colleges across the country have tightened their use of aerial lifts–or outright eliminated them–a year after a University of Notre Dame student was killed when wind gusts toppled the lift where he was filming football practice, the Associated Press reports. Some officials worry that the dangers persist, though, because there’s no universal requirement for how schools should use the structures that were intended for construction sites, not practice fields.

“We’ve got to get rid of these things,” said David Hougland, director of sports broadcasting at Texas Tech. “No one should ever die or be injured from falling from one of these.”

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AT&T helps establish college workshops for middle and high school students in Ohio

AT&T announced Thursday that it will contribute $7,500 to the I Know I Can (IKIC) college access organization that serves low-income, minority, and/or first generation college-bound students who do not fully understand the benefits of postsecondary education, according to the company’s press release, ThirdAge.com reports. The contribution was announced at the Blueprint: College Middle School series of workshops at Berwick Alternative K-8 School and serves as an effort to inspire, enable and support Columbus City Schools students in pursuing and completing their college education…

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