U-Va. board unanimously reinstates Teresa Sullivan as president

The University of Virginia governing board voted unanimously Tuesday to reinstate Teresa Sullivan as president, more than two weeks after board leaders had forced her to resign and unleashed a storm of campus upheaval, reports The Washington Post.

The two women at the center of the conflict, Sullivan and the board leader, Rector Helen E. Dragas, walked into the historic Rotunda in tandem for the meeting, a gesture of unity after a fortnight of division at Virginia’s public flagship university.

“We have both come to the conclusion that it’s time to bring the U-Va. family back together,” Dragas told the Board of Visitors. It was a startling reversal for a board leader who had been steadfast in her insistence that Sullivan was moving too slowly to address fiscal and academic challenges.

The board, pilloried for the ouster Dragas engineered in a campaign of secrecy and exclusion, reversed course in a brisk half-hour session open to the public.

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Presidents approve college football playoff

Playoffs and tournaments long have determined champions of every college sport from baseball to bowling. The exception was major college football. That ended Tuesday. Come 2014, the BCS is dead, ABC News reports.

A committee of university presidents approved a plan for a four-team playoff put forward by commissioners of the top football conferences.

For years, the decision-makers had balked at any type of playoff because they said it would diminish the importance of the regular season. If only two teams had a chance to win a championship in the postseason, even one loss could be too many. That made for some very high stakes regular-season games. As recently as 2008, Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive proposed the type of plan adopted Tuesday, and it was quickly shot down.

Four years later, minds changed.

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For-profit lobbying group questions federal stats after unflattering report

For-profit officials pushed back against Duncan's latest comments on federal regulations.

The president of the country’s for-profit college association said school officials have “severe concerns” about an Education Department (ED) report that showed 5 percent of for-profits are in danger of losing access to federal student aid.

For-profit colleges, which have some of the country’s most expansive online learning programs, that have not met any of the federal government’s three “gainful employment” requirements would be cut off from federal aid, which accounts for as much as 90 percent of for-profit schools’ annual profit.

Losing aid would force many colleges or universities to shut down, higher-education officials said.

Steve Gunderson, president of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU) and a former Republican congressman, said for-profit college administrators have raised doubts about the validity of the latest federal numbers.

“In some instances, schools have not received the rates for all of the programs for which they submitted information, and in others, not all of the metric information was readily available,” Gunderson said, who called the set of government rules an “incredibly complicated and defective program.”

Colleges must meet only one of three federal metrics: At least 35 percent of former students are repaying their loans, the annual loan payment of a typical graduate doesn’t exceed 30 percent of his or her discretionary income, and the annual loan payment isn’t more than 12 percent of the student’s yearly earnings.

Thirty-five percent of for-profit programs meet all three federal requirements. Three in 10 meet one of the requirements.

“Career colleges have a responsibility to prepare people for jobs at a price they can afford,” said ED Secretary Arne Duncan. “Schools that cannot meet these very reasonable standards are on notice: invest in your students’ success, or taxpayers can no longer invest in you.”

Gunderson, repeating an argument from the fierce legislative battle over gainful employment rules in 2010, said ED’s statistics don’t account for the for-profit industry’s disproportional number of low-income students.

“The Department of Education’s gainful employment regulation has an unfortunate history using erroneous metrics regarding student demographics and repayment rates,” he said.

The ED report examined more than 3,600 programs at 1,300 colleges over the past two years.

The 5 percent of schools that did not meet any of the federal requirements consisted of 193 programs in 93 colleges, according to ED’s report.

The statistics have drawn the scrutiny of state officials across the country. Fifteen state Attorneys General have launched formal investigations into for-profit colleges’ allegedly predatory recruitment of military veterans.


Paying for college: for-profits could lose federal student aid

Former students in career-training programs at dozens of for-profit institutions have had so much trouble paying off their loans that the schools could lose access to federal student aid if they don’t improve, new data from the U.S. Department of Education finds, Naplesnews.com reports.

The Education Department reported that at 193 programs at 93 schools, students were unable to meet any of three measures under the agency’s new “gainful employment” rule. The new regulations, announced by the Obama administration last year, are aimed at making sure students in career-training programs at for-profit, nonprofit and public institutions are able to get a job and pay off their student loans when they graduate.

The programs include Everest College’s paralegal training in Salt Lake City and more than 40 other programs operated by Corinthian Colleges, one of the nation’s largest higher education companies; chef training at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Austin, Texas; and the medical assistant program at Sanford-Brown College in McLean, Va.

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The best colleges for military veterans

Veterans looking to attend college next fall should pick up an application to one of these schools, The Huffington Post reports.

Nearly 60 schools have been identified by Military Times Edge as being the best schools for servicemen based on a survey of 500 veterans who listed off the most important schools services in their eyes. The veterans stressed the significance of colleges possessing academic accreditation, central veterans’ offices and staff knowledgeable on veterans’ issues, and as a result, this list prioritized those aspects too.

All of the schools that made the list are accredited, and each of the schools in the 60 offer a mix of the programs and cost.

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Remedial education: focus on improvement, not elimination

Last week Ohio joined 21 other states and higher education systems eliminating funding for remedial education, The Huffington Post reports.

While issues over alignment, delivery, expense, and the effectiveness of remedial education make it one of the most complex issues in higher education today, we argue that the elimination of funding runs counter to the nation’s college completion goals. Equally important, the decision to eliminate funding for a pathway to postsecondary access runs counter to our moral imperative to educate all of this country’s citizens — irrespective of preparation.

Remedial education has been on postsecondary campuses since the beginnings of higher education in the early 17th century. The need for remedial instruction was heightened in the 20th century by the promise of Brown and realized by the open-door policies enacted in the wake of the civil rights movement. These two landmark events reinforced the importance of a college education for social mobility and economic stability.

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The pitfalls of chasing Klout in higher education

Some colleges have moved away from Klout-based social media strategies.

As tempting as it might be to have one super metric that allows you to go to your bosses and show how successful your brilliant social media strategy has been, please do us all a favor and resist the impulse—especially if the metric you’re going to choose is Klout.

It seems like a fine enough idea in theory: one score that ranks how successful you are at engaging with your audience across multiple platforms, but in practice it promises one thing and delivers something much less useful, more opaque and occasionally even annoying.

First, you aren’t the user of Klout. You’re the product being sold by Klout to marketers. Advertisers and brands covet so-called influencers, people who will tweet, tumbl, or post to Facebook about the fantastic Klout Perks they’ve been given and therefore spread the word about a product much more cheaply and effectively than display advertising.

Read more about Klout in higher education…

For colleges, social media ‘Klout’ isn’t everything

10 colleges with Klout

A great idea, but if you’re working for a college, the only thing you’re trying to sell is yourself—to prospective students, the media, alumni, or any other number of constituencies. I’m a firm believer in choosing the services you use strategically.

If it makes sense to join a service, if, for example, it will help you reach a new audience, then it’s a good idea. But joining things because they’re popular, without any thought of how they’ll be helpful, isn’t a strategy. And there’s simply no way that a high Klout score will help you reach the people you’re interested in reaching.

In fact, it might drive people away, courtesy of my second point: Klout encourages bad behavior online. I noted in a blog post a few weeks ago that one person interviewed by Wired said he tweeted up to 45 times each day.

Sit back and take that in. Imagine how completely annoying that person would be to follow on Twitter.

That’s the kind of behavior Klout rewards. The internet—the world at large, really—is filled to the brim with charlatans and the shameless, people who are willing to barge into random conversations so they can talk endlessly about themselves, people who don’t respect boundaries, don’t respect your time and attention, generally don’t respect you.

Why would you want to be one of those people? Promoting your achievements, and doing so loudly, is one thing, but hijacking other people’s valuable time for your own agenda is something else entirely.

Finally, why would you trust someone else instead of your own eyes?

Klout uses a proprietary algorithm to determine their ranking, and Klout officials are unlikely to start sharing it, since that’s how they make money. Colleges already have to deal with opaque and sometimes seemingly arbitrary rankings.


University lecturers ‘pressured to make sure nobody failed exams’

A whistleblowing professor has lifted the lid on what he brands the “corrupt” exam system at universities in which lecturers are being pressured to pass underperforming students, The Independent reports.

Aviezer Tucker, a former academic at Queen’s University Belfast, said lecturers are under pressure to comply because their performance is assessed on the basis of grades students obtain.

In an article for The independent Review: A Journal of Political Economy, Professor Tucker, who now works in the US, describes the relentless pursuit of academic targets by UK university managers: “Like central planners in general, they have measured their success by the quantity of what they produce rather than by its quality.”

He said of Queen’s: “Managers pressured lecturers to make sure nobody failed and sought to inflate grades.” His claims are vehemently denied by Queen’s University, which said it was considering legal action against him.

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Top MBA programs embrace online education

For-profit schools, such as the University of Phoenix and Kaplan University, have garnered significant attention in recent years, U.S. News reports.

As the schools seek to reach more students through aggressive advertising campaigns—University of Phoenix has a $154 million naming rights deal for the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals’ stadium—and politicians push for more stringent industry regulations, efforts made by other schools in the online sector can go seemingly unnoticed. For-profit schools are not accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), which is regarded as the benchmark for business school quality among the academic community, experts say.

However, several traditional business programs accredited by the AACSB have made the push into the online realm in recent years. Business programs at the University of North Carolina, Pennsylvania State University, and Indiana University, among others, offer MBAs online comparable to the ones they’ve long offered on campus.

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Should colleges consider legacies in the admissions process?

Many colleges ask applicants if they have a parent or grandparent who went to the school. The student’s answer is often the difference between acceptance or rejection, reports The Wall Street Journal.

At some of the country’s most selective colleges, one study has shown, having an alum parent boosts the applicant’s probability of acceptance by 45 percentage points. That is, if one candidate has a 30 percent chance of admission, an applicant with the exact same academic record and extracurricular activities but also a parent who attended the school as an undergraduate would have a 75 percent chance.

Both sides in our debate agree that legacy admissions once were used to give preference almost exclusively to white, male students. Today, however, supporters of legacy admissions point out that diversity has become so well-established on campus that the legacies themselves are multicultural. And the preference being shown to a few, they say, is more about boosting alumni giving and school spirit.

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