Community colleges’ cash crunch threatens Obama’s retraining plan

Some schools rally around a football team. Harper College has rallied around a number, Reuters reports. When President Barack Obama called for 5 million more community-college graduates by the end of the decade to boost U.S. competitiveness, this commuter school 30 miles northwest of Chicago figured out it would need to produce 10,604 additional graduates to do its part. It won’t be able to count on much government help. Even as Harper and many of the nation’s 1,200 other two-year community colleges try to deliver on Obama’s vision of a revitalized manufacturing sector and a better-skilled work force, support from the federal and state governments is eroding.

“I’ve been in this business for 42 years. I’ve never seen anything like this – the pressure on the business model, the pressure on the whole institution of higher education,” Harper College President Ken Ender said in an interview…

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German Education Minister quits amid plagiarism scandal

German Education Minister Annette Schavan resigned on Saturday after being stripped of her doctorate for alleged plagiarism, in an embarrassing blow to her ally Angela Merkel, Reuters reports. The move came four days after the University of Duesseldorf ruled Schavan, a close confidante to the chancellor, had “systematically and intentionally” copied parts of her thesis, and withdrew her Ph.D, granted more than 30 years ago.
“Annette Schavan offered her resignation last night,” Merkel told reporters.
“I accepted this resignation with a very heavy heart,” the chancellor added, saying Schavan was putting the public good ahead of her own welfare.
Merkel, who lost her defence minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg in a similar scandal two years ago, made no mention of the charges against Schavan…

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Learning firm wins $103 million investment from Accel, Spectrum

Online learning company has won $103 million in new funding from venture capital firm Accel Partners and equity investor Spectrum Equity, the company said on Wednesday, Reuters reports. The cash infusion, which marks the company’s first outside funding, will allow the company to expand internationally, add new content areas, and improve its Web and video platforms, said Eric Robison, the firm’s Chief Executive Officer. Founded in 1995, offers online training and instruction videos. Unlike rivals such as Khan Academy, it charges a subscription fees for its content, starting at $25 per month. Clients include schools, universities, more than half of the Fortune 100 companies, and various U.S. government agencies, said in a press release…

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Report: Apple testing new iPhone, iOS 7

Apple Inc has started testing a new iPhone and the next version of its iOS software, news website the Next Web reported. The company’s shares rose as much as 4.3 percent but eased a little to trade up 3 percent at $546.11 by mid-day on the Nasdaq. Application developers have found in their app usage logs references to a new iPhone identifier, iPhone 6.1, running iOS 7 operating system, the website reported. Apple’s iPhone 5 bears the identifiers “iPhone 5.1” and “iPhone 5.2” and is powered by the iOS 6 operating system. Developer logs show that the app requests originate from an internet address on Apple’s Cupertino campus, suggesting that Apple engineers are testing compatibility for some of the popular apps, the website said.

“Although OS and device data can be faked, the unique IP footprint leading back to Apple’s Cupertino campus leads us to believe this is not one of those attempts,” the website said.

Raymond James analyst Tavis McCourt, however, expects the next version of the iconic smartphone to be called iPhone 5S and not iPhone 6……Read More

Study: Companies, universities must collaborate on skills gap

Companies should get more involved with university courses to close a skills gap and ease graduates’ path to employment, according to a report on Wednesday, Reuters reports. Fewer than half of young people and employers believed that new graduates were well prepared for work, the study of data in a diverse group of countries found, a problem that may contribute to soaring levels of youth unemployment. Higher education institutions, however, believed that nearly three-quarters of their leavers were ready for the workplace.

“Employers, education providers, and youth live in parallel universes,” the McKinsey report found.

“They have fundamentally different understandings of the same situation.”…Read More

Scientists find gene link to teenage binge drinking

Scientists have unpicked the brain processes involved in teenage alcohol abuse and say their findings help explain why some young people have more of a tendency to binge drink, Reuters reports. A study published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal found that a gene known as RASGRF-2 plays a crucial role in controlling how alcohol stimulates the brain to release dopamine, triggering feelings of reward.

“If people have a genetic variation of the RASGRF-2 gene, alcohol gives them a stronger sense of reward, making them more likely to be heavy drinkers,” said Gunter Schumann, who led the study at King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry.

Alcohol and other addictive drugs activate the brain’s dopamine systems, which induces feelings of pleasure and reward……Read More

Attacker at Wyoming college kills two, commits suicide

A man armed with a sharp-edged weapon that some media reports described as a bow and arrow killed two people, including a college faculty member, in Casper, Wyoming, before taking his own life on Friday, Reuters reports. Police said officers were called to Casper College at about 9 a.m. local time to find “multiple victims” of an attack, and the campus was placed under a security lockdown, as were neighboring public schools. Details released by authorities remained sketchy hours after the incident had ended and the security alert had been lifted.

“There have been three confirmed deaths at two separate crime scenes. One victim is a Casper College faculty member,” Casper police said in a statement. “The suspect is also one of the dead and died of apparent suicide.” The statement also said no guns were involved in the crime and that the victims’ “injuries were caused by a sharp-edged weapon.”

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U.S. for-profit colleges spend big on marketing while slashing other costs

Google’s biggest advertiser is neither a bank nor a retailer, Reuters reports. It’s the for-profit University of Phoenix, which has recently been spending nearly $400,000 a day on ads, according to search analytics firm SpyFu, more than any financial firm or retailer, the traditional big spenders on online advertising. That kind of spending may seem surprising coming from a college, but marketing has become vital for the university and its for-profit rivals as enrollments plummet and they fight back against a host of criticisms, including low job-placement rates. Colleges such as University of Phoenix, the industry leader owned by Apollo Group Inc, will not only have to boost enrollments to reverse their fortunes, analysts say. They will also need to consider cutting tuition fees as well as continue to slash costs and take market share from rivals…

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Professor finds profiling in ads for personal data website

Dr. Latisha Smith, an expert in decompression sicknesses afflicting deep sea divers, has cleared criminal background checks throughout her medical career. Yet someone searching the Wwb for the Washington State physician might well come across an Internet ad suggesting she may have an arrest record, Reuters reports. “Latisha Smith, arrested?” reads one such advertisement., which labels itself the “Internet’s leading authority on background checks,” placed both ads. A statistical analysis of the company’s advertising has found it has disproportionately used ad copy including the word “arrested” for black-identifying names, even when a person has no arrest record. Latanya Sweeney is a Harvard University professor of government with a doctorate in computer science. After learning that her own name had popped up in an “arrested?” ad when a colleague was searching for one of her academic publications, she ran more than 120,000 searches for names primarily given to either black or white children, testing ads delivered for 2,400 real names 50 times each…

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The app’s the thing as Shakespeare goes digital

William Shakespeare’s plays are getting a 21st century-style makeover in the form of new apps for tablets and smart phones nearly 500 years after the Bard took pen to parchment, Reuters reports. Plays such as “Romeo and Juliet” and “Macbeth” spring to life in iPad apps released by Cambridge University Press, which pairs the texts with audio performances, commentary and other interactive content, transforming the classic plays for the digital age. The apps are part of a new series called Explore Shakespeare that was introduced by the British publishing house to expand the playwright’s reach to casual readers.

“A lot of people have a copy of Shakespeare on their bookshelf that they never got around to reading because they have this idea that Shakespeare is hard or has to be studied to be appreciated,” said John Pettigrew, executive producer of the Explore Shakespeare series…

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