News in brief

June 14, 2012

United States

Enrolling bonus still out of bounds

The US Court of Appeals has upheld a federal rule barring for-profit institutions from paying recruiters bonuses linked to the number of students they enrol. The court ruled that the Department of Education regulations on the practice, instigated in 2011, were consistent with the Higher Education Act of 1965, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. But it ordered the department to provide details of the effect the rule had on minority recruitment and to clarify whether it had justified eliminating recruiter bonuses based on students successfully completing programmes. The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, which challenged the law, says in a statement that it "looks forward to working with the department to help prepare reasonable regulatory changes that best serve students".

Australia

Industry to be judge of impact

Australian academics have been left off assessment panels that measure research impact in favour of industrialists and other stakeholders. Philip Clark, an investment banker and chairman of the Excellence in Innovation trial advisory group, said stakeholder assessment of research would constitute a major improvement on the impact measures adopted in the UK, The Australian reported. He added that an effective measure of impact would encourage industry to expand its use of academic research. The trial's guidelines dictate that representatives of end users will form most members on each of the assessment panels as well as providing the trial panel's chair.

India

Transfers to tackle 'inbreeding'

An Indian state's higher education council has recommended methods to tackle academic "inbreeding". Karnataka's Vision 2020 education document proposes the creation of a state-wide credit transfer system by 2020. Under the system, students would be free to move from one university to another without having to change their credits. "As of now, universities in Karnataka work in isolated patches," said S. C. Sharma, vice-chairman of the council. "With this system we will look at facilitating universities to start other courses so that there is universality." The document stresses the need to tackle the problem of localisation in the state university system, The Times of India reported. "Increasingly...state universities are becoming sites of academic inbreeding," the report says. "Only rarely [do they] reflect a truly state-wide, let alone a national, outlook in the choice of the faculty and students. Credit transfer might prove to be a solution for this problem."

Sri Lanka

Private revival

The Sri Lankan government has vowed to revive the country's university system, according to its higher education minister. S. B. Dissanayake made the announcement at Uva Wellassa University's graduation ceremony. He also attacked opposition to the establishment of private universities in the country, the Daily News reported. "[Opponents] should realise that the establishment of international university branches would enhance the higher education opportunities for our children," he said. "Those who fail to enter state universities would get admission to them." Mr Dissanayake added that Sri Lanka was entering an important development phase and students would be at the forefront of the changes.

United States

Transparent aid package

Ten US universities have pledged to provide more information about tuition fees and other costs in a federal push to ensure financial aid recipients do not overstretch themselves, the federal government has announced. The heads of the institutions, including state university systems in Maryland, Massachusetts and New York, met the US vice-president, Joe Biden, last week to discuss financial aid transparency. The announcement comes after student debt rose 3 per cent in the first three months of 2012 to $904 billion (£584.8 billion). The White House said greater disclosure was key to making university more affordable, the Los Angeles Times reported. "Clarity and accessibility of information is necessary so...students and families can make informed decisions," it said. "Too often, [they] face confusion when comparing financial aid packages, some of which do not...distinguish [between] private versus federal loans, making it difficult to compare aid offers."

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