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The Meaning of the Failure of the Online For-Profit Universities

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

Corinthian Colleges have been forced to close their “doors.”

As I reported in this blog several years ago, the Washington Post Corporation, which had derived between 50% and 60% of its annual profits from its ownership share of Kaplan University quietly sold off its stock just ahead of the formal release of the Harkin Report which signaled the bursting of the online for-profit “bubble.”

This week, the stock price of the Apollo Group, which operates the “flagship” institution of the online for-profit universities, the University of Phoenix, declined by almost 30% in a single day—charted hour by hour in the following chart from CNN Money:

Appolo Stock Price Decline

The stock price fell on the news that enrollment at the institution has fallen from 460,000 to 213,000 over the past five years. That’s a decline of 53.7%.

One wonders how many of those students currently identified as “enrolled” are actively enrolled, how many…

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Ohio State University Seeks to Dramatically Revamp Its Policy on Faculty Intellectual Property Rights

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

Ohio State University is internally circulating a draft of a new policy on faculty intellectual property rights.

The following summary of the main outlines of the lengthy and very detailed draft revision was published in an article in the Columbus Dispatch:

“The proposal says that all intellectual property created by faculty, staff and students belongs to Ohio State if it was made under any of these criteria: under the scope of OSU employment; using university infrastructure, money or equipment; or in a university research laboratory.

“Ohio State could limit outside consulting work by employees if the university decides it has a right to the resulting work. The proposal lets the university ‘retain, use, and distribute’ academic work created by students, such as dissertations. Faculty, staff and students would have to report their intellectual property to the university to see whether it could be commercialized.

“If Ohio State decides it…

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A Request for Support from the Graduate Student Union at York University

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

We received this request by e-mail. I don’t know any of the specifics of this labor impasse, but it does not seem as if the graduate-student union is asking for anything extraordinary.

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The CUPE (Canadian Union of Public Employees) 3903 strike at York University in Toronto is in its third week. York University is the third largest university in Canada.

In the last several weeks, graduate students at both York University and the University of Toronto have gone on strike for better salaries. University of Toronto graduate students are currently voting on a second offer from their administration.

The CUPE local at York includes graduate student T.A.s, G.A.s, and R.A.s, as well as our very large contingent of contract faculty. The unit representing contract faculty ratified their first post-strike contract offer, but the units representing all graduate student employees voted to refuse the offer and to remain on strike.

Their…

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When Did “Spring Break” Become an Occasion for “Adult” or Family Vacations?

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

I came across the following list of the “Top Ten Trending Spring Break Destinations.” The folks at Kayak have compiled the list after surveying the number of inquiries made over the past few months to various travel sites. I naturally assumed that most of the destinations would be “beach towns” in Florida, and I was therefore surprised to see that the top destination on the list is Austin and that Phoenix (with special mention of Scottsdale!) has also made the list. So I started reading the descriptive notes, and this part of the note for Fort Lauderdale struck me as particularly odd: “if the weather gets too humid for you after a long, cold winter—duck into one of the city’s many museums.” I myself might actually want to do that, but I doubt that it would even occur to most college-aged “visitors,” unless they should be simply looking for a…

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Are Colleges and Universities the New Version of the Family Farm?

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

In the post that I made yesterday to this blog, “Why Is the Future of the University Never a University?,” I included the following observation: “All realms of human endeavor can borrow profitably from other endeavors. The ways in which one industry has responded to an opportunity or an issue can often inspire parallel innovations and solutions in another industry—in even a very different industry. I am very resistant to the idea of calling higher education an industry, simply because doing so reinforces the worst corporate conceptualizations of what higher education actually is or ought to be, but I do accept that, as the most innovative and volatile sector of our economy, the tech industry can be the source of fresh thinking in higher education about both what we might attempt and what we might best avoid.”

I was writing in that post in response to an article that appeared…

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Why Is the Future of the University Never a University?

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

In August 2014, Graeme Wood wrote an article for The Atlantic titled “The Future of College?” The tease under the headline is: “A brash tech entrepreneur thinks he can reinvent higher education by stripping it down to its essence, eliminating lectures and tenure along with football games, ivy-covered buildings, and research libraries. What if he’s right?”

You don’t have to read beyond the tease to know that the “brash tech entrepreneur” really does not have a clue about what the “essence” of higher education actually is.

Perhaps lectures are an increasingly outmoded pedagogical method. But then, again, aren’t other “brash tech entrepreneurs” trying to sell MOOCs as a revolutionary “innovation,” and MOOCs are nothing more than digitally dressed up and delivered lectures. So, perhaps, it is not the lecture-method itself that is objectionable but the fact that there are no “entrepreneurial opportunities” in faculty who lecture on site.

Likewise, “football…

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The Presumption of the Technocrats

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

Writing for New Republic, Blaine Grateman has written a very perceptive review of Kevin Carey’s The End of College: Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere. Carey is a propagandist for the technocracy, that new class of the ultra-wealthy characterized by its unflinching willingness to promote digital technologies as an unmitigated blessing, as the solution to every problem, and, not coincidentally, as a seemingly bottomless well of corporate profits and personal wealth. The technocrats blithely ignore the destructive consequences of our rapid adoption of digital technologies—the problems that have been created in chasing after digital solutions—and they have demonstrated repeatedly that they are very willing to exaggerate or to exacerbate problems to expedite the adoption of digital solutions. Case in point, the United States still has, by every measure, the strongest system of higher education in the world, and yet if you read the articles and…

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Faculty Coalition against the Exploitation of College Athletes

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

A group of faculty from across the United States has formed an organization called College Athletes Rights and Empowerment Faculty Coalition (CARE-FC).

The group has released a statement. Here are the introductory paragraphs:

“The multibillion-dollar college-sport industry is built on the work of an unnamed and unrecognized labor force, the majority of who are racial minorities (Smith, 2014; Staurowsky, 2013). As scholars who have studied these issues for many years, we are deeply troubled by the failure of higher education and college sport officials to acknowledge college football and men’s basketball players in major programs as employees with rights to bargain collectively. We are further concerned that in recent months state legislators in Ohio and Michigan have singled out college athletes as a class of citizens to be denied employee status (Associated Press, 2014; Heinlein, 2014).

“For decades, the athletes who serve as the centerpiece of the college sport business…

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