Sanctioned for innovation: A student at the University of Central Florida earned himself academic probation after creating a website that would alert his fellow students when seats became available in certain classes. Tim Arnold, a senior, built the site to augment the school's existing online registration options, which allowed students to check class availability but did not offer notifications about vacancies. Competition for popular classes or those offered infrequently can be fierce, especially for courses students must have to graduate.
But school administrators didn't appreciate Arnold's entrepreneurial spirit. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, administrators claimed Arnold's site violated portions of the school's technology policy, including prohibitions against students making money from university "tools." Arnold charged a nominal fee for using his site, although he claimed he only made $7.78 before administrators ordered him to shut it down. School officials claim they are working on a wait list feature for their class registration site, which would perform the same function as Arnold's site. It sounds like they just didn't want any competition.
Higher ed bargain hunting: New data released earlier this week by the National Center for Education Statistics show students at public colleges pay only about 62 percent of the full sticker price, thanks to financial aid. For the 2010-11 school year, four-year public schools charged an average net price of $17,600. But after taking financial aid into account, students paid an average of $11,000. At private four-year colleges, the pre-aid average came to $34,000. But students only paid about 58 percent of the full price--$19,800. According to all accepted rules of bargain hunting, that makes a private education a better deal.
Training more doctors: A bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on Monday by Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) would create 15,000 new Medicare-sponsored training spots for aspiring doctors. With large numbers of doctors expected to retire during the next decade, medical education groups say the country's medical schools and residency programs can't keep up with the demand. Medical schools have started increasing their incoming classes, but residency programs have not kept up, leaving too many newly graduated MD's with no place to complete their training. After finishing four years of medical school, doctors must complete at least three years of hands-on training before they can legally practice medicine. Doctor advocacy groups applaud the new bill, but information about how much the new spots will cost taxpayers is scarce.
Shot across the bow: Christian legal group the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) put five colleges on notice that kicking fast food chain Chick-fil-A off campus over comments made by its president could land them in court. In letters sent to West Virginia University, New York University, University of Southern Mississippi, University of Kansas, and University of Louisville, ADF attorneys warned that retaliation against the company for Dan Cathy's constitutionally protected beliefs would violate federal law. The ADF does not represent Chick-fil-A but sent its letters on behalf of students and faculty who share the company's values and often face discrimination on campus.
"Not only would discriminating against Chick-fil-A be a clear violation of the First Amendment and expose the University to legal liability, but it would undermine the very lessons of free speech and tolerance that the University seeks to teach to its student body," the letters state.