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Higher Education News

World & Nation

- The Association of American Medical Colleges has issued a warning that, with a median educational debt of $140,000 for medical students and debt increasing faster than physician salaries, medical education is likely to be out of reach for applicants with modest incomes, and especially for low-income applicants.
More than 75 percent of medical students come from families in the top two quintiles of family income. The percentage from the highest quintile has ranged from 48.1 percent to 56.9 percent during the years 1987 to 2005. During this same period, the proportion of medical students from the lowest quintile has never been more than 5.5 percent.

- A federal court in Arizona has ordered Apollo, the parent company of the University of Phoenix, to pay $275 million to shareholders who sued the company and two former executives for securities fraud. The suit alleged that the company withheld a U.S. Education Department report in February 2004 that accused Apollo of paying University of Phoenix student recruiters based on the number of students they enrolled.
The company did not disclose the report in its Securities and Exchange Commission filings. When the company released the report in 2007 after a $9.8 million settlement with the Education Department, its stock took a dive. A group of shareholders, led by the Policemen’s Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago, then sued the company under federal securities fraud laws. Apollo said it was “evaluating options for appeal.”

- New York Medical College will end the use of live dogs in first-year physiology classes. The dogs’ chests had been opened so students could watch their hearts beat. The dogs were then euthanized. Echocardiography and simulators will replace the live dogs in early 2008.
The college was one of only about a dozen medical schools still using live animals in such courses. An organization called the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is fighting the practice around the country.

Faculty & Staff

- Adjunct faculty at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. have ratified their first collective bargaining agreement, bringing the approximately 1,100 part-time professors a pay increase of between 10 and 50 percent per course.
The contract, the result of more than a year of negotiations, also places restrictions on denying reappointment and establishes an evaluation process for part-time professors. Previously, adjunct professors reapplied for their jobs each semester and sometimes were dismissed without good reason.
"Part-time faculty teach 55 percent of sections offered at GW. The things we have agreed to do are very important in keeping GW competitive in attracting part-time faculty,” said Donald Lehman, executive vice president for academic affairs.
GW and the Part Time Faculty Union/SEIU Local 500 state they will establish a joint committee to work on increasing office space and other benefits and say they will form a health care committee by March.

Professional News

- The number of doctoral degrees awarded by American universities increased by 5.1 percent in 2006, to a record high of 45,596, with almost all of the increase in science and engineering fields and more than two-thirds of the new Ph.D.s awarded to non-U.S. citizens.
Overall, foreign-born researchers were awarded 35 percent of all doctorates in 2006.
Of the 26,000 research doctorates awarded to U.S. citizens, 20 percent went to minority scholars. The number of minority students who earned Ph.D.s grew to 5,211 in 2006, up from 5,075 in the prior year. The percentage, which includes African-Americans, Asians, Hispanics, and American Indians, is the highest ever recorded by the annual report. African-American researchers led the way with 1,659 doctorates.
Data come from the Survey of Earned Doctorates, conducted by the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Council for the National Science Foundation and five other federal agencies. Find the full report.

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