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NACUBO Overview of Sequestration Implications

The National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) has provided a concise overview of the implications for federal student aid and research programs if the pending sequestration (i.e., automatic budget cuts) approved as part of the federal debt ceiling fight goes into effect at the start of 2013 as currently scheduled. Essentially, depending on the type of program, most of what higher education holds dear in the federal budget (except for Pell Grants) will see either a 7.6% or an 8.2% cut (with defense research programs receiving a 9.4% cut).

$500 Million in Higher Ed. Grants Involving OER Announced

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Labor announced the college and university winners of its second-round grants under the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) program. Totaling $500 million and representing the second installment of a four-year, $2 billion federal investment in postsecondary education designed to help workers transition to new careers, the TAACCCT grants carry a significant open educational resources (OER) requirement: “All educational materials developed through the grants will be available for use by the public and other educational providers through a Creative Commons license.” For more on the program generally, as well as to see the list of first-round projects, visit:

More financial aid fraud rings targeting online learning busted

As reported in Inside Higher Ed, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California announced yesterday the indictment of 21 people in California who were involved in financial aid fraud rings targeting online learning programs at community colleges and low-cost for-profit institutions. (You can access the PDF file of the press release here.) Collectively, the accused allegedly obtained over $770,000 using other individuals’ identities, whether freely supplied by co-conspirators or stolen, to fraudulently register for admissions and financial aid.

FERPA Unconstitutional?

The executive director of a group that provides legal support and education for student journalists has posted an interesting analysis arguing that the Supreme Court's invalidation of the Medicaid expansion requirements in the Affordable Care Act should be interpreted as making FERPA unconstitutional. Since I'm not a scholar of constitutional law (as I told my father when I graduated with my baccalaureate, I'm a conscientious objector when it comes to going to law school), I won't hazard a guess as to the validity of the gentleman's analysis. I'm looking forward to seeing, though, if any of EDUCAUSE's friends in the legal community take a look at this issue and have a contrary opinion.

The Credentialing Contradiction at the Heart of MOOCs

Writing in the September 11, 2012, edition of Inside Higher Education, David Touve, a professor at Washington and Lee University, discusses the credentialing contradiction inherent in the massive open online course (MOOC) projects of various elite universities.

Latest Version of CEDS Now Available for Comment

Our friends at the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC) sent us the following information about the status of the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) process; note the September 28 deadline for submitting comments on the latest version of CEDS released for public review:

"Someone is going to write the software that eats higher education"

Kevin Carey, director of the New America Foundation’s education policy program and previously policy director at Education Sector, has actively engaged in the debates around the potential of technology to disrupt higher education for some time, largely on the pro-disruption side.

Accessibility A Major Topic at EDUCAUSE 2012

With a couple of months to go before the EDUCAUSE 2012 Annual Conference opens on November 6 in Denver, Colorado (and online), I wanted to highlight the large number of sessions focusing on technology accessibility for persons with disabilities. In addition to the sessions listed below, many others will touch on accessibility to some degree as the higher education IT community continues to expand its emphasis in this area. (For example, many presenters planning to talk about web design and development indicate that their sessions will include discussion of universal design principles.) However, in reviewing the abstracts for the following, I found that they have some aspect of accessibility for persons with disabilities as their core topic. If I missed any, though, please identify them by commenting on this post.

FCC Seeks Comments on Communications Technologies' Accessibility

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a notice (please see below) seeking public comments on its tentative findings regarding the accessibility of communications technologies, equipment, and services; the input received will inform the final report that the FCC submits to Congress later this year. The Commission's definition of the communications technologies space includes VoIP and videoconferencing as well as mobile devices, so campus experiences in those areas may be particularly helpful. If you think you may have information or insights to share, please review the notice and follow the instructions to submit comments online. The document covers 22 pages, but a quick scan will show that the parts of interest to EDUCAUSE members are relatively brief and easy to find. Please note, though, that the comment deadline falls shortly after the Labor Day holiday, so the timeframe for response is tight.

What Might the For-Profit Sector's Problems Mean for All of Higher Ed?

Earlier this week, the chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Senator Tom Harkin, held a press conference to announce the release of the committee’s report on the for-profit higher education industry. (The video archive of the press conference is currently viewable from Sen. Harkin’s homepage; in the future, it will most likely find its way to his “Videos” page or his YouTube site.) As the culmination of a two-year investigation, the four-volume report highlights a number of concerns about the sector’s recruiting and spending practices, student outcomes, and heavy reliance on federal sources of student financial aid for revenue.