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2008 October 6 - 12:00 am

NEWS BRIEFS:

  • N.C. Board Approves Funds For Immigrant  Policy Review 

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The board overseeing the state’s community college system has approved funding for a study of its policy barring illegal immigrants from admission.

Members of the North Carolina Board of Community Colleges said they want to review how the schools’ policies have changed and to examine admission policies in other states. The board plans to hire an independent consultant for the study, with a final report expected in March.

Most of the state’s 58 community colleges had allowed illegal immigrants to enroll until a system-wide ban was approved in May. That vote came shortly after North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper sought guidance from federal officials about whether the policy violated federal law. (See related story, page 9.)

Last month, the Department of Homeland Security responded in a letter saying it was up to the states to decide, either through state law or schools’ policy. The community college board decided to retain its restrictive policy until the issue could be studied in depth.

Board president Scott Ralls has said members should consider easing the restriction so all children can get an education.

Ralls noted that less than one half of one percent of the system’s approximately 800,000 students — 112 at last count — are illegal immigrants and out-of-state tuition more than covers the cost of a student’s education.

The system, which is the third-largest community college system in the U.S., has changed its illegal immigrant admission policy four times since 2000.  

  • Tacoma College Agrees To Pay $500,000 To Settle Lawsuit

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — Bates Technical College is paying $500,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by students who said the school’s civil engineering technician and surveying program left them wholly unprepared for the job market.

Thaddeus P. Martin, a lawyer who represented the 16 students, announced the settlement. College President David Borofsky said in an interview it was ``good for the college and good for the people involved.’’

The students filed the lawsuit in February 2007, saying the lead instructor frequently failed to show up for class.

One student, Michael Edmundson, said in a court affidavit this month he was embarrassingly unprepared for work, and when applying was told as much by potential employers.

The settlement is the third time since 2002 the college has made such payouts. In 2002, Bates agreed to pay out $1.25 million to 15 former students of its denturist program, and last year, it agreed to pay students in its court-reporting program $170,000.

  • New Idaho College Set for Accredited Classes 

NAMPA, Idaho (AP) — Idaho’s newest community college has permission to begin offering accredited classes starting next year.

Officials say the College of Western Idaho recently earned formal approval to offer classes accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. That group is one of six nationwide that certifies the quality of college academic programs.

That key step was made possible through an agreement with the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls. Administrators at the two schools agreed to join forces until the College of Western Idaho completes its own accreditation process in the next three to four years.

The announcement means CWI can begin offering classes starting in January 2009 that students can use to transfer to other schools and obtain federal financial aid.

  • W. Va. Eyes Unions,    Employers for Worker Training

BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia could enlist labor unions and construction industry employers to beef up the curriculum at its community colleges and technical schools.

Lawmakers expressed interest in the idea after hearing about how neighboring Pennsylvania has taken that route to provide needed training for skilled building trades.

The Community College of Allegheny County builds credit coursework around the training that unions in these trades already provide.

The school solicited help from contractors in developing programs specifically for the professions for which they need workers, such as construction site supervisors and estimators.

West Virginia’s Blue Ridge Community and Technical College has already started in this direction. Allegheny Energy assists its training program for power line workers.

  • New Wisconsin   Scholarship Fund Will Aid College  Freshmen 

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Hundreds of randomly selected freshmen enrolled at public universities and colleges in Wisconsin this fall will be the first recipients of privately donated scholarship money.

Philanthropists John and Tashia Morgridge donated $175 million to create the Fund for Wisconsin Scholars.

Some 600 low-income students enrolled at four-year University of Wisconsin campuses will receive grants of $3,500 a year. Another 600 low-income students enrolled in the Wisconsin Technical College System or the two-year UW schools will receive $1,800 per year.

About 11,000 students are eligible for the scholarship money, but only 11 percent will be randomly selected to receive it. They will be notified by mail in late October.  

  • Pass Rate Dips On California  High School   Exit Exam

SACRAMENTO (AP) — Seniors passed California’s high school exit exam at a slightly lower rate than in the previous year, as the test was widely administered to special education students for the first time.

The state Department of Education said about 90 percent of the graduating class of 2008 had passed the test by May. The previous year, 94 percent passed the two-part test of math and English by the same time.

About 54 percent of blind, deaf and other disabled students who are classified as special education passed it.

The exam became a condition for graduation in California starting with the class of 2006. Students have multiple chances to take the test, starting in 10th grade.

  • NSF Grant Aims To Close Gap in Wyoming Energy Industry Sector

GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) — The National Science Foundation has awarded a three-year, $850,000 grant to community colleges in Gillette and Sheridan.

The Northern Wyoming Community College District will use the money to provide education for advanced technicians in the energy sector. Advanced technicians perform a variety of jobs in the energy field.

Another focus of the grant is to look to the future of the state’s energy workers.

  • Audit Credits  Bishop State With Making Improvements 

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) —  Administrators at Bishop State Community College are being praised after a new audit showing the school has been making significant improvements.

The New York-based accounting firm Ernst & Young detailed 79 “gaps” in Bishop State financial operations in a January report and said the school has taken measures to fix 35 of those problems.

Ernst & Young Audit Manager Lionel Williams says most of those measures have worked.

Two-year chancellor Bradley Byrne ordered the private firm’s audit about a year ago after more than two dozen people were charged with stealing a combined $200,000 from the school.

  • Hawaii CC   Enrollment Surges 9 Percent Over Last Year

HONOLULU (AP) — Enrollment at the University of Hawaii’s seven community colleges surged 9 percent from last year.

Four of the seven report record enrollment, including Hawaii Community College on the Big Island, Oahu’s Leeward Community College, Kapiolani and Maui community colleges.

Hawaii and Leeward community college recorded the sharpest gains, with 14 percent increases.

N.C. Colleges Collaborate on  4-year Degree Programs

ASHEBORO, N.C. (AP) — Three four-year colleges are working with Randolph Community College to allow local students to earn degrees without leaving home.

Greensboro College, Salem College in Winston-Salem and Pfeiffer University have opened the University Center of Randolph County.

Professors from the three four-year institutions will teach night courses at the Randolph campuses that  will lead to bachelor’s degrees.

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