Daily Debriefing

by BRIDGETTE TAYLOR | 11/18/09 11:00pm

Education Secretary Arne Duncan pledged to re-examine Higher Education Act reporting requirements for colleges and universities in light of criticism about the preparation and filing costs, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported on Tuesday. Federal officials, though, have made similar assurances in the past. These promises have not brought fiscal relief, as federal reporting requirements continue to grow. Many institutions argue that the new federal reports, which are intended to improve student performance, do not achieve this goal, instead serving only as a financial burden. Duncan said he will reduce some of this regulatory burden if colleges improve overall student achievement. Congress approved a bill last year that mandated an examination of reporting costs within two years of the act's passage, The Chronicle reported.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, pushed medical schools to address the practice by which professors put their names on ghostwritten research articles in a letter he sent to 10 top medical schools on Tuesday, The New York Times reported. Grassley also asked the institutions to explain how the practice differs from plagiarism by students. Drug or medical groups will often sponsor a ghostwritten article, listing a medical professor or other expert as the author rather than the actual contributors. The difference between ghostwriting and plagiarism lies in the professor's general agreement with the research paper's message, whereas students may blindly plagiarize a source, Arthur Caplan, director of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Bioethics, told The Times. Yet Ross McKinney Jr., director of the Trent Center for Bioethics at Duke University, told The Times that the punishment for the two offenses should be the same. Merck, Wyeth, GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca are among companies suspected by authorities of utilizing ghostwriters for research articles.

Over the past year, the number of Chinese international students in the United States has increased by 21 percent, The New York Times reported on Monday. Peggy Blumenthal, executive vice president of the Institute of International Education, credited the increase to China's one-child policy, explaining that families direct more money toward a single child's education. While more international students continue to come from India than any other country, the number of students from China is increasing rapidly. As a whole, the international student population at American colleges and universities for the 2008-2009 school year is currently the largest in history, at 671,616 students, according to the annual Open Doors report, which was published by the Institute of International Education.