Because colleges are asked to host disaster relief efforts when natural calamities strike, insurance companies advise them to prepare by putting provisions in place to meet the relief needs of both the campus and the surrounding communities, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported. As a result. The American Red Cross frequently works with campuses to set up such operations, usually by signing prior agreements allowing for the use of college facilities as emergency shelters, food distribution centers and clinics. However, the opening of university doors does lead to potential problems, since undocumented individuals who have not undergone background checks, may mingle with the student body. Although some universities refuse to host disaster relief efforts, many administrators at public universities believe they should assist the public in times of disaster, especially since the schools receive public funding, The Chronicle reported.
Coursera, a for-profit online education company, announced it will offer new fee-based certificates for completion of its courses, according to Inside Higher Ed. These certifications will be jointly issued by Coursera and partnering universities. Coursera has raised over $22 million in venture capital to fund free online courses taught by professors from prestigious institutions, and will continue to offer free courses to those interested in educating themselves without receiving a verified certificate or credit. Universities will retain six to 15 percent of the revenue from their courses and 20 percent of the profits, according to a Coursera spokesman. Although Coursera's fee-based certificates will not yield college credits, students can obtain credit recommendations from the American Council on Education, Inside Higher Ed reported. President-elect Philip Hanlon '77 sits on the advisory board of Coursera.
In a recently released policy briefing titled "Top 10 Higher Education State Policy Issues for 2013," the American Association of State Colleges and Universities identified "boosting institutional performance" as the top issue, according to Inside Higher Ed. This was the first time in six years that performance topped the list, and to address it, universities must work to increase graduation rates and improve performance-funding policies. In previous years, the top spot was occupied by "state support for higher education," and the change reflects expected state funding cuts. Higher education institutions are now focusing more on linking funding with educational outcomes, since state investment in public higher education is not expected to return to pre-recession levels, Inside Higher Ed reported. Second and third place went to "state operating support for public higher education" and "tuition prices and tuition policy" respectively, according to the AASCU report.