Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The true mission of the lawsuit against Harvard

Boston's ALEX BEAM is advocating racism below.  Compared to other forms of racism, affirmative action is the big gorilla.  It's amazing how brazen the Left are in their obsession with race

Alex does however slip a little bit of news into his article:  Harvard has recently started to admit more Asians.  Apparently they are feeling the heat.  Discriminating against a minority is pretty obnoxious

Harvard should probably encourage more admissions from India. Southern Indians in particular are often quite dark and also quite bright. The amazing Indian Mars shot was the work of South Indian engineers. And Harvard's wealth is so great that poor Indians could be supported. So when the bigots at Harvard look out their windows they would see a satisfying expanse of black skin -- perhaps enough to give them erections

Students for Fair Admissions couldn’t care less about Asian-American students. The true mission of SFFA and its president, Edward Blum, is to end all race preferences, not just in university admissions but also in politics and in the workplace.

Asian-Americans, a confected category that lumps in third-generation students of Indian heritage, many from prosperous families, with the children of Vietnamese boat people in Dorchester, generally fare well in elite university admissions. But for Blum, they are a useful tool in his broad-based anti-affirmative action crusade. His real targets are African-American and Latino students, for whom most affirmative action programs are designed.

Blum, a successful investment adviser, is not a gadfly litigant. He has shepherded cases to the Supreme Court, where he has won some and lost some. If his anti-Harvard lawsuit succeeds — a big if — black and Latino admissions across the country will plummet, redounding to the advantage of, well, everyone who isn’t black or brown.

Suing Harvard is cynical in the extreme. Harvard, one of the very few US colleges rich enough to afford “need-blind” admissions — meaning it can admit or reject students without considering their ability to pay the huge tuition bills — has recently increased Asian-American admissions. Present and past administrations actually care about admitting a “diverse” student body. But if Blum’s front groups sued Houston’s St. Thomas University, that wouldn’t generate the headlines that keep SFFA in the public eye, and keep its donor base motivated.

Harvard, naturally, doesn’t want pop-up pressure groups nor a federal judge telling it whom it can and cannot admit. It claims it needs to protect its admissions “trade secrets,” but it really wants to keep admitting exactly whom it pleases. That means a hefty dollop of future doctors, Supreme Court justices, captains of industry, and NFL quarterbacks, but also legacy dunderheads, i.e., the grandsons and granddaughters of the family names that bedeck its libraries, buildings, and residential halls.

I’m sure another “trade secret” Harvard doesn’t want aired out in court is their pay-to-play admission policy. (Details of its shadowy, legacy-friendly, “Z-list” for marginal admission candidates have already surfaced in connection with the SFFA suit.) Jared Kushner’s father, Charles, a convicted felon, gave Harvard $2.5 million to ease his son’s admissions path, according to Daniel Golden’s 2006 book “The Price of Admission.” “There was no way anybody in the school thought [Kushner] would on the merits get into Harvard,” according to a former official at Kushner’s New Jersey private school. “His GPA did not warrant it, his SAT scores did not warrant it.”

Charles Kushner may have overpaid. In 2015, hacked Sony Pictures e-mails revealed how then-chairman Michael Lynton “was finalizing a gift of rare photographs to Harvard’s Fogg Museum worth several hundred thousand dollars,” and simultaneously donating $1 million to Brown University while his daughter was considering applying to both schools. Brown admitted her to the class of 2019. Brown said Lynton’s dealings with its advancement office had “no connection or involvement in the admission process.”

The core issue raised by the SFFA lawsuit is relatively simple: In what many airily proclaim to be a “post-racial” world, should black- and brown-skinned college applicants still benefit from affirmative action? Blum, who declines to discuss the case, and his outriders say no. So far, America’s major universities and the Supreme Court say yes.

It’s possible this case could reach a Donald Trump-fashioned Supreme Court in three years, and — anything could happen.


Popularity of UK among business students climbs after Brexit

Survey suggests Britain’s exit from EU may not be as damaging to higher education as feared

The popularity of the UK among business students has improved since the country voted to leave the EU, a global survey has found, suggesting that Brexit will not be as damaging to Britain’s higher education sector as some have feared.

The UK was second only to the US as the most popular place to study among the 1,211 students, from 74 countries, who were interviewed by Carrington Crisp, an education research group.

But while the proportion saying they would pick a business school in the US slipped to 62 per cent in 2018 compared with 67 per cent last year, the UK rose in popularity, with 52 per cent choosing it as a potential destination this year, against 44 per cent in 2017.

The findings suggest that a country’s reputation as a place to study rests on more than its political leadership or perceived economic stability, said Andrew Crisp, chief executive of Carrington Crisp.

International students are turning to the UK as a “less bad” alternative to the US, he added, saying: “The US is less popular, hence people turn to other English-speaking countries.”

The UK may have also benefited from the perception that it is cheaper after sterling dropped in value after Britain’s referendum on EU membership in 2016, according to Mr Crisp.

However, the UK should not be complacent about its reputation with international students, said Anne Kiem, chief executive of the Chartered Association of Business Schools, which counts 120 UK institutions among its members.

Visa restrictions on overseas students hoping to work in the UK after graduation had greatly damaged the UK’s standing in certain countries, particularly India, she added.

When asked which countries were the most welcoming in terms of student visas, the respondents to the Carrington Crisp survey placed the UK in fifth place behind Ireland, Germany, France and Canada.

The US was in 11th place, with only 30 per cent stating that it had an easy visa system.

“[Britain] should be encouraging people to come, not trying to frighten them off,” said Ms Kiem, adding that despite recent changes to the UK visa regime to allow more health professionals from outside the EU to work in Britain, international students were still included by the government in its calculation of net migration.

“It is hard to see the consistency in that,” she said.

The government has a goal of reducing net migration to the “tens of thousands” each year.


How universities can beat the cheats by finding 'fingerprints' in their essays

The telltale signs of a cheat could be lurking in a comma or a seemingly innocuous double space after a full stop.

As universities grapple with a rise in contract cheating – which involves students outsourcing their assessments – technology is clamping down on the unethical practice by monitoring students' unique writing styles.

The software, which has been created by US-based company Turnitin and will be launched later this year, is being developed and tested at Australian institutions including Deakin University, the University of New South Wales, the University of Wollongong and the University of Queensland.

Forensic linguists – the experts who scrutinise ransom notes and suspicious wills – helped identify 70 different factors that feed into a person’s unique writing style.

These include the use of commas, parentheses and dashes, how they list examples and whether they double space after a full stop.

Turnitin vice-president of product management Bill Loller is reluctant to go into more detail, because he’s concerned it could lead to contract cheating websites modifying their essays to escape scrutiny.

“There are unique fingerprints around writing,” Mr Loller said.  “It's very unique in that it doesn't vary across your writing, whatever you do, you always do.”

The cheating detection software also calculates a student’s readability score and compares this with previous essays they have submitted.

Machine-learning algorithms determine whether students are writing at an undergraduate or postgraduate level. Their writing style, content, vocabulary variety and sentence complexity is assessed, and if there is a significant difference between two essays submitted by the same student, alarm bells start ringing.

“These give away whether the document has been written by the same person,” Mr Loller explained.

The software also helps university staff scrutinise the metadata of essays to pick up anomalies.

Mr Loller said his company decided to tackle contract cheating after receiving a visit from Australian university representatives in the wake of the MyMaster scandal uncovered by Fairfax Media in 2014.

That investigation revealed that thousands of students had paid up to $1000 for a Sydney company to write their university essays and assignments and sit online tests.

Mr Loller said contract cheating was a lot more nuanced and difficult to prove than plagiarism, which his company had previously focused on.

“Teachers and tutors have this gut instinct that something isn’t right when they see a paper but they don’t know what to do. They might talk to a student and a student might wave their hands and say, 'I did it, or I was a little off and had a drink the night before.' But it is really hard to prove and it is time consuming.”

In some cases, it has taken university staff up to 40 hours to prove one case of contract cheating.

While the new technology doesn’t conclusively say whether a student has engaged in contract cheating, it provides university staff with a detailed report on the likelihood of cheating and may recommend further investigation.

University of South Australia plagiarism expert Tracey Bretag tested the technology with essays her university had already deemed to be examples of contract cheating. The technology was useful in identifying them.

Dr Bretag's research found that 6 per cent of Australian students had engaged in cheating. This included obtaining an assignment to submit as their own, giving or receiving exam assistance and engaging in exam impersonation.

She said the new tool was “potentially very useful” but some students would always find a way around it. She said cheating students were inserting white Hebrew characters, invisible to the naked eye, into essays in an attempt to dupe plagiarism software.

“People who want to cheat are always going to find a way to cheat. We can't stamp it out 100 per cent,” she sad. “If we keep putting in place a lot of things to show we do care about this, we will reduce their ability, they will think 'this is getting hard'.”


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