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by Susan Dutca

After being charged with sexual bribery, trafficking degrees, and misappropriating public funds, a former president of the University of Toulon began trial on Monday and, if found guilty, could face up to 10 years in prison and €150,000 in fines for enrolling Chinese students in exchange for monetary and sexual favors.

Laroussi Oueslati, former French president of the University of Toulon served as the central admission official back in 2008 and focused primarily on developing and strengthening the workforce through the recruitment of Asian and South American students. In 2008 alone, 300 students - primarily of Chinese descent - were admitted to the university. However, due to their "low-level of French," they never should have been admitted. Oueslati reportedly shortened the registration and admissions process by accepting students who "paid him up to €3,000 (£2,300) each." Some students claimed they were assured a seat in exchange for "having intimate relation" with Oueslati. Sexual bribery, in this case, refers to the solicitation of sexual favors by promise or rewards, which is viewed as a serious form of professional and moral corruption. So far, 14 witnesses have been called to appear in this week's trial.

Several students took to the Internet to openly state that Oueslati requested €3,000 to be paid directly to him to secure university admission. In addition to bypassing the traditional admissions process, he reportedly created his own panel, "independent of the university's central admission process," which "rarely examined candidates' academic records," according to The Telegraph. In response to all of the claims, Oueslati maintains his innocence, stating, "I am not corrupt...I can tell you that if ever someone tried to corrupt me I would, if you'll excuse the expression, tell them to p-- off." One other university administrator and four former Chinese students also face charges. Two students who fled to China are also being sought out for arrest.

Oueslati had an "all-powerful academic" and irresistible personality and presence at the Institut d'Administration des Entreprises, according to Le Monde. Nonetheless, once the accusations came to light in 2009, he was forced to resign and potentially faces a lifetime ban from exercising any role in the world of academia, if not greater consequences. The trial, which began on Monday, is expected to continue until Friday.

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by Susan Dutca

New year, new initiatives; funded by big name billionaires. Many college students may spend time perusing Facebook or enjoying popular hit series on Netflix such as House of Cards or Orange is the New Black, but the big dogs who founded these entertainment mediums are coming out with greater initiatives: focusing to improve education.

The phrase "the more you have, the more you want" never resonated well with 31-year-old billionaire and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Netflix Cofounder and CEO Reed Hastings isn't a big fan of school boards. What do these big shot billionaires share in common? A strategic plan to invest big money in the nation's future education.

Netflix and...Education

Most people are more familiar with the name Netflix than they are that of the man behind it, Reed Hastings - but that could be about to change. Hastings recently took to Facebook to announce a $100,000,000 philanthropic endeavor: the Hastings Fund. The fund will focus on children's education, as reported by Senior Writer Ben Fox Rubin from CNET News. Hastings has served as President of the Technology Network, served on the California Board of Education for four years, donated $1 million to Proposition 39, and much more. In addition, he has also been part of other academies and programs dedicated to developing teaching videos, with a primary concern of growing high-quality charter schools and developing technology that could transform education. He admits he was never "good at following orders," and volunteered for the Peace Corps. in Swaziland, foregoing the opportunity to "buy yachts" in favor of improving K-12 education and trying to "figure out why our education is lagging when technology is increasing at great rates..." Offering a long-term solution would come from expanding charter schools was his intention while attending Stanford. Netflix got in the way, and Hastings never graduated from Stanford, but his education initiatives and dreams lived on. CNET News reports The Hasting Funds' first two gifts will be given to the United Negro College Fund and to the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley, a "total of $1.5 million to support the education of black and Latino college education." Forbes estimates Hasting's net worth surpasses $1 billion, including $900 million in Netflix stock and options.

Facebook CEO Giving $45 billion for Education

Inspired by the birth of their daughter, Max, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan announced a new initiative to dole out 99% of their Facebook shares - valued at $45 billion - throughout their lifetime to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. The world's largest social media CEO intends to "improve this world for the next generation," according to Zuckerberg. Furthermore, he claims the mission to change the world is a "basic moral responsibility to tilt our investments." Primary areas of focus will be on personalized learning, curing disease, connecting people and building strong communities, according to the couple's open letter to their newborn daughter, Maxima.

The organization would be a limited liability company (LLC) as opposed to a traditional philanthropic organization. Though inspired by the $41 billion Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, it differs in that the Gates Foundation is structured as a tax-exempt, non-profit foundation and charitable trust, and is a 501 (3)(c). The Gates Foundation is not only well-known for its profits but for its efforts battling global poverty, the spread of deadly curable diseases, and improving education overall. Though Zuckerberg has a different philanthropic approach from the Gates Foundation, Gates commented that, "As for your decision to give back so generously, and to deepen your commitment now, the first word that comes to mind is: Wow. The example you're setting today is an inspiration to us and the world."

There has been skepticism and criticism in Zuckerberg's choice of structure, as it could potentially maneuver around legal structures and tax strategies. In response to criticism, he claims "The beauty of having an LLC in today's world is No.1, you have the ability to act and react as nimbly as need be to create change." Zuckerberg, for example, would be able to make political donations and is not required to give 5 percent of its value annually. Regardless of how the funds are allocated, the couple's focus is to gradually seek long-term solutions as opposed to pouring all money into one issue, as evidenced by Zuckerberg in his letter to his daughter;" We must make long-term investments over 25, 50, or even 100 years...the greatest challenges require very long time horizons and cannot be solved by short-term thinking."

Do you support or oppose this initiative by top CEO's when it comes to education? Leave us your thoughtful comments below.

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$7.5M Lawsuit Over Fabricated UVA Rape Story

Rolling Stone Magazine and Sabrina Erdely Sued by Defamed UVA Administrator

Jan 12, 2016

by Susan Dutca

Rolling Stone author Sabrina Rubin Erdely did not sufficiently research and verify a student's account of gang rape and neither did anybody else at the nationwide publication with a readership of nearly 1.5 million. It has since been discovered that the young women's story was entirely fabricated and that she has a reputation as a "serial liar."

After clicking early on in college and sharing a passion for the same rock bands, two UVA students began a friendship that would soon turn rotten. Little did Ryan Duffin know, "Jackie" would soon entangle him, several of his Phi Kappa Psi fraternity brothers, and UVA administrators in a gang rape allegation that would be reported by Rolling Stone Magazine, becoming the center of national controversy.

From the beginning, Duffin did not want to pursue anything beyond friendship with "Jackie." However, the woman who was identified only as "Jackie" in the magazine article wanted more. It was then that Jackie created a fictitious character, "Haven Monahan," whom she alleged she knew from chemistry class. New court documents report that Monahan was created by Jackie to "catfish" Duffin into her desired romantic relationship. Through texts, Jackie, posing as Monahan told Duffin how she felt about him.

In late September of 2012, Jackie told Duffin that her date with Monahan took a turn for the worse after he and several other rushing fraternity brothers had gang raped her. Duffin and a group of friends rushed to a hysterical and traumatized Jackie to comfort her. Jackie did not appear to be injured at all and her dress was not mangled or torn. She also refused to report the alleged incident to the police or even go to the hospital for medical attention. Two days after the incident, Jackie told Duffin she forgave Monahan, which left Duffin to seriously doubt Monahan's existence, as he claimed in an interview with The Washington Post: "I was wondering how I didn't see through it way earlier."

The story did not appear until two years later, in July of 2015, when Erdely contacted Emily Renda, a rape survivor and U-VA staff member working with sexual assault victims. Erdely, who was searching for a singular college rape case to report on the "pervasive culture of sexual harassment/rape culture" on college campuses was directed to what Renda called the "darker side" of the issue in fraternities. Erdely contacted "Jackie," who then recounted her gang rape experience. While at a fraternity campus party, "Jackie" claimed, she was lured to an upstairs bedroom around 12:52 am, where she was ambushed and gang raped. Ederly's 9,000-word story was published in Rolling Stone in November 2014. It was titled "A Rape on Campus."

Significant scrutiny and reports of multiple discrepancies resulted in an audit of the editorial processes leading up to the story's publication. The Columbia Graduate School of Journalism discredited the Rolling Stone article for a variety of reasons stating that the "assault could not have taken place the way it was described." For instance, the fraternity issued a statement that it did not host "a function or social event" that weekend, as was claimed by the alleged victim. The Washington Post also uncovered information in December 2014; reports that Jackie's friends claimed the "details of the attack have changed over time and that they have not been able to verify key points." The New York Times reported that police had "exhausted all investigative leads" to find "no substantive basis" for the Rolling Stone's article. The article was retracted and the magazine's managing editor and article's author both apologized. Ederly later acknowledged that she "did not go far enough to verify her story.”

As a result of the fabricated story and the damage done to UVA Associate Dean, Nicole Eramo's reputation and filed a $7.5 million defamation lawsuit against Rolling Stone and Erdely for failing to perform the basic tenants of journalism. As a top administrator, Eramo stated she was cast a "chief villain" in the discredited piece. Lawyers are now asking for the alleged victim to produce text message and "other communications in the case" since it would expose her to be a "serial liar." Duffin stated that, "had any of us been contacted it never would have blown up like this," referring to the Rolling Stone magazine.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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by Jess Hanch

Recently Professor Melissa Click was caught on video pushing a student reporter's camera aside during a campus protest. After the incident, state lawmakers called for the professor to be fired due to her "treatment of the student journalists" after the student who shot the footage filed a complaint with campus police after the incident. Nearly a month later, more than 100 faculty letters were released defending Professor Click and her "mistake".

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, Click grabbed student Mark Schierbecker's camera and asked for "some muscle" to limit the [student's] coverage of the protest at the University of Missouri. Schierbecker was filming student photographer Tim Tai who was also covering the event. Shortly after the incident, Schierbecker filed a complaint with campus police looking to press legal assault charges. He specifically told reporters "I pressed charges against Melissa Click [but] the Journalism school just filed a formal complaint with the Title IX office about her". The University of Missouri’s police department stated that they are looking into the situation and will follow up with the complaint.

On top of the possible assault charge, Click received hundreds of threatening emails about the event prompting her recent decision to resign. She also issued an apology to the journalists involved in the incident, as well as the University’s department of journalism. The two students had very different responses to her outreach. USA Today reported that Schierbecker found her apology "lacking", telling reporters he was "left with the feeling that she doesn't care". Tim Tai, however, was receptive to the gesture and accepted her apology. Tai told the New York Times that he "never had ill will towards her" and “felt bad when [he] heard she'd been getting threats". Tai also added “I think this has been a learning experience for everyone involved, myself included, and I hope this blows over for both of us".

Despite Schierbecker's complaints about Click's actions during the protest, other faculty members' sentiments are similar to Tai's. They consider the issue to be "at most a regrettable mistake". The Chronicle released the faculty support letter stating "we wish to state in no uncertain terms our support for Click as a member of the University of Missouri faculty who has earned her position through an outstanding record of teaching and research". Lawmakers side more with Schierbecker, demanding that the university "take immediate action to address the inappropriate criminal actions". They went on to say that as a Professor her goal should be to "ensure a safe learning environment", which, according to them, did not happen.

Take a look at the video and tell us what you think. Do you think the incident will blow over, or be further blown out of proportion? Share your comments below.

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by Susan Dutca

Michael Keck, a 25-year-old former football player, has died in a similar manner as did the subject of a recently released film that focuses on concussions, CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) and the NFL. Brain research conducted on the former Division 1 college football player suggests that repeated trauma to the brain in the form of concussions suffered while playing football is to blame for ending the young man's life so abruptly. The findings to date strongly resemble those in the case used for a recently released movie, "Concussion," starring Will Smith. The film is based on the true story and researching findings of Dr. Bennet Omalu on pro football player and NFL Hall of Famer Mike Webster. Both this tragic story and the exposure given to this and similar stories by the movie have the potential to greatly impact the NFL and football in general, giving parents second thoughts about whether to even allow their children to participate in a sport with so much potential to permanently damage, possibly kill those who do.

A linebacker and special-teams' player in Division 1 college football, Michael Keck had played from ages 6-22. Despite having suffered 10 concussions, he was never hospitalized. After transferring from the University of Missouri to Missouri State University, Keck experienced his second concussion while playing at the college level, at which time his grades began to suffer. After taking a year off and returning to the team, he began experiencing persistent headaches, neck pain, blurry vision, tinnitus, insomnia, anxiety, and concentration problems, which caused him to quit his junior year. His symptoms persisted and his health further deteriorated, with loss of appetite, abuse and aggression toward his wife, and suicidal thoughts.

While Keck is certainly not the first to have suffered from multiple concussions or be diagnosed with CTE, he is unique in having done a "series of cognitive and psychology tests" while alive that would help Boston University researchers discover and understand how CTE symptoms develop. Scans showed patterns of abnormal protein clumps throughout his brain, which is an indication of CTE. Tests also showed Keck having memory and recall problems, speech and language impediments, and difficulties remembering and producing line drawings.

After his death, his medical records and donated brain helped researchers conclude he had "post-concussive syndrome with possible CTE and major depression." Though there is more research needed to make further conclusions, researchers report that CTE "should possible be considered in young athletes who have repeated head trauma as well as persistent mood and behavioral symptoms."

Hall of Fame former pro football player Mike Webster, died of a heart attack at the age of 50. Dr. Bennet Omalu, a Nigerian forensic pathologist who studied his brain and is the author of "Concussion", the book on which the recently released movie was based, found a "concentrated buildup of tau protein" (neurofibrillary tangles) - typically found in boxers' brains due to excessive trauma - suggested potentially similar harmful effects on the brain. Right before his death, Webster had been living out of a van, tasering himself to cope with chronic pain, and fixing rotten teeth with super glue. Omalu believes the tangles were located in a region of the brain that affected his mood and personality, which left to his erratic behavior that "choked his personality...turning him into someone else."

Though the NFL announced a $1 billion plan to address concussion-linked injuries by paying players who suffer from diseases such as Parkinson's and Lou Gehrig's, it does not include CTE" since the research is in its "early stages." On the other hand, Will Smith chose to take on the role in the movie because he felt he must shine a light on the problem of repetitive head trauma in football.

There are countless sports scholarships, especially for football at the college level, so be sure to check out our scholarships if you have a passion for the game and wish to earn free college money.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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by Susan Dutca

Student nurses at University of Delaware are seeking to exchange dummy patients for human ones, as they are more likely to provide a realistic scenario, especially when it comes to patient's expressing discomfort and pain. Student nurses believe that when it comes to real-life scenarios, new technology and practice on human dummies will hone communication and treatment skills. Would you volunteer to be a test dummy?

New technologies created by UD students and faculty will allow students to "practice suctioning airways on actors, who respond by gagging if they go too deep." At some point, students will also be able to draw blood from a "realistic-looking sleeve" or "simulate a urinary catheterization on sculpted genitalia worn by real people." Next June, SimUTrach will debut the first piece of equipment, helping students practice patient care with tracheostomy tubes for assisted breathing. Other patented technologies including an overlay chest compressor and a device that mimics a collapsed lung, according to USA Today news.

To best prepare student nurses, organizers are coordinating UD's Simulation Lab with the university's Healthcare Theatre program, where undergraduate theater students and adults will act out the role of a patient "struggling with many physical and mental conditions, including depression and alcohol withdrawal." Pre-med nursing, physical therapy, and nutrition students will need to respond appropriately to these "dummies" with proper "therapeutic communication that respects patient dignity." The silicone-overlay worn by the human dummies "resembles a rib cage and throat with a plastic tube emerging from the neck." There are various lung sounds such as wheezing and fine crackles. The UD team spent much time developing their prototype and is currently on their sixth one, after much updating from engineering, marketing, and fashion merchandising student designs. Even the mucus development is realistic in its color and consistency, with removable parts to keep the device from growing mold. When students are not properly handling the trach, the human dummies are prompted to cough or choke violently, as this is a common incident experienced in the real world if and when nurses accidentally hit the tracheal bifurcation.

Prospective nurses spend about 10 hours a semester working with live actors. Some more complicated procedures require manikins "equipped with breath sounds, heat tones, and palpable pulses." The monitors that measure vital signs can cost $90,000 each. A SimUTrach device costs less than $10,000. Amy Cowperthwait, who coordinates the UD Simulation Lab and university Healthcare Theatre program believes the transition to SimUTrach's technology will replace the current manikins.

If you are an aspiring practitioner, nurse, or doctor, would you want to test out these new technologies?

And remember, there’s no need to rely on expensive student loan options to pay for your college education. For more information on finding free scholarship money for college, conduct a Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Missouri Chancellor’s Ouster Plotted by Deans?

Student Protests May Not Have Caused Mizzou Resignation After All

Dec 29, 2015

by Kevin Ladd

Were student protests really even behind the ouster or was Mr Loftin's resignation a product of a coup orchestrated by nine deans who wanted him gone? According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, the deans involved had been having second thoughts about the appointment since Mr. Loftin arrived and his ouster was due to myriad occasions wherein he would refer to them as "essential middle management" and allude to his power to "fire" them.

Thomas L. Payne, who is vice chancellor and dean of the College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources, expressed feelings that Mr. Loftin often used inappropriate methods and measures. Mr Payne reportedly recalled saying to Loftin, "I feel I must tell you that I don't think your leadership of this university is appropriate. I don't think your approach, in many cases of fear and intimidation, is the way we operate in the Midwest or anywhere. I think you should resign."

Mr. Loftin was deemed "irrevocably broken" after a dean had been forced out in December. Dean Patrick Delafontaine had served at the School of Medicine for less than a year and though the chancellor claimed Delafontaine left at his own will, the dean's colleagues didn't quite buy that. Delafontaine was known for doing a "good job" at the school and "to see his efforts dismissed and undermined...let [the deans] to conclude that [their] relationship with the chancellor was irrevocable broken."

Meanwhile, as all of this was brewing and perhaps even conveniently for the deans, student relations began to be a major issue at the school, coming to a boiling point in October and continuing to escalate, culminating in a hunger strike and members of the football team threatening to boycott all athletics unless the president stepped down. Though Loftin had befriended the student protestors by bringing them food to their demonstrations and "holding court" on the quad, his resignation had already been underway at that point.

While certainly the school must have been concerned about all of the issues students raised, it certainly does appear there was much more happening below the surface of the widely reported scandal. Do you think Mr. Loftin would have been forced out had the students not spoken up and demanded action? Leave us your insightful comments in the box below.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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by Susan Dutca

Understanding the financial aid process, much less filing a FAFSA, can be tedious and daunting. With over 130 questions and requiring more than 30 minutes to complete, students may procrastinate, or completely avoid completing a FAFSA. With pending changes for the upcoming years - such as an earlier deadline - some experts claim the process won't necessarily get easier or more affordable, if not done correctly. Terry Savage, an expert writer for the Chicago Tribune, claims the new FAFSA will be more "intrusive than federal tax forms because it not only asks about income but also the assets of parents and students." Savage outlines some tips and general information on how to prepare for the changes, including early application and knowing the logistics of 529s, financial aid, and FAFSA:

  • Earlier application dates: Many people can recall the last-minute rush to apply for FAFSA and the anxiety that accompanies it. A big change in the FAFSA for 2017-2018 academic year is the earlier application. Students will be able to file as early as October 1, 2016, as opposed to January 1, 2017. Additionally, you will be able to use a FAFSA retrieval tool to directly and electronically access tax information from the IRS, after filing a 2015 tax return. The income you will report on your 2015 return will, in turn, affect your financial aid for the 2017-2018 academic year.
  • 529 Plans: 529 plans are college savings accounts that are exempt from federal taxes and were designed to help taxpayers set aside funds for a designated beneficiary. While any U.S. citizen or resident alien of at least 18 years old may open a 529 account, beneficiaries are typically children, grandchildren or younger relatives. Assets in a 529 plan owned by either the student or their parents count as need-based aid but plans owned by grandparents or other people do not count as assets. If money is withdrawn from the accounts of grandparents or other relatives, there is a penalty in the following year's financial aid package. Savage recommends you do not withdraw from your 529 account until your junior year in college, after filing the FAFSA for that year. Withdrawing from the 529 is not penalized so long as you are paying for "qualified expenses," including tuition, room and board, books, and other miscellaneous fees. Withdrawing from a grandparent-owned 529 plan is considered direct income to the beneficiary. There is a 10 percent penalty and taxes for withdrawing money to cover any other costs, unless the student receives a scholarship, dies, or is disabled.
  • Family assets preferred over child assets in financial aid scheme: UTMA custodial accounts are considered student assets - such as property, real estate, fine art, or future inheritances - which could have a large impact on financial aid eligibility. However a custodial 529 plan of a dependent student is treated as a parent's asset on the FAFSA - meaning less impact on the dependent students' financial aid eligibility. It is recommended that custodial accounts be spent for the child's benefit prior to the FAFSA filing year or transferred into the custodial 529 account.
  • Income-driven assets: In addition to providing all income information on the FAFSA through parents' tax returns, assets such as capital gains also count as income. Savage notes that "selling stocks and taking gains" the year before filing can impact what the student will receive in financial aid. For example, taking $3,000 in capital losses can reduce parental income, Savage states. The result of student income will reduce financial aid on a "dollar-for-dollar basis" which consequentially may become a disincentive for students to work and support their education.
  • Take the time this winter break to review the FAFSA changes so as to be better prepared and gain the most in financial aid for your college education.

    Credit is attributed to Terry Savage and the experts at the Federal Student Aid website. Savage is one of the country's most prominent advisers and a best-selling author on personal finance, corporate boardrooms, academia, the markets, and the economy. Federal Student Aid (studentaid.ed.gov) is a free website and source of information provided by the office of the U.S. Department of Education.

    And remember, there’s no need to rely on expensive student loan options to pay for your college education. For more information on finding free scholarship money for college, conduct a Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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by Jess Hanch

For $900, you can have a class taken for you and guarantee yourself an "A". Tempted? Academic cheating is now an industry helping online students get the grades they want by doing absolutely nothing. The art of cheating has been taken to a new level, with companies offering services for a price to guarantee students an "A" in their online classes. With the intelligence ingenuity of professional cheating companies, professors fear the growth of the cheating industry and how it degrades online education.

A ten-week study at Western Carolina University addressed the issue, and generated surprising results. Professors Alvin Malesky and Robert Crow created a fake online course, enrolling students with fake names and designating a couple of random students as "cheaters". Those students had to shop around for cheating companies and fool the professors. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, those students googled keywords like "take my class for me" and "cheat on my online class" and 20 plus companies came up in the results. One student who was successful paid a company upwards of $900 to complete all of his coursework and get an A. To the professors' surprise, the company was successful. These companies have professionals in every field of study, able to effectively complete coursework and avoid plagiarism. Professor Crowe stated that the cheating student’s work was at a higher level, but not enough to "red-flag him". Throughout the study, both professors detected plagiarism, but none were from the students assigned to use a cheating service.

The results raise many concerns for educators, and should raise concerns for employers. The growth of these companies will increase the number of students with false degrees and zero credibility. With the number of students enrolled in online courses, if only a fraction of those students cheated, the number still breaks the ten-thousand mark. The study supports those who believe online courses are not legitimate, and makes it difficult for professors who support online education to effectively teach these courses and make sure their students are prepared for real-world jobs. To address this concern, the study was published with tips on how to catch cheaters, and Malesky cites "awareness" as the best way to detect cheating. With regards to the rise of the cheating industry Malesky says "as of now, there are no mechanisms in place to [effectively] stop it". How do you think this seemingly widespread cheating affects online education? Start a conversation below.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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by Susan Dutca

Wheaton College, an evangelical institution, suspended an associate professor for wearing a hijab and claiming that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Professor Hawkins wore a hijab to demonstrate her solidarity with Muslim women, but Wheaton's administration was reportedly unhappy with her theological claims. The decision to suspend the tenured professor ignited a campus protest Wednesday, a few days after Professor Hawkins made a public statement on Facebook that she would wear a traditional headscarf through the Christian Advent Season. The gesture was reportedly intended to show solidarity, particularly as Muslims are facing backlash with the aftermath of the mass shootings in San Bernardino, CA and Paris. Hawkins voiced her support for Muslims, whom she refers to as "people of the book," and additionally references Pope Francis' recent claims that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.

Wheaton's decision to place Hawkins on leave is in "response to significant questions regarding the theological implications of statements" made about the relationship between Islam and Christianity, and less about her decision to wear a hijab. The college emphasizes that the "faculty and staff engage in and speak about public issues in ways that faithfully represent the college's evangelical statement of faith." According to Wheaton's statement of faith, which is "consonant with evangelical Christianity," there are certain theological principles exclusive to Christianity which are not found in Islam, such as "one sovereign God, eternally existing in three persons," and the existence of Jesus Christ as Lord who "died for [our] sins." The college president made clear that it was her statements, not her choice to wear a headscarf, that was the main issue.

Hawkins had asked the Council on American Islamic Relations "whether or not wearing a non-Muslim hijab was haram (forbidden), patronizing, or otherwise offensive," in which she was assured that the gesture was welcomed. Some students are protesting her suspension through a sit-in and online petition while others claim "she signed a statement of faith and she must hold herself accountable to that statement of faith" or that, "to say we worship the same God is completely not true and it misrepresents the student body, it misrepresents the institution itself."

How should the situation be dealt with, in your opinion? Leave us your thoughtful comments below.

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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