- Higher Education Associations Endorse Immigration Innovation Act
- Patent Coalition Expresses Concerns about Potential Patent Litigation Legislation
- The President’s State of the Union Address Includes Higher Education, Research
- National Academies Launch Panel to Review Research Regulations
- NRC Creates Forum to Improve Public Understanding of Social and Behavioral Sciences
- AAU Releases Information about its Campus Sexual Assault Climate Survey
HIGHER EDUCATION ASSOCIATIONS ENDORSE IMMIGRATION INNOVATION ACT
A group of 13 higher education associations, including AAU, wrote to a bipartisan group of Senators on January 22 expressing strong support for the legislation they have introduced to expand the ability of high-skilled workers to live and work in the United States.
The Immigration Innovation (“I-Squared”) Act of 2015 (S. 153) would increase the number of employment-based nonimmigrant (H-1B) visas and broaden access to green cards for high-skilled workers by expanding exemptions and eliminating the annual per-country limits. Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chris Coons (D-DE), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced the measure.
Among other provisions, the I-Squared Act would:
-- Uncap the existing U.S. advanced degree exemption for H-1B visas (currently limited to 20,000 per year);
-- Allow dual intent for foreign students at U.S. colleges and universities (which would allow students to come to the U.S. on a non-immigrant visa and then be able to seek permanent resident status);
-- Exempt U.S. STEM advanced degree holders and outstanding professors and researchers from the employment-based green card cap (note: I-Squared uses the broad Department of Homeland Security definition of qualified STEM fields); and
-- Reform fees on H-1B visas and employment-based green cards and direct the revenue to fund a state-administered grant program to promote STEM education and worker retraining.
PATENT COALITION EXPRESSES CONCERNS ABOUT POTENTIAL PATENT LITIGATION LEGISLATION
A group of more than two hundred organizations, including AAU and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), joined in a letter sent to House and Senate judiciary committee leaders on January 21 that expresses concerns about potential patent litigation legislation that might emerge in the 114th Congress.
The letter acknowledges that the behavior of so-called patent trolls is a problem, but urges that any legislation intended to address abusive litigation behavior should not overreach in a way that weakens the overall patent system. The letter also describes several major judicial and administrative developments that have positively reshaped the patent landscape since Congress last considered the issue. It asks the committee leaders to take these changes into account when drafting any legislation.
THE PRESIDENT’S STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS INCLUDES HIGHER EDUCATION, RESEARCH
Higher education played a prominent role in President Obama’s State of the Union address on January 20. The President proposed to raise taxes on wealthy taxpayers and financial institutions and use the revenues for a number of purposes, including his already-announced proposal to make two years of community college education free, consolidation of higher education tax breaks, and expansion of eligibility for Pell Grants. He couched these plans as part of his larger domestic themes of ensuring U.S. economic competitiveness and promoting greater economic equality. It is unclear whether any of these proposals will be embraced by the Republican-led Congress.
The President also mentioned the importance of scientific discovery and basic research, stating, “…when it comes to issues like infrastructure and basic research, I know there’s bipartisan support in this chamber. Members of both parties have told me so. Where we too often run onto the rocks is how to pay for these investments…”
President Obama also said he plans to launch a new initiative on “precision medicine,” which uses an individual’s specific genetic make-up in finding disease treatments. Presumably, further details about the initiative will be provided when the White House releases the President’s FY16 budget on February 2.
NATIONAL ACADEMIES LAUNCH PANEL TO REVIEW RESEARCH REGULATIONS
The National Academies’ Committee on Science, Technology, and Law on January 20 announced the launch of its panel to review federal research regulations and reporting requirements that affect universities. The committee, which will hold its first meeting on February 12-13, 2015 in Washington, D.C., will be chaired by Larry Faulkner, president emeritus of the University of Texas at Austin. AAU staff will make a presentation at the meeting that reviews the key points on regulatory reform that the AAU presidents and chancellors discussed at their April 2014 membership meeting.
NRC CREATES FORUM TO IMPROVE PUBLIC UNDERSTANDING OF SOCIAL AND BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES
The National Research Council has created a new forum whose purpose is to improve public understanding of the value and importance of the social and behavioral sciences (SBS). The Roundtable on the Application of Social and Behavioral Science Research will develop ways to communicate how SBS research is being used by industry, education, the military, public health and other user communities.
AAU Vice President for Policy Toby Smith is a member of the Roundtable, which held its first meeting in Washington D.C. on January 8-9.
AAU RELEASES INFORMATION ABOUT ITS CAMPUS SEXUAL ASSAULT CLIMATE SURVEY
AAU announced on January 22 that 27 of its U.S. public and private research universities, along with one non-member institution, Dartmouth College, will participate in its national sexual assault climate survey this spring.
The participating universities have a combined total of more than 800,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students, so the survey will be among the largest ever on sexual assault. The participating AAU universities are from every region of the country, with a cross-section of institutions – about half are public and half private, and they are both rural and urban as well as a range of sizes.
Nearly all of the AAU member institutions that are not participating in the survey are either carrying out their own campus surveys or participating in state university system surveys.