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A group of 45 college freshman at the University of California at Berkeley will meet this month with their former high-school teachers to discuss how their education might have been improved.

The first-time exchange between high-school graduates and their principals and teachers is part of a program designed to help improve the quality of education at the college. All the students are from "feeder" high schools in the Berkeley area.

Can a university buy greatness?

The University of Texas is rolling in money these days, and it is using its financial resources to attract some of the best scholars--and the best students--in the nation.

Last fall, Texas enrolled 58 more National Merit Scholars than it enrolled in the previous year, increasing the number of the award-winning students who attend by 15 percent, according to the university's public-information office.

California's community college system, the only state system with no mandatory attendance fees, will begin to charge students $50 a year if Gov. George Deukmajian's 1983-84 budget is approved by the legislature.

The proportion of college students who drink alcoholic beverages has not changed over the last eight years, but the proportion who are heavy drinkers has risen somwhat, a new survey has found.

The proportion of students who said they were drinkers in 1982 was 79.4 percent, the same as in 1974. The number of heavy drinkers rose from 11.6 percent in 1974 to 17.2 percent in 1982.

Enrollment of first-year graduate students declined by 4.5 percent last fall and total graduate enrollment was down 1.1 percent, according to the annual survey by the Graduate Record Examinations Board and the Council of Graduate Schools in the United States.

New eligibility requirements for the Guaranteed Student Loan program--a major source of aid for graduate students--caused a 22-percent drop in loans administered last year, the Education Department says. About 2.7 million students received $6.1 billion under the program in 1982, compared to 3.5 million recieiving $7.8 billion in 1981.

The new rules bar students from families who earn more than $30,000 from receiving guaranteed loans unless they can prove financial need.

Though their profits were down 4.2 percent in 1981, business corporations expanded their gifts to colleges and universities by 10.7 percent, to $1.14 billion that year, according to a survey by the Council for Financial Aid to Education.

Corporations' overall gifts to educational and charitable institutions totalled $2.9 billion for the year, the group estimates, a figure amount-ing to 1.24 percent of the companies' pretax net income.

Educational giving by firms totalled 36.7 percent of all their charitable gifts for the year; another 33.6 percent went to health and welfare; 11.9 percent to cultural and arts organizations; 11.7 percent to community activities; and 6.1 percent to other organizations. It was the second consecutive year, the council notes, in which corporate giving increased while profits diminished. In 1980, profits were down by 4 percent, but contributions to education increased by 15.7 percent.

The salaries of the nation's college and university faculty members rose by an average of 7.6 percent this year, a survey by The Chronicle of Higher Education has found. But the rate of increase was lower than it has been in any year since 1976, and about one-fifth of the faculty members sampled in the survey reported they had received no raise at all. Another fifth, however, reported raises of more than 15 percent.

The average salary of faculty members at public institutions, according to The Chronicle, is $26,218 this year, up 7 percent; faculty members at private colleges now earn an average of $25,625, up 9.3 percent this year.

The average salaries range fairly widely across faculty ranks and types of institutions, the survey indicated. Full professors at private universities nationwide are earning an average of $38,911 this year; assistant professors at public two-year colleges report average earnings of $20,761.

Like school officials, college and university administrators are being asked to make deep cuts in spending these days. And both groups tend, for both political and fiscal reasons, to make such cuts "across the board" rather than on the basis of merit.

But a 57-member blue-ribbon commission that has been studying higher-education issues for the past year warns that the across-the-board technique of making cuts "is far more likely to threaten the quality of the enterprise." In dealing with austerity, the panel warns, quality will be better preserved through the difficult process of evaluating programs and options than through bowing to pressure to spread the pain of cuts equally.

The commission, sponsored by 10 higher-education associations, was headed by Robben W. Fleming, former president of the University of Michigan and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Placement officials at Northwestern University, who annually make a nationwide assessment of the employment prospects of new college graduates, this year found that 11 percent of the employers who reported hiring 1982 graduates have already laid some of them off. Those losing their jobs included new graduates with bachelor's degrees in business, computer science, accounting, and engineering.

This year's survey, which included 251 corporations, also indicated that offers to next June's graduates will be down 11 percent.--sr

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