international

UMass Students Arrested in Connection to Boston Bombings

Two men charged in connection with the Boston Marathon bombings on Wednesday were in the U.S. on student visas and classmates of the surviving suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, The New York Times reported. Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, 19-year-old citizens of Kazakhstan, were charged with conspiring to obstruct justice and destroy evidence, specifically a computer and backpack containing fireworks, both belonging to Tsarnaev. A third suspect, Robel Phillipos, 19, of Cambridge, Mass. and a former UMass Dartmouth student, was charged with making false statements to authorities.

Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov are also accused of violating their student visas. Kadyrbayev is no longer enrolled at UMass Dartmouth, while Tazhayakov, a current student, has been suspended in light of the charges. 

Since the Boston Marathon bombings, there have been some signs of a backlash from the political right against the student visa system, despite the fact that, until Wednesday, there were no indications that international students were involved in the plot (the elder of the alleged perpetrators was a permanent resident and the younger a naturalized U.S. citizen). Most notably, Senator Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, issued a letter questioning whether student visas should be suspended, at least for students coming from “high-risk areas” of the world. 

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Instructor describes unsettling meeting with graduate student

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Instructor describes unsettling attempts by a graduate student to pass a master's defense.

Australian Academics Say Government Betrayed Them

An open letter from 1,000 Australian academics to Prime Minister Julia Gillard, published today in newspapers across that country, calls for an end to cuts in spending at universities, The Australian reported. "Universities have made by far and away the largest saving contributions of any federal budget line item," the letter says. "We feel betrayed and taken for granted. Your government's cuts fundamentally jeopardize the future of our sector."

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Singaporean Scholar's Appeal of Tenure Denial Rejected

Cherian George, an associate professor of journalism at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, has lost his appeal of the decision to deny him tenure, Yahoo! Singapore reported. George, who researches press freedoms and state power in Singapore, was denied tenure for a second time in February despite rave reviews from international colleagues and current and former students.  Karin Wahl-Jorgensen, a journalism professor at Cardiff University and an external reviewer of George’s tenure application, told Inside Higher Ed that George’s teaching and research records are “stellar… so much so that he could easily get a full professorship elsewhere in my estimation.” Theodore L. Glasser, a professor in the Department of Communication at Stanford University and George’s dissertation adviser, wrote in a letter that George’s “studies of journalism in Singapore set an agenda – for himself and for others – for research that extends far beyond Singapore.”

“Finally, I want to be unambiguously clear about what I think is at stake here," Glasser's letter concludes. "Cherian George’s career is on the line, and that’s obviously very important to him and to his friends and colleagues. But just as important is NTU’s reputation as a university of international standing. Many of us view this case as a measure of not only NTU’s commitment to academic freedom but its commitment to apply its promotion and tenure standards fairly and equitably.” Although George was promoted to associate professor in 2009, the promotion was de-coupled from the awarding of tenure.

George did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday. A spokesman for NTU declined to comment on George's case, "as it is NTU's policy to keep all employment matters confidential."

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Decline of French Studies in Canada

French studies is fading at many Canadian universities outside of Quebec, The Globe and Mail reported. Relatively few students are signing up for the programs, the article said, and budget cuts have led universities to close or shrink programs with low enrollments.

 

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U. of New South Wales to Accept Gaokao Scores in Admissions

The University of New South Wales has announced that it will accept scores from the gaokao, China’s national college entry examination, for direct admission to many of its undergraduate programs, The Australian reported. While the gaokao is commonly criticized for emphasizing rote learning, a 2009 Australian Education International report found that the use of gaokao cut-off scores in admissions could “produce students with outstanding ability.” Several other Australian universities, including La Trobe and Monash Universities and the Universities of Adelaide and Sydney, also accept gaokao scores for direct admission.

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Canada's Prime Minister: Don't 'Commit Sociology'

When it comes to fighting terrorism, Canadian prime minister wants a law and order approach, not social science. The arrest of immigrants to Canada in a plot to attack a train from Canada to New York City has led to some Liberal Party politicians calling for efforts to understand why some people embrace terrorist ideologies. But Prime Minister Stephen Harper, leader of the Conservative Party, is having none of it. It comments that have attracted widespread attention, he said: "In terms of radicalization, this is obviously something we follow. Our security agencies work with each other and with others around the globe to track people who are threats to Canada and to watch threats that may evolve. I think though, this is not a time to commit sociology, if I can use an expression," The Ottawa Citizen reported.

 

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U. of Indianapolis Will Close Campus in Greece

The University of Indianapolis is shutting down its campus in Greece. "[E]conomic conditions in Greece have made it very difficult to continue [operations] according to the high standards of the university and the expectations of our accrediting agency," said a statement from the university. The university will continue an M.B.A. program it operates in Greece for students from Saudi Arabia, and plans to "use that financially viable program as a model for developing new programs on a contract basis," the statement added.

 

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Head of Scottish university critiques idea of promoting "knowledge for its own sake"

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Leader of Scottish university sets off debate with his critique of traditional defense of the importance of knowledge.

Study: Taiwan Students Avoid Interaction With Professors

Only 28 percent of students at Taiwan's universities say that they interact with faculty members, and only 36 percent participate in class discussions, according to a new study, Taipei Times reported. The study comes at a time that some educators in the country want to encourage students to move beyond memorization to a more active concept of learning. Professors are being urged to ask more open-ended questions in class, so students would be less fearful of having an incorrect answer.

 

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