Nine people in China are on trial for selling fake degrees to universities in the United States, China Daily reported. The charges state that those on trail sold more than 30 people fake degrees, for a total of 3.4 million yuan ($540,000). The alleged victims include senior executives of some businesses.
A lengthy Bloomberg article outlines a series of incidents that have alarmed security officials and some university leaders who fear that some countries are attempting to use American universities' foreign connections for the purpose of spying. The article notes numerous incidents, including an American researcher who was invited to give a talk abroad. Then someone there asked for a copy of her paper, inserted a thumb drive into her laptop, and downloaded every document she had. In another instance, Michigan State University was approached by a Dubai-based company about providing funds and students for the university's Dubai campus, which was struggling financially. Lou Anna K. Simon, president at Michigan State, contacted the Central Intelligence Agency because she was afraid the company might be a front for Iran. When the CIA couldn't confirm the company's legitimacy, Simon passed on the deal and shut down the Dubai campus.
The article also quoted from a 2011 Pentagon report that said that attempts by East Asian countries to obtain classified or proprietary information through "academic solicitation" (requesting to see academic papers or discuss work with professors), jumped eightfold in 2010.
A government report suggests that many Indian universities have enough room on their campuses to double enrollments in the next five years, Mint reported. "The 43 central universities, except a few like Delhi University, are functioning with disproportionately low student enrollment compared to the campus area," the report said. "A 100 percent increase in intake is feasible in 30 of these university campuses." The report suggests that a new measure of university efficiency be students-per-acre of campus.
Deepak Pental, a former vice-chancellor of the University of Delhi, called the proposal "ridiculous," adding that "authorities should not equate number with quality, though we understand that a service economy needs to get enough human capital to sustain the growth rate."
New York University, which named the former president of Swarthmore College to lead NYU Abu Dhabi, has named another former campus leader to head NYU Shanghai. This morning NYU named Jeffrey S. Lehman, chancellor and founding dean of the Peking University School of Transnational Law, to lead the Shanghai campus, which will be a full, degree-awarding institution enrolling its first undergraduate class in 2013. The law school Lehman has led in China is the first in that country to teach an American style J.D. curriculum. Formerly, Lehman was president of Cornell University and dean of the law school at the University of Michigan.
Canada's York University -- facing faculty opposition -- has announced that it will not accept a $30 million gift from a think tank to create a new teaching and research center. Professors objected to the idea of sharing decision-making over faculty hires with the think tank, arguing that principles of academic freedom and autonomy require such matters to stay within the university. A statement issued Monday by Patrick Monahan, the university's provost, reiterated administrators' belief that "this initiative held tremendous opportunity and promise." But the statement went on to say that "we know for this initiative to be successful, however, it required broad support from the university." The latest faculty vote against the plan "indicates that the necessary support is not present and, accordingly, we cannot proceed," Monahan added.
Israel's Council for Higher Education is expected to soon adopt a new rule that all of those named as university presidents must be professors, Haaretz reported. The move follows a controversy over the selection of a non-academic to be president of the University of Haifa. The new rule is not expected to be retroactive, so it would not invalidate the selection at Haifa.
The Australian government today unveiled a new website designed to give would-be applicants (domestically and internationally) to the country's 39 public universities information about everything from their fees, faculty credentials and student graduation outcomes to their child-care services and campus pubs, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. Federal officials (sounding like their American counterparts) said they hoped the transparency provided by MyUniversity would "help drive universities to lift performance and quality." Campus officials told the newspaper (privately) that they are skeptical.