Twelve British universities have created Futurelearn as a platform for MOOCs (massive open online courses) to be available free to anyone in the world, Times Higher Education reported. Courses will be offered by:
Sudan is seeing major student protests this week in the wake of the deaths of four students at Gezira University who participated in a protest over tuition rates, AFP reported. Protest organizers said that the four students were among participants in a peaceful protest that was disrupted by a pro-government student group. University officials said that the students drowned.
Cecilia Chang, who killed herself last month while on trial on multiple charges, had been a prominent administrator at St. John's University, in New York. An article in The New York Times examines her record in helping to bring millions of dollars of grants to the university, and also the charges she faced of fraud, embezzlement and of forcing international students to do personal work for her. The article also provides details about her grisly suicide.
Faculty at Yale-NUS College say they weren’t consulted on the American Association of University Professors’ recent open letter raising concerns about academic freedom at the Singapore-based institution. A response signed by 25 members of the Yale-NUS faculty states that no members of the AAUP consulted with them "about any of our own assessments of, concerns about, and active efforts to promote and secure (i) academic freedom; (ii) the rights of faculty, staff, and students; and (iii) shared faculty governance at Yale-NUS College." The letter invites the AAUP to consult with Yale-NUS faculty in the future.
Yale University’s joint campus with the National University of Singapore has been a source of controversy in New Haven; in April, Yale College faculty approved a resolution expressing concern about Singapore's historical lack of respect for civil and political rights, and urging Yale to promote principles of non-discrimination and uphold civil and political liberties on campus and in the society at large.
Jill Campbell, a Yale professor of English who helps maintain a Web site on Yale and Singapore, said that members of the AAUP had access to that site and its extensive archive of public statements and documents on Yale-NUS, as well as news articles and op-eds from critics and supporters of the campus. “Thus, the members of the AAUP Committee had access to all the statements about Yale-NUS policies and positions that members of the Yale community, alumni, or the general public have access to,” she said.
Chinese authorities closely monitor student organizations and use the power to deny recognition or interrogate members to send strong signals about topics or activities to avoid, The Los Angeles Times reported. Further, the oversight may become more intrusive. Xi Jinping, presumed to be China's future president, recently said that universities should increase "thought control" over students, adding that "university Communist Party organs must adopt firmer and stronger measures to maintain harmony and stability in universities."
Faculty members at several universities in Ukraine say that they are being urged by their bosses to give low grades to students, Kyiv Post reported. The professors say that they have been told that the government doesn't have enough money for all the student stipends that have been awarded, and that low grades will disqualify some recipients. The Education Ministry did not respond to requests for comment.
The National Science Foundation on Wednesday announced an expansion of its graduate fellows program that will allow selected graduate students to work for 3-12 months in one of eight countries. The idea is to encourage international collaboration early in researchers' careers. The countries are Denmark, Finland, France, Japan, Norway, Singapore, South Korea and Sweden.
The American Association of University Professors has written an open letter expressing its growing concerns about Yale University’s planned joint campus with the National University of Singapore. The letter raises the fundamental question of “whether academic freedom, and the personal freedoms that are a necessary prerequisite to its exercise, can in fact be sustained on a campus within what is a substantially authoritarian regime.”
Yale professors have raised similar concerns about Yale-NUS College in the past, in addition to criticizing the process through which the liberal arts college was approved: Yale faculty never took a vote. The AAUP’s letter calls on the Yale Corporation to release all documents and agreements related to Yale-NUS, arguing that this is the only way through which “a healthy atmosphere for shared governance” can begin to be restored. The association also raises 16 specific questions that it says should be discussed in open forums. These deal largely with restrictions on speech and individual freedoms in Singapore and include: "What risks to students and faculty are inherent in forms of campus speech, from Internet postings and email messages to broadcast lectures, that may be critical of the government, its laws, and its officials, including members of the Singapore judiciary?" "Can Yale-NUS community email be protected from government surveillance, even if email is sent unencrypted?" and "What risks to students, staff, and faculty with various sexual orientations are posed by Singapore's laws?" (Singapore criminalizes gay sex.)
Yale-NUS' president, Pericles Lewis, said the letter only recently came to his attention. In a statement, he reaffirmed that "academic freedom will be a bedrock principle of the college." Lewis' statement does not address restrictions on speech and personal freedoms specific to the Singaporean context, but states that the college's personnel practices are being developed based on its policies of academic freedom and non-discrimination.