Politecnico, a leading Italian university, is switching the language of instruction to English, The Independent reported. The rector, Giovanni Azzone, said that the shift would "contribute to the growth of the country" and "respond to the needs of businesses." While some academics are supporting the move, others are angry. Luca Serianni, a linguist at La Sapienza University, said the move was "excessive and not only in the ideological sense."
The Saudi Ministry of Higher Education has told universities in the country to start to let women into political science departments, Al Arabiya reported. King Saud University plans to be the first institution to comply, and will allow women to enroll in political science next year.
Officials at Thompson Rivers University, in Canada, are apologizing for the actions of a staff member who tore down a student's photograph (part of a student exhibition) showing a woman in Islamic dress and holding a bra, CBC News reported. The woman in the photograph has her face and body covered, and is holding and looking at a bra. Saudi officials have criticized the photograph. A statement from Thompson Rivers said that "the university is committed to honoring artistic expression and on a campus with many international stakeholders it is important that we balance cultural sensitivity with freedom of speech, and we value the conversations that this piece of art and all our others inspire."
Advocates for Hebrew are pushing Israeli universities, where many courses are taught and much research is published in English, to increase use of Hebrew, The Forward reported. The Academy of the Hebrew Language is lobbying the Education Ministry to require more use of Hebrew, and that effort has many academics worried. "Hebrew is the language of the Jewish people, but if you write your thesis in Hebrew, it is buried,” said Yehuda Band, head of the chemistry department at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. "A student who can’t write in English is severely limited — it’s the language of science."
The Canadian government has slashed funds that have supported Canadian studies programs in the United States, The Vancouver Observer reported. "This is the first year in history that the government has denied funding dozens of grant applications from across the U.S.," said Nadine Fabbi, associate director of Canadian studies at the University of Washington. "These grants have significantly strengthened Canada's voice in the U.S. on issues that range from the Keystone XL pipeline to water resources to Arctic sovereignty."
The Middle East Studies Association has written a letter to the Ministry of Justice in Bahrain to object to the treatment of students and faculty members in the country. The letter details the arrests of numerous students on "ambiguous" charges, as well as arrests and suspensions of professors at the University of Bahrain. "The appalling maltreatment of these university personnel is part of what we are forced to conclude has been an orchestrated campaign of assaults upon academic freedom," the letter says. Bahrain's embassy in the United States did not respond to a request for comment.
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."