Britain's University of Manchester has unveiled a "pray-o-mat," a small booth in which people can listen to, and join in, 300 pre-recorded prayers from a range of faiths, in 65 different languages. The project is part of study on multi-faith spaces. Ralf Brand, the lead researcher, said that "though the pray-o-mat is a bit tongue-in-cheek, there is a serious message to what we're doing. Successful multi-faith spaces do not need to be flashy or expensive. In many places a small, clean and largely unadorned space can serve adequately."
Spurred in part by a critical audit of the American system of monitoring student visas, a group of U.S. senators said Tuesday that they would introduce legislation aimed at tightening controls on institutions that enroll foreign students. The comments by Sen. Charles Schumer and others came at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which followed last week's release of a Government Accountability Office report finding that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which manages the Student and Exchange Visitor Program, has inadequate processes in place to investigate, identify and combat fraud.
A women's rights organization in China is accusing some universities of lowering minimum entrance-exam score requirements for male applicants, Xinhua reported. The organization cited Beijing Foreign Studies University for having a minimum admission score of 639 for women in Beijing who apply as German majors at the university, while for men it is 598. The group also said that Renmin University of China has set a minimum score in four language majors of 601 for male applicants but 614 for female applicants.
In April, Andrew Leuchter, the chair of the Academic Senate at the University of California at Los Angeles, found that David Shorter, associate professor in the department of World Arts and Culture/Dance, had inappropriately linked from the website for his course, "Tribal Worldviews," to a website promoting a boycott of Israel. Now, the committee of the Academic Senate that deals with academic freedom issues has found that Shorter did nothing wrong, The Los Angeles Timesreported. A letter from the committee said that he was within his rights to have the link. Further, the committee questioned why Leuchter looked into the matter at the request of a pro-Israel group unaffiliated with the university. "We think that faculty members should be free of such scrutiny and should not have to answer to interest groups outside the university,” the committee said in a letter to Shorter.
The Vatican has ordered the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru to stop using either "Pontifical" or "Catholic" in its name, saying that the institution has moved too far from Roman Catholic teachings, BBC reported. The university and the Vatican have argued for years about the degree to which the university must adhere to Vatican ideas about what a Catholic university must do. A recent dispute has involved the university's resistance to placing the archbishop of Lima on the university's board.
A special board that oversees Israeli higher education on the West Bank on Tuesday granted university status to the Ariel University Center, Haaretz reported. The action overruled the decision this month of the body that typically would recommend on granting university status, and which opted not to. University status for Ariel has been championed by advocates of Israeli settlements on the West Bank, but has been denounced by many Israeli academics. Some argue that their country doesn't have enough money for its existing universities. Others fear that granting Ariel university status involves using higher education to promote a more permanent Israeli presence in occupied territories.