A government committee in Israel on Wednesday blocked university status for the Ariel University Center, an Israeli academic institution located in the West Bank, Haaretz reported. The panel said that the center should maintain its current status, which is short of a full university, pending a full review in the next year. Many Israeli academics had expected university status to be awarded, and Ariel is strongly supported by Israelis who favor settlement in the West Bank. But Israeli academics -- professors and presidents alike -- strongly opposed university status. The presidents of existing universities argued that the country doesn't have enough money for its existing universities, and shouldn't create a new one. Many professors also said that making Ariel into a university would inject higher education into the debate about the future of Palestinian territories in a way that would be unhelpful for the peace process and for higher education.
The University of Birmingham, in Britain, has withdrawn a job advertisement seeking people to be unpaid research assistants, Times Higher Education reported. Birmingham withdrew the ad after the university was criticized for not paying people in the position. Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, the primary faculty union in Britain, said that not paying researchers “undermines the principles of equal pay and is discriminatory."
International applications at top universities in Hong Kong are seeing sharp increases, The New York Times reported. Foreign applications are up 55 percent at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, 50 percent at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and 42 percent at the University of Hong Kong. (Most universities in Hong Kong keep separate statistics for those from Hong Kong, from the rest of China, and the rest of the world, so these are figures for that latter category.)
The British newspaper The Telegraph sent undercover reporters to talk to admissions agents in China about the chances of gaining admission to competitive British universities, and the answers have created a stir. According to the newspaper, agents that represent the universities are telling people in China that they can earn admission with significantly lower test scores than would be needed by a British student. The Telegraph has also reported that headmasters of some British schools are reporting that their non-British students are earning admission to universities while British students with better test scores are being rejected. The suspicion of many is that British universities, which may charge much more to foreign students than those from Britain, are favoring those from overseas.
Times Higher Education reported that Cardiff University, one of the institutions named in the Telegraph article, has started an investigation into whether pledges are being made to potential students from China that are inconsistent with university policies.
Germany's Karlsruhe Institute of Technology has started using near simultaneous translation to create subtitles on websites devoted to course lectures, DW.DE reported. Many foreign students struggle to speak German at a level to follow the lectures, so this plan is designed to increase their comprehension of the substance of the lectures.
Dmitry Livanov, Russia's new education minister, has unveiled controversial reforms for his country's universities. Chemistry World reported that the changes proposed include consolidating universities and ending the tradition of free tuition. Livanov and others argue that they need to change the universities to keep scientific talent, and the plan also calls for significant increases in faculty salaries. Many academics are criticizing the proposal, saying that it would make it more difficult for those in low-income, remote parts of the country to obtain a spot in a top program.