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.