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Quick Takes: New Call for Visa Reforms, Another Party Mocks Black People, Cuts at Wheeling Jesuit, Latinos and Loans, Michigan Suit Becomes Moot, European Push for Research Access, U.S. Rule Making Formally Announced, Australia Debate on Foreign Students

January 31, 2007
  • A coalition of groups is today issuing a new call for visa reforms so that the world's top students -- and other non-U.S. citizens who have good reason to visit the United States -- are able to do so. The coalition calls for carrying out ideas that have been advanced previously by top government officials, as well as education and business groups, such as granting more authority to waive certain visa requirements, making visa rules more clear, and monitoring their enforcement to make sure that it is consistent. Education groups have been calling for such reforms for some time now, and the coalition includes NAFSA: Association of International Educators and the Alliance for International Education and Cultural Exchange. But perhaps notably, the new call also is endorsed by other groups, such as the Heritage Foundation and the National Foreign Trade Council.
  • Clemson University has become the latest institution where a student Martin Luther King Day celebration featured white students mocking black people. A series of photographs posted on The Smoking Gun show a "Living the Dream" party in which some students were in blackface, some women stuffed their pants to make their behinds appear larger, and many attempted to dress in stereotypical black ghetto outfits. James F. Barker, Clemson's president, sent an e-mail message to students Tuesday in which he said he was "appalled, angered and disappointed" by the party.
  • Wheeling Jesuit University, in West Virginia, has announced that it will eliminate 16 non-academic positions to deal with budget difficulties. The Wheeling News-Register reported that the cuts would save the college about $300,000.
  • An article in today's Los Angeles Times explores why many Latino students avoid student loans and why many experts fear that their reluctance to borrow hinders their chances of finishing degree programs.
  • All sides in a suit designed to force the University of Michigan to start following a state measure barring affirmative action have agreed that the litigation in state court is now moot, The Detroit News reported. After exploring legal options, the university this month started abiding by the measure.
  • More than 12,000 academics, most of them Europeans but including some American Nobel laureates, have signed a petition urging the European Commission to require publicly financed academic research to be available free online, The Guardian reported. The commission is expected to debate the issue next month -- mirroring debate over such proposals in the United States.
  • The U.S. Education Department formally announced Tuesday that it would establish committees to negotiate possible changes in federal regulations governing accreditation and other federal student aid issues. The notice published in the Federal Register announces formally what department officials had acknowledged in mid-January. The notice lists the dates the panels will meet, the issues they will explore (in very broad terms) and the names of the officials who will sit on the committees.
  • A report finding that many of the foreign students in Australia lack basic English skills has concerned many educators, The Age reported. University leaders said that they were toughening requirements by rejected the implication that they were admitting some foreign students for their ability to pay fees, not to do university-level work.
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