The Middle East Studies Association of North American has written to senior Iranian officials asking them to stop official newspapers from attacking the International Society for Iranian Studies. That group typically holds its annual meeting in North America, but this August held its 2012 meeting in Istanbul, with the goal of allowing more scholars in Iran to participate. As described in the letter from the Middle East Studies Association, an officially supported newspaper ran an article on the international group, saying it was dominated by "Royalists" and "Zionists," among others. Following this article, many of the scholars based in Iran canceled plans to go to Istanbul for the meeting. The letter to Iranian officials said, "The open pursuit and free expression of knowledge and ideas, without fear of reprisal and discrimination are guaranteed under Iran's Constitution.... MESA urges the authorities in Iran to work towards and protect the free exchange of ideas, freedom of expression in all forms, and the unrestricted pursuit of academic research without fear of intimidation and persecution."
The number of 18-year-olds is shrinking in Japan, so many universities are creating new incentives to get prospective students to visit campuses, The Asahi Shimbun reported. Some universities are paying the travel costs to campuses. Others are offering discounts on fees normally charged for entrance exams. Still others are starting programs for parents so that they can learn more about the university.
Russian legislators are considering and are expected to approve legislation that would shrink the number of universities, The Moscow Times reported. The idea behind the shift is for the nation to emerge with stronger universities that might fare well in international rankings. The University Professors Union has criticized the bill for not providing a way to increase faculty salaries.
Chinese universities are attracting more foreign students for degree programs, not just study abroad programs for a semester or year, China Daily reported. This year, Peking University has 1,500 new international students -- 900 of whom have enrolled in degree programs.
The advanced education minister in British Columbia has sent a notice to universities, urging them to be vigilant that strip clubs may be trying to recruit students, Maclean's reported. "Students, who often feel new stresses due to new living environments and managing their own affairs for the first time, may be tempted by these monetary inducements," said the letter from the minister, Naomi Yamamoto. Her concern follows reports from Windsor, Ontario about strip club owners there offering to pay tuition for female students willing to strip -- and to maintain a B average in the courses.
British authorities have barred London Metropolitan University from enrolling foreign students, leaving currently enrolled students in a quandary and setting off concern among many British universities, Times Higher Education reported. Government investigators found that many foreign students at the university did not have authorization to be there, and that many of those who did lacked sufficient English language skills to benefit. The 2,600 students from outside Britain who are enrolled at London Metropolitan have 60 days to enroll at another university or to leave the country. Leaders from other universities in Britain said that they are worried that the incident will reflect on their institutions, and some questioned whether the government could have worked to find other ways to resolve concerns about London Metropolitan.
Carleton University, in Canada, has rewritten an agreement that led to a donation of $15 million and to considerable faculty criticism, The Globe and Mail reported. The concern focused on an advisory committee, controlled by the donor. The new agreement says that the committee will provide "strategic" advice. But removed from the committee's purview are roles in faculty hiring and curricular decisions for the institute created with the gift.