Ex-Dean Accused of Abusing International Students Dies

A former dean at St. John’s University accused of stealing more than $1 million from the institution and forcing international students to perform personal chores as a condition of their scholarships was found dead on Tuesday; police are investigating her death as a suicide, The New York Times reported. Cecilia Chang was midway through her trial at the federal court in Brooklyn, where she took the stand on Monday. As St. John’s vice president for international relations and dean of the Institute of Asian Studies, Chang allegedly charged hundreds of thousands of dollars of personal expenses to a university credit card, and forced international students to clean her house and hand-wash her underwear, among other chores. Chang faced up to 20 years in prison.

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Erasmus Endangered?

Advocates of international education are ringing alarm bells about a €90 million shortfall in the Erasmus budget. Erasmus, a European Union program, provides grants for students to study or work outside their home countries in one of 33 participating nations (the 27 member states of the European Union, plus Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey). More than 231,000 students received grants in 2010-11, with the average award being a modest €250 a month. The most popular destinations were Spain, France and Germany. (Note: This article has been updated to reflect the term of the award.)

European Commission officials warn that unless something changes, its debts to national agencies in the participating countries – which distribute the money to colleges and students -- will have to be paid out of next year’s budget. This means that either fewer students will be supported or smaller grants will be given. The €90 million shortfall is out of a total budget of €450 million.

“What we’re hoping is that before the end of the year, the 27 member states, and the European Parliament, will agree to make up the shortfall,” said Dennis Abbott, a European Commission spokesman for education. “We know it’s a very, very tough world out there and that many countries are having to cut back, but we just feel that they shouldn’t be cutting back on education and they shouldn’t be cutting back where commitments have been made.”

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In India, New Minister of Human Resources and Development

India has a new minister in charge of higher education. M M Pallam Raju assumed control of the Ministry of Human Resources and Development on Wednesday. The former minister Kapil Sibal -- who remains in control of the telecommunications ministry -- is well-known internationally as an advocate for opening India to foreign universities. A bill that would regulate foreign branch campuses has been stalled in India’s Parliament for more than two years.

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Global Trend: Educated Women With Less-Educated Partners

Over the past few decades, there has been dramatic growth in the number of countries where significant numbers of college-educated women either marry or live with less-educated men, according to new research by the Center for Demographic Studies of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Historically, it has been rare for countries to see many men end up with better-educated women, but that has changed for a variety of reasons, including greater educational attainment of women. The growth in the number of relationships in which women partner "downward" educationally is seen in a range of countries -- Western and non-Western, developed and developing -- the research found.


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Politics Dept. at Ben-Gurion U. Gets 3 Weeks to Change

Israel's Council for Higher Education has given Ben-Gurion University's political science department three weeks to correct what the council sees as various failings, or to risk being shut down, Haaretz reported. The council has cited a review calling for the department to expand its offerings. But many in the department and many academics all over the world who have signed petitions on the issue believe that the alleged quality concerns are a cover for political concerns. Ben-Gurion's politics department is home to prominent critics of Israeli government policies and right wing groups in Israel have accused the program of being "anti-Zionist."

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New Report on Brazilian Scholarship Program

The Institute of International Education released a report on Monday on the first year of the Brazil government’s Science Without Borders scholarship program. The 1,954 Brazilian undergraduate students who have come to the United States so far have studied at 238 host institutions. Nearly three-fourths (71 percent) are enrolled in engineering or computer science courses.

The program has sparked unprecedented interest in collaborations with Brazilian universities. More than 2,500 scholarship recipients are expected to come to the U.S. every year for the next five years.

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Emerging Markets for International Student Recruitment

A new report from World Education Services identifies four key emerging markets for international students: Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Vietnam and Turkey (listed in order of importance).  

A main message of the report is that American colleges should diversify their international student recruitment efforts beyond China, India and South Korea (which, collectively, are the source of almost half the international students in the United States today). The report also identifies key opportunities and challenges in each of the four emerging markets. In both Saudi Arabia and Brazil, massive government scholarship programs promise a continuous stream of sponsored students, but significant percentages require intensive English training before they can begin college-level coursework. In Vietnam, rapid economic growth and a large youth population have fueled demand, but financing remains a challenge. In Turkey, building on collaborations is key: the country is host to the third-largest number of joint or dual degree programs with U.S. universities. Yet, cracking the Turkish recruitment market – which is heavily oriented toward graduate students -- seems to be particularly difficult.

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Taiwan's Universities Recruit California Students

Education officials from Taiwan traveled to California last week to recruit students, The Los Angeles Times reported. About 1,000 people -- many of them recruited because they are Taiwanese-Americans -- attended the first education fair ever put on by Taiwan in the United States. Wei-Ling Chiang, Taiwan's minister of education, made the case, noting that undergraduates would pay about $3,000 in tuition, lower living costs than in the U.S., and that some programs are taught in English.

Education and Australia's Turn Toward Asia

Australia's government issued a report Saturday about the need for the country to engage more with Asia -- and education at all levels is involved with this goal. Among the recommendations: sending more Australian students to study abroad in Asia, adding to the study of Asian countries and languages at Australian universities, building research programs that link Australian and Asian faculty members, and making Asian language study (in Chinese, Hindi, Indonesian and Japanese) available and encouraged in Australia's elementary and secondary schools.


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Israel Plans New Steps to Help Arab Students

Israel's government is planning a number of new programs to promote greater enrollment and success of Arab students, The Jerusalem Post reported. Arab enrollment levels lag in Israel, in part because only 22 percent of Arab high school graduate meet the entrance requirements for universities, compared to 44 percent of Jewish students. Universities will be required to come up with plans for recruiting Arab students. Further, funds will be made available for universities to create programs to help Arab students improve their Hebrew, and information centers will be set up in Arab towns to provide academic guidance on preparing for higher education.



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