President of KAUST says he won't criticize Saudi policies


The president of Saudi Arabia’s flagship graduate research university has rejected calls for him to condemn restrictions on freedom of speech in the country.

Myanmar Police Beat Student Protesters With Batons

Police in Myanmar are cracking down on student protests, beating participants with batons, the BBC reported. The students have been protesting a new education law, which they say limits academic freedom. The students say that the law centralizes power over universities when individual universities should have more of a say. Students also want the right to form student unions and to study ethnic minority languages.


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Israeli Court Orders U. of Haifa to Revise Protest Rules

Israel's Supreme Court has ordered the University of Haifa to revise rules that permit the university to "halt" public events such as protests for a "limited time," Haaretz reported. Even with the "limited time" caveat of the rule, the measure is a violation of free speech rights, the Supreme Court ruled. The dispute dates to the university's use of the rule to halt protests in a two-week period in 2012 when Israeli forces were fighting with Palestinian forces in Gaza. The action by the university followed two peaceful protests on campus, one opposed to Israel's military action at the time, and the other in support of Israeli soldiers.


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Teaching Assistants on Strike at U. of Toronto

Teaching assistants at the University of Toronto went on strike last week, preventing some sections from being taught. The main point of disagreement is over compensation. The university and the union late last week each issued open letters outlining their views of the conflict.


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Russian Universities Are Behind on Student Stipends

More than 40 Russian universities -- including such leading institutions at Moscow State University -- have been missing deadlines on stipend payments to students since the start of the year, The Moscow Times reported. Some universities have blamed delays on "technical difficulties," while others have denied the delays. The Russian Education Ministry issued a statement that said that "the rectors of the universities that have violated students' rights and that are subordinate to the ministry will be held accountable."


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Rancho Santiago Faculty Decry Deal With Saudi Arabia

The Academic Senate of the Rancho Santiago Community College District has passed a resolution urging the district to end a $35 million consulting contract with the Saudi Arabian government, The Orange County Register reported. The resolution cites Saudi discrimination against women, Jews and others, and says that the college shouldn't be engaged in helping the Saudi government build education in a deeply discriminatory society. District leaders said they would be helping Saudi students and that the money they will be paid is similar to the funds going to other community colleges helping with such work.


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France to Increase Number of University Courses on Islam

The French government on Wednesday announced plans to pay for a major expansion in the number of university courses on Islam, International Business Times reported. The courses will be free and will be based on teaching about Islam within a context of the values of the French Republic, officials said.



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Dutch Ph.D. students protest proposed shift in their status

Government wants them classified as students, but they see many benefits to being considered employees.

SAT Cheating Concerns Cause Continued Delays in Asia

Scores from SAT exam administrations in Asia were withheld for four straight months due to concerns about cheating, and some of the scores withheld from last year have not yet been released, The Washington Post reported. Some scores were withheld following the October, November, December and January administrations of the college entrance exam in Asia. Spokesmen for the College Board and Educational Testing Service cited security reasons in declining the newspaper’s requests for information on specifics, including the number of scores withheld, the countries affected and the steps they’re taking to address the problem.

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Referendum in Britain in Support of Israel Boycott Passes

A referendum to support the boycott of Israeli academic institutions at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, passed with a 73 percent majority. Organizers of the referendum said Friday that 2,056 total votes were cast in the school-wide referendum, which was proposed by the Students' Union and open to students, faculty, nonacademic employees, university governors and outsourced workers, such as cleaning and security staff.

SOAS has ties with Hebrew University of Jerusalem. SOAS’s media relations office did not respond to a request for comment over the weekend.

The SOAS referendum follows a series of votes by scholarly associations to support the academic boycott of Israel, including a Dec. 2013 vote by the American Studies Association. In February, members of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) approved a resolution that, while not taking a position on the merits of the boycott itself, urged the association to “provide platforms for a sustained discussion of the academic boycott and foster careful consideration of an appropriate position for MESA to assume.” 

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