The British newspaper The Telegraph sent undercover reporters to talk to admissions agents in China about the chances of gaining admission to competitive British universities, and the answers have created a stir. According to the newspaper, agents that represent the universities are telling people in China that they can earn admission with significantly lower test scores than would be needed by a British student. The Telegraph has also reported that headmasters of some British schools are reporting that their non-British students are earning admission to universities while British students with better test scores are being rejected. The suspicion of many is that British universities, which may charge much more to foreign students than those from Britain, are favoring those from overseas.
Times Higher Education reported that Cardiff University, one of the institutions named in the Telegraph article, has started an investigation into whether pledges are being made to potential students from China that are inconsistent with university policies.
Germany's Karlsruhe Institute of Technology has started using near simultaneous translation to create subtitles on websites devoted to course lectures, DW.DE reported. Many foreign students struggle to speak German at a level to follow the lectures, so this plan is designed to increase their comprehension of the substance of the lectures.
Dmitry Livanov, Russia's new education minister, has unveiled controversial reforms for his country's universities. Chemistry World reported that the changes proposed include consolidating universities and ending the tradition of free tuition. Livanov and others argue that they need to change the universities to keep scientific talent, and the plan also calls for significant increases in faculty salaries. Many academics are criticizing the proposal, saying that it would make it more difficult for those in low-income, remote parts of the country to obtain a spot in a top program.
The European Union on Thursday launched a campaign -- "Science -- It's a Girl Thing!" -- to attract more young women into science and technology fields. As part of the campaign, the EU placed a video on YouTube, and within a day withdrew the video as it faced criticism for promoting stereotypes. Radio Free Europe summed up the criticisms: "It looks one part girl-group music video and one part cosmetics commercial, with three miniskirted young ladies in heavy make-up dancing and posing with lab equipment and mathematical proofs as a male scientist watches intriguingly. A tube of lipstick forms the 'i' in 'Science.' " The EU appears to be removing copies of the video, but here's one that survives on YouTube:
Mitt Romney continues to be vague about what he would do about President Obama's new policy of not deporting undocumented students who meet certain criteria -- a policy widely praised by education groups. But on Thursday Romney, the Republican presidential candidate this year, proposed an immigration change that is consistent with the proposals of many education groups, and advocates for international graduate students. He proposed that foreign students who obtain advanced degree in math, science or engineering at American universities should be granted permanent residency. Many experts on international education have said that other countries are becoming more competitive in attracting foreign students because of those nations' willingness to keep foreign talent in the country.
Weixing Li, a professor at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln who was detained in China while there with a student group, will be allowed to return to the United States, The Lincoln Journal Star reported. The professor contacted family members to tell them he will be able to leave.
South Korea's Sungkyunkwan University has announced that it will reject any applicant with a history of bullying, unless the applicant has shown remorse and a change of behavior, The Korea Times reported. The South Korean Education Ministry has adopted new requirements that schools maintain records of those who engage in bullying, paving the way for the university's new policy. Other universities are expected to adopt similar policies.
Officials at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln believe a professor who had been leading students on a study abroad trip has been detained by Chinese authorities for undisclosed reasons, based on reports from the professor’s family.
Weixing Li, an assistant professor of practice management at the university’s College of Business Administration, has offered the monthlong study abroad program since 2008, and he had not experienced any problems with the Chinese government until now, said David Wilson, senior international officer at the university. Li’s family notified the university on Friday that Li had called his sister in China to tell her he had been detained. Neither the family nor the university has been able to ascertain when he was detained or his whereabouts, and his family indicated they believe he is still in custody.
“There’s a good deal we don’t know -- when, why or where he was detained, for example,” Wilson said. Officials at the Chinese Embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment on Li’s detention.
Wilson said Li is not an American citizen, which makes obtaining information about his situation difficult. “We’ve been working with the American Embassy (in Beijing), but there’s very little they can do because this faculty member is a Chinese national.”
According to a brochure, the study abroad program occurred from May 5 to June 1. Out of the 18 total participants, 11 decided to stay in China after the program ended to participate in internships or other activities. Wilson said Li was detained after the program ended, so Li was no longer accompanying the students. The university notified the students who remained in China about Li’s detention, and about half of them decided to come home early, Wilson said.
“We have no reason to believe that our students are not safe, or that this detention is in any way connected with them, but we felt that it was important to share that news with them so that they could talk it over with their families and make decisions,” he said, adding that the news had not yet been shared with the rest of the university community. Wilson said he contacted some other institutions to ask if they have had faculty members detained abroad, and no one he contacted has had experience with this scenario.
Canadian-Iranian academics who fled Iran are protesting the decision by Carleton University in Ottawa to host a conference called "The Contemporary Awakening and Imam Khomeini’s Thoughts.," Maclean's reported. The university says that it simply let a student group (along with the Iranian embassy) organize an event, consistent with the principles of free expression. But a group of academics with personal experience in Iran have issued a letter asking how a university could host an event to honor Ayatollah Khomeini. "Through his 'cultural revolution' following the 1979 revolution, all Iranian universities were closed down for two years and thousands of faculty and students expelled, and many of them jailed, executed or forced into exile," the letter said. "We support, and many of us are engaged in, international academic collaborations. However, we think reputable academic institutions have a moral obligation not to turn a blind eye on atrocities committed against their colleagues in other countries. Providing a forum to individuals, who under the pretext of academic freedom, propagate the ideas and values of a regime that is known for its violation of all standards of academic freedom and rights, is far from promoting academic debates."
Foreign language instructors at Italian universities, typically born outside Italy, have some of the worst working conditions in Italian academe, The New York Times reported. Under various provisions of Italian law, they work at lower salaries than other university instructors, and tend to lack basic sick and family leave, among other benefits. Despite a series of legal challenges to this system as inconsistent with European regulations that are supposed to promote equity across national borders, and a series of court wins on the issue, most of the language instructors have seen little progress.