Concerns about Declining Value of Indian Rupee

The falling value of the rupee has become a major source of concern for Indians studying overseas, the Economic Times reported. The rupee has lost 20 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar in the last year, causing some students to scramble for additional loans or part-time jobs. 

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NCAA Punishes Utica College

Utica College, in New York, has been punished by the National Collegiate Athletic Association for failing to monitor its Canadian International Student Award program, with the end result being that Canadian athletes -- ice hockey players, primarily -- received more financial aid than the general Canadian student body at the college. Utica created the award program in 2010 in order to make the cost of attendance roughly equivalent for Canadian and domestic students and thereby attract more Canadian students to under-enrolled majors. However, Utica suspended the scholarship program for incoming Canadian students for the 2012-13 academic year after discovering that the aid was disproportionately going to athletes, a violation of Division III rules.

“This was unintentional and Utica College and the NCAA agree it is,” Utica’s athletics director, Dave Fontaine, told the Utica Observer-Dispatch. “Nonetheless, we have to be accountable. We take full responsibility. We self-reported it.” 

Sanctions for Utica include two years of probation and postseason bans for teams whose rosters include one or more athletes who received a Canadian International Student Award. Utica is not the first college to get in trouble with the NCAA for disproportionately awarding a scholarship intended for Canadian students in general to ice hockey players in particular:  Neumann College, in Pennsylvania, was similarly penalized in 2012. 

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U.S. Budget Cuts Prompt 18% of Scientists to Consider Moving Abroad

A survey of 3,700 scientists across disciplines has found large numbers reporting that their research and the way they spend their time have been severely affected by the across-the-board budget cuts ordered by Congress. The survey -- conducted by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular in collaboration with other science groups -- reported the following findings, among others:

  • 18 percent are considering continuing their research career in another country.
  • 64 percent report that they are having difficulty getting grant funding.
  • 45 percent have a colleague who has lost his or her job.
  • 80 percent report that the time they spend writing grant applications has increased.
  • 64 percent said that their grant funding has decreased.


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U. of Cambridge Ends Gender-Specific Graduation Rules

The University of Cambridge has ended the use of gender-specific rules for attire in graduation ceremonies, The Telegraph reported. Until now, men were required to wear suits, and women a dress or skirt. Now, all students have those options, and must also be neatly dressed. Students pushed for the changes, saying that the old rules were unfair to those who did not want to wear clothing associated with traditional gender identities.


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U. of Liberia to Admit 1,800 Who Failed Entry Exam

The University of Liberia has announced that it will admit 1,800 students, even though they (like all 25,000 applicants this year) failed the entry exam, BBC reported. Officials have blamed the mass failures on lack of knowledge of English. It is unclear how the 1,800 who will be admitted were selected.


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‘Citation Stacking’ Scheme Discovered

A “citation stacking" scheme, in which editors of certain Brazilian journals published articles cross-citing each others' publications in order to raise the journals’ “impact factors” – a measure of a journal’s influence based on the number of times its articles are cited – has been discovered, Nature reported. The four Brazilian journals are among 14 that have been suspended from the Thomson Reuters ranking of journals.

“We’ve been caught wrong-footed,” said Mauricio Rocha-e-Silva, a retired psychologist and former editor of one of the journals, Clinics. Rocha-e-Silva told Nature that the scheme emerged from frustration with the fact that an agency of Brazil’s national education ministry evaluates graduate programs based partly on the impact factors of the journals in which students publish; because emerging Brazilian journals are poorly ranked, researchers don't wish to publish in them and the local journals do not improve.

The article notes that the scheme is not limited to Brazilian journals -- journals in Italy and China are among those that have been sanctioned -- but only in the Brazil case has an explanation been put forward.

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Brazil's scientific mobility scholarship program keeps growing

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More than 4,000 Brazilian undergraduates will be on U.S. campuses this fall on government scholarships.

Warning of 'Reputational Risk’ Posed by Study Abroad at Oxford

An internal report at the University of Oxford raises concerns about the “severe reputational risk” posed by the admission of wealthy foreigners – including American study abroad students – as visiting students for “purely commercial reasons," The Telegraph reported. The report states that the visiting students, who are typically admitted to an Oxford college for up to a year through third-party entities and pay a tuition rate higher than the £9,000 charged to British students, do not have to meet the same admissions standards as regular Oxford undergraduates: “Although there is some assessment of their GPA [Grade Point Average] scores before they are admitted by each college, the transaction seems to be one of a purely commercial kind."



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INTO Oregon State English Programs Earn Accreditation

In a reversal, the general and academic English programs run by INTO Oregon State University have gained initial accreditation from the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA). Oregon State’s intensive English institute lost its CEA accreditation in 2009 after the university partnered with the private, Britain-based INTO University Partnerships to offer English as a second language and “pathway” programs for international students. As Teresa D. O’Donnell, CEA’s executive director, explained, the partnership at that point fell outside the scope of CEA’s accreditation, which encompasses university-administered programs and independent language schools but made no provisions for public-private partnerships like INTO OSU’s. CEA has since altered its policies to allow for accreditation of such joint ventures if there is a direct reporting line from the English program to the university administration – meaning, in other words, that the director of the English language program reports to, say, a dean. (O'Donnell said that it is permissible under CEA's policies for there to be joint reporting lines, as long as one of the lines is to the university administration.) 

“Many innovations in higher education are met with resistance at first so this adjustment in policy from CEA is a great step in opening up the model for how private companies and public institutions can partner,” David Stremba, managing director for North America at INTO University Partnerships, said in a statement.

The English language programs at Colorado State University and the University of South Florida, both of which have partnerships with INTO, are also CEA-accredited. The fourth and newest INTO site in the U.S., INTO Marshall University, in West Virginia, is accepting its first students this fall. 

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All Applicants Failed U. of Liberia's Admissions Test

All 25,000 people who took the entrance exam for the University of Liberia failed this year, BBC reported. A university official said that most students "lacked enthusiasm and did not have a basic grasp of English," the BBC report said.



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