international

Educators consider Macron's vision for a new type of European university

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As people wonder how it would work, a campus run jointly by French, Swiss and German universities offers insights.

Federal Judge Blocks Third Trump Travel Ban

A federal judge in Hawaii on Tuesday issued a temporary restraining order blocking the implementation of a new iteration of the Trump administration’s travel ban. The ban, which was scheduled to go fully into effect today, would block all would-be travelers from North Korea and Syria in addition to prohibiting all immigrant travel and imposing various restrictions on certain types of nonimmigrant travel for nationals of Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Venezuela, and Yemen. 

The injunction blocks the new travel restrictions for six of the eight countries -- all except for those affecting nationals of North Korea and Venezuela, which were not at issue in the suit filed by the state of Hawaii and other plaintiffs.

President Trump's previous two versions of travel bans were blocked by various federal courts before the Supreme Court permitted a modified version of the second to go into effect.  In issuing a nationwide order blocking implementation of the third ban, Judge Derrick K. Watson of the District Court of Hawaii found that the plaintiffs are likely to succeed in their argument that Trump overstepped his authority in issuing the new proclamation restricting travel, which, he wrote, "suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor." Watson wrote that the executive order “lacks sufficient findings that the entry of more than 150 million nationals from six specified countries would be 'detrimental to the interests of the United States.'" Further, Judge Watson found that the order “plainly discriminates based on nationality in the manner that the Ninth Circuit [Court of Appeals] has found antithetical to both Section 1152(a) [of the Immigration and Nationality Act] and the founding principles of this nation.”

The White House said in a statement that the restraining order "undercuts the president’s efforts to keep the American people safe and enforce minimum security standards for entry into the United States."

"The entry restrictions in the proclamation apply to countries based on their inability or unwillingness to share critical information necessary to safely vet applications, as well as a threat assessment related to terrorism, instability, and other grave national security concerns," the White House said. "These restrictions are vital to ensuring that foreign nations comply with the minimum security standards required for the integrity of our immigration system and the security of our nation. We are therefore confident that the judiciary will ultimately uphold the president’s lawful and necessary action and swiftly restore its vital protections for the safety of the American people."

Opponents of Trump's actions say he is using national security as a pretext for banning Muslims from entering the U.S., a step the president called for during the campaign (the original travel bans exclusively affected Muslim-majority countries, though two countries that are not Muslim-majority, North Korea and Venezuela, were added to the latest one). Universities and higher education groups have been among those who have criticized Trump’s various travel bans, which they argue will deter talented students and scholars from coming to U.S. campuses. 

In finding that the state of Hawaii had standing to sue, Judge Watson specifically cited harm to the University of Hawaii. “The University has 20 students from the eight countries designated in EO-3 [the third executive order], and has already received five new graduate applications from students in those countries for the spring 2018 Term,” Judge Watson wrote in his Tuesday order.

“It also has multiple faculty members and scholars from the designated countries and uncertainty regarding the entry ban ‘threatens the university’s recruitment, educational programming, and educational mission,’” Judge Watson wrote, quoting from a declaration from a university administrator.  “Indeed, in September 2017, a Syrian journalist scheduled to speak at the University was denied a visa and did not attend a planned lecture, another lecture series planned for November 2017 involving a Syrian national can no longer go forward, and another Syrian journalist offered a scholarship will not likely be able to attend the University if EO-3 is implemented.”

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Central European Seeks Resolution to ‘Legal Limbo’

Leaders of Central European University held a press conference Tuesday where they called on the Hungarian government to sign an agreement that would enable the university to continue to operate over the long term in Budapest.

Administrators at CEU, which is accredited in the U.S. and chartered by New York State, said they have complied with all the requirements of a new higher education law passed in April. The law requires foreign universities that operate in Hungary to be governed by a bilateral agreement between the host and home governments and to operate educational activities in their country of origin. In order to satisfy the latter requirement, CEU has entered into a memorandum of understanding with Bard College to offer joint educational activities in New York, including joint degree programs.

CEU administrators say all that’s left to resolve the situation is for the Hungarian government to sign the draft agreement it has negotiated with New York State. But the Hungarian government has not yet done so, and the Parliament recently extended the deadline for complying with the new law by a year -- leaving CEU in what its president, Michael Ignatieff, described as “a state of legal limbo.”

“This is unacceptable but it’s also unnecessary. There’s an agreement with the state of New York that the government could sign if it actually wants to solve this matter. A draft text agreed by both sides has been in place since early September,” Ignatieff said at the press conference, which was broadcast online.

Ignatieff said a university needs legal stability in order to operate. “There’s simply no question that a university that’s deliberately kept by the government in a state of legal uncertainty to suit their political convenience is a university that is in danger,” Ignatieff said.

He added, “No university in Europe -- let me make this very clear -- no university in Europe has been put through what we’ve been put through. It’s just unacceptable. I’m here having this press conference because we want a solution. But a solution is on the table. And every time we get within reach of a solution, the goalposts get moved. The criteria get changed.”

Hungary's new law on foreign universities has been widely seen as a targeted attack by Hungary's government on CEU and its founder, the liberal financier George Soros. The Hungarian government has denied CEU was specifically targeted and said in April that the university "will be able to continue its operation as soon as an international agreement has been reached." In July, the Hungarian government signed an agreement with the state of Maryland allowing for the continuing operation of McDaniel College, another American institution with a campus in Budapest.

Asked why the government has not yet signed the draft agreement, the press department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary said in a statement that the Ministries of Justice and Human Capacities "are examining whether the functioning and operation of the Central European University, based on the documents submitted by the CEU, would be in accordance with Hungarian law."

"There was great international pressure on the government of Hungary with the objective that the university of George Soros should be exempt from Hungarian regulations," the government's statement said. "However, Hungarian laws apply to all schools in the same way and manner, and these rules and regulations guarantee the transparent operation of foreign higher education institutions in Hungary. The amendment of the Hungarian Act on Higher Education extends the deadline, by which the foreign higher education institutions have to meet the requirements in order to be able to operate in Hungary. When the government of Hungary submitted the current bill, it also took into consideration the fact that negotiations with certain foreign higher education institutions, including the CEU from the United State[s] of America, have not been concluded. In doing so, the government of Hungary also took under consideration and accepted the recommendation of the Hungarian Rectors’ Conference to extend the deadline to meet the requirements. This recommendation of the Hungarian Rectors’ Conference was explicitly welcomed and appreciated in the report of the Venice Commission," a body of the Council of Europe that recently issued a report on Hungary's new law on foreign universities.

The Venice Commission report found the imposition of stringent new requirements on Hungary's existing foreign universities to be "highly problematic."

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Brazilian Politician Backs Out of Disputed Event at GW

Update: After the item below was published, organizers informed Inside Higher Ed that Jair Bolsonaro decided not to appear.

An open letter reported on by the George Washington University student newspaper, The GW Hatchet, calls on the university to rescind an invitation to Jair Bolsonaro, a right-wing Brazilian politician who has praised the country’s former military dictatorship and who is viewed by opponents as holding positions that are misogynistic -- he once told a female legislator she was not worthy of being raped by him -- as well as racist and homophobic.

GW's Brazil Initiative is hosting the event, billed as “a conversation” with Bolsonaro, a deputy in Brazil’s National Congress and likely candidate for the 2018 Brazilian presidential election. An online flier for the event, which is scheduled for this afternoon, describes it as part of a “Brazilian Political Leaders Speaker Series.”

The open letter, which has about 900 signatures, many of which include university affiliations, opposes GW giving Bolsonaro a platform.

“Bolsonaro’s event is part of a tour that seeks to validate him as a viable candidate for the Brazilian presidency and soften his bigoted image to court more liberal voters," the letter says. "We are writing this letter to protest his ability to do so in your institution. By welcoming him into your university and allowing him to speak, your institution would be helping a racist, sexist, homophobic right-wing extremist to achieve international recognition and solidify the political viability of his candidacy, effectively putting vulnerable communities in Brazil in great danger of increased discrimination and violence. This letter was written by Brazilian academics and political activists who are based all over the world, and is signed by academics of other nationalities who are committed to antifascist politics and oppose the spread of far-right fascism globally."

The director of the Brazil Initiative, Mark S. Langevin, did not respond to Inside Higher Ed’s request for comment Thursday afternoon. But in a written response to the open letter published Oct. 5, Langevin defended the Brazil Initiative’s commitment to contributing to debate by inviting Brazilian political leaders to speak and described the event as an opportunity "to question Bolsonaro about his commitment to democratic rule and positions on governance."

“Rather than avoiding a discussion with Federal Deputy Bolsonaro, we have chosen to engage him in a conversation about his story, his values and principles, and his vision of governance in Brazil. We trust that such a discussion is vital to better understanding Brazil and its political leadership at this moment while also providing a compelling forum for exploring Deputy Bolsonaro’s views on democracy and human rights. We understand and appreciate the concerns presented by those who oppose Jair Bolsonaro’s presidential candidacy and political views, but are committed to providing a forum for democratic debate on the future of Brazil," wrote Langevin, a research professor in Elliott School of International Affairs.

A spokeswoman for GW said the event is still scheduled to take place today.

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Call for Testing Flexibility for International Applicants

Colleges and universities should be more flexible about the use of test scores and perhaps consider a lesser emphasis on such test scores when evaluating international applicants, according to a statement being released today by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, and its international division. The statement notes that many testing dates have been called off amid concerns about testing security. As a result, the statement notes, many international students have struggled to take the tests they need to apply to American colleges. The statement comes amid increased frustration from those who help internataional students apply to American colleges, and repeated calls for changes in the practices of major testing organizations.

 

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U.S., Turkey Suspend Visa Processing

The U.S. embassy has suspended all non-immigrant visa processing in Turkey after the arrest of a consulate employee, prompting Turkey to respond by stopping visa processing for Americans, The New York Times reported

In a statement on Sunday the U.S. embassy in Ankara said it had immediately suspended processing for nonimmigrant visas – which include visas for visiting students and scholars – due to what it described as “[r]ecent events” that “have forced the United States government to reassess the commitment of the government of Turkey to the security of U.S. mission facilities and personnel.”

Turkey, in turn, issued an almost identical statement in which it said it was suspending all visa services for American citizens at its U.S. consulates and embassy due to “recent events” that “have forced the Turkish Government to reassess the commitment of the government of the U.S. to the security of the Turkish Mission facilities and personnel.” Turkey said the restrictions would apply to visas in passports, visas issued at borders, and electronic visas.

The Times reported that the U.S. consulate employee who was arrested, Metin Topuz, has been accused of having links to Fethullah Gulen, whom the Turkish government blames for a failed coup attempt in July 2016. Gulen denies involvement. Topuz has been accused of espionage and of “attempting to overthrow the Turkish government and constitution.”

More than 10,000 Turkish students were enrolled in American universities in 2015-16, making Turkey the 13th-leading country of origin for international students in the U.S., according to the Institute of International Education’s annual Open Doors report

 

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Business Programs See Drops in Non-U.S. Applicants

The majority of graduate business programs in the U.S. reported declines in international applications this year compared to last year, even as the majority of programs in Canada and Europe reported increases, according to a survey of 965 graduate business programs in 45 countries conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council, which owns and administers the GMAT entrance test.

The report hypothesizes that “recent political events in the United States may have played a role in the drop in international candidates applying to U.S. programs.”

“Only a third (32 percent) of U.S. programs reported growth in the international pipeline this year, down from 49 percent in 2016,” the report states.

By comparison, 77 percent of Canadian graduate business programs and 67 percent of European graduate business programs reported increases in international applications this year.

The European figure excludes the United Kingdom. The survey found that in spite of concerns about a negative impact on applications caused by Britain's planned exit from the European Union, about two-thirds (65 percent) of graduate business programs in the U.K. reported growth in international applicants.

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International admissions group seeks changes in testing practices

Limited testing dates and sudden cancellations erode “equity” for test takers outside U.S., says new statement. Testing agencies say they are working on the issue.

U of Washington, Tsinghua launch innovation-focused programs as part of Microsoft-funded partnership

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Seeking to “invert the model” of U.S. universities opening campuses abroad, the University of Washington and China’s Tsinghua University will open degree-granting academic center near Seattle.

Essay seeking to shape British conservative policy calls for higher level of educational attainment

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Essay seeks to shape Conservative Party agenda.

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