international

Call for Academics at Saudi University to Speak Out

Eighteen Nobel laureates have written to Saudi academics, urging them to publicly oppose the jailing and caning of a blogger who has called for political reform in the country, Times Higher Education reported. The letter was prompted by the case of Raif Badawi, who was sentenced to repeated public caning during a long prison term. While Saudi actions against political reformers are hardly new, the Badawi case has drawn particular outrage.

The letter from the Nobel Laureates is addressed to leaders of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, known by its acronym KAUST, which has recruited numerous Western professors in a push to become a leading global university. "We write out of concern that the fabric of international cooperation may be torn apart by dismay at the severe restrictions on freedom of thought and expression still being applied to Saudi Arabian society," the letter says, in urging academics to speak out about the Badawi case. "We are confident that influential voices in KAUST will be heard arguing for the freedom to dissent, without which no institution of higher learning can be viable," the letter adds. "The undersigned friends of KAUST will be there to support you in asserting the values of freedom that we are all agreed are essential to the future of a University in this twenty first century, and that will determine the success of the extraordinary venture which you lead."

 

 

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Study examines how overseas Chinese students respond to criticism of their country

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With the growth of Chinese students on U.S. campuses, the impact of geopolitical tensions on interpersonal relations can't be ignored, a new study suggests. 

King's College London Drops Rebranding Campaign

King's College London has dropped a rebranding campaign that would have, in part, encouraged people to call the institution King's London, Times Higher Education reported. Many students and alumni rallied against the plan, questioning its cost and purpose since, in their view, King's College London enjoys an excellent reputation.

 

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A Basketball Team's Expensive Trip to the Bahamas

The University of Kentucky spent nearly $800,000 on a trip to the Bahamas for the basketball team to play exhibition games, The Louisville Courier-Journal reported. While other colleges spend big on exhibition games in the Bahamas, the Kentucky travels cost much more than similar trips by other universities' teams that the newspaper found cost $154,000 or $38,000. Why were the Kentucky costs so high? The university didn't only pay for its own travel, but for the travel and expenses of the three teams it played: national teams of the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, and Champagne Chalons-Reims Basket, a French professional team. The Courier-Journal reported that this practice of paying for opposing teams' travel was a new one for American college basketball.

There were other costs as well. Coach John Calipari, for example, had a $1,550-per night hotel suite.

 

Scottish universities start to embrace three-year undergraduate degrees

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Scottish universities start to move toward three-year undergraduate degrees.

Study: Digital Learning Effective for Health Professions

A review of 108 studies has concluded that digital learning is likely to be as effective as traditional in-person education in undergraduate health professions education worldwide. The review was conducted by Imperial College London on behalf of the World Health Organization. The review's examination of digital learning included online learning and offline digital learning, such as that provided through CD-ROMs ot USB sticks.

 

 

Dutch universities fight publishers over open access

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Universities "unbending" on fee-free demand as talks with Elsevier resume.

Israeli Universities Oppose Government Admissions Plan

Israel's universities are objecting to a government plan to require that one in three students be admitted based only on their high school grades, and not on national admissions tests, Haaretz reported. University officials say that the tests are crucial, particularly in evaluating applicants in the sciences. One official told Haaretz: “If everyone wants to study the humanities that might be true, but in those departments there was never a problem getting accepted.”

New Analysis of Employment Outcomes for Ph.D.s in Canada

An analysis of where Canada’s Ph.D.-holders are employed finds that just 18.6 percent are employed as full-time university professors. The analysis from the Conference Board of Canada finds that nearly 40 percent of Ph.D.s are employed in higher education in some capacity, but many are in temporary or transitional positions. The other three-fifths are employed in diverse careers in industry, government and non-governmental organizations: “Indeed, employment in diverse, non-academic careers is the norm, not the exception, for Ph.D.s in Canada.”

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Canadian University Punishes Students Over 'Misogynistic' Facebook Group

Dalhousie University revealed Monday that it had suspended from clinical activities 13 male dentistry students involved in a Facebook group that joked about chloroforming female students to have sex with them, among other comments, The Globe and Mail reported. The students' behavior first drew attention last month, but at the time the Canadian university's president said the students would not be suspended but would be required to attend face-to-face mediation with the women they were accused of harassing.

Pressure has grown on university administrators to take tougher action against the male dentistry students. On Monday, President Richard Florizone said the university had suspended the men from clinical activities (but not from classes) in late December but delayed announcing the punishment because of "credible" risk that some of them might do themselves harm. The men are now on campus and have access to counseling, administrators said. The temporary clinical suspension will stay in place while an academic panel considers other penalties, The Globe and Mail reported. Four faculty members at Dalhousie initiated a complaint against the male students under the student code of conduct, demanding tougher punishment.

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