Scientists in Canada are demanding immediate changes to the way grant proposals are reviewed by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, STAT reported. A record percentage of proposals are being rejected, but scientists say that this isn't about rigor but the new review system. In a bid to save money, a computer algorithm was used to assign reviewers to grant applications, and many report that the algorithm didn't work, and many proposals have been reviewed by people who don't understand them. The president of the institutes has pledged to make improvements.
Research by Prashant Loyalka, a faculty member at Stanford University, is pointing to a key weakness -- in critical thinking -- of students at China's universities, The New York Times reported. The research is still preliminary and won't be published until next year. But initial findings suggest that Chinese students arrive at universities with much better critical thinking skills than their counterparts in the United States and Russia. The critical thinking skills of Chinese students stall once they reach higher education, however, while American and Russian students see significant gains in college. Critical thinking skills measured include the ability to identify assumptions and to test a hypothesis.
A plan between two major universities in Sydney, Australia, to merge their art schools has been dropped, just five weeks after it was announced, The Australianreported. The University of Sydney announced Thursday that it decided not to pursue a possible merger of its Sydney College of the Arts with the University of New South Wales' Art & Design school. "Despite the best efforts of all involved, our two institutions have a different vision of what a center of excellence in the visual arts might entail and the extent to which it is important to preserve the SCA’s distinctive tradition," Sydney's vice chancellor, Michael Spence, said in a message to students at the college.
A Reuters investigation found evidence of cheating in a preparatory program owned by a Hong Kong-based subsidiary of the test provider ACT, with some former students in the program reporting that they gained advance access to ACT test materials.
The Global Assessment Certificate program is billed as helping foreign students develop the academic and English skills they need to succeed in university, but Reuters interviewed seven students from three GAC centers who reported that program officials or test proctors ignored or were complicit in cheating on the ACT. Reuters also interviewed eight teachers or administrators at seven GAC centers who reported cheating in program courses.
An ACT spokesman said its Hong Kong-based subsidiary, ACT Education Solutions Ltd., is responsible for vetting and monitoring GAC centers, which Reuters reported are run according to a franchising model in which local operators pay the ACT subsidiary for the right to offer the curriculum at schools and educational centers. The ACT's head of test security said the organization has canceled suspicious test scores of GAC students.
More than 60 U.S. universities use the GAC program for admission purposes, in some cases awarding college credit for GAC classes. The GAC program enrolls about 5,000 students at 197 centers in 11 countries. About three-quarters of the centers are in China.
Thirty-one academics from Istanbul University were detained on Monday on the suspicion that they have links to what the government calls the “Fethullah Terrorist Organization,” Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
Turkey's government blames followers of the Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen for a July 15 coup attempt, to which it has responded with widespread purges in the education sector and state institutions more broadly (Gülen has denied involvement in the failed coup). Dozens of American and European higher education groups have expressed their concern about the crackdown on Turkish academe.
Dozens of scholarly groups have issued statements condemning the purges in higher education in Turkey that followed the recent coup attempt. In the immediate days after the failed coup, the Council of Higher Education demanded the resignation of more than 1,500 university deans. More than 15,000 education ministry officials were suspended and 21,000 schoolteachers had their licenses revoked. The government also reportedly banned professional travel for all academics.
Twenty-four academic associations, including the American Anthropological Association, the American Sociological Association, the Middle East Studies Association, the Modern Language Association and the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association, issued a joint statement last week noting “with profound concern the apparent moves to dismantle much of the structure of Turkish higher education through purges, restrictions and assertions of central control, a process begun earlier this year and accelerating now with alarming speed.”
“As scholarly associations, we are committed to the principles of academic freedom and freedom of expression,” the statement continues. “The recent moves in Turkey herald a massive and virtually unprecedented assault on those principles. One of the Middle East region’s leading systems of higher education is under severe threat as a result, as are the careers and livelihoods of many of its faculty members and academic administrators.”
The American Political Science Association also sent a letter to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan expressing “our deepest concern and continued alarm regarding reports of purges, punitive measures and other steps taken in a wholesale manner against political scientists and other scholars in Turkey.”
“Like many, we are extremely concerned that the scale and speed of these responses represents a lack of due process and lack of specific evidence of involvement with the coup by the individuals who have been targeted. These steps suggest a broad campaign against intellectuals and intellectual expression, in violation of Turkey’s international and domestic legal obligations to protect institutional autonomy and academic freedom, including under Turkey’s constitution,” association leaders wrote.