international

Letter Details Persecution of Turkish Scholars

The Middle East Studies Association’s new letter to Turkish government officials raising concerns about the “pattern of persecution” against scholars who signed a petition opposing military actions in Turkey's southeast includes a “nonexhaustive” nine-page appendix documenting instances in which signatories have faced repercussions, including in the form of criminal and university-level disciplinary investigations and suspension and termination from academic positions.

"The astonishing scope of the prosecutions, disciplinary investigations and campaigns of private harassment directed against the 1,128 signatories of the peace petition is staggering," says the letter, from the association's Committee on Academic Freedom. "We have never before amassed such a record of violations of academic freedom and freedom of expression in such a short period in the history of our activities in defense of academic freedom in the countries of the Middle East."

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Crash Kills 3 African Students at Manchester U

Three Manchester University students from Africa were killed and a fourth was injured early Sunday after being struck by a van along Interstate 69 in Indiana, the Associated Press reported. The students were standing outside their disabled vehicle when they were struck by the van, whose driver has been charged with reckless homicide and driving a vehicle while intoxicated.

According to a message from Manchester’s president, the crash killed Nerad Grace Mangai, Brook M. Dagnew and Kirubel Alemayehu Hailu. A fourth student, Israel Solomon Tamire, is being treated for injuries at a Fort Wayne, Ind. hospital. The students all came from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with the exception of Mangai, who came from Jos, Nigeria. Mangai and Dagnew were both sophomores majoring in biochemistry. Hailu was a first-year medical technology major at the private Indiana college, which enrolls about 1,500 students.

 

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Turmoil on Israel's Council for Higher Education

Six members of Israel's Council for Higher Education announced that they were resigning from the body, potentially preventing it from making decisions as it now lacks the required membership of 19, The Jerusalem Post reported. The resignations were a protest over the actions of Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who leads the council. He recently ousted the vice chair of the council and pushed through his own candidate for the position. Critics say that Bennett's candidate was not, as is custom and some believe required, a full professor at a research university.

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Congressman Talks Human Rights at NYU Shanghai

A U.S. congressman who has held hearings on China’s influence on U.S. universities and academic freedom issues raised by partnerships between American and Chinese universities gave a speech at New York University’s Shanghai campus on Tuesday in which he criticized China’s human rights record.

"Over the past several years, I hear the same thing -- human rights conditions have gotten worse," U.S. Representative Chris Smith, a Republican from New Jersey, said in written remarks distributed by his office. "Human rights lawyers are 'disappeared' for simply trying to represent the poor and vulnerable. Labor rights advocates are targeted, academics and students muzzled, civil society and ethnic minorities increasingly are viewed as a security threat."

Smith said he visited NYU's Shanghai campus at the invitation of Vice Chancellor Jeffrey Lehman, who testified at a June hearing the congressman chaired on academic freedom issues raised by American universities developing campuses and partnerships in China. 

"As a university committed to exploring ideas from multiple perspectives, we were pleased to welcome Rep. Chris Smith, the first sitting member of the U. S. Congress to visit the NYU Shanghai campus since its inception a little over three years ago," Thomas Bruce, NYU Shanghai's senior counselor, said via email.

"Smith spoke with passion and vigor, and the multinational audience, comprised of NYU Shanghai's faculty, staff and students, was equally passionate and vigorous during a lengthy, challenging question and answer session," Bruce added. 

The event was open only to the "NYU Shanghai community," and not the general public.

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Students Burn Artwork, Vehicles in Escalation of U Cape Town Protests

Student protestors at the University of Cape Town on Tuesday night burned artwork, set a shuttle bus and a research vehicle on fire, and petrol bombed the vice chancellor’s office, according to the university. Eight students were arrested and six suspended.

The night of vandalism began after students associated with the Rhodes Must Fall movement refused a university request to move a shack they had erected to protest what they describe as discrimination against black students in the allocation of university housing. The university -- which had asked students to move the shack to an alternative location, citing traffic blockage and safety concerns -- denies claims of discrimination and says that three-quarters of students in university housing are black. Cape Town reports having 6,800 beds, enough for about a quarter of its 27,000 students.

The Rhodes Must Fall movement coalesced at Cape Town last spring around a successful effort to bring about the removal of a statue of Cecil John Rhodes, the British imperialist and diamond magnate who donated the land for Cape Town's campus, and describes itself as a “student, staff and worker movement mobilizing against institutional white supremacist capitalist patriarchy for the complete decolonization of UCT.” The group posted on its Facebook page a link to an Eyewitness News video showing police dispersing protesters with stun grenades and rubber bullets.

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Manitoba Ed School Keeps 45% of Spots for Diversity

The University of Manitoba has announced that its Senate has approved a plan to reserve 45 percent of the slots in its education bachelor's program for various diversity categories. The goal of the effort is to add to the diversity of those who teach in Canada's elementary and secondary schools. The program will go into effect next year and the slots will be reserved for those who are: from Canadian indigenous groups; "racialized persons," including indigenous people from outside of Canada; people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender; people with disabilities; and people who are economically disadvantaged.

Arrest of Student Leader Sparks Protests in India

Thousands of students and professors across India are protesting after the president of the student union at Jawaharlal Nehru University, in Delhi, was arrested Friday on sedition charges, The Guardian reported. Kanhaiya Kumar was arrested following accusations that “anti-Indian” slogans were used at a campus demonstration marking the anniversary of the execution of Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri man convicted for his involvement in a deadly 2001 attack on India’s parliament. Kumar has denied making anti-Indian statements.

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Cornell to Be Need Aware for International Students

One of the few institutions to practice need-blind admissions for applicants from abroad will begin considering the financial need of prospective international undergraduates in admissions decisions.

Under its current policy, Cornell University does not consider need in assessing applications from international students -- but because it has a limited budget for international student aid ($11.5 million out of a total $235 million aid budget last year) it also does not offer aid to every international student with demonstrated need. Under a new need-aware admission policy for international students, to begin with the fall 2017 admission cycle, Cornell intends to provide all admitted students, including all admitted international students, with aid packages meeting 100 percent of their demonstrated need.

Barbara Knuth, the senior vice provost and dean of the graduate school, said the total budget for international student financial aid will remain stable.

“This is not at all meant as a budget-cutting move,” she said. “The intention of it is to give us more ability to actively manage enrollment, because there are clearly differences in yield,” the percentage of admitted students who choose to come to Cornell. “International students who were admitted and are offered financial aid yield at about a 90 percent rate. International admitted students who do not apply for aid yield at a rate of about 65 percent, but international students who apply for aid but are not offered aid yield at about 30 percent. It makes it a lot harder to manage for the geographic and global diversity that we’re trying to achieve in the international student population because the yield is comparatively low for that group," Knuth said.

“The other purpose of this of course is to avoid those very difficult situations where international students who are admitted who have demonstrated financial need but are not awarded any aid may in fact run into challenges meeting their educational expenses,” she continued. “We have had difficult situations like that. It’s very hard financially and psychologically on the student as well as the family.”

Cornell is still need blind for U.S. citizen and permanent resident applicants. Knuth said the change in policy will bring Cornell in line with peer institutions in the Ivy League that are also need aware for international applicants, including Brown and Columbia Universities, Dartmouth College, and the University of Pennsylvania. (Dartmouth announced a change from need-blind to need-aware admissions for international students last fall.) The wealthiest three Ivies -- Harvard, Princeton and Yale Universities-- are need blind and committed to meeting full demonstrated need for all international students.

Juliana Batista, the president of Cornell's Student Assembly, said she worries about the loss of opportunity for international students under a need-aware admissions policy. “Moving into a need-aware policy really disregards some of the exceptional students that have come to Cornell in the past,” she said. Batista, who stressed that she was not speaking on behalf of the whole assembly, said that some international students who don’t receive aid from Cornell might apply for private scholarships after admission or find a way to pay for college with the help of a relative or by leveraging a financial asset of some kind.

“Essentially, you are not allowing those students the opportunity to find a way to finance their education,” she said.

In addition to becoming need aware for international students, Cornell also announced that beginning in fall 2016 it would treat undergraduate students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status the same as U.S. citizens and permanent residents for admission and financial aid purposes. That means that they will be eligible for need-blind admission and will no longer have to compete with international students for the limited pool of financial aid funds available to them. Because DACA students are not eligible for federal and state grants and loans, Cornell intends to provide institutional aid in their place. (Note: This paragraph has been corrected to reflect that it was Cornell University that announced a change in policy for DACA applicants. The original article misstated the name of the institution.)

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China Eyes Students Abroad for 'Patriotic Education'

A new directive from China’s Ministry of Education calls for stepping up “patriotic education” efforts – including for students studying at universities abroad, The New York Times reported.

“Assemble the broad numbers of students abroad as a positive patriotic energy,” says the directive, which was publicized by the state news outlet Xinhua on Tuesday. “Build a multidimensional contact network linking home and abroad -- the motherland, embassies and consulates, overseas student groups, and the broad number of students abroad -- so that they fully feel that the motherland cares.”

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Study finds Australian universities have high demands for academics

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Study analyzes job ads to show just how much is expected of an aspiring academic.

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