International Recruitment Failure at Western Kentucky

Western Kentucky University has asked at least 25 of the 60 graduate students recruited recently from India to study computer science to leave because they do not meet program requirements, The New York Times reported. The students were recruited through agents who were to be paid $2,000 per student, but only if the students remained for two semesters. Many of the students performed poorly once enrolled, and some professors believe that they never should have been admitted. The use of agents who are paid on commission per student is a controversial but growing practice in American higher education.

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Preliminary Data on International Grad Enrollments

The Council of Graduate Schools on Monday released preliminary survey data on the number of applications international students have submitted to U.S. graduate schools for the fall.

Although the total number of fall 2016 international applications recorded among the responding institutions -- 591,104 -- represents a decline from last year’s preliminary application total of 676,484, the council cautioned this may be attributable to methodological changes and a lower survey response rate. A total of 345 institutions responded to the CGS survey this year, compared to 377 the year before, and CGS also pushed up the date by which it asked institutions to provide application data by two weeks, from Feb. 15 to Feb. 1.

This is the last year CGS plans to publish preliminary data on international student applications, although it will continue to publish data on final international application and enrollment numbers. CGS plans to publish its findings on final fall 2016 international application and enrollment numbers in early 2017.

“I expect that international enrollment is going to continue to grow at a pretty robust clip, as it has in the past, thanks in part to large numbers of students from China and India, but at the same time U.S. graduate institutions really need to continue to diversify the portfolio of students who come from different countries, other than China and India,” said Jeff Allum, CGS’s assistant vice president for research and policy analysis.

The preliminary data show that applications from China and India together account for 69.5 percent of all applications for U.S. graduate schools.

CGS has published infographics and data tables based on the preliminary application survey, as well as notes about the methodology.

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Colleges See More Cheating With Foreign Students

A Wall Street Journal analysis of data from more than a dozen large U.S. public universities found higher rates of alleged cheating for international undergraduate students than for domestic undergraduate students. The universities reported 5.1 cases of alleged cheating for every 100 international students in the 2014-15 academic year, versus one case for every 100 domestic students.

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New Countries Added to Rhodes Scholarship Program

The Rhodes Trust has announced an expansion of the Rhodes Scholarships to students from more countries. Scholarships will be added for students from Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia, the Palestinian Territories, Syria and West Africa. The total number of scholarships awarded each year will grow from 83 to 95.

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Fulbright U Vietnam Leader Criticized for War Record

The appointment of former U.S. Senator Bob Kerrey to chair the board of a new American-backed private university in Vietnam has triggered debate due to his role in the killing of women and children as a commander of a Navy SEAL squad during the Vietnam War, The New York Times reported. Kerrey said that he would resign from the board of the institution, Fulbright University Vietnam, if he has reason to believe his remaining chairman would put the institution at risk.

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Report examines impact of national study abroad scholarship program for low-income students

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Report on study abroad scholarship program targeting low-income students finds that beneficiaries build on their experiences abroad in future academic choices.

'Times Higher' Will Start Rankings of Colleges in U.S.

Times Higher Education, which is well known for its global rankings of universities, announced Monday that it is starting a ranking of American colleges and universities. Many American universities are already part of (and do quite well in) Times Higher's World University rankings, but the methodology for that ranking (with points based, among other things, on research reputation, citations, and tech transfer) would not work for the majority of American colleges that are not research universities. Times Higher's announcement said it would try to offer rankings that would not primarily reward selectivity. While Times Higher did not reveal its methodology in detail, it said that it would be based on federal data on completion rates and earnings. In addition, data will come from a new Times Higher Education Student Survey, which will gather student views on about 1,000 institutions. Questions in the survey will seek to determine students’ engagement with their learning and how they perceive the value of their educations.

Disclosure: Times Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed trade one article each week, but Inside Higher Ed plays no role in Times Higher's rankings.


Nigerian Billionaire Criticized for Gift to Lynn University

A Nigerian oil and gas industry billionaire, Muhammadu Indimi, is facing criticism in his country over his support for Lynn University, in Florida. Several recent articles in the Nigerian press said that he had donated $14 million to Lynn, and these articles questioned why he was doing so at a time that so much of Nigerian education needs support. The articles prompted Indimi to issue a statement saying that he donated $900,000 to Lynn, not $14 million, and that he and his company had also given to many Nigerian universities.

The Mohammed Indimi International Business Center (above right) at Lynn is named for the oil executive. A Lynn spokeswoman said that the entire facility cost around $14 million. As to Indimi's contribution, she said that he "was the lead donor on the project and his organization gave $900,000 toward the building as part of a larger donation. As per our donor agreement, the exact amount is confidential."

Over the last eight years, the spokeswoman said, eight of Indimi's children have earned degrees at Lynn and there is a chance a ninth will enroll too. About one-third of students at Lynn's business school come from outside the United States, with large cohorts from Africa and the Middle East, she said.


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British universities report some job candidates won't accept offers while EU vote is pending

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Some British universities report that faculty job candidates don't want to commit until after the vote on the European Union.

In Dispute in Germany, Students See Attack on Social Sciences

An open letter that calls for extending the contract of an expert on extremism and anti-Semitism at Germany’s University of Göttingen has received international attention.

The open letter published by the Fachschaftsrat Sozialwissenschaften, the social sciences student council, describes Samuel Salzborn as “the backbone of the bachelor degree program” in social sciences and describes the administration's decision not to renew his contract as “the latest in a string of bad decisions at the expense of the faculty of social sciences.” A social sciences faculty body had voted unanimously in favor of a contract extension.

“We fail to identify a proper reason for the nonrenewal because Salzborn himself is very successful at publishing nationally and internationally on his specific subjects of anti-Semitism and right-wing extremism, he’s very popular among his students, and, as you would have seen from the great support that he has enjoyed since we published this open letter, he’s very respected among his peers,” said Clemens Boehncke, a graduate student in political science and a spokesman for the social sciences student council. Absent a clear reason, Boehncke said, student representatives have been left to speculate on possible political motivations for the nonrenewal and to see it as an attack on the social sciences.

Salzborn declined to comment. In a statement the university said he holds a temporary chair that is not eligible for tenure or extension -- a claim rejected by Salzborn's student supporters, who point to a state higher education law that allows for the extension of temporary professorships in certain cases for up to five years (the university cites the same law in its explanation for why the chair is not eligible for renewal).  

“The chair Fundamentals in Social Sciences, which Mr. Salzborn currently holds, is a temporary chair (without an option for tenure or extension),” the university said. “These temporary positions are by default open only for a certain period of time, after which they are either terminated or advertised anew. In the case of this chair, which plays an essential role in the teaching at the faculty of social sciences, the university is going to advertise a new position with the same thematic orientation.”

This article has been updated to incorporate the social sciences student council's response to the university statement. 

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