With a deal to limit Iran's nuclear program and relieve sanctions pending, U.S. universities look ahead to new possibilities for cooperation. But even as institutions contemplate sending students there, some flag safety and human rights concerns.
A federal judge's ruling last week invalidated the 17-month extension for postgraduation work training for international students in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, but stayed the decision until February to give the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) time to submit the rules for the program for public comment.
In her ruling for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle determined that the original 2008 rule to extend the duration of the optional practical training (OPT) program for STEM students from 12 to 29 months was issued without appropriate public notice and comment.
In opting to invalidate the rule while imposing a six-month stay to give the agency time to address the problem, Judge Huvelle noted that vacating the 2008 rule would cause “substantial hardship” for thousands of international students who would have to leave the United States in short order, in addition to causing “major labor disruption” for technology-related industries.
The suit against the OPT program was brought by the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, which argues that the OPT program generates unfair competition by creating a cheaper category of workers.
A DHS spokeswoman declined to answer specific questions about the agency’s plans for submitting a rule for public comment and the potential impact on international students who are taking advantage of the OPT STEM extension. “[U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] is currently reviewing the ruling and cannot comment on the details of the decision,” said Sarah Rodriguez, a DHS spokeswoman.
Having more women on committees that select academics for jobs does not increase the chances for female candidates and may actually do the opposite, according to a study of Italian and Spanish universities.
The University of Western Sydney has announced plans to change its name to Western Sydney University, setting off considerable debate at the Australian university, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. The university announcement about the change says that it is about "putting Western Sydney first." Officials told the Morning Herald that the new name and logo (at left) would help the university with its branding internationally. But many students are rallying around the old name and logo (at right), saying that they were not consulted on the name change and that they like the logo and its bird. So they are campaigning on social media and elsewhere to "save the bird."
After only a year in office, Arvind Gupta is stepping down as president of the University of British Columbia, one of Canada's leading universities and a player globally among research universities. The Globe and Mail reported that the move has left many stunned and asking questions. But the university and Gupta say only that he decided he believes he can best serve the university as a professor of political science.
Inside Higher Ed is pleased to release today "Recruiting International Students," our latest print-on-demand compilation of articles. The booklet features articles about trends, debates and strategies of a range of institutions. This compilation is free and you may download a copy here. And you may sign up here for a free webinar on Thursday, August 27, at 2 p.m. Eastern about the themes of the booklet.
Japan's government is pushing universities to shift away from the liberal arts and toward business or vocational programs, The Wall Street Journal reported. All 86 of the country's national universities were required to submit restructuring plans, and were told that their government funding would depend, in part, on how they follow through on this government goal. Government officials say that the changes will help the country's economy and Japan's efforts to have its top universities rise in global rankings.
The leaders of Israel's universities are responding to new proposed cuts in government spending on higher education by invoking Iran, at a time that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Iran poses a grave threat to the country, Ynet News reported. A letter sent by the university leaders says that Iran is investing more in higher education than is Israel. "This is an arms race for all intents and purposes, except the weapons here are not missiles, but the human brain," the Israeli academic leaders say. "Iran must not have the strategic advantage over Israel in research. There are quite a few measures that show that the qualitative gap is getting smaller every year. After all, Iran’s bomb is not built by the farmers working in the field. This is a red line, and it must not be allowed to happen. That is why we joined forces, all the heads of academia, because otherwise the damage to the State of Israel will be unavoidable."