international

More Than 2,300 Turkish Academics Dismissed

Turkey announced the dismissal of 2,346 academics for alleged ties to the July 15 coup attempt in its official gazette on Friday, the Daily Sabah, a Turkish newspaper, reported. More than 8,000 others, including 7,669 police officers, were also dismissed. Academics have been among those fired and arrested in the widespread purges of Turkey's military, police, judiciary, civil service and education sector pursued by the government after the failed coup.

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Iran Releases Imprisoned Physicist

​A physicist imprisoned in Iran for five years has been released on parole and will be allowed to leave the country, Nature reported.

Omid Kokabee was a Ph.D. student at the University of Texas at Austin when he was arrested in 2011 during a trip to his native Iran.  Kokabee, who was convicted of espionage-related charges, has stated that he was persecuted for his unwillingness to participate in Iran’s nuclear weapons program. He was granted temporary medical leave from prison this spring after having a kidney removed due to cancer. 

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Cedar Crest to Send All Sophomores to Rio

A women’s college in Pennsylvania will send its sophomore class on an 8-day trip to Brazil at no extra cost to students.

Cedar Crest College said that in spring 2018 all interested sophomores in good academic, financial and judicial standing will travel to Rio de Janeiro. The college will pay for all travel, lodging and meal costs.

According to a press release, students will enroll in a sophomore experience class focused on cultural competency in the fall term prior to the trip. During the trip students will be divided into groups based on their fields of study, with academic and service-learning experiences to be led by Cedar Crest faculty and staff members.

Cedar Crest is not the only college to offer a classwide overseas trip. Centenary College of Louisiana has since 2014 offered a summer program in Paris for all incoming freshmen, included in the cost of tuition. This year's freshman class traveled to Paris from Aug. 4 to Aug. 13.

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Berkeley Backs off Plans for Global Ed Hub

The University of California at Berkeley announced last week it was indefinitely suspending plans to build a planned global higher education hub “due to the continued need to address significant budgetary challenges confronting the university.” The hub had been proposed by Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, who earlier this month announced plans to resign from his post amid growing faculty frustrations, an inquiry into alleged misuse of public funds involving personal use of a fitness trainer without payment, and criticisms of the university’s handling of sexual harassment allegations.

Dirks announced plans for the “Berkeley Global Campus” on 130 acres of land the university owns in Richmond Bay in late 2014. Berkeley had hoped to attract leading foreign institutions and private industry partners to establish satellite locations on the land, which is located about 10 miles from the main campus. Without any state funding earmarked for the purpose, Berkeley was counting on would-be university and corporate partners and private donors to bring the capital to develop the imagined campus. 

Berkeley said in its announcement that it will “continue to explore options for the site that reflect new priorities for the campus around enrollment growth and housing in the near future.” 

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American U of Afghanistan Plans to Reopen

The American University of Afghanistan issued a statement early Friday morning resolving that the university will reopen after a 10-hour overnight attack on the campus starting Wednesday that killed at least 13 people and wounded dozens more.

"The American University of Afghanistan has temporarily suspended operations in the wake of the despicable terrorist attack on the University," the statement says. "However, the university has already started the process to repair the damage caused by the attack so that the campus can reopen. Security has always been of the utmost importance to the university and we will be working with the Afghan government and others to improve security."

The university said it has no date set at this point for resuming operations, but that it will update its website with details.

"Rumors that the university will close are completely untrue," the statement continues. "AUAF is dedicated to its educational mission in service to Afghanistan and has no intention of giving into terror. As our faculty member Naqib Ahmad Khpulwak, who was killed in this attack, had said, those who care about the future of Afghanistan cannot back down to insurgents and criminals who threaten a future of possibility. Our firm resolve is to move forward."

The attack on the American-style university in Kabul came two and a half weeks after two of the institution’s foreign faculty members were kidnapped at gunpoint.

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Outrage in China on Firing of Instructor With Cancer

Facing growing public outrage over its firing of an instructor for absenteeism when her absences were due to cancer treatment, China's Lanzhou Jiaotong University issued a statement that said it was “deeply sorry” and agreed to pay the instructor back wages, The New York Times reported. Anger over the case has only grown, however, because the instructor -- Liu Lingli -- died before the apology was issued.

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BREAKING: American U Afghanistan Attacked

The American University of Afghanistan in Kabul is reportedly under attack. Reuters quoted an Afghan interior ministry official who said that several gunmen attacked the university and that there are reports of gunfire and explosions.

“They are inside the compound and there are foreign professors along with hundreds of students,” the official said.

A student told Reuters by telephone that he was trapped inside the university.

ABC News reported on Twitter that at least two people were killed and five injured in the attack. Other unconfirmed reports on social media suggest higher numbers of casualties. The ABC report said that shooting had stopped.

A photographer for the Associated Press was in a classroom at the university when the attack took place.

Massoud Hossaini, the photographer, was quoted by AP as saying he was in a classroom with 15 students when he heard an explosion. “I went to the window to see what was going on, and I saw a person in normal clothes outside. He shot at me and shattered the glass,” Hossaini said, adding that he fell on the glass and cut his hands.

He said the students then barricaded themselves in the classroom before most of them later escaped.

Two foreign professors at the university were kidnapped earlier this month. The American University of Afghanistan is heavily funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, and offers English-language, Western-style education -- including coeducation -- to Afghan students.

Supporters of the university -- and some at the university -- took to social media to express their dismay about Wednesday’s attack.

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Thai Student Activist Released on Bail, Detained Again

A hunger-striking student activist in Thailand was released on bail Friday only to be detained again on another charge, the Bangkok Post reported.

Jatupat Boonpattararaksa, a student at Khon Kaen University, was released on bail in relation to charges that he violated the country’s referendum law by distributing pamphlets critical of a draft constitution in advance of an Aug. 7 vote on the document. Shortly after his release on Friday, Boonpattararaksa was detained again on charges of violating a ban on political gatherings in March 2015.

UPDATE: The Bangkok-based Khaosod reported that Boonpattararaksa was freed on bail today -- "for real this time." 

Thailand has been ruled by a military junta since a successful coup in May 2014. Human rights groups including Amnesty International and Scholars at Risk have written in recent weeks in support of Boonpattararaksa and another student activist, Wasin Prommanee, with whom he was reportedly arrested Aug. 6. Human Rights Watch issued a statement last week raising concerns about the hunger-striking Boonpattararaksa's health and calling for the military junta to release him "and other activists who peacefully protested the proposed constitution."

In response to Inside Higher Ed's inquiry about the student activists' cases, Thanida Menasavet, of Thailand's embassy in Washington, D.C., wrote, "As with any countries [sic], Thailand is trying to strike a balance between civil rights and the need to uphold public order. Over the past years, we have been faced with instability and a challenge to the rule of law. It is against this backdrop that we are now working hard to move our country forward to achieve social reconciliation and sustainable democracy. For those who break the law, we will ensure that they are treated with due respect to their rights and their medical and other needs attended."

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Mexican President Accused of Plagiarizing Law School Thesis

An article by an investigative journalist reports that Mexico’s president plagiarized nearly a third of his law school thesis, The New York Times reported. The article by the investigative journalist, Carmen Aristegui, cites a report by academics who reviewed Enrique Peña Nieto’s approximately 200-page thesis and found that he appropriated the work of at least 10 authors without attribution. A spokesman for the president attributed similarities between his work and that of other authors to "style errors," such as a failure to quote passages correctly. Peña Nieto attended Panamerican University from 1984 until 1989 and submitted the thesis in 1991.

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Germany Proposes Ban on Islamic Face Veils in Universities

Germany’s interior minister on Friday proposed banning full face veils worn by some Muslim women, The New York Times reported. The ban would apply to universities and schools, when driving, in court, or at passport control checkpoints.

A similar law passed in 2010 in France and justified on public safety grounds has been criticized for further marginalizing Muslim women. The German interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, said that women who wish to wear full face veils should not teach or work as civil servants.

“We want to make it a legal requirement to show your face in places where that is necessary for the cohesion of our society,” he said.

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