international

Troubled Italian University Loses U.S. Degree-Granting Authority

The New Hampshire Higher Education Commission voted unanimously on Monday to allow the degree-granting authority of a troubled for-profit Italian institution to expire at the end of the day. St. John International University had long been plagued by low enrollments and legal claims of unpaid wages filed by former employees, raising hard questions about the oversight role of the New Hampshire commission, and, more broadly, the practice of cross-border accreditation or authorization.

The New Hampshire commission had issued a May 14 letter to the university asking it to address seven specific points, including confirmation that the university is meeting payroll (as verified by an accounting firm), evidence that all former employee claims had been settled and paid in full and/or that sufficient funds are being held in reserve in an escrow account to pay outstanding claims, confirmation that no new claims had been made against the university and/or explanations of any claims, evidence of payment of all costs related to a New Hampshire commission site visit, and submission of a financial report and financial and enrollment projections.

“They provided a status report which nominally responded to those seven requests, and today at the commission meeting, we went over each of the seven and the consensus was that they were not responsive and therefore there was not a compelling case to extend their authority to offer degree programs,” said Edward R. MacKay, the director of the New Hampshire Division of Higher Education. MacKay said his interpretation of the regulations is that since the degree-granting authority was simply allowed to expire, the university does not have an avenue for appeal.

SJIU's board secretary and U.S.-based lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday evening.

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Private British College Answers Allegations of Visa Abuse

One of the private colleges singled out by the U.K. Minister of Security and Immigration, James Brokenshire, in his Tuesday remarks to Parliament about abuse of the student visa system is disputing the minister’s account, Times Higher Education reported. Brokenshire said in his remarks that 290 students at the London School of Business and Finance had worked last year despite lacking authorization to do so, but the school said its analysis of the files of 213 students flagged by U.K. immigration authorities showed that 198 of them had permission to work (the college said it didn’t recognize the 290 figure cited in the minister’s comments).

The U.K.’s main security agency, known as the Home Office, did not respond to Times Higher Education's request for comment. The Home Office has suspended the licenses to host international students for 57 private colleges, including the London School of Business and Finance. 

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Firm to Investigate Alleged Labor Abuses at NYU Abu Dhabi

New York University announced the hiring of an investigative firm to look into labor conditions for the workers who constructed its recently completed Abu Dhabi campus in the wake of a New York Times article documenting widespread abuses, the newspaper reported. The founder of the firm, Nardello & Company, declined to comment on details of the planned investigation but said he expects it will conclude by the end of the year.  

The Abu Dhabi government entity that oversaw the campus construction, Tamkeen, selected Nardello & Company as the investigative firm. 

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Educators in Spain try to fight plagiarism

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U. of Granada tries to show that there is a path to assuring the integrity of student work.

Can MOOCs lure international students to U.S. colleges and universities?

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University of Pennsylvania instructors and State Department diplomats hope massive online courses will attract more international students to American colleges and universities.

U. Toronto Student Detained in Tajikistan

Concerned scholars have initiated a petition in support of Alexander Sodiqov, a Ph.D. student at the University of Toronto who was arrested and detained while conducting fieldwork in Tajikistan last week. Sodiqov, who is married with a young daughter, has reportedly not had any contact with his family members, lawyers, or colleagues.

As Eurasianet.org reported, Sodiqov, a Tajik citizen, was detained on charges of “subversion and espionage.” Sodiquov was conducting research in Tajikistan’s restive Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region for a British Economic and Social Research Council project, "Rising Powers and Conflict Management in Central Asia."

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British Academic Denied Entry to India

Officials of Birkbeck, University of London have confirmed a report in The Hindu that one of their scholars was unexpectedly denied entry to India to attend an international academic conference. Indian officials have not confirmed the incident or commented on it.

The statement from Birkbeck follows: “We can confirm that Dr Penny Vera-Sanso, Principal Investigator for research projects on poverty and ageing in India, at Birkbeck, University of London, was turned away at Hyderabad airport early on Sunday morning, June 8. Dr. Vera-Sanso had been invited to attend the International Federation of Aging Conference. She was refused entry by immigration officials without explanation. Dr. Vera-Sanso was traveling with a valid passport and visa issued to her for the purpose of developing further research on aging with India’s academic community, last used for a visit to India in March 2014. Dr. Vera-Sanso, a respected researcher who has undertaken research in India since 1990, has met with an official at the Indian High Commission in London since her return but the reason for the decision is not clear at this point. Birkbeck, University of London, is concerned that a member of its academic community has been excluded from India and has been unable to attend an international conference. Today’s academics work in an increasingly global environment and their contribution to the global production of knowledge is of benefit to all. It is vital that academics are given the freedom to associate with colleagues around the world and to share their research.”

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Non-Tenured Faculty at Hebrew U. Withhold Grades

Non-tenured humanities faculty members at Hebrew University of Jerusalem are withholding grades from courses just completed this semester to protest layoffs and budget cuts, The Jerusalem Post reported. Leaders of the effort said that they hoped to draw attention to the impact of the cuts on student learning.

 

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In Appropriations Bills, Fulbright Program Spared

The Senate Appropriations Committee has proposed flat funding for the Fulbright Program despite the Obama administration’s recommended $30.5 million reduction, the Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange, an association that lobbies on behalf of international exchange organizations, posted Thursday in a report on its website

Fulbright alumni and others have mobilized to protest the president’s proposed 13 percent cut to the State Department’s flagship exchange program and – so far – they seem to have been heard. A parallel bill proposed in the House of Representatives and released earlier this week called for “not less than” $236.974 million in Fulbright funding, which would represent a slight increase over current spending levels. 

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Is Denmark Too Nice to Its Students?

Government officials and educators in Denmark are debating whether the country is too generous to its college students. Tuition is free and students receive stipends (not loans) so officials say that students feel little pressure to study subjects that relate to potential jobs, Agence France Presse reported. Tech companies report that they don't have enough qualified applicants, while enrollments surge in topics that relate to students' personal interests. There has been much public discussion of a man known as "Lazy Robert," who at 45 has devoted considerable time to studying philosophy, Chinese and the social sciences and has no interest in finding private sector work.

 

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