international

Canadian University Renames Building Honoring Controversial Figure

The University of Victoria, in British Columbia, will rename a residence hall named for a 19th-century politician, Joseph Trutch, because of his views on race and his treatment of indigenous people, the Times Colonist and CBC reported. Trutch, British Columbia’s first lieutenant governor, refused to recognize indigenous land rights and reduced the size of reserves. He described First Nations people as “savages” and wrote that they were “the ugliest and laziest creatures I ever saw.”

A university administrator said there have been several campaigns to change Trutch Hall’s name. “It’s about being consistent with our mission and our values. And, it was just time,” Carmen Charette, Victoria’s vice president of external relations, told the Times Colonist.

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Poll finds stronger support in Europe for investing in vocational education than in universities

Poll indicates stronger popular support across countries for job-related training than for universities.

Foreign branch campuses in Qatar monitor major diplomatic rift

A diplomatic rift could have outsize impacts for international education, though university officials say it's still unclear what long-term impacts might be.

Enhanced Visa Questioning Approved

The U.S. Department of State has received emergency approval from the Office of Management and Budget to collect additional information regarding certain visa applicants’ travel and employment histories, familial connections, and social media usage in accordance with a notice it posted in the Federal Register May 4. The approval from OMB is for six months rather than the usual three years.

Fifty-five academic groups sent a joint letter expressing concern about the supplemental questioning, saying it is "likely to have a chilling effect not only on those required to submit additional information, but indirectly on all international travelers to the United States" and that the extra questions "could lead to unacceptably long delays in processing, which are particularly harmful to applicants with strict activity time frames or enrollment deadlines." In the Federal Register notice, the State Department estimated that 0.5 percent of visa applicants would be subjected to the additional questioning.

“This is not a revolutionary action; it’s an evolutionary action,” Edward Ramotowski, the acting principal deputy assistant secretary for consular affairs at the State Department, said Thursday during a session on visas at the annual NAFSA: Association of International Educators conference in Los Angeles. “Over time, over many years, the visa-application process has been modernized. It’s been made all electronic, and the amount of data points that we’ve been collecting has increased.”

“What this new process is doing is simply expanding the number of data points we are checking.” Ramotowski described social media as “the new frontier of security vetting.”

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'These are serious times' for international education, NAFSA conference goers told

International education professionals meeting this week for NAFSA’s annual conference confront a difficult political environment.

Dutch business school criticized over ties to Shell

A leading Dutch business school is accused of giving influence over the curriculum and admissions to an oil company.

Enrollments in Intensive English Programs Fall

The number of students enrolled in intensive English programs in the U.S. fell by 18.7 percent in 2016 compared to the year before, according to new data from the Institute of International Education released Tuesday during the annual NAFSA: Association of International Educators conference. There were particularly large drops in the numbers of students from Brazil (down 56.2 percent) and Saudi Arabia (down 45.2 percent), both countries with large government scholarship programs that have been suspended (in Brazil’s case) or restructured (in the case of Saudi Arabia, which has imposed higher academic eligibility requirements). The number of intensive English students from China also fell by 16 percent. Many international students in the U.S. start in intensive English programs before moving into degree programs.

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Central European University Will Remain in Budapest for 2017-18

Central European University announced Tuesday that it will remain in Budapest for the 2017-18 academic year, amid hope that it will be able to do so for the long run as well.

The university, founded in 1991, has American and Hungarian accreditation and offers graduate education in the social sciences and various professional fields. The university has won international praise for the quality of its academic programs. But a law passed in Hungary in April has endangered the university by requiring that it offer programs in New York State, where it is chartered but does not offer programs. The law has been condemned by academics worldwide as an attack on the university. Above right is one of the symbols of a social media campaign on behalf of the university. (While the exact motives are unclear, many say that the Hungarian government is trying to attack George Soros, the financier and philanthropist who founded the university.)

Tuesday's announcement follows word that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has authorized negotiations with the Hungarian government on ways that the university might be able to comply with the law through some arrangement with New York State, while maintaining its mission of operating in Hungary.

“We need a solution in place in order to recruit new students for academic year 2018-19,” said a statement from the university's president and rector, Michael Ignatieff. “We want the negotiations in New York to come to a speedy and successful conclusion that removes the obstacles to our remaining in Budapest.”

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Chinese Professor Blocked From Social Media

A law professor at Peking University who has been a prominent critic of the Chinese government will no longer publish on social media after the government repeatedly shut down his blogs and accounts, the Associated Press reported. “In the last 40 years, freedom of speech for intellectuals has never been constricted as severely as it is now,” said the professor, He Weifang. “It makes you outraged.”

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For-Profits' Suit Challenges Borrower-Defense Rules

A group of California for-profit colleges filed a lawsuit in federal court this week seeking to block the implementation of borrower-defense rules finalized last fall.

The regulations, which would go into effect July 1, expand on and clarify existing federal statute to spell out how borrowers who were the victims of fraud or misrepresentation by their institution can have their student loans discharged.

Many expected that GOP lawmakers would kill the Obama era rules using the Congressional Review Act. But Congress took no action and the Trump administration has yet to indicate what approach it will take toward implementation. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos told a House appropriations subcommittee Wednesday that the department would have "something further to say" on borrower defense in the next few weeks.

The for-profits' lawsuit, which names DeVos and the department as defendants, argues that the borrower-defense provision in federal statute was never intended to be used to make an affirmative case for debt relief by student borrowers.

The regulations, the suit argues, "turn a defense into a novel affirmative cause of action that will expose schools to massive liability."

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