Canadian Academic Detained in Iran

A Canadian university professor has been jailed in Iran after conducting research on women in the country, according to a report in The Globe and Mail, which cites the professor’s niece.

Homa Hoodfar, an anthropologist and professor at Montreal’s Concordia University, was reportedly detained on Monday and is being held in Tehran’s Evin Prison. She was in Iran to visit family and do academic research. Her academic interests include feminism and the role of women in Middle Eastern societies.

“We are unclear as to what the charges are,” Hoodfar’s niece, Amanda Ghahremani, told the Canadian Press. “[Hoodfar] is not an activist and she has never been political. She has never engaged in anything that could even be remotely be construed as any form of sedition or political activity in any way.”

Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Stéphane Dion, said he has met with a member of Hoodfar’s family and is working to help her.

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Chinese Law Punishes Cheating With 7-Year Jail Sentence

A new law in China would make cheating on the high-stakes national college entrance exam punishable by up to a seven-year jail sentence, The New York Times reported. Student and parent reaction to the law is mixed, with some praising it as a way to deter cheating and others believing that a seven-year jail sentence is too harsh. Human rights experts described the severity of the threatened punishment as worrisome.

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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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