A Massachusetts trial is providing details about allegations that Mark Zimny, a consultant, convinced a wealthy Hong Kong businessman to pay him more than $2 million to get the businessman's sons into Ivy League colleges, The Boston Globe reported. Zimny is facing wire fraud, bank fraud and other charges -- all of which he has denied. In the first stage of the trial, the Hong Kong businessman, Gerald Chow, has testified about how Zimny instructed him to send money that would be donated to prep schools that would then admit his sons, paving their way to the Ivy League. The relationship soured when Chow discovered the prep schools never received his donations. Zimny's lawyers said that the payments were to look after Chow's sons.
Laura Sumner, a Ph.D. student at Britain's University of Nottingham, is being forced to end a research trip to Russia amid charges that she was spying on the country, The Independent reported. She was forced to appear in court in Russia and accused of traveling on the wrong visa, and was ordered to leave the country. She is doing research on social identity among urban workers in 1917. University officials said that they have been in touch with Sumner and expect her to return soon to Britain.
Authorities say 147 people were killed in an attack by a violent Somali group on a university in Kenya Thursday morning, The New York Times reported. That number is much higher than were the initial reports. Christian students were the target at a university that educates both Muslim and Christian students. An article in Times Higher Education explores how universities in strife-torn parts of the world can be seen as easy targets for terrorist groups.
Gunmen linked to a violent group in Somalia attacked a university in Kenya early Thursday, CNN reported. The attack on Garissa University College left at least 30 hospitalized and authorities fear that hostages were taken. Fifteen people were reported killed.
The Canadian Association of University Teachers is warning that antiterrorism legislation under consideration in Canada could limit academic freedom. An analysis of the legislation notes, for example, that "advocating terrorism" could be a crime. The C.A.U.T. asks whether a professor talking about the reasons some antiapartheid groups used violence to force change in South Africa would be committing a criminal act. The association urges the adoption of an exemption to the law for statements and actions related to instruction and education.
Conflicting reports circulated Tuesday about the status of a conference, International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism, scheduled for next month at the University of Southampton, in Britain. The conference has been the subject of intense debate over the last month. Some defenders of Israel and others have charged that the conference is one-sided and designed to question the right of Israel to exist. Some of those critics have called on the university to cancel the conference, which -- to date -- it has not done. Many scholars have defended the conference, some because they back its substance and others on the principle that academics should be able to organize conferences as they see fit.
On Monday, organizers of the conference wrote online that the university informed them it intends to withdraw permission for the event to take place. The organizers wrote that while university officials cited safety concerns, the professors who put together the meeting believe that political considerations and not safety explain the move.
A spokesman for the university sent an email to Inside Higher Ed strongly denying that the conference has been called off. The spokesman acknowledged that the university has raised security issues, but said that was the only reason for the discussions, and that the faculty organizers would have the final say. "Any decision by the university regarding the withdrawal of permission will be judged purely on considerations around the health and safety of our staff, students and for the general public. Any decisions about a potential cancellation of the conference will be left to the organizers," the statement said.
The Rhodes Scholarship Program will soon expand to China, The New York Times reported. The article noted that the expansion reflects a push by many of the world's top universities to recruit talent in China, and also a desire by many of those universities (and the Rhodes scholarships) to raise money in the country.
Taiwan's Ministry of Education has warned universities that they need to prepare for shrinking enrollments due to falling birth rates in the country, The Taipei Times reported. The ministry is working on plans to merge or close universities, predicting that 12 of the 51 public universities in the nation and 20 to 40 of the 101 private universities will be merged or closed by 2023.