international

Top Chinese University to Require Swim Test

An elite Chinese university has introduced a controversial new requirement -- a swim test. The BBC reported that the requirement -- that new Tsinghua University students prove they can swim at least 50 meters using any kind of stroke -- has prompted debate on social media, with some suggesting it is unreasonable to require students who grew up in inland cities to learn to swim as adults. Tsinghua says swimming is a key survival skill.

Many U.S. colleges have dropped their swim tests in recent years, though some still require them.

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American U Afghanistan Will Resume Classes

The American University of Afghanistan reopened on Saturday and will resume classes tomorrow, Voice of America reported. Security has been enhanced, officials said. The university effectively stopped most operations after an August attack that killed 15 people and injured dozens more. Western institutions in Afghanistan have long been the targets of terrorists, and some have questioned whether the university took all appropriate steps to protect students and faculty members prior to the attack.

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One Judge Rules in Trump's Favor on Travel Ban

A federal judge in Virginia ruled in favor of President Trump’s travel ban in finding that the president’s past statements about banning the entry of Muslims do not disqualify him from exercising his broad powers on national security and immigration, The Washington Post reported. The decision, though a symbolic victory for the Trump administration, has no immediate practical effect, as federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland have both ruled to block enforcement of the order banning entry into the U.S. for nationals of six Muslim-majority countries. The judges in Hawaii and Maryland both ruled that the plaintiffs proved they were likely to prevail on their claims that the entry ban violates the constitutional prohibition on the official favoring or disfavoring of any religion.

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AU Beirut Settles Claims It Aided Groups Linked to Hezbollah

The American University of Beirut has agreed to pay $700,000 to settle a civil lawsuit alleging that it provided material support to three organizations that the U.S. government has linked to the militant group Hezbollah.

A press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York alleges that the university provided material support to three entities included on the Office of Foreign Assets Control’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons list. The settlement resolves claims that the university provided training to journalists from Al Nour Radio and Al Manar TV, both of which have been on the list of sanctioned entities since March 2006, and that it included the group Jihad al-Binaa, on the OFAC list since February 2007, in a database of nongovernmental organizations that AUB maintained on its website for the purpose of connecting students interested in working with them.

The journalism training involved a series of three multiday workshops in 2007, 2008 and 2009, during which AUB allegedly provided specialized training to a group of journalists, including representatives from Al Nour Radio and Al Manar TV, according to federal prosecutors.

“For years, the American University of Beirut accepted grant money from USAID but failed to take reasonable steps to ensure against providing material support to entities on the Treasury Department’s prohibited list,” Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said in a statement. “Without such proper safeguards, the university ended up providing training to entities that were prohibited parties under U.S. law. With today’s settlement, the university is being made to pay a financial penalty for its conduct, and, importantly, it has admitted to its conduct and agreed to put proper precautions in place to ensure that it does not happen again.”

AUB, which receives funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development, admitted that it had provided training to two entities on the sanctions list and that it had listed a third in a student database but maintained that its conduct was not "knowing, intentional or reckless." The university said it will conduct additional faculty and staff training "to ensure compliance with U.S. and Lebanese law."

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Scrutiny Ordered for Certain Visa Applicants

Memos from U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson offer a first glimpse of what President Trump’s proposed “extreme vetting” of visa applicants will look like, Reuters and The New York Times reported Thursday. The memos direct consular officials to identify "populations warranting increased scrutiny" and to put applicants from these populations through more rigorous questioning. The memos also direct consular officials to check social media histories for all applicants who have been in areas controlled by the Islamic State.

State Department officials say the changes will likely lead to increases in visa denials and further slow the visa application process. Immigration attorneys also expressed concern about profiling of visa applicants based on religion or national origin.

"What this language effectively does is give the consular posts permission to step away from the focused factors they have spent years developing and revising, and instead broaden the search to large groups based on gross factors such as nationality and religion," Jay Gairson, a Seattle-based immigration attorney, told Reuters.

Trump has said he wants to improve vetting procedures to prevent the entry of terrorists into the United States. An executive order banning entry into the U.S. for citizens of six Muslim-majority countries remains blocked by the courts.

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The peace process and higher education in Colombia

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The country has some strong universities, but many institutions struggle to serve impoverished students.

Amid Scandal, President of University in Taiwan to Step Down

The president of National Taiwan University, Yang Pan-chyr, said he will resign when his term ends in June following allegations of academic misconduct involving papers he co-wrote, the Taipei Times and Focus Taiwan reported. A university investigatory committee cleared Yang of wrongdoing, but Yang said he would step down from his post to shield the university from further criticism over the incident. Retraction Watch has published an article with background about the case.

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Presidents Call on Trump to Protect Dreamers

More than 560 college and university presidents have signed a letter urging President Trump to keep in place protections for “Dreamers,” a term for immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children -- many of whom are now college students. Under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, created by President Obama, more than 700,000 Dreamers have been able to obtain work permits and temporary protection from the risk of deportation. During the campaign, Trump called for an end to DACA, but he has since softened his tone, saying he would like to “work something out” for Dreamers, without offering specifics.

“Unfortunately, many of these young people now live in fear that the program [DACA] will be rolled back or revoked,” states the letter, which was organized by the American Council on Education. “In order to lift this cloud of fear, we ask that you commit to allowing these productive and high-achieving individuals to continue to work and study while your administration and Congress arrive at a permanent solution. The higher education community is eager to work with you to find a path forward.”

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Indian Business Students Look to Canada

Increasing numbers of Indian students are looking to study at Canadian business schools rather than in the U.S. and the U.K., The Financial Times reported. The article discusses the impact of the Trump presidency and Britain’s vote to leave the European Union on student choices and preferences. As Inside Higher Ed has reported, many Canadian universities are seeing surges in international applications at a time when some American universities are reporting declines.

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Judge issues injunction against Trump's travel ban

Federal judge's ruling to grant injunction cites impact on University of Hawaii.

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