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Founder discusses plans for a transcontinental university for Africa

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Founder discusses his plans for a transcontinental university.

Mexican University Wants to Join NCAA

Cetys University is making a bid to become the first Mexican university in the NCAA, The New York Times reported. The private university based mainly in Mexicali and Tijuana has four men’s varsity teams – including a football team -- three women’s varsity teams and an annual athletic budget of $1.25 million. The California Collegiate Athletic Association is supporting Cetys’s bid, but the Times cites several obstacles, including the need for student athletes on opposing teams to have the required passports or visas to travel to Mexico for away games, and the political and practical issues at play in crossing the border, a process that is subject to delays.

The NCAA accepted its first international member institution, Canada's Simon Fraser University, in 2012. Last week it made permanent a pilot program that allows divisions to invite Canadian or Mexican universities to join.

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E.U. Responds to Hungary's Higher Education Law

The European Commission has initiated legal action against the government of Hungary, a member state, with regard to a new higher education law that Central European University says would force it to close its Budapest campus. The commission said its review of Hungary's new higher education law concluded that it “is not compatible with the fundamental internal market freedoms, notably the freedom to provide services and the freedom of establishment, but also with the right of academic freedom, the right to education and the freedom to conduct a business as provided by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, as well as with the union's legal obligations under international trade law.”

The commission has sent a formal notice to Hungary, which has a month to respond to the legal concerns. The New York Times described the notice as a warning and said that while it could, in principle, be followed by sanctions, those sanctions would be subject to veto by other E.U. states such as Romania, which has often sided with Hungary.

The law affecting CEU, an American-accredited institution founded in 1991 by the liberal financier George Soros, has been widely seen as an attack on liberal values and academic freedom in Hungary, motivated in part by the government's antipathy to Soros. In an address at the European Parliament Wednesday, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán railed against Soros and defended the law on universities as a "minor amendment" that "unifies the rules that apply to them, closes the possibility of speculations and abuses, demands transparency, and eliminates the privileged position these institutions enjoyed over European universities," according to the Times.

CEU disputed the prime minister's assertion that the new law eliminates privileges and loopholes. "For weeks now, we have been asking the government to name the specific privileges possessed in the past by CEU and the rights given now to all Hungarian universities," the university said in a statement. "Unfortunately the prime minister failed to answer these questions again."

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Germany sees benefits in educating international students for free

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University leaders see benefits to policy in a country with aging population, but some states have been trying to move away from the approach.

North Korea Detains Korean-American Professor

North Korea has detained a Korean-American professor, The Washington Post reported. Kim Sang-duk, a former professor at China’s Yanbian University of Science and Technology, was reportedly arrested at Pyongyang’s airport on Friday while waiting to board a flight to leave the country. He had been in North Korea for a month to teach a class on international finance and management at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.

Kim is the third U.S. citizen known to be held in North Korea. Another, Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia student, was arrested for allegedly trying to steal a propaganda poster while on a tour to the country and sentenced, in March 2016, to 15 years of hard labor.

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$25 Million Gift at Colby to Fund Global Experiences

A $25 million gift to Colby College will allow it “to provide funding for every student to spend time abroad,” the liberal arts college in Waterville, Me., announced Thursday.

The gift from the Davis family -- which also established the Davis United World College Scholars program -- will be used to staff a new center for the program, called DavisConnects, and to provide direct support for students going abroad as well as funding for faculty to develop new international programs.

“What we’re really trying to do is have students, from the moment they walk into Colby, be able to have advisers and faculty and others who are thinking with them about how to connect their education to things that are happening in the world and how to design their education and design their future while they’re here,” said Colby’s president, David A. Greene. “That means from first year, first semester that they’ll come into this new DavisConnects center and they’ll be working with advisers to figure out how they’ll spend their Januaries, because we have a Jan Plan, how they’ll spend their summers. That will include global programs but will also include internships and research.”

“I want us to think about Colby as being essentially a year-round college but not all of it is spent in Waterville, Maine,” Greene continued.

Greene said the Davis donation will be used for both means-tested scholarships for global programs and non-need-based grants for students who propose “extraordinary opportunities” they want to pursue overseas.

“There will be funding available for every student who wants to be able to draw from this fund, but they’re going to have to propose a good project for it,” said Greene.

“It really is dependent on student interest or need, but what I want to do is create a culture where this is a part of what your education is all about.”

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March for Science events happening Saturday around the world

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Events advocating for science and research are scheduled around the world Saturday.

UNESCO Paper on Gaps in Global Completion Rates

While higher education participation rates are growing worldwide, and while women are closing the participation gap, students from low-income families and from ethnic minority and indigenous groups continue to lag behind, according to a new policy paper from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

An analysis across 76 countries found that 20 percent of the richest 25- to 29-year-olds -- and less than 1 percent of the poorest -- have completed at least four years of higher education. In the Philippines, 52 percent of the richest individuals, and 1 percent of the poorest, had completed four years of higher education. In Mongolia, 72 percent of the richest individuals, and 3 percent of the poorest, had completed four years of higher education. There are also big disparities by household wealth in certain Eastern European countries, including Bulgaria, Macedonia and Moldova.

“Looking at the average hides a lot of important information about who that average is made up of,” said Taya Owens, a research officer with UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring Report. “Even if you look at Ukraine or the United Kingdom, which are two countries that have high average attainment rates, there’s a pretty substantial disparity between the richest and the poorest.”

The policy paper makes a series of recommendations for increasing equity and access, including through a combination of low tuition fees, need-based scholarships and income-based loans with repayments capped at less than 15 percent of monthly income, and through the development of affirmative action policies “that put equity front and center in the admissions process.”

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Trump Directs Review of H-1B Visas

President Trump signed an executive order Tuesday that directs federal agencies to recommend changes to the H-1B skilled-worker visa program “to help ensure that H-1B visas are awarded to the most skilled or highest-paid petition beneficiaries.”

The H-1B visa program is important to colleges both because many international students look to it as a route to permanent residency in the U.S. and because universities use H-1Bs to hire postdoctoral researchers and others from abroad. Universities and other nonprofit or governmental research organizations are exempt from the cap on new H-1B visas, which are otherwise limited to 85,000 per year.

“Right now, H-1B visas are awarded in a totally random lottery -- and that's wrong,” the president said during a speech in Wisconsin. “Instead, they should be given to the most skilled and highest-paid applicants, and they should never, ever be used to replace Americans.” In a background briefing, a senior Trump administration official suggested that one possible change to the program would be to adjust the lottery to give an advantage to master’s graduates. Currently, 20,000 of the 85,000 total visas are earmarked for holders of graduate degrees from American colleges.

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British Student Killed in Jerusalem Stabbing

A British exchange student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem was killed in a stabbing attack on a tram in Jerusalem Friday, the BBC reported. A 57-year-old Palestinian man who police said had recently been released from a psychiatric hospital was detained at the scene of the attack.

The student who was killed, Hannah Bladon, 21, came to Hebrew University in January as an exchange student from the University of Birmingham. In a statement Hebrew University condemned "such acts of terror that harm innocent people, and especially a student who came to Jerusalem to study and widen her academic horizons."

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