Peking University announced Sunday that it is replacing its president, who has been controversial, with another academic leader who has also been controversial, The South China Morning Post reported. Out is Wang Enge, who has been in the office only two years and who has been criticized for his push for an elite college within the university to educate foreign students. He is being replaced by Lin Jianhua, who has been controversial in two previous presidencies.
Antismoking groups and some academics are calling on the University of Zurich to retract two papers it published -- without peer review -- that were financed by Philip Morris International, The Guardian reported. The papers argued that there is no evidence that requiring cigarettes to be sold in plain packages has an impact on tobacco use. Critics are questioning the findings and the nature of the arrangement with Philip Morris, noting that the company had the right to review the material prior to publication. The researchers defend their work and say that it is being described inaccurately.
Canadian authorities are investigating the theft of three paintings from various buildings at the University of Toronto. Police officers say the paintings were stolen from separate locations, and that they were cut out of their frames. The most valuable of the three is "Church of Santa Maria della Salute," by Francesco Guardi (at right). The Globe and Mail reported that paintings by Guardi have sold in recent years for many millions of dollars.
The student government of the Durban University of Technology, in South Africa, has called on the institution to expel Jewish students, although some quotes from student leaders suggest that Jewish students who support the Palestinian cause could remain, The Daily News reported. Mqondisi Duma, secretary of the student government, said, "We had a meeting and analyzed international politics. We took the decision that Jewish students, especially those who do not support the Palestinian struggle, should deregister.” A statement from Ahmed C. Bawa, vice chancellor of the university, denounced the student government's request. He called the request "outrageous, preposterous and a deep violation of our National Constitution and every human rights principle."
Middle East studies scholars are protesting the decision of the Bahraini government to revoke the citizenship of 72 individuals, including that of Masaud Jahromi, a professor of telecommunications engineering at Ahlia University.
A letter from the Middle East Studies Association’s Committee on Academic Freedom describes the decision to revoke the Bahrain-born Jahromi’s citizenship as “arbitrary and thus a violation of customary international law.”
“We strongly suspect, in fact, that the revocation of Dr. Jahromi’s citizenship is political in nature, related to his past advocacy for greater democracy and respect for civil rights in your country,” continues the letter, which notes that Jahromi was arrested and detained for multiple months in 2011, the year of the Arab Spring. Amnesty International has also expressed concern about the Bahraini government’s decision to denaturalize citizens without affording them due process, as has the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. The government has said that the 72 individuals are being punished for various “illegal acts,” which range from espionage and terrorism-related charges to allegations of “defaming the image of the regime” and "defaming brotherly countries." The government's statement does not specify which individuals allegedly committed which acts.
New rules that make it more difficult for international students to gain permanent residency in Canada are raising concerns about a potentially dampening effect on recruitment, The Globe and Mailreported. Rules that came into effect in January no longer give international student applicants with Canadian work experience a leg up in the application process and instead lump them in with other skilled workers seeking permanent residency status.