An article in The New York Times details how Axact, a software company in Pakistan, operates a network of 370 websites that sell fake college and university degrees, earning the company millions of dollars a year. The websites feature videos with actors playing the parts of professors and others. The article quotes former employees as saying that the customers are a mix of people who know they are buying a fake degree and others who are duped into believing they are enrolling in legitimate institutions. A lawyer for the company denied that it was engaged in these activities and wrote to the Times that its reporter was “coming to our client with half-cooked stories and conspiracy theories.”
An art professor at the Cooper Union who is a member of the Gulf Labor Coalition reported that he was denied entry to the United Arab Emirates upon arrival at the Dubai airport for “security” reasons on May 11. Walid Raad, who has spoken publicly about labor conditions in the Gulf, particularly as they pertain to the construction of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, is reportedly the third member of the labor coalition to be denied entry to the UAE this spring and the second professor (the first was Andrew Ross, a professor of social and cultural analysis at New York University, which has a campus in Abu Dhabi).
“A couple of weeks ago, the Guggenheim stated that its Abu Dhabi branch is ‘an opportunity for a dynamic cultural exchange and to chart a more inclusive and expansive view of art history,’” Raad said in a written statement. “I agree. But I’ve wondered for some time now whether travel bans and deportations will be the fate of artists, writers and others who actually engage in this dynamic cultural exchange.”
The UAE embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment on Sunday.
Sydney Engelberg is a professor at Hebrew University of Jerusalem who teaches organizational management, and he allows students with babies to bring them to class. In a recent class, one such baby started crying, and the baby's mother started to leave the class with her child. Engelberg didn't want anyone to leave, so he held and calmed the baby without stopping his lecture. A photo of the professor posted to Facebook went viral on Thursday.
A new paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research explores the impact that Chinese graduate students had on the productivity of American professors when a change in China's policies in 1978 led to a sudden surge in the number of Chinese graduate students in the United States. The paper (abstract available here) uses databases that track the research output of American mathematics professors and that identify the graduate students working with individual American professors. The study finds that Chinese students were disproportionately likely to have Chinese-American faculty advisors, and that these advisors saw a notable increase in research productivity. Other American faculty members at these universities saw a decline in the numbers of students they mentored, and these professors saw a decline in their productivity.
The Conservative Party victory in Thursday's British elections could have important consequences for British universities, Times Higher Education reported. The Conservative Party has pledged a referendum on whether to leave the European Union, and academic leaders want to stay, given the research funds their institutions receive from the EU. The Conservatives have also pledged to tighten the rules on visas for international students -- a move that university leaders fear would result in enrollment declines.
More than 180 historians -- most of them working at American colleges and universities -- this week issued an open letter to Japan's prime minister, Shinzo Abe, calling on his country to be more open to discussing the atrocities of the World War II era. The letter focuses on the "comfort women," women whom the Japanese military forced into sex slavery in many of the countries Japan occupied.
"Exploitation of the suffering of former 'comfort women' for nationalist ends in the countries of the victims makes an international resolution more difficult and further insults the dignity of the women themselves. Yet denying or trivializing what happened to them is equally unacceptable," the letter says. "Among the many instances of wartime sexual violence and military prostitution in the 20th century the 'comfort women' system was distinguished by its large scale and systematic management under the military, and by its exploitation of young, poor and vulnerable women in areas colonized or occupied by Japan."
The signatories include many of the leading American scholars of Japan. The letter grew out of a discussion in March at the meeting of the Association for Asian Studies. The letter is receiving widespread coverage in Japan and some of the countries, such as South Korea, where women were forced to be "comfort women."
Columbia University has prohibited all university-related undergraduate travel to Nepal following the recent 7.8-magnitude earthquake. Duke University has also restricted travel to Nepal, and Arizona State University has canceled its summer study abroad programs there. SIT Study Abroad is still assessing the situation and expects to make a decision about whether to run its summer program focusing on geoscience in the Himalayas within the next week, according to the vice provost, Priscilla Stone.
Five university presidents have signed on so far to the UN Women’s HeForShe campaign by making specific commitments to improve gender equality within their institutions, Timereported. The University of Hong Kong; the University of Leicester, in the United Kingdom; Nagoya University, in Japan; the University of Waterloo, in Canada; and the University of the Witwatersrand, in South Africa, have all made various pledges to increase the number of women in top administrative positions and/or on the faculty, among other commitments.