Indictment in Alleged Diploma Mill Case

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York has charged an executive with the Pakistani company Axact in connection to an alleged diploma mill scheme. Umair Hamid has been charged with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in connection with what the U.S. Attorney's Office press release describes as “a worldwide ‘diploma mill’ scheme that collected at least approximately $140 million from tens of thousands of consumers.”

Hamid served as assistant vice president of international relations for Axact, which was the subject of a May 2015 New York Times investigation into the company's alleged trade in selling fake academic degrees. The U.S. government alleges that after Pakistani law enforcement shut Axact down and prosecuted certain individuals associated with the company, Hamid resumed selling fake diplomas to American customers in exchange for up-front fees "based upon false and fraudulent representations." He also allegedly traveled to the U.S. to open a bank account used to collect money from customers.

Hamid was arrested Dec. 19 and appeared the next day in federal court in Fort Mitchell, Ky. His lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Study looks at link between international enrollment increases and state appropriation declines

Analysis finds that a 10 percent reduction in state appropriations is associated with a 12-17 percent increase in international undergraduate enrollment at public research universities.

Obama to Rescind Rules for Dormant Immigrant Registry

The Obama administration is undoing the regulatory framework for a dormant registry program for visitors from countries with active terrorist groups -- acting before a Trump administration can revive it, The New York Times reported.

The program in question is the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, or NSEERS, which was created after the Sept. 11 attacks and which at one point mandated special registration requirements for individuals coming from 25 countries, most of which had majority-Muslim populations and were located in Africa or the Middle East. A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, Neema Hakim, said in a statement quoted by the Times that the department “ceased use of NSEERS more than five years ago, after it was determined the program was redundant, inefficient and provided no increase in security.”

A member of Trump’s transition team and the Kansas secretary of state, Kris Kobach, had floated the possibility of restarting the registry. President-elect Donald J. Trump has called for increased screening of individuals coming from regions with "a history of exporting terrorism."

Nearly 200 civil rights and other organizations wrote a letter to President Obama in November calling on him to undo the regulatory framework for the NSEERS program, describing it as “ineffective as a counterterrorism tool” and a “discriminatory policy that ran counter to the fundamental American values of fairness and equal protection. Rescinding the regulatory framework of the program will ensure that our nation does not target communities based on national origin and faith in the future.”

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Spanish University Chief Accused of Plagiarism

The leader of a Spanish university has been accused of repeated plagiarism, the BBC reported. Fernando Suarez, the head of Madrid's King Juan Carlos University, has left his position on a commission of Spanish university chancellors as a result of the allegations. Suarez has said he is a victim of defamation and harassment.

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British universities see major risks with Brexit


British universities already report that some students and professors are wary of coming to their institutions.

Authors discuss new book about the success in education and business of immigrants from India

Authors discuss their new book on the success -- in educational attainment and business -- of Indians in the United States.

Opposition to Priest as Choice to Lead French University

The appointment of Michel Deneken, a Roman Catholic priest and theology professor, to lead the University of Strasbourg has attracted controversy among some who argue that the choice violates the spirit, if not the letter, of French laws calling for separation of church and state, France 24 reported.

The public university in eastern France announced the election of Deneken as its new president on Tuesday. In a vote by the university's Council of Directors, Deneken -- the interim president since September -- received 26 votes while his opponent received nine.

The France 24 article published prior to his election quoted both the SNESUP higher education union and the UNEF national students' union expressing concerns about the selection of a priest for Strasbourg's presidency, with the latter group saying, “The appointment of someone who owes allegiance to both the state and the Vatican will not be good for the image of the university.”

Deneken said his status as a priest should not prevent him from assuming the presidency. “I’ve been vice president of the university for eight years, and interim president since September,” France 24 quoted him as saying. “Each individual has his own beliefs and convictions, and universities are places where matters of faith should never interfere with teaching or research, and should always respect the laws of the republic and the ethics of education.”

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Cambridge to Continue Tradition of Public Grades

Academics and senior administrators at the University of Cambridge have voted in favor of keeping the centuries-old tradition of publicly posting "class lists," including student exam results by name, The Telegraph reported. Student campaigners had argued that the public display of grades was "damaging" to student welfare and promoted "a culture of shaming." But 55 percent of students who voted in a referendum were in favor of keeping the lists, "albeit," the Telegraph reported, "with an easier 'opt-out' process."

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Longstanding Arabic language program loses federal funding

Loss of federal funding for highly regarded program has one scholar asking, “What’s our strategy here?”

Saudi Student Numbers Fall by Nearly 20 Percent

The number of students from Saudi Arabia in the U.S. on student visas fell by 19.9 percent from November 2015 to November 2016, according to new data on student visas from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Many U.S. universities and intensive English programs have reported declines in admissions and enrollments of new students from Saudi Arabia -- a key country in many institutions' international recruiting efforts -- that they have attributed to changes in that country’s government scholarship program.

The data on student visas, released quarterly by the U.S. government, are distinct from annual survey data on international enrollments compiled by the Institute of International Education. Despite the drop in the number of Saudi students, the Homeland Security data show that the overall number of international students on F or M visas -- for academic or vocational study -- increased 2.9 percent from November 2015 to November 2016, to an all-time high of 1.23 million. An additional 198,217 foreign nationals are in the U.S. on J-1 exchange visas, a decrease of 1.8 percent from last fall. A breakdown of some country-by-country trends for Asia, the top region of origin for international students in the U.S., is below.

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