Tuition-free online university sees newfound growth and attention

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Unconventional online university is growing and looking to focus on helping refugees.

ISIS Beheads Antiquities Scholar

The Islamic State beheaded an antiquities scholar in the Syrian city of Palmyra, The Guardian reported, and hung his body on a column in the city's main square. The Syrian state antiquities chief, Maamoun Abdulkarim, said that the scholar who was killed, Khaled Asaad, was 82 and had worked on antiquities in Palmyra for more than 50 years. “Just imagine that such a scholar who gave such memorable services to the place and to history would be beheaded … and his corpse still hanging from one of the ancient columns in the center of a square in Palmyra,” Abdulkarim said.

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A new era of U.S.-Iranian educational exchange?

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With a deal to limit Iran's nuclear program and relieve sanctions pending, U.S. universities look ahead to new possibilities for cooperation. But even as institutions contemplate sending students there, some flag safety and human rights concerns.

Judge Invalidates Component of Foreign Student Work Program

A federal judge's ruling last week invalidated the 17-month extension for postgraduation work training for international students in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, but stayed the decision until February to give the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) time to submit the rules for the program for public comment.

In her ruling for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle determined that the original 2008 rule to extend the duration of the optional practical training (OPT) program for STEM students from 12 to 29 months was issued without appropriate public notice and comment.

In opting to invalidate the rule while imposing a six-month stay to give the agency time to address the problem, Judge Huvelle noted that vacating the 2008 rule would cause “substantial hardship” for thousands of international students who would have to leave the United States in short order, in addition to causing “major labor disruption” for technology-related industries.

The suit against the OPT program was brought by the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, which argues that the OPT program generates unfair competition by creating a cheaper category of workers.

A DHS spokeswoman declined to answer specific questions about the agency’s plans for submitting a rule for public comment and the potential impact on international students who are taking advantage of the OPT STEM extension. “[U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] is currently reviewing the ruling and cannot comment on the details of the decision,” said Sarah Rodriguez, a DHS spokeswoman.

Last week’s decision invalidating the 17-month OPT extension for STEM students comes at a time when the Obama administration has signaled intentions to further “expand and extend” the use of the OPT program.

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Research questions whether having women on search committees increases odds of hiring women

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Having more women on committees that select academics for jobs does not increase the chances for female candidates and may actually do the opposite, according to a study of Italian and Spanish universities.

Debate Over Western Sydney's New Name and Logo

The University of Western Sydney has announced plans to change its name to Western Sydney University, setting off considerable debate at the Australian university, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. The university announcement about the change says that it is about "putting Western Sydney first." Officials told the Morning Herald that the new name and logo (at left) would help the university with its branding internationally. But many students are rallying around the old name and logo (at right), saying that they were not consulted on the name change and that they like the logo and its bird. So they are campaigning on social media and elsewhere to "save the bird."

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After Year on Job, U of British Columbia Leader Quits

After only a year in office, Arvind Gupta is stepping down as president of the University of British Columbia, one of Canada's leading universities and a player globally among research universities. The Globe and Mail reported that the move has left many stunned and asking questions. But the university and Gupta say only that he decided he believes he can best serve the university as a professor of political science.

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Compilation of Articles on Recruiting International Students

Inside Higher Ed is pleased to release today "Recruiting International Students," our latest print-on-demand compilation of articles. The booklet features articles about trends, debates and strategies of a range of institutions. This compilation is free and you may download a copy here. And you may sign up here for a free webinar on Thursday, August 27, at 2 p.m. Eastern about the themes of the booklet.

Student droput rates soar as Australian universities open admissions access

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Since Australian universities won the right to enroll any students they deemed qualified, the proportion of students failing out has spiked, especially from online programs.

Authors discuss reasoning behind high levels of Asian American achievement

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Authors discuss new book on high levels of Asian-American achievement in education in which they argue that it's not about culture.


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