Wellesley College’s Freedom Project plans to issue an invitation to Xia Yeliang to be a visiting fellow, Thomas Cushman, the director of the project and a professor of sociology, announced on Thursday. More than 130 Wellesley faculty members have signed an open letter in support of Xia, a professor of economics at Peking University who was dismissed in October in what’s been widely viewed as retribution for his outspoken criticism of the Chinese government. (Peking University objects to this characterization, and has said that Xia’s contract was not renewed because his teaching and research records were sub-par.)
In a statement, Wellesley confirmed that though an invitation has not yet been extended, the college is moving forward with the possible appointment of Xia as a visiting fellow. "While the circumstances of Professor Xia's contract non-renewal with Peking University and his academic record may be in dispute, his credentials as an advocate of academic freedom and human rights are solid," the statement says. "It is Xia's experience as a practitioner of dissent that fits well with the work of the Freedom Project." (This article has been updated from an earlier version to include Wellesley's statement.)
Wellesley faculty voted earlier this month to proceed with the college's institutional partnership with Peking despite the academic freedom concerns raised by Xia’s termination.
The American Studies Association gathers this week in Washington for its annual meeting -- and one topic of discussion will be a proposal that the scholarly group back the boycott of Israeli universities. The boycott movement has had considerable support in Europe but most American academic groups have opposed boycotts of higher education institutions as antithetical to academic freedom. To date, only one American scholarly group -- the Association for Asian American Studies -- has backed the boycott movement. Some American studies scholars are speaking out against the proposal -- and many have signed a petition urging the association not to endorse the boycott.
The University of Nicosia, in Cyprus, announced today that it will accept Bitcoin for the payment of tuition and other fees. The university is also launching a master of science degree in digital currency, which will be offered in online and on-campus formats starting in spring of 2014. The introductory course for the program, Introduction to Digital Currency, will be offered free as a MOOC (massive open online course).
The number of international students in Canada has increased by 94 percent since 2001, climbing to a total of 265,377 in 2012, according to a new report released this week by the Canadian Bureau for International Education. (For comparison, this is slightly less than a third of the number of international students in the U.S.) The top four countries of origin – China, India, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia – mirror those of the U.S.
In a survey of 1,509 international students in Canada, CBIE found that 91 percent are satisfied or very satisfied with their decision to study in Canada. Nearly half (46 percent) plan to become permanent residents in Canada; another 25 percent hope to stay in Canada and work for up to three years before returning home. More than two-thirds of students described opportunities to work full-time in Canada post-graduation and to obtain permanent residency as either “very important” or “essential” factors in their decision to study in Canada.
In regards to social and cultural integration – an issue of increasing concern as the number of international students rises – 78 percent of students said they’d like more opportunities to experience Canadian culture and family life. However, nearly a third of students (31 percent) said they prefer to mix with people of their own culture. Slightly more than half of students (55 percent) said their friends primarily consist of other international students, including 23 percent who said they were primarily friends with their compatriots; seven percent said they are primarily friends with Canadian students.
The survey also probes experiences of discrimination. While 82 percent agreed with the statement that Canada is a welcoming and tolerant society, minorities of students reported experiencing racial or cultural/religious discrimination in their interactions with faculty members, institutional staff, students and the broader community.
The CBIE report also considers the issue of study abroad, and finds that Canada’s participation rate of less than 3 percent is significantly lower than that of other countries.
Brandeis University on Monday suspended its partnership with Al-Quds University, citing the failure of leaders at the Palestinian university to condemn a recent protest in which demonstrators used the traditional Nazi salute and honored "martyred" suicide bombers. In a statement on its website, Brandeis said that President Frederick Lawrence had acted after asking the president of Al-Quds to issue an "unequivocal condemnation" of the protests. But the statement published on the Al-Quds website -- an English translation of which the president of Al-Quds, Sari Nusseibah, sent to Brandeis -- criticized "Jewish extremists" who "spare no effort to exploit some rare but nonetheless damaging events or scenes which occur on the campus of Al Quds University," as well as calling for a respectful campus environment. Brandeis called the statement "unacceptable and inflammatory," and said it would suspend the relationship with Al-Quds.
Russian officials have pledged to investigate why there have been major layoffs at Moscow State University, RIA Novosti reported. The government has been pushing the university to raise employee salaries, but has not provided funds for the increased pay.