A leader of the Parti Québécois, which is the governing party in Quebec but has just started a tough re-election campaign, has proposed that college and university students be barred from wearing burkas, Maclean's reported. Bernard Drainville, the official who proposed the idea, is also behind the proposed "values charter" that would bar public employees (including those in higher education) from wearing any religious attire. In proposing the burka ban, he said he was concerned that students in burkas attend classes at a number of universities in the province.
The U.S. Department of Treasury on Thursday issued a general license allowing accredited U.S. universities to enter into academic exchange agreements with Iranian universities and permitting the export of some educational services, including university entrance examinations. The guidance also permits American universities and their contractors to enroll Iranian students in certain online undergraduate-level courses, including massive open online courses, or MOOCs. In January, Inside Higher Edreported that the U.S. government had blocked access to the MOOC provider Coursera for individuals in Iran and other economically sanctioned nations.
The drowning deaths of six students, apparently from hazing, have set off a debate at Portugal's universities, The New York Times reported. Hazing in Portugal is not associated with fraternities, but is a rite of passage for new students. Critics say that the recent deaths show that the traditions have gotten out of control, but many students support hazing and are rallying to preserve it.
In an unusual move for Japan, and a first for one of Japan's national universities, Kyoto University will seek advice from some university presidents outside Japan on possible candidates to become the institution's next president, The Yomiuri Shimbun reported. The university will seek recommendations from the presidents of Harvard University, the University of Cambridge and other institutions. In the past, advice was sought only from within the country.
New research from the University of Manchester has found that members of some minority groups in Britain are more likely than white people in the country to have postsecondary degrees, Times Higher Education reported. The study found that 43 percent of those with Chinese heritage had a degree, as did 42 percent of those with Indian backgrounds and 40 percent of those from black African groups. Only about a quarter of white British people have a degree.
A report released Friday by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) identified a need for greater oversight of the optional practical training program (OPT), which allows international students to stay in the U.S. and work for between 12 to 29 months after completion of their programs. The report found that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a division of the Department of Homeland Security, does not maintain complete records on which international students are actively working and whether they are working in their fields of study, as required by ICE regulations. A GAO analysis of more than 126,000 records of students participating in OPT found that 38 percent did not include an employer’s name. GAO also found that the records did not contain the dates on which students began working.
"Collecting and monitoring complete information on foreign students approved for OPT would better position ICE to determine whether these students are maintaining legal status in the United States," the report says.