international

Winners of Rhodes Scholarships Named

Thirty-two Americans were named Sunday as winners of Rhodes Scholarships, which cover two or three years of study at the University of Oxford. Harvard University students won four of the awards, more than those won by any other single college or university. While Ivies and Stanford University continue to do well, other winners were from Howard University, the University of Tulsa and the University of Kansas. Profiles of the winners may be found here.

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Middle East Scholars Group Moves to Delete "Nonpolitical" From Bylaws

Members of the Middle East Studies Association voted in favor of advancing a resolution to remove the word “nonpolitical” from the group’s bylaws in what opponents see as a prelude to a future vote on the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel. The resolution to amend the bylaws, approved by a 247-57 majority of those present at the annual members’ meeting, will next go to the full membership for a vote. An amendment to the bylaws requires the support of two-thirds of voting members.

Joshua Stacher, an associate professor of political science at Kent State University who introduced the resolution at the members’ meeting in Boston, said the proposed bylaw change would bring the association’s governance documents into line with the day-to-day practices of MESA and its Committee on Academic Freedom, which regularly sends letters to foreign government officials protesting violations of students’ and scholars’ rights in countries across the Middle East. MESA's board also periodically issues letters and statements, including, on Saturday, a statement reiterating its alarm at the "rise in the stereotyping and vilification of people of Middle East or Muslim background" in the United States.

“The ‘nonpolitical’ clause didn’t seem to reflect all the sorts of daily practices that members experience in MESA,” Stacher said on Friday. “When members would raise, ‘Well, aren’t we doing politics here?’ we would be told that, ‘Well, we’re a nonpolitical organization.’ It’s a conversation stopper, or a debate stopper, so we thought if we lifted this word ‘nonpolitical’ that it would actually help facilitate debates and help resolve some of these contradictions of MESA’s daily practices and what MESA espouses to be in its bylaws.”

Stacher added, “If the membership decides that it wants to pursue a BDS vote, then it’s going to do a BDS vote. I think that what was done today adds a lot more clarity to how members identify with the organization. And I think that for a lot of us, it’s not about BDS, it’s about the ability to take a collective stand as an organization on any issue that we feel is germane to how we educate, research and teach about the Middle East.”

Robert O. Freedman, a visiting professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University, spoke at the meeting against the proposed resolution to change the bylaws, saying in an interview that the action “transforms the Middle East Studies Association from an academic organization to an advocacy organization. It’s going to be advocating BDS and all sorts of other things instead of being a neutral academic organization.”

Freedman, who opposes BDS, also said that the proposed bylaw change “reduces or perhaps eliminates the credibility of the most important committee of MESA, which is the Committee on Academic Freedom. Once government leaders receive letters from an organization which is no longer a neutral organization but an advocacy organization, the credibility and legitimacy of those letters disappears.”

Ilan Troen, the Stoll Family Professor of Israel Studies at Brandeis University, said there's a big difference between the protest letters regularly written by the Committee on Academic Freedom and a potential boycott vote that could lead to the exclusion of individuals and institutions. He criticized what he described as the vote "to change the bylaws of an organization for one issue only -- that's supporting a Palestinian interpretation of a very complicated problem."

MESA is planning a full membership vote on the matter for early 2017.

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No Evidence Saudi Student’s Death Was Hate Crime

Police say they have identified a suspect in the fatal assault of a student from Saudi Arabia at the University of Wisconsin at Stout last month and have found no evidence it was a hate crime, according to a statement on the university’s Facebook page. Police also say that the suspect in the death of Hussain Saeed Alnahdi is not a student at UW Stout or a resident of the surrounding Dunn County.

The Menomonie Police Department did not release the name of the suspect pending a decision on possible charges by the Dunn County District Attorney’s Office.

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International Enrollment 'Potentially Volatile' Revenue Stream

International enrollment is an uncertain revenue stream for U.S. colleges and universities as Donald Trump prepares to take over as president of the United States, according to a report Moody’s Investors Service released last week.

Between 8 percent and 10 percent of total net tuition revenue in the United States comes from international students, the report estimated. International students only make up about 5 percent of U.S. higher education enrollment, but they pay more in tuition than domestic students.

Immigration proposals like those Trump has discussed, including proposals affecting employees with H-1B visas, could change international student demand significantly by hurting their postcollege job prospects in the U.S., Moody’s said. Universities that recently entered the international student market and those with less well-known brands globally would be most affected.

“In a climate where domestic students are extremely price sensitive and tuition increases have become a political hot topic, growth in international students provides a financial buffer against constrained tuition revenue growth,” the report said. “However, policy shifts can quickly change the landscape for international student demand, making this a potentially volatile revenue stream.”

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Protesting AU Cairo Students Call for Tuition Cap

Protesting students at the American University of Cairo are calling for a cap on tuition amid concerns that a devaluation of the Egyptian pound against the U.S. dollar could send their fees skyrocketing, The New York Times reported. The Times observed that the protests at AUC reflect the extent of Egypt’s economic crisis and its impact on even the country’s elite: “When the economic crisis hits the elite, it means the suffering is all over the place,” Malak Rostom, the vice president of the student union, is quoted as saying. “If we can’t afford it, we can tell how much other people are suffering.”

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Possible Plans for Immigrant Registry Under Trump

One of President-elect Donald J. Trump’s reported advisers on immigration policy told Reuters that the group of advisers of which he is a part could recommend the reinstatement of a national registry for immigrants and visitors entering the U.S. from countries where extremist organizations are active. (Note: The headline for this article has been updated to clarify that the comments about the registry did not refer specifically to any religious group.)

The adviser, Kris Kobach, helped design the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, introduced after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, under which visitors and immigrants from designated “higher risk” countries were interrogated and fingerprinted at ports of entry. The system, which also required some noncitizen male residents over the age of 16 to register at government offices, was scrapped in 2011 after the Department of Homeland Security deemed it redundant and amid criticisms from civil rights groups that it unfairly targeted immigrants from Muslim-majority countries.

Kobach, currently the Kansas secretary of state, also told Reuters the immigration advisory team has been discussing ways to repeal the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, under which more than 700,000 immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children -- many of them college students -- have registered with the federal government in exchange for temporary relief from deportation and the right to work in the U.S. legally. Trump has vowed to end DACA, which President Obama authorized through executive action.

The Trump transition team did not respond to Reuters’ request to confirm Kobach’s role, but he has been mentioned in media reports as a member of the transition team. Politico has reported that Kobach is rumored to be a possible pick for Trump's attorney general.

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Trump and Chief Strategist Pick Bannon Disagreed on Foreign Student Policy

A Washington Post article about how President-elect Donald J. Trump’s pick for chief strategist, former Breitbart News head Stephen K. Bannon, “flattered and coaxed Trump on policies key to the alt-right” -- a far-right ideology associated with white nationalism -- reports that the two men rarely disagreed during a series of conversations on Bannon’s radio show. But one area where they did disagree had to do with immigration policies as they relate to international students -- and Trump's view that students who graduate from top American universities should be allowed to stay in the country.

The following is the Post’s account of the on-air exchange between Bannon and Trump from last November.

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International Co-Authorship Increasing

The number of scientific papers with authors from more than one country increased by 16 percent between 2012 and 2015, according to data from the Nature Index, which tracks national and institutional author affiliations across 68 natural science journals. The number of papers with co-authors from more than one country increased from 21,460 in 2012 to 24,951 in 2015, with the growth in international collaborations being especially strong in the life sciences.

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Poland Probes Princeton Professor's Holocaust Claims

Poland’s right-wing government has extended an investigation into a Princeton University-based Holocaust scholar who made the controversial claim that Poles killed more Jews than Germans during World War II, the Associated Press reported.

Polish prosecutors are investigating whether Jan Tomasz Gross publicly insulted Poland, a crime punishable by up to three years in prison. A prosecutor recently ordered the extension of the investigation into Gross, a Polish-American, until April, overruling a lower-ranked prosecutor who recommended that the case be dropped.

A Jewish human rights group, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, described the investigation into Gross as “alarming,” saying it “bears all the hallmarks of a political witch hunt.”

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Egypt Bans Papers That Insult 'Friendly' Countries

Egypt’s minister of higher education recently directed private universities to review all research papers and dissertations to make sure they do not include “direct or indirect insult to societies or individuals belonging to any brotherly or friendly countries,” the Cairo-based Mada Masr reported.

In the directive published Oct. 15, the minister of higher education, Ashraf al-Shihy, wrote, “I hope that this obligation will include every stage of preparing the thesis, from the study and the research at its inception, ending with its declaration and official publishing approval.” Mada Masr reported that a spokesman for the minister and the head of the country's Council of Private Universities were not available for comment.

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