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Trinity College faculty object to presidential statement denouncing the academic boycott of Israel

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When the Trinity College (Connecticut) president released a statement denouncing the American Studies Association's endorsement of an academic boycott of Israel, faculty pushed back. UPDATE: Other faculty members issue letter attacking the boycott.

Universities Are Target of China's Anti-Corruption Drive

The arrest of a university vice president in China was announced Wednesday in the latest sign that higher education has become a new target of the government's anti-corruption campaign, Reuters reported. The official arrested was Chu Jian, vice president of Zhejiang University. He was charged with "suspected economic problems," which Reuters said is a term used for corruption. He could not be reached for comment. A week ago, an investigation was announced into the work of a vice president of Sichuan University, and officials have also said that they are investigating the official in charge of admissions at Renmin University.

 

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Israeli Court Upholds Upgraded Status for Ariel U.

Israel's High Court of Justice on Tuesday upheld the decision of government authorities to upgrade a higher education campus on the West Bank to full status as an Israeli university, The Jerusalem Post reported. The presidents of the nation's other universities objected to the procedures used to upgrade Ariel University, as the institution is known, and the court rejected those arguments, saying that proper procedures had been followed. A major objection the university leaders (but not the focus of the legal fight) is their view that the country does not have enough money to support a new university. Ariel has been championed by those who support Israeli settlements on the West Bank. Many Israeli academics have opposed the granting of university status, saying that it is wrong to build up Israeli institutions on the West Bank, and that doing so will likely encourage the movement in other countries to boycott Israeli academe.

 

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Indiana U. to Withdraw from American Studies Group

A third university has announced it will withdraw from the American Studies Association in the aftermath of a vote by the organization to back a boycott of Israeli universities. A growing number of presidents have condemned the boycott, but Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie went a step further and said the university would immediately contact the ASA to withdraw as an institutional member

"Boycotts such as these have a profound chilling effect on academic freedom, and universities must be clear and unequivocal in rejecting them," McRobbie said in a statement.

Higher education organizations that have condemned the boycott include the Association of American Universities, the Association for Jewish Studies and the American Association of University Professors. Two other universities, Brandeis University and Pennsylvania State University at Harrisburg, have also announced plans to end their institutional membership in the ASA. 

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A Chancellor Reacts to American Studies Boycott

The chancellor of the University of California at San Diego has issued a statement on the American Studies Association’s resolution backing the boycott of Israeli higher education institutions. “We affirm the right of the faculty to advance their scholarship and research through open dialogue with academic colleagues in all countries,” Pradeep K. Khosla said. “UC San Diego faculty collaborations draw on richly diverse ideas and views around the globe, including in the Middle East. Excluding scholars limits discussion and conflicts with the University of California’s highest aspirations.”

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Apology for T-Shirt Censorship

The London School of Economics and Political Science has apologized to two students who, at an event for new students, were told that they had to cover up their T-shirts depicting Mohammed and Jesus, Times Higher Education reported. At the time, the students were staffing a table of the Atheist Secularist and Humanist Society at the university, and officials said that their attire could be seen as harassment of Muslims. Now, however, officials say that they realize that the T-shirts did not violate any university rules and so the students should not have been told to cover up what they were wearing.

 

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Call to End Ties to Confucius Institutes

The Canadian Association of University Teachers this week called for colleges and universities in Canada to sever ties to Confucius Institutes, which have been set up at many Canadian (and American) campuses with support from the Chinese government. Supporters say that the institutes are a valuable way to expose more students outside China to Chinese history and culture. But critics say that the institutes present an oversimplified and positive image of China and that universities that want the house institutes may feel pressure to avoid certain topics. A statement from James Turk, executive director of the Canadian faculty group, said: “Confucius Institutes are essentially political arms of the Chinese government. They restrict the free discussion of topics Chinese authorities deem controversial and should have no place on our campuses."

 

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Irish Universities Penalized for Presidential Bonuses

Ireland’s universities stand to lose €3.6 million -- the equivalent of about $4.9 million -- in government funding as punishment for giving unauthorized bonuses to presidents and senior staff, the Independent reported.The bonuses were intended to reward senior staff for taking on extra responsibilities, but they were disbursed without the requisite ministerial approval.

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Despite Criticism, Canada Gets Faith-Based Law School

Trinity Western University has won final approval from authorities in British Columbia to start a law school -- the first faith-based law school in Canada. Gay rights and civil liberties groups had urged the provincial government not to grant permission, citing the Christian university's rules that ban students from "sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman." Critics said that this ban effectively barred gay people from enrolling. The university said that it was not discriminating against gay people, only against those who have sex outside of heterosexual marriage. A statement on Wednesday from the university's president, Bob Kuhn, reiterated that point. "It needs to be said that all students (gay or straight) are welcome to attend Trinity Western University, providing they meet our academic requirements and agree to respect our community values. Like most religious communities, we have established a set of values and principles to guide our daily lives; ours are in a manner consistent with Christian teaching. Chief among those values is to show love and respect for all people at all times," he said.

 

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Aversion to debt may limit effectiveness of new student loan system in Europe

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New loans for graduate study may have limited appeal.

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