A Gold Medal for Teaching, or a Silver?

English universities will be awarded gold, silver or bronze medals based on their performance in the new Teaching Excellence Framework, a government initiative to assess universities based on measures including student satisfaction, retention and graduate employment, Times Higher Education reported. Results from the Teaching Excellence Framework will eventually be used to determine the amount by which individual universities are permitted to raise their fees. Originally the plan was to sort institutions using the categories “meets expectations,” “excellent” and “outstanding,” but those category names have been scrapped in favor of the medal system.

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Study adds to concerns over lack of creativity at Chinese universities


New study finds that Chinese students at top-ranked institutions are less creative than those at less prestigious institutions.

Two Plead Guilty in 'Pay-to-Stay' Sham College Case

Two international-student recruiters pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to commit visa fraud in relation to their recruitment of foreign nationals to the University of Northern New Jersey, a sham “pay-to-stay” college created by the federal government as part of a sting operation.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey said in a press release that Harpreet Sachdeva, 26, of Somerset, N.J., and Sanjeev Sukhija, 35, of North Brunswick, N.J., were employed by an international student recruiting agency called Right OPT, where they advised foreign nationals that they could, for a fee, enroll in UNNJ without having to attend classes as a way to fraudulently maintain their visa status in the U.S.

Sachdeva and Sukhija were also accused of conspiring to obtain fraudulent work authorizations for some of their clients, and, according to the press release, “admitted that their intention was to profit from the scheme by outsourcing these foreign individuals through Right OPT as information technology consultants with various businesses in the United States for commissions.”

“In total,” the release states, “Sachdeva, Sukhija and others fraudulently maintained and attempted to obtain approximately 45 student visas and/or work authorizations.”

Sachdeva and Sukhija are scheduled to be sentenced in January. The maximum penalty for conspiracy to commit visa fraud is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.


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U.S. report examines constraints on university programs in China

U.S. Government Accountability Office examines American universities’ policies and practices on academic and other freedoms for their educational programs in China.

International Educators Group Names New CEO

NAFSA: Association of International Educators on Monday announced as its new executive director and CEO Esther Brimmer, a foreign policy expert and academic.

Brimmer, who formerly worked at the U.S. Department of State, is currently a professor of practice of international affairs at George Washington University, an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and a senior adviser at the consulting firm McLarty Associates. She will assume her new leadership role at NAFSA on Jan. 1, succeeding Marlene M. Johnson, who is retiring after 18 years at NAFSA’s helm.

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Protests Continue at South African Universities

Some South African universities remain closed amid continuing protests over tuition rates, which have in some cases involved violence.

Among those universities that have closed, the University of Pretoria moved up its upcoming recess period and plans to reopen Oct. 10. In a statement Monday the university said protesters blockaded entrances and disrupted classes. A statement from Pretoria’s vice chancellor and principal, Cheryl de la Rey, also described “incidents of arson and other violent behavior.”

Other universities that have suspended classes or have moved up scheduled breaks include Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Rhodes University, Tshwane University of Technology and the Universities of Cape Town and Witwatersrand.

The latter institution, known as Wits, has suspended all university operations until further notice and plans to poll staff and students on whether to reopen on Monday “if the appropriate security measures are in place.”

"If the majority of students and staff support the reopening on Monday, 3 October 2016, the university will call upon government and the police to meet their obligations to protect the university’s property and to safeguard the lives of students and staff," the university's statement on the matter said.

Three petrol bombs were found on the Wits campus over the weekend. Eyewitness News reported Monday that a cleaning worker died after inhaling fumes from a fire extinguisher allegedly released last week by student protesters in a Wits residence hall. The university said in a statement expressing its sympathies that the worker had been "rushed to the Campus Health and Wellness Centre and then taken to hospital, where the worker was treated for a few days. The worker was discharged from hospital and then passed away."

The university said the cause of death has not been determined.

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U of Cambridge Names New Leader

The University of Cambridge on Monday nominated as its new vice chancellor Stephen Toope (right), a Canadian university leader and international law scholar.

Toope is the director of the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and formerly was the president and vice chancellor of the University of British Columbia. He will assume the top leadership post at Cambridge on Oct. 1, 2017, pending approval by the British university’s governing body.

The University of Toronto said in its press release that Toope is believed to be the first non-Briton to assume the Cambridge vice chancellorship. A Cambridge spokeswoman said the university cannot confirm this, as it does not have a centralized record of the nationality of every vice chancellor in its 800-plus-year history. At least one is believed to have had dual citizenship.

In 2010, Toope was co-author of a "Views" essay in Inside Higher Ed that argued that Canada was gaining on the United States in higher education.

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Canadian Professor Detained in Iran Released

A Canadian professor detained in Iran since June has been released. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement on the release of Homa Hoodfar, a professor of sociology and anthropology at Montreal’s Concordia University. Hoodfar, who has Canadian, Iranian and Irish citizenship, studies issues related to women in Muslim societies and was in Iran to visit family and conduct research on women's participation in public life.

Hoodfar, who has a rare neurological disease that causes severe muscle weakness, had been hospitalized at one point during her detention, the CBC reported, citing her family. She had reportedly been charged with collaborating with a hostile government against national security and with propaganda against the Iranian state. A prosecutor was quoted in the Iranian press accusing Hoodfar of “dabbling in feminism.”

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AU Afghanistan President Resigns After Attack

The president of the American University of Afghanistan stepped down Saturday, one month after an attack on the campus in Kabul that killed more than a dozen people. Two of the university's faculty members were kidnapped in a separate incident in early August. 

The university said in a statement that Mark English resigned as president "for personal reasons." David Sedney, a member of the Board of Trustees dispatched to AUAF to oversee rebuilding efforts after the attack, has been named acting president of the institution. Sedney, an analyst and commentator on national security and foreign policy issues, has served in a variety of U.S. government positions including as deputy assistant secretary of defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia from 2009 to 2013.

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College's Ability to Enroll Foreign Students at Risk

A San Jose, Calif. college’s ability to continue to enroll international students is reportedly at risk. The local CBS affiliate KPIX 5 reported that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a notice of intent to withdraw International Technological University from the Student and Exchange Visitor Program. Only SEVP-approved institutions can enroll international students. The broadcaster’s sources said the government’s investigation focuses on ITU’s internship program.

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