international

New statement seeks to reframe academic debate about Israel boycott

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New petition seeks to organize academics who oppose boycotts and outside attacks (whether from supporters or critics of Israel) on the tenure candidacies of faculty members.

New Cross-Irish Collaboration in Research

An agreement between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland will pave the way for more collaboration among the universities in both parts of Ireland, Times Higher Education reported. The Northern Ireland government will provide some financial support to the Republic of Ireland's research grant program. Going forward, Northern Ireland universities will now be able to apply for support for joint research efforts as long as they also involve an Irish university outside of Northern Ireland.

 

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Rhodes Applicants Must Attest They Received No Help on Essays

In a new requirement, applicants to the Rhodes Scholarship must attest that they received no outside help at all in writing their personal essays, certifying at the conclusion of the essay, “I attest that this essay is my own work and is wholly truthful. Neither it nor any earlier draft has been edited by anyone other than me, nor has anyone else reviewed it to provide me with suggestions to improve it. I understand that any such editing or review would disqualify my application.” 

The new requirements also speak to the responsibilities of universities in endorsing candidates for the Rhodes, asking that university officials likewise certify that, to the best of their knowledge, the institution did not provide any editorial review of the applicant's essay.

In a letter explaining the new requirements, Rhodes officials wrote, “For many years, we have required U.S. applicants to attest, with their signature, that their required essays are their 'own work.' But it has become apparent that this attestation is not taken as we have intended. Many essays are now edited extensively and repeatedly by advisors, fellowship offices, university instructors, family and others. We are no longer confident that the essays reflect the writing ability and style of the applicants, nor, even more important, that they reflect accurately applicants' true personal goals, values and aspirations.”

The letter also states that “In an age of grade inflation and resume burnishing, the essay – and the unassisted and candid letters we directly solicit from referees – are very important ingredients in our effort to make a fair assessment against our criteria of selection.”

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Laureate-Affiliated University in Chile Loses Last Accreditation Appeal

A Chilean university affiliated with the for-profit education company Laureate International Universities has lost its final bid to appeal the revocation of its institutional accreditation. The university reported on its website that the National Education Council has rejected its final appeal, a decision that means that new students will be ineligible for government-backed loans.

In deciding not to renew the Universidad de Las Américas' accreditation in October, the National Accreditation Commission cited the 34,000-student university’s unsatisfactory graduation rates and its rapid enrollment growth: while the number of students rose by 36 percent over three years, the increase in instructors failed to keep pace. The commission also raised concerns about the finances of the university, finding that while spending on academic salaries was low, the amount spent on leases and educational and administrative services provided by companies related to Laureate was substantial. Under Chilean law universities must be nonprofit but they may be affiliated with for-profit entities like Laureate that they contract with for services. 

UDLA plans to reapply for institutional accreditation but must wait two years before doing so.

“For more than 25 years, UDLA has played a significant role in expanding access to quality higher education for tens of thousands of students who would otherwise not have had the opportunity to pursue a university degree,” Laureate said in a statement. “As institutional accreditation is voluntary in Chile, this ruling will not stop UDLA from continuing to provide its students with strong academic and career-oriented programs."

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French government wants academe to work more closely with business

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Government wants academe to work more closely with business. Many academics are dubious.

Quebec Judge Rejects Police Request for Sociological Interview

A judge has ruled a taped interview of an alleged killer conducted as part of a sociology study off-limits to Montreal police, The Globe and Mail reported. Luka Magnotta, a stripper and porn actor accused of killing and dismembering a 33-year-old Chinese student, participated in a study on the sociology of sex work conducted by two University of Ottawa professors in 2007, five years before the alleged murder took place. After reviewing a transcript of the tape, Justice Sophie Bourque of the Quebec Superior Court ruled that while the right to confidentiality in academic research is not absolute and must be weighed against other societal goals, in this case the harm to academic research done in releasing the tape would outweigh the benefit.

 

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Essay: Turmoil in the Middle East demonstrates why American colleges should expand ties to the region

In December the American Studies Association joined the Association for Asian American Studies in calling for a boycott of academic and intellectual exchanges with Israeli colleges, universities, and individual faculty in protest of that country’s treatment of the Palestinians. Since the ASA’s resolution, scores of college and university presidents and the American Association of University Professors have proclaimed that this action is a violation of academic freedom.

The ASA resolution is a serious misstep toward achieving both peace and prosperity in the Middle East and reinforces greater barriers to knowledge and understanding across cultures. Awareness and appreciation of cultures in the Middle East (including traditions, languages, arts, religions, ethnicities, philosophies, economics, and politics) are precisely what we need.

In 1958 President Dwight Eisenhower signed into law the National Defense Education Act.  He did so in response to the Soviet Union’s launch of the first earth-orbiting satellite, Sputnik, the previous October. At that time, the United States was woefully short of mathematicians and other scientists, and computer technology was beginning its meteoric rise. The NDEA provided funding to support and educate a new generation of engineers.

However, President Eisenhower’s action also recognized an enduring truth. When peoples of differing cultures live, work, and study together, they begin to understand that “difference” does not necessarily mean “wrong” or “bad.” Rather, they begin to recognize the human similarities across and among cultures. Under Title VI of the NDEA, international studies centers, foreign language and area studies fellowships, graduate and undergraduate international and intercultural studies programs, and citizen education for cultural understandings were funded. These programs focused largely on countries within the Soviet Bloc and have been credited as playing a significant role in promoting positive solutions and intercultural advancement in Eastern Europe. We need a similar initiative for the Middle East.

A dozen years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the horrific war in Syria, and the ongoing issues between Israel and neighboring regions have shaped our perceptions of the area's peoples and politics, whether accurate or not. I suspect many, if not most, are not accurate. Sadly, public perceptions foster the foreign policy that guides our relations with Middle Eastern countries.

Just as we need to know the peoples of the Middle East better, they need to know us better as well. International educational exchange between faculty and students is a proven strategy for accomplishing that goal. We should build ties, not cut them off, with Israeli universities, with Palestinian universities and with institutions throughout the region. That is why the ASA’s boycott is exactly the wrong action at the wrong time.
 

Devorah Lieberman is president of the University of La Verne.

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UArctic attempts to promote research, teaching collaboration across the universities of the region

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The University of the Arctic promotes research collaboration, joint educational programs and mobility across a region of increasing geopolitical importance. 

Monash Is First University Awarded Top-Level Domain

Monash University, in Australia, announced this morning that it has been awarded the right to use a .monash domain, becoming the first university awarded the right to use its own name in that way. The news was confirmed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which governs such matters. The decision is part of a new program in which globally recognized brands may seek their own domains, rather than remaining in such domains as .edu, .com, etc. While the university plans a transition, it will continue to use a .edu.au domain.

 

$3.65 Million for Study Abroad in the Americas

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced on Friday that the State Department in conjunction with the private sector had raised an initial $3.65 million in support of the 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative, which aims to dramatically increase two-way student exchange between the U.S. and Latin America and the Caribbean by 2020. ExxonMobil, Santander Bank, and the Coca-Cola, Ford, and Freeport-McMoRan Cooper & Gold Foundations are the initial donors to the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund, which aims, in Kerry’s rewards, to  “help universities develop greater capacity to support study abroad” and to “challenge and reward institutions to find innovative ways to spur greater exchanges.”

The first four institutions to receive grants through the fund, also announced on Friday, are:

  • The University of Arizona, which aims to create an umbrella organization for science, technology, engineering and mathematics-focused exchanges with the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Perú, in Lima, and the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, in Santiago;
  • The University of North Texas, which plans to use the funding to enable 30 undergraduate and 20 graduate students to travel to Chile to participate in field courses, research experiences and internships;
  • The University of Rhode Island, which plans to expand upon its long-standing International Engineering program in partnership with the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaiso, in Chile; and
  • Northampton Community College, which intends to develop a six-week, study abroad service learning course in collaboration with Universidad Nacional de Trujillo, in Peru, and the nonprofit organization WindAid. 
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