international

U of Lethbridge Suspends Alleged Holocaust Denier

A university in Alberta, Canada, has suspended without pay a professor accused of denying the Holocaust following scrutiny of an anti-Semitic post made by a third party on his Facebook page, CBC reported. The University of Lethbridge has “reassigned” the classes of Anthony Hall, who says he is a victim of a smear campaign.

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European Universities 'Feeling the Heat' on Funding

The majority of university systems in Europe are under growing funding pressure, a new "Public Funding Observatory" report from the European University Association finds.

Public funding to universities declined in 13 systems across Europe between 2008 and 2015. Seven of those systems also saw an increase in the number of students over that time.

And while public funding increased for 11 higher education systems in Europe, in seven of those systems enrollments rose faster than public funding.

Norway and Sweden are, the report states, the two front runners, in that they increased public funding at a higher rate than student growth, while Poland and Portugal also have positive funding trends but from a relatively low base in terms of percentage of gross domestic product invested in education.

“This data proves that almost all of Europe's higher education systems are feeling the heat,” Thomas Estermann, EUA’s director of governance, funding and public policy development, said in a press release. “The Public Funding Observatory also demonstrates widening funding gaps between national systems, translating into a huge challenge to the creation of unified European Higher Education and Research Areas.”

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Ex-Students at Singapore Branch Campus Sue NYU

A lawsuit filed last month in federal court by former students at a shuttered New York University branch campus in Singapore alleges that the university defrauded them by falsely representing that its graduate arts campus in Asia was the academic equivalent of its Tisch School of the Arts in New York.

The complaint faults NYU for billing the two programs as identical when, the complaint alleges, “Tisch Asia was a subpar program in practically every aspect, from the quality of faculty, facilities and equipment to exclusion of Tisch Asia students from grants, competitions and networking opportunities available to students at Tisch New York.”

The complaint by the three former students claims that the only way Tisch Asia lived up to the New York campus was in the cost of tuition.

The complaint, filed Sept. 20 as a class action in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, also accuses the university of falsely representing that “Tisch Asia would be a long-lasting program.” NYU announced plans to close its Singapore campus, opened in fall 2007, in fall 2012, citing at the time “significant financial challenges that have required increasingly unsustainable subsidies totaling millions of dollars per year.”

An NYU spokesman, John Beckman, responded to the lawsuit in a written statement. “The students at Tisch Asia had the same curriculum as Tisch uses in New York; many Tisch Asia courses were taught by New York-based faculty and all were taught by highly qualified faculty; students had excellent facilities and equipment; and, notably, graduates received a Tisch School of the Arts degree. It was a robust, graduate-level program in the arts, and artistically the school was a success, with a number of students winning prestigious student film awards. It did not work financially and operated at a steep deficit precisely because NYU was providing the students with an excellent education that cost more than tuition dollars brought in. And even after the unsustainability of the finances became clear, NYU continued to honor its commitment to the students it had admitted by keeping the school open until each and every one had had a chance to graduate. This suit is wholly without merit, and we expect to prevail in court.”

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Two universities in Belgium join forces for English-language bachelor's program

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Two Belgian universities join forces to offer unusual undergraduate program for internationally minded students.

U.K. Proposes Tiered Visa Plan for Foreign Students

The U.K. cabinet secretary in charge of immigration on Tuesday proposed a two-tiered system for international student visas, The Guardian reported. Amber Rudd raised the possibility of a visa system with differential rules depending on the quality of a student's university or program as part of a speech on reducing immigration levels.

“I’m passionately committed to making sure our world-leading institutions can attract the brightest and the best. But a student immigration system that treats every student and university as equal only punishes those we should want to help. So our consultation will ask what more can we do to support our best universities -- and those that stick to the rules -- to attract the best talent … while looking at tougher rules for students on lower-quality courses," Rudd said.

The co-chair of an all-party parliamentary group on international students and a member of the opposing Labour Party, Paul Blomfield, blasted Rudd’s proposals as “spectacularly ill informed” and “an act of madness.” Describing education as one of the U.K.'s “most successful export industries,” Blomfield said, “The only people cheering today’s announcement will be our competitors.”

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Plea to Save Academic Year in South Africa

The vice chancellor and principal of the University of the Witwatersrand, in Johannesburg, on Monday issued an unusual plea for help to “save the 2016 academic year.”

Academic operations at the South African university are due to resume today for the first time since Sept. 20 as protests, some of which have turned violent, calling for free higher education have shut down campuses across the country.

Adam Habib, the vice chancellor, wrote in a message that the university would reopen for academic classes today with “a full security contingent” in place.

“I need every staff member and every student to help me take back our campus as the academic program opens tomorrow,” Habib wrote Monday. “It is not ideal to attend classes with police at the doors of learning, but I am left with no choice.”

“If we do not get this right tomorrow, we have no choice but to close the university, which will compromise the 2016 academic program and the lives of all 37,000 students. It means that all students will have to move out of residences before the end of the week,” Habib wrote. A poll conducted by the university last week found that 77 percent of students favor the resumption of classes.

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Helping international students deal with work authorization problems (essay)

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Alfreda James describes the challenges of dealing with the questions and behaviors of a generation without a legal or welcoming home.

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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

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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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