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Japan's government is pushing universities to shift away from the liberal arts and toward business or vocational programs, The Wall Street Journal reported. All 86 of the country's national universities were required to submit restructuring plans, and were told that their government funding would depend, in part, on how they follow through on this government goal. Government officials say that the changes will help the country's economy and Japan's efforts to have its top universities rise in global rankings.
The leaders of Israel's universities are responding to new proposed cuts in government spending on higher education by invoking Iran, at a time that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Iran poses a grave threat to the country, Ynet News reported. A letter sent by the university leaders says that Iran is investing more in higher education than is Israel. "This is an arms race for all intents and purposes, except the weapons here are not missiles, but the human brain," the Israeli academic leaders say. "Iran must not have the strategic advantage over Israel in research. There are quite a few measures that show that the qualitative gap is getting smaller every year. After all, Iran’s bomb is not built by the farmers working in the field. This is a red line, and it must not be allowed to happen. That is why we joined forces, all the heads of academia, because otherwise the damage to the State of Israel will be unavoidable."
The Eindhoven University of Technology, in the Netherlands, has fired a Russian postdoc in computer science, Ivan Agafonov, after Dutch officials warned the university that he was spying for Russia, Science Insider reported. He has since left the Netherlands.
Students stormed out of a meeting of the governing council of the University of Hong Kong Tuesday, with one person collapsing and needing to be hospitalized, The South China Morning Post reported. The students and many others are angry that the council is refusing to go ahead with filling a senior position with an academic who has wide campus support for the job but who has been criticized by pro-Beijing newspapers.
The British government is planning a referendum on whether to remain in the European Union, prompting leaders of British universities to start Universities for Europe to encourage British voters to keep the country in the E.U. British academic leaders fear a loss of E.U. funding for research, and also a lessening of the collaboration between academics in Britain and the rest of Europe. Julia Goodfellow, vice chancellor at the University of Kent and president elect of Universities UK, plans to give a speech today calling for universities to “stand up and be counted” in the referendum on the E.U., Times Higher Education reported.