A report released Monday by Brandeis University’s International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life calls for a resumption of the university’s partnership with Al-Quds University, a Palestinian institution in the West Bank. The report, which was commissioned by Brandeis’s administration in the wake of a Nov. 5 rally at Al-Quds in which demonstrators in black masks and military dress carried fake automatic weapons and employed fascist-style salutes, finds that officials at Al-Quds “responded promptly and appropriately to the November 5 rally by communicating to both internal and external constituencies that the rally violated university policies and principles.”
In suspending its partnership with Al-Quds in November, Brandeis cited both the rally and the university's response to it, specifically a Nov. 17 letter from Al-Quds President Sari Nusseibeh that Brandeis characterized as "unacceptable and inflammatory." The letter emphasized values of equality and mutual respect, but it also criticized “Jewish extremists” who "spare no effort to exploit some rare but nonetheless damaging events or scenes which occur on the campus of Al Quds University…These occurrences allow some people to capitalize on events in ways that misrepresent the university as promoting inhumane, anti-Semitic, fascist, and Nazi ideologies. Without these ideologies, there would not have been the massacre of the Jewish people in Europe; without the massacre, there would not have been the enduring Palestinian catastrophe.”
The report from faculty affiliated with Brandeis's center for ethics, justice and public life delves into the context for that letter and ultimately concludes that it "expressed neither intolerance nor hatred" (although the authors write that they understand the reasons it caused offense). They write that “Al- Quds University is playing a courageous frontline role in working for peace by engaging those minority factions in its midst that hold extreme attitudes” and urge Brandeis to resume and “redouble its commitment” to the partnership. A separate statement calls for Nusseibeh to be reinstated as a member of the center's international advisory board.
Ellen de Graffenreid, Brandeis’s senior vice president for communications, said that President Frederick Lawrence is out of the country, but added that he asked for the report and she is certain he will read it carefully. Brandeis released a statement Nov. 22 requesting a dialogue with Al-Quds University. That dialogue is ongoing, de Graffenreid said, but she declined to be more specific. “With sensitive issues like this, having this discussion through the media is not productive,” she said.
The American Association of University Professors has released an open letter to members of the American Studies Association urging them to reject a proposal backed by the group's leaders to endorse a boycott of Israel universities. Members of the American Studies Association are voting on the proposal this month. The AAUP has a longstanding position against boycotting entire universities or countries, and the open letter reiterated those views. "The association recognizes the right of individual faculty members or groups of academics not to cooperate with other individual faculty members or academic institutions with whom or with which they disagree," the letter says. "We believe, however, that when such noncooperation takes the form of a systematic academic boycott, it threatens the principles of free expression and communication on which we collectively depend."
Using commission-based agents in international recruitment has gone from unmentionable to mainstream. At 5th annual conference, a group formed to bring standards to the practice reflects on where it has been and where it's going.
A British Council report on trends in Indian student mobility finds increased interest in Canada and Germany, declining interest in the U.S. and U.K., and rapid expansion of India's own higher education system.
Chile’s National Accreditation Commission has rejected the appeal of a university affiliated with the Baltimore-based for-profit education company, Laureate, after it was denied reaccreditation in October. The Universidad de Las Américas (UDLA) next plans to appeal the decision to the country’s Higher Education Council. As in the U.S., universities in Chile must be accredited in order for their students to access government-backed loans and grants.
In its report on its decision not to reaccredit UDLA, the accreditation commission cites the university’s rapid growth and unsatisfactory graduation rates. The commission’s report notes that the number of students grew by more than 36 percent in three years, from 25,272 to 34,436, while the growth in instructors has failed to keep pace: the number of full-time instructors increased only slightly, from 231 in 2010 to 235 in 2012, and the number of part-time instructors actually fell, from 177 to 164.
The accreditation report also raises concerns about the financial resources of the university, and finds 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 not-for-profit, but they can ally with for-profit entities like Laureate, which provide educational, administrative and real estate services at a price.
UDLA has posted various documents related to its appeal of the accreditor’s decision on its website. The university argues that the growth rate is somewhat misleading in that enrollments were temporarily depressed in 2010 (the base year used in the accreditor’s calculations) and it says that average class size has actually stayed relatively constant from 2009 (22.8 students per section) to 2013 (22.1 students per section). It also says that the amount spent on academic salaries is similar to that of peer universities in Chile.
“We remain confident that a clear and objective analysis of the facts will reveal that UDLA deserves to be reaccredited," a Laureate spokesman, Matthew Yale, said in a statement.
Norway's new conservative government appears to have been defeated in its attempt to impose tuition on those from outside the European Union who enroll at universities in the country. Norway's EU obligations prevent it from charging Europeans tuition, but it could charge those from outside Europe, as Denmark and Sweden have recently done and as the new government proposed. News in English Norway reported that advocates for tuition say that those outside the country and region are not contributing to Norway's tax base, and their tuition payments could improve the quality of education. Many deans, however, fear that tuition would scare off many foreign students, as happened when Sweden started charging non-Europeans. The two small coalition partners in the new government killed the proposal last week when they voted against it.
A official at a college in China’s Xinjiang region – a site of separatist unrest – said that students will not graduate unless their political views are approved, Reuters reported. "Students whose political qualifications are not up to par must absolutely not graduate, even if their professional course work is excellent," the news service quotes Xu Yuanzhi, the party secretary at Kashgar Teachers College, as saying.
Reuters noted that it is unclear whether this policy has been officially implemented throughout the region.