An American professor turned back at the Beijing airport despite having a valid tourist visa said he believes he’s being punished for his support of Ilham Tohti, an ethnic Uighur and economics professor arrested earlier this year on charges of separatism, The New York Times reported. The U.S. Department of State and human rights organizations have denounced Tohti’s arrest.
“The issue for me is not my being denied entry — I can certainly continue my research and academic work without going to China — but the attempt to pressure those who speak in support of Ilham to retreat into silence, or at least to isolate them,” Elliot Sperling, the professor who was turned back and a Tibetan history expert at Indiana University, told the newspaper.
The New Hampshire commission had issued a May 14 letter to the university asking it to address seven specific points, including confirmation that the university is meeting payroll (as verified by an accounting firm), evidence that all former employee claims had been settled and paid in full and/or that sufficient funds are being held in reserve in an escrow account to pay outstanding claims, confirmation that no new claims had been made against the university and/or explanations of any claims, evidence of payment of all costs related to a New Hampshire commission site visit, and submission of a financial report and financial and enrollment projections.
“They provided a status report which nominally responded to those seven requests, and today at the commission meeting, we went over each of the seven and the consensus was that they were not responsive and therefore there was not a compelling case to extend their authority to offer degree programs,” said Edward R. MacKay, the director of the New Hampshire Division of Higher Education. MacKay said his interpretation of the regulations is that since the degree-granting authority was simply allowed to expire, the university does not have an avenue for appeal.
SJIU's board secretary and U.S.-based lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday evening.
One of the private colleges singled out by the U.K. Minister of Security and Immigration, James Brokenshire, in his Tuesday remarks to Parliament about abuse of the student visa system is disputing the minister’s account, Times Higher Education reported. Brokenshire said in his remarks that 290 students at the London School of Business and Finance had worked last year despite lacking authorization to do so, but the school said its analysis of the files of 213 students flagged by U.K. immigration authorities showed that 198 of them had permission to work (the college said it didn’t recognize the 290 figure cited in the minister’s comments).
The U.K.’s main security agency, known as the Home Office, did not respond to Times Higher Education's request for comment. The Home Office has suspended the licenses to host international students for 57 private colleges, including the London School of Business and Finance.
New York University announced the hiring of an investigative firm to look into labor conditions for the workers who constructed its recently completed Abu Dhabi campus in the wake of a New York Times article documenting widespread abuses, the newspaper reported. The founder of the firm, Nardello & Company, declined to comment on details of the planned investigation but said he expects it will conclude by the end of the year.
The Abu Dhabi government entity that oversaw the campus construction, Tamkeen, selected Nardello & Company as the investigative firm.
Concerned scholars have initiated a petition in support of Alexander Sodiqov, a Ph.D. student at the University of Toronto who was arrested and detained while conducting fieldwork in Tajikistan last week. Sodiqov, who is married with a young daughter, has reportedly not had any contact with his family members, lawyers, or colleagues.
As Eurasianet.org reported, Sodiqov, a Tajik citizen, was detained on charges of “subversion and espionage.” Sodiquov was conducting research in Tajikistan’s restive Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region for a British Economic and Social Research Council project, "Rising Powers and Conflict Management in Central Asia."