The Conservative Victory and British Higher Education

The Conservative Party victory in Thursday's British elections could have important consequences for British universities, Times Higher Education reported. The Conservative Party has pledged a referendum on whether to leave the European Union, and academic leaders want to stay, given the research funds their institutions receive from the EU. The Conservatives have also pledged to tighten the rules on visas for international students -- a move that university leaders fear would result in enrollment declines.

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Historians Urge Japan to Confront Its Past

More than 180 historians -- most of them working at American colleges and universities -- this week issued an open letter to Japan's prime minister, Shinzo Abe, calling on his country to be more open to discussing the atrocities of the World War II era. The letter focuses on the "comfort women," women whom the Japanese military forced into sex slavery in many of the countries Japan occupied.

"Exploitation of the suffering of former 'comfort women' for nationalist ends in the countries of the victims makes an international resolution more difficult and further insults the dignity of the women themselves. Yet denying or trivializing what happened to them is equally unacceptable," the letter says. "Among the many instances of wartime sexual violence and military prostitution in the 20th century the 'comfort women' system was distinguished by its large scale and systematic management under the military, and by its exploitation of young, poor and vulnerable women in areas colonized or occupied by Japan."

The signatories include many of the leading American scholars of Japan. The letter grew out of a discussion in March at the meeting of the Association for Asian Studies. The letter is receiving widespread coverage in Japan and some of the countries, such as South Korea, where women were forced to be "comfort women."

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Institutions Make Decisions on Summer Travel to Nepal

Columbia University has prohibited all university-related undergraduate travel to Nepal following the recent 7.8-magnitude earthquake. Duke University has also restricted travel to Nepal, and Arizona State University has canceled its summer study abroad programs there. SIT Study Abroad is still assessing the situation and expects to make a decision about whether to run its summer program focusing on geoscience in the Himalayas within the next week, according to the vice provost, Priscilla Stone.

The U.S. Department of State and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have both recommended that nonessential travel to Nepal be deferred.

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University Leaders Make Pledges Toward Greater Gender Equality

Five university presidents have signed on so far to the UN Women’s HeForShe campaign by making specific commitments to improve gender equality within their institutions, Time reported. The University of Hong Kong; the University of Leicester, in the United Kingdom; Nagoya University, in Japan; the University of Waterloo, in Canada; and the University of the Witwatersrand, in South Africa, have all made various pledges to increase the number of women in top administrative positions and/or on the faculty, among other commitments.

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OECD prepares to measure teaching quality

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OECD prepares for major project to measure effectiveness of universities in the classroom.

At Chinese Universities, Students Offer Wake-Up Calls

In China, many people are proud of waking early, but university students, like their counterparts all over, struggle to get up in the morning. As a result, many campuses are seeing the formation of "wake-up call" clubs, The Wall Street Journal reported. In the clubs, students create phone trees and make sure the other club members get up on time.


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Singapore Tries to Discourage University Enrollment

Leaders in Singapore are trying to discourage students from enrolling at universities, Bloomberg reported. Speeches by government leaders and articles in local newspapers focus on the value of apprenticeships, and how people can earn a lot of money without a university degree. While Singapore has invested considerably in its universities, officials fear a worker shortage in many industries. The article notes that many parents seem to remain intent on their children earning a degree.



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New reports consider whether Australia's quest for international student tuition revenue is eroding standards

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Australia considers whether the quest for tuition revenue from abroad is eroding standards.

Florida Continues to Block Research Trips to Cuba

Many scholars whose research might take them to Cuba have cheered the Obama administration's moves to loosen the rules on travel to the country. But professors at public universities in Florida will have to keep waiting. A Florida law bars public university professors or students from travel to any country in the Western hemisphere that is on the U.S. government's list of nations supporting terrorism. Even though President Obama has now removed Cuba from that list, The Miami Herald reported, the board that oversees Florida's universities has asserted that the ban remains in place until there are full diplomatic relations with Cuba. But the Herald reviewed the law and found no such provision. Some faculty members say that the state board is simply trying to block their travel to Cuba.

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Rules Add Flexibility in International Student Programs

A new U.S. Department of Homeland Security rule will allow spouses and children of international students to study in the U.S. as long as they are enrolled for less than a full course of study. The amended rule will also remove a cap on the number of designated school officials nominated at any given institution: designated school officials, or DSOs, as they’re called, are tasked with overseeing compliance with U.S. immigration requirements vis-à-vis international students and scholars. 

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