The Senate Judiciary Committee considering the comprehensive immigration reform bill approved an amendment proposed by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Grassley 69, which would crack down on fraudulent colleges and require accreditation for higher education institutions enrolling international students.
Other student visa-related amendments approved by the committee on Tuesday included Grassley 77, which calls for a temporary suspension of the issuance of student visas if the U.S. Department of Homeland Security does not promptly address problems of interoperability between the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and the database that is available to officials at border checkpoints. Meanwhile, Grassley 56, which would limit the authority of the Secretary of State to waive interviews for visa applicants, and Grassley 68, which would delay the implementation of certain provisions of the act related to international students until the full deployment of the long-delayed SEVIS II, both failed in 9-9 tie votes. (You can find all the amendments acted upon so far here.)
“We have learned time and again that there are holes in our student visa program,” Grassley said during the committee hearing. The program has come under particular scrutiny in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings: although the suspected bombers were not foreign students, two citizens of Kazakhstan accused of aiding in the destruction of evidence were.
In a letter it sent to the committee on Monday, NAFSA:Association of International Educators urged senators not to approve amendments that could pose impediments to international students, arguing that this would undermine national security rather than enhance it. "Foreign students are an asset to our nation, not a threat," the association wrote. The committee will next take up the immigration bill on Thursday.
NAFSA: Association of International Educators is concerned about a series of proposed amendments to the comprehensive immigration reform bill that would, in the association’s words, place “unnecessary and counterproductive impediments in the way of foreign students who wish to pursue their educational and professional goals in the United States.”
“Although these amendments may be justified by their proponents as adding to our security, the truth is that targeting foreign students does nothing to enhance U.S. security, and in fact only accomplishes the opposite,” NAFSA wrote in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is expected to continue marking up the bill today.
Proposed amendments that NAFSA is concerned about include six put forward by Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa): Grassley 52, 56, 64, 68, 69, and 77. (All are available online here.) These amendments would, among other things, prevent students on F visas from participating in practical training opportunities until full deployment of the long-delayed Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) II and delay the implementation of provisions of the immigration reform bill until one year after completion of a report on the intelligence and “immigration failures” leading up to the Boston Marathon bombings.
Senator Grassley has raised a number of questions and concerns about the student visa program in the wake of the Boston bombings. Neither of the suspected bombers were on student visas, although two citizens of Kazakhstan accused of aiding in the destruction of evidence were. New protocols put in place to verify students’ SEVIS status since the bombings have already led to delays at ports of entry. Inside Higher Ed will have continuing coverage of which amendments, if any, are introduced and their potential implications.
The importance of collaboration with U.S. community colleges to realize India's goal of creating 200 such institutions was a major focus of a roundtable discussion on "Advancing U.S.-India Academic Partnerships" held at the Institute of International Education's Washington office on Monday. Governmental representatives participating in the discussion with college administrators included M.M. Pallam Raju, India's minister of human resource development, and Nirupama Rao, the ambassador of India to the United States, as well as several high-level U.S. Department of State officials.
The discussion portion of the meeting was closed to media (only the opening remarks were open), but participants reported that subjects of discussion included not only community college collaboration but also the role of MOOCs (massive open online courses) in increasing India's higher education capacity and the imbalance in exchanges between American and Indian students. (While there are more than 100,000 Indian students in the U.S., only 4,345 Americans studied in India in 2010-11, according to IIE data.) The subject of long-stalled legislation permitting the establishment of foreign branch campuses in India did not come up during the 45-minute discussion.
Monday's roundtable discussion was intended to inform the ongoing, governmental U.S.-India Higher Education Dialogue, a component of a larger strategic dialogue between the two countries.
A growing number of wealthy Chinese families are trying a new strategy to earn admission for their children to elite American colleges: enrolling them first in private high schools in New York City. The New York Times reported that there were 638 Chinese students with visas at high schools in New York City in 2012, compared to 114 five years earlier.
Gord Ferguson was dismissed last week as an instructor at the Alberta College of Art and Design, a month after a student killed a chicken in the college's cafeteria as part of a performance art project, The Calgary Herald reported. While the college is not commenting on why Ferguson was dismissed, he said it was "absolutely" related to the student's unorthodox use of a chicken in art. Miguel Michelena Suarez, the student, said he is upset that his instructor lost his job and is trying to organize letters of protest.
Cheating concerns have led the Educational Testing Service to call off the SAT in South Korea this month, The Wall Street Journalreported. The move followed reports that questions from the May SAT were circulating in some test-prep centers. Some Korean students planning to apply to colleges in the United States are trying to find other countries where they can take the exam.
An associate professor of Arabic at Hunter College was being treated at a Cairo hospital on Thursday after being stabbed in the neck just outside the U.S. Embassy, NBC News reported. The broadcaster reported that Christopher Stone was challenged by a man who asked him twice about his nationality and then stabbed him. Stone received a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship to study Sheikh Imam at the American Research Center in Egypt this academic year.
The Committee on Academic Freedom of the Middle East Studies Association has written a letter to the president of Egypt’s Suez Canal University protesting its investigation and informal suspension without pay of an English professor variously accused of “contempt of religion” and “insulting Islam.” As the letter details, Mona Prince is accused by a student of making “untoward” statements about Islam in a lecture on sectarian tensions in Egypt.
The letter describes the incident as a misunderstanding or disagreement between Prince and a student complainant. "It seems to us, indeed, that Dr. Prince acted precisely as a professor should, particularly in a discussion section of a course designed to teach critical thinking skills,” states the letter, signed by MESA’s president, Peter Sluglett. “She encouraged her students to tackle matters that, while sensitive and unpleasant, are among the most pressing socio-political issues in contemporary Egypt.”
“We are quite disturbed, therefore, that the university has opened an investigation at all,” the letter continues. “The mere fact that the university deems this innocuous incident worthy of inquiry could exercise a chilling effect upon academic freedom."
The president of Suez Canal University did not immediately respond to an email message on Thursday.