international

Report Urges European Nations to Certify Professors' Ability to Teach

Europe's universities need to focus on teaching, and to assure that all professors and instructors know how to teach, says a new report from the European Union's High-Level Group on the Modernization of Higher Education. The report calls for "certified teacher training" for all instructors by 2020. A statement from the co-chairs of the working group said: "[M]any higher education institutions do not place enough emphasis on teaching in comparison to research, even though both are core missions of higher education. This needs rebalancing. The role of teaching in defining academic merit needs a stronger emphasis and recognition, especially in career terms. Ultimately, we should not forget that this is about the students -- how to offer them the best possible learning environment and education."

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Attack on Chinese Students in France Condemned as Xenophobic

Six Chinese students studying wine-making in the Bordeaux region of France were attacked Saturday morning in an incident the country’s interior minister has condemned as xenophobic, Reuters reported. One student was seriously injured after being struck in the face by a bottle. Two suspects have been arrested.

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Chinese Dissident Says NYU Is Forcing Him Out

Chen Guangcheng, the dissident from China who has held a fellowship at New York University for the last year, said that NYU was kicking him out because of concerns that his criticism of China was harming the university's interests there, The New York Times reported. While speculation about Chen's departure has circulated for several days, his statement Sunday was Chen's first on the matter. He and others have noted that NYU has a new campus in Shanghai and that many NYU faculty members need visas to travel back and forth to China. “The work of the Chinese Communists within academic circles in the United States is far greater than what people imagine, and some scholars have no option but to hold themselves back,” Chen said. “Academic independence and academic freedom in the United States are being greatly threatened by a totalitarian regime.”

NYU responded with its own statement, denying that Chinese politics had anything to do with Chen's departure. The issue was simply that his fellowship was over, the university said. “We are very discouraged to learn of Mr. Chen’s statement, which contains a number of speculations about the role of the Chinese government in N.Y.U.’s decision-making that are both false and contradicted by the well-established facts,” said an NYU spokesman.

 

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Russian Scientists Object to Theology at Physics University

Scientists in Russia are objecting to the addition of a theology department at the National Research Nuclear University, in Moscow, RIA Novosti reported. Many researchers see the move as inappropriate at a secular university and inconsistent with the focus on science at the institution. Leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church, however, say that the administration thought of the idea of adding the department, and that it will offer a wide range of programs.

 

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In Canada, Criticism of Caps on Foreign Student Athletes

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) is objecting to league-wide caps on the numbers of international students permitted to play on intercollegiate sports teams.

"The CCLA opposes unfair discrimination against non-citizens in all areas of law," Nathalie Des Rosiers, general counsel for the organization, said in a press release posted on the Canada News Wire website. "We are particularly concerned because later this week, the [Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association] will be considering a motion to extend this discriminatory measure and further limit the participation of international students in collegiate varsity sports.”

As the Windsor Star reported, there are currently caps on the numbers of international students on basketball, soccer and volleyball teams, and the athletic association is set to take up a measure that would expand those quotas to cover badminton, cross-country running, curling and golf at its conference this week. The caps are seen as inhibiting the recruitment of international students but Sandra Murray-MacDonell, the executive director of the athletic association, said they are necessary to ensure a fair playing field.

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Analysis of University Funding Finds Growing Gaps Across Europe

A new analysis of the state of public funding of universities from the European University Association warns of a widening resource gap across the continent. For the 17 higher education systems for which data were available, nine (Austria, Belgium’s French-speaking Community, Czech Republic, France, Iceland, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, and Sweden) experienced an increase in funding from 2012 to 13, and eight (Croatia, England and Wales, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Slovakia) experienced cuts. The most severe cuts were in Greece (25 percent) and Hungary (19 percent). As the EUA report states, “This is all the more critical as both countries face a general downward trend over the period 2009-2013, with the difference (not adjusted for inflation) between those reference years amounting to about -46% in Greece and about -31% in Hungary.”

The report also isolates the role of inflation in either accentuating or mitigating the effect of higher education cuts or spending increases over the past five years. When adjusted for inflation, seven of  20 systems (Austria, Belgium’s French-speaking Community, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden) have a higher funding level in 2012 compared to 2008, and 13 systems (Croatia, Czech Republic, England and Wales, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, and Spain) have a lower funding level. 

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New Russian law requiring some NGOs to register as 'foreign agents' seen as chilling

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New Russian law requiring NGOs to register as "foreign agents" if they receive funding from foreign sources and are engaged in "political activity" threatens closure of an independent polling agency and raises concerns about climate for scholarly collaborations. 

 

Eyeing Universities Abroad, Chinese Students Skip Gaokao

An increasing number of Chinese students intending to study abroad are forgoing the national college entrance exam, the gaokao, entirely, according to Chinese and international media. In Beijing, 72,736 students registered for this past weekend’s administration of the gaokao, a decline from 126,000 in 2006, China Daily reported. The Guardian also reported that an increasing number of Chinese students are taking the British A-levels in lieu of the gaokao. 

At the same time, a number of universities in Australia have begun accepting gaokao scores in undergraduate admissions.

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German University Ends Gender-Specific Words for 'Professor'

The University of Leipzig has started to refer to both male and female professors as "Professorin," ending the use of gender-specific words -- "Professorin" for women and "Professor" for men -- The Local reported. The German language has male and female forms for many words, and the move to use a single word (and the traditional female form at that) has prompted considerable discussion. Der Spiegel quoted Bernd-Rüdiger Kern, a law professor, as saying that that the move reflects "a feminism which does language no good and doesn't achieve anything concrete."

The website Deutsche Welle ran an interview with Luise Pusch, a leader of feminist linguistics, in which she praised the decision. "It is definitely a step forward and not only for the University of Leipzig, but for the whole country. The decision is being talked about and that gets people thinking. Every opportunity to think about our male-dominated language is good for the language as a whole, because the German language is very biased," she said.

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Commercial Espionage and China

An article in The New York Times’s China edition explores the vast scope of Chinese commercial espionage following the arrest of three New York University researchers who are accused of accepting bribes to share secret research findings with Chinese government and industry entities. (The researchers were studying magnetic-resonance imaging technology on a National Institutes of Health-funded grant.) The article quotes a May report from The Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property, which states, “National industrial policy goals in China encourage IP theft, and an extraordinary number of Chinese in business and government entities are engaged in this practice.” The article also quotes China’s Commerce Ministry, which denies being weak on the enforcement of intellectual property rights. 

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