Study abroad officials are carefully tracking events in Turkey, where large protests in Istanbul and elsewhere have led to clashes with police. Syracuse University has 20 students in Istanbul, about to finish up a semester program. Margaret Himley, associate provost for international education and engagement, said via e-mail that students are scheduled to leave Sunday and "we are carefully monitoring the situation and talking with students about what these demonstrations mean and about what precautions they should be taking." A number of other institutions have summer programs about to start in Turkey. Jim Butterfield, a professor of political science at Western Michigan University, said that he is scheduled to accompany five students to Istanbul in three weeks. He said that "we're monitoring developments." Julie Anne Friend, associate director for international safety and security at Northwestern University, which will be sending students to Turkey for a program that starts July 1, said via e-mail that "we are not considering suspension at this time, but will, of course continue to monitor the situation."
Canadian universities have been seeing steady growth in international enrollments, but only minimal interest from Americans, many of whom could potentially save a lot of money and (for those in some Northern states) enroll at institutions very close to home. An article in The Globe and Mail describes new efforts by some Canadian universities seeking to attract more American students. Special scholarships and increased marketing efforts are being tried by several universities.
More than 46,500 American students were pursuing full degrees abroad in 2011-12, according to a new report released by the Institute of International Education. This represented about a 5 percent increase from the year prior. Of those going abroad, about 42 percent are enrolled in bachelor’s and master’s degrees, respectively, with the remaining 16 percent pursuing doctorates.
The report is based on data from 14 countries, including the United Kingdom, the largest host of American students. (Other countries in the sample are Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, China, the Netherlands, Ireland, Spain, Sweden, Japan, Denmark and Malaysia.) The numbers do not include students who study abroad as part of a course of study at a U.S. institution.
In death as in life, Margaret Thatcher's relationship to her alma mater, the University of Oxford, is contentious. The Oxford college she attended is currently raising funds for scholarships to be named for the late prime minister. But on Wednesday, London Mayor Boris Johnson denounced the university for not doing more, BBC reported. He noted that Thatcher was the first Oxford graduate after World War II who became prime minister and was never awarded an honorary doctorate. Professors blocked a move to award her the honor in 1995. Johnson called on Oxford to name a college after Thatcher. Many British academics hated Thatcher and her policies, which they viewed as taking away government support from the institution. But Johnson said that Oxford and other universities, which today depend on tuition revenue from foreign students, should remember that Thatcher's policies made it possible for universities to gain financially from such enrollments.
"I'm still waiting for the Oxford dons to accept the gravity of their error and, in the spirit of magnanimity, to award Baroness Thatcher not only a posthumous doctorate, but why not endow a college?" Johnson said. "Why not have a college in honor of their greatest post-war benefactress as they rake in the doubloons from international student fees?"
The university said that it has no plans to create additional colleges.
ST. LOUIS -- In an opening plenary speech at the annual NAFSA: Association of International Educators conference on Tuesday, former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan recalled his time as an international student at Minnesota’s Macalester College, saying that it taught him “lessons which have remained indispensable throughout my career. Not all these lessons were learned, I must admit, in the classroom."
“I remember when I got to Minnesota, my first winter ever, coming straight from Africa to Minnesota, I had to put on layers and layers of clothes to stay warm. And I thought that was reasonable enough.” There was, however, one common item of clothing he was determined he would never wear: “the earmuffs,” as he called them. He would wear no such things. “They were inelegant,” he told a laughing audience.
“Until one day when the temperature had hit -23 degrees, with a wind chill factor, I went to get something to eat and I thought my ears were going to fall off. The next day I can assure you I went and bought my earmuffs.”
“I learned a precious lesson – that you don’t walk into a situation, you don’t go into a country and pretend you know better than the locals, you know better than the natives. You better listen to them and look at what they do," Annan said.
More than 8,000 professionals in international education are attending the conference, which continues through Friday.
Haifa University has become the first university in Israel to give all students the day off on the most important Christian, Muslim and Druze holidays, Christmas, Eid al Fitr and Eid al Adha, respectively, Haaretz reported. A new calendar will be issued that will not cut either the Jewish holidays off or the total number of class days.
The Australian National University forced the student newspaper (threatening it with loss of funds and possible action against editors) to remove a satirical graphic about Islam, The Australian reported. The graphic was part of a series that had satirized various other faiths as well. This one referred to certain Muslim beliefs about women as constituting a "rape fantasy." University officials noted that graphics that mock Islam have set off violent incidents in numerous countries in the past. A statement from the university said: "In a world of social media, [there is] potential for material such as the article in question to gain attention and traction in the broader world and potentially harm the interests of the university and the university community." Woroni, the student newspaper, published its own account of the controversy, questioning the university's response. The student paper apologized to any offended, but also noted that the item in question was satire and was part of a series that satirized other faiths. The paper's editorial added that "Woroni is concerned about the implications of these events for freedom of speech and, more generally, the role of student publications. Woroni regularly features material that is challenging, and even at times confronting. By their very nature, universities are forums to critique ideas and beliefs. University newspapers – as a platform for students – should ideally reflect this role."
The University of Tokyo is taking a series of steps to try to increase the intellectual rigor and international perspective of students, The Asahi Shimbun reported. The university is Japan's most prestigious, but educators there have long worried that students focus too much on gaining entry, and not enough on learning once enrolled. One reform will be the use of massive open online courses (MOOCs), to introduce students to new styles of education. Other plans include more courses in English and special grants to allow newly admitted students to take a year off for study abroad or other educational experiences.