London Metropolitan University’s license to sponsor visas for international students has been restored. Citing “systemic failures” in the university’s verification and monitoring of students’ English proficiency levels, visa status and course attendance, the UK Border Agency stripped London Met of its ability to host foreign students last August. This led to a court battle and concerns about the fate of the 2,600 foreign students then enrolled.
The UK Border Agency said in a statement that a series of inspections over six months revealed that London Met had improved its processes. The university will be subject to a probationary period during which it will be limited on the number of international students it can enroll.
“This is excellent news for our students and our University, which looks forward to welcoming students from around the world who want to study at one of London’s most diverse academic institutions,” London Met’s vice-chancellor, Malcolm Gillies, said in a statement. The university reported that it has already attracted nearly 5,000 applications from international students for fall 2013 and will begin “a four-month promotional tour across 17 countries.”
The European University Association released results of a survey on the internationalization of European universities in advance of its annual conference in Belgium. Respondents ranked “attracting students from abroad” as their top priority, followed by “internationalization of learning and teaching,” “providing our students with more opportunities to have a learning experience abroad,” and “strategic research partnerships.”
The survey also asked about universities’ interest in massive open online courses, or MOOCs, and found that only 58 percent of respondents had heard about MOOCs and 33 percent said they had been discussed at their institutions. When asked whether European universities should further develop MOOCs, 44 percent of respondents said yes, and another 48 percent had no clear opinion.
The survey garnered 180 responses from 175 higher education institutions in 38 countries.
A new working paper finds that economic conditions are a critical factor in determining whether foreign-born science and engineering Ph.D. students plan to remain in the United States after they graduate: students are most likely to stay if the U.S. has experienced strong gross domestic product growth in recent years or their home country has had weak growth. Students who come from countries that have recently democratized or have higher average income levels are less likely to remain in the U.S.
The study, based on an analysis of the National Science Foundation’s Survey of Earned Doctorates data from 1960 to 2008, also found that foreign students who plan to stay in the U.S. have higher levels of academic ability, as determined by the educational attainment of their parents and their own success in earning fellowships and other sources of graduate funding. (An exception is those students who receive funding contingent upon their return to their home country; not surprisingly, these students are less likely to intend to stay in the U.S.)
Foreign-born students made up 56 percent of all science and engineering Ph.D. recipients in the U.S. in 2007. The working paper is by Jeffrey Grogger and Gordon H. Hanson, of the Universities of Chicago and California at San Diego, respectively, and is available on the National Bureau of Economic Research website for $5.
Proposed legislation in France would ease restrictions on offering university courses in English, The Connexion reported. Currently, courses must be in French unless they are courses to teach a non-French language or offered by a visiting academic from outside France. Some educators want the option of teaching other courses in English to attract more British and American students. Many universities in European countries that are not primarily English-speaking are adding such courses. But leading French writers have launched a campaign calling the proposed changes "insulting," and the Académie Française has said that any change would "harm the status of the French language in universities."
The U.S. State Department has released a written statement on the issue of third-party study abroad providers operating credit-bearing educational programs in Cuba. In a written statement that confirms study abroad professionals’ prior understanding of the changing regulatory environment, the State Department indicated that “academic service providers” are now eligible to receive “specific” licenses from the Office of Foreign Assets Control to offer for-credit educational programs in Cuba on behalf of accredited American undergraduate and graduate institutions. “The goal is to provide study-abroad options for students whose university or college does not have a stand-alone Cuba program but which is nevertheless prepared to grant course credit for formal study in Cuba,” the State Department said in its statement.
While regulations released back in 2011 cleared the way for U.S. colleges to resume exchange programs in Cuba, the third-party study abroad providers' applications for licenses to run such programs were stalled. One such provider, Academic Programs International, announced it had finally received a license late last month.
The State Department indicated that all applications from academic service providers will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. It plans to issue new regulatory guidance on these issues in the Federal Register and the OFAC website in the coming months.
Greece's parliament on Thursday approved legislation that will lead to numerous mergers of programs at the nation's universities, the Associated Press reported. Government leaders argue that the law will allow for efficient use of funds (which are in short supply in the country) to promote quality programs. Students rallied against the law and police used tear gas on a protest outside of the parliament building.
At least 12 students were killed by a mortar strike at Damascus University on Thursday, The New York Timesreported. Government and rebel forces blamed one another for the attack, which took place at an outdoor café close to the civil engineering building. Students were reportedly taking an exam inside the building at the time of the strike.
Thursday’s was the second major attack on Syrian university students this year. In January, more than 80 people were killed by explosions at Aleppo University.