international

New Path for Wealthy Chinese to American Colleges

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.

Art Instructor Fired After Student Slaughtered Chicken

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.

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AAUP reiterates its opposition to academic boycotts

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Following big wins for those wanting academics to stay away from Israel, AAUP reiterates its view that such movements are antithetical to academic freedom.

Due to Cheating Concerns, SAT Called Off in South Korea

Cheating concerns have led the Educational Testing Service to call off the SAT in South Korea this month, The Wall Street Journal reported. 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.

 

American Professor Attacked in Cairo

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.

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Scholars Protest Suspension of Professor Accused of 'Insulting Islam'

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. 

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Stephen Hawking, Citing Boycott, Calls Off Israel Trip

Stephen Hawking on Wednesday stunned Israelis and set off a day of mixed reports about his motives for calling off plans to attend a major conference in Israel next month. But by the end of the day, it appeared clear that he was honoring the boycott of Israel set up by some pro-Palestinian groups. Early Wednesday, word spread that Hawking was going to skip the conference due to the boycott, but then a spokesman for the University of Cambridge, where Hawking is on the faculty, told The Guardian that the reason the visit had been called off was the scientist's health. Subsequently, the spokesman said he had been wrong, and that Hawking did want to honor the boycott.

The Guardian printed an excerpt from a letter Hawking sent to conference organizers in which he said: "I have received a number of emails from Palestinian academics. They are unanimous that I should respect the boycott. In view of this, I must withdraw from the conference. Had I attended, I would have stated my opinion that the policy of the present Israeli government is likely to lead to disaster."

The decision of Hawking to honor the boycott was greeted as a huge boost to the movement to encourage scholars and others to stay away from Israel. For Israelis and supporters, to have such a prominent scientist honor the boycott -- which has been criticized as antithetical to academic values by many American scholarly groups -- was a major blow.

 

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New protocols requiring verification of SEVIS status cause delays at ports of entry

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Students and exchange scholars are being referred to secondary inspection under policies put in place after the Boston Marathon bombings. Reported delays range from 20 minutes to three hours.

Hebrew U. Forges Deeper Ties in China

The president of Hebrew University of Jerusalem is leading a delegation to China, where the university anticipates signing several agreements, including a cooperation agreement with Peking University to establish a Confucius Institute, a Chinese government-funded center for Chinese language and cultural education that will be the second in Israel. The university also expects to sign an agreement with a donor who has committed $8 million for scholarships for Chinese students.

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Tunisian Dean Acquitted in Case Involving Veiled Students

The Scholars at Risk network has welcomed the acquittal of Habib Kazdaghli, a dean at the University of Manouba, in Tunisia, who was accused of slapping one of two veiled students who entered his office without permission. The incident was part of a broader dispute involving conservative Muslims about the university’s prohibition on students veiling their faces in the classroom.

The Associated Press reported that the two students in question were convicted of damaging property in the dean’s office. The dean, Kazdaghli, has maintained that he was defending himself against the students’ affront. 

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