The Vassar Jewish Union has become the second Hillel affiliate, after the chapter at Swarthmore College, to declare itself an "Open Hillel" and resolve that it will not abide by a ban on anti-Israel speakers imposed by its parent organization. Hillel International guidelines prohibit campus chapters from partnering with or hosting groups or speakers that seek to delegitimize, demonize or apply a double standard to Israel, or that support the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, but in a statement the Vassar Jewish Union said the policy “censors and delegitimizes the diverse range of personal and political opinions held by Jewish students."
“We believe that Hillel International’s goal to ‘inspire every Jewish college student to develop a meaningful and enduring relationship to Israel’ does not represent the diverse opinions of young American Jews,” the statement says, in part. “We believe that fostering a pluralistic community and supporting all Jewish life on campus cannot be achieved with Hillel International’s Israel Guidelines in place."
The president of Hillel International, Eric Fingerhut, told The Jewish Daily Forward that the organization’s expectation is that Hillel affiliates will continue to uphold the group’s standards for partners and co-sponsors.
Swiss President Didier Burkhalter this week warned that his country's scientists and university students could be hurt because of the national vote that narrowly approved immigration restrictions, Europe Online reported. The referendum breaks with Swiss consistency with some of the free flow of people provided in the European union. Burkhalter said that he was concerned that his efforts to have Switzerland join EU science funding and student exchange programs will be halted.
GRE volume was up about 5 percent in the United States in 2013, and by larger percentages in some other countries. Among all countries outside the United States, GRE test-taking was up 30 percent, and the figure was up 70 percent in India, the Educational Testing Service announced.
The presidents of Israel's universities have issued a joint letter to the presidents of American colleges and universities that have opposed the boycott of Israeli universities endorsed by the American Studies Association and others. "We do not take for granted the solidarity and support of the heads of the leading, most important universities in the United States and throughout the entire academic world," the letter says. "We both thank you for your courage and for your steadfast adherence to the principles of free and independent scientific thought."
Britain's home office has suspended the administration of English language tests run by the Princeton, N.J.-based Educational Testing Service after the BBC news program, "Panorama," uncovered “systematic fraud” at British test centers. As summarized in this BBC article, Panorama recorded instances of Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) examinees being replaced by “fake-sitters” who completed the test for them, and of a proctor reading the correct answers aloud to test takers. The news program followed a network of agents who help bogus students from outside the European Union pass the TOEIC, a government-approved English test for immigration purposes, and otherwise obtain student visa extensions fraudulently.
Thomas A. Ewing, an ETS spokesman, told Inside Higher Ed via email that the issues seem to involve two TOEIC testing centers and that the government’s suspension of TOEIC and Test of English as a Foreign Language exams within the U.K. will not affect test-takers elsewhere in the world. “When testing on a global basis, no test provider can claim 100 percent prevention or detection of fraudulent activity, but ETS does everything it can to detect and prevent rare instances of dishonest test administrators or test takers,” an ETS statement read, in part.
Xia Yeliang, whose firing by Peking University set off an international uproar, is starting today at the Cato Institute, a think tank, and he has cautions for American universities about their ties with Chinese universities, The New York Times reported. “They use the reputations of Western universities to cover their own scandals,” he told the Times. "Perhaps Western universities do not realize that Chinese universities do not have the basic value of academic freedom, and try to use Western universities to cover their bad side."