State universities in the United Arab Emirates should be barred from teaching most subjects in English and should be encouraged to add more Arabic language and literature courses, said members of the Federal National Council, The National reported. Hamad Al Rahoomi, a council member, said: "We want teaching to be in Arabic. We have doctors graduating from our universities who cannot fill out an application form in Arabic. The situation in government universities is going from bad to worse. We also need to enhance Arabic in private universities."
The British Council released new research today regarding factors that deter students in the United States and United Kingdom from studying abroad. Of the 10,800 people surveyed, 20 percent of U.K. respondents said they are considering study abroad, while 56 percent of U.S. students said the same. U.S. students cited barriers including concerns about cost, language ability and the difficulty of leaving family and friends.
University officials consider challenges to campuses in other countries -- including MOOCs, the wrong kind of oversight, no oversight, shifting student demands and (when asked about it) lack of academic freedom.
The British Council has joined with Futurelearn, the United Kingdom’s homegrown MOOC (massive open online course) platform. Futurelearn now has 19 partners, including 17 U.K. universities, the British Library, and the British Council, which promotes British higher education internationally.
“The British Council has been bringing the UK’s education sector to people around the world for almost eighty years, so it’s very exciting that with Futurelearn we’re able to expand that to millions more people through the MOOC platform,” the organization’s chief executive, Martin Davidson, said in a statement. “We hope that our recognized experience in English language learning and delivering assessments and examinations in nearly a hundred countries will contribute to making Futurelearn even more attractive for ambitious learners around the world.”
Rumors abound in Russia that many top leaders have degrees that they didn't really earn, but some officials are starting to tackle the issue of plagiarism. Time reported that the deputy minister of education and science reviewed 25 dissertations at random from the history department at Moscow Pedagogical State University. With one exception, all were found to be extensively plagiarized, with some having as much as 90 percent of the material copied.
A new institute dedicated to Israel studies has opened in Washington. The Israel Institute, to be led by Itamar Rabinovich, formerly Israel’s ambassador to the United States and the president of Tel Aviv University, was established with funding from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. It plans to fund doctoral and post-doctoral fellowships, research grants, and visiting professorships, as well as fellowships for students enrolled in Israel studies programs at Israeli universities, residences for Israeli artists, and internships at Washington think tanks for policy-oriented Ph.D. candidates. Other planned activities of the institute, including support for academic conferences, are outlined here. The members of the institute's advisory board can be found here.
Ariel Ilan Roth, executive director of the Israel Institute, said its goals are to “bring coherence” to the growing but “jumbled” field of Israel studies, and to serve as a source of funding and support for scholars pursuing Israel-related scholarship.
“We want to provide financial and structural opportunities for people to develop a skill-set and to do so under the most rigorous academic conditions,” Roth said. “We’re talking about serious study: we’re not talking about political advocacy, we’re not talking about political lobbying. We’re talking about applying the best tools of academic exploration to whatever aspect of the modern Israeli experience the scholar sees fit to explore.”
Nathan J. Brown, president-elect of the Middle East Studies Association and a professor of politics at George Washington University, said he was pleased to see the establishment of a new scholarly institute dedicated to the region (albeit one country within it): "This is a time when for example, funding for Title VI programs has been cut, so to have new support for anything related to Middle East Studies is good," he said.