Leaders of 52 universities in Taiwan have urged the government to respond and engage with a student protest movement that has occupied the legislature and generated considerable debate, Taipei Times reported. The students oppose a new trade pact with China that they believe does not help Taiwan and could endanger democratic traditions on the island. The anthropology blog Savage Minds features a backgrounder with many links and videos about the growing student movement in Taiwan.
First Lady Michelle Obama, on a trip to China, spoke Saturday at Stanford University's center at Peking University about the value of study abroad. "Studying abroad isn’t just a fun way to spend a semester; it is quickly becoming the key to success in our global economy," Obama said. "Because getting ahead in today’s workplaces isn’t just about getting good grades or test scores in school, which are important. It’s also about having real experience with the world beyond your borders –- experience with languages, cultures and societies very different from your own.
"Or, as the Chinese saying goes: 'It is better to travel ten thousand miles than to read ten thousand books.' But let’s be clear, studying abroad is about so much more than improving your own future. It’s also about shaping the future of your countries and of the world we all share. Because when it comes to the defining challenges of our time -– whether it’s climate change or economic opportunity or the spread of nuclear weapons -- these are shared challenges. And no one country can confront them alone."
A leader of the Parti Québécois, which is the governing party in Quebec but has just started a tough re-election campaign, has proposed that college and university students be barred from wearing burkas, Maclean's reported. Bernard Drainville, the official who proposed the idea, is also behind the proposed "values charter" that would bar public employees (including those in higher education) from wearing any religious attire. In proposing the burka ban, he said he was concerned that students in burkas attend classes at a number of universities in the province.
The U.S. Department of Treasury on Thursday issued a general license allowing accredited U.S. universities to enter into academic exchange agreements with Iranian universities and permitting the export of some educational services, including university entrance examinations. The guidance also permits American universities and their contractors to enroll Iranian students in certain online undergraduate-level courses, including massive open online courses, or MOOCs. In January, Inside Higher Edreported that the U.S. government had blocked access to the MOOC provider Coursera for individuals in Iran and other economically sanctioned nations.
The drowning deaths of six students, apparently from hazing, have set off a debate at Portugal's universities, The New York Times reported. Hazing in Portugal is not associated with fraternities, but is a rite of passage for new students. Critics say that the recent deaths show that the traditions have gotten out of control, but many students support hazing and are rallying to preserve it.
In an unusual move for Japan, and a first for one of Japan's national universities, Kyoto University will seek advice from some university presidents outside Japan on possible candidates to become the institution's next president, The Yomiuri Shimbun reported. The university will seek recommendations from the presidents of Harvard University, the University of Cambridge and other institutions. In the past, advice was sought only from within the country.