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.
Regent's College in London has gained approval from British officials to become the second private nonprofit university in the United Kingdom, The Guardianreported. Regent's University London, as the institution will be known, will be the largest private institution in Britain, at 4,500 students. The University of Buckingham became the first private institution there, in 1983.
A new report from the European Commission examines the effect of the financial crisis on education budgets. The report shows that nearly half of the 28 countries for which data were available cut their spending on tertiary and adult education from 2010 to 2011, with the greatest decline observed in Slovakia (nearly 15 percent), and reductions of more than 5 percent in the Czech Republic, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, and Northern Ireland. In 2012, even larger cuts took place in Cyprus and Lithuania (more than 30 percent), and Greece (25 percent).
Only a few countries say that budget reductions have resulted in increased tuition fees. The report cites Spain and the United Kingdom as two countries where tuition fees are being increased “with the objective of aligning them with the real cost of studies.”
The report examines educational spending at all levels, from pre-primary to tertiary education.
The University of Oxford has agreed to review policies under which its St. Hughes College has required applicants to demonstrate -- as a condition of admission -- that they can afford the living expenses, BBC reported. The agreement resolved a suit filed by an applicant who said he was rejected when he could not demonstrate that he had that money on hand. The applicant said that the rules were a human rights violation.
Academic Programs International has received a license from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control to operate short- and long-term study abroad programs in Cuba, making it the first study abroad provider organization to announce that it had earned such approval. While regulations released back in 2011 cleared the way for U.S colleges to resume exchange programs in Cuba, the provider organizations were required to submit applications for "specific" licenses – applications that heretofore have gone unapproved. Those in the study abroad field who have been involved in discussions with U.S. government officials say they have been told to expect that other pending applications by study abroad providers will be acted upon shortly.
"This is really an opening that will increase student participation going forward,” said Brian Whalen, president and CEO of the Forum on Education Abroad, which has been advocating on the providers’ behalf. Whalen noted that Forum data show that about 50 percent of colleges' study abroad programs are run in collaboration with providers.
“We’ll see more programs being developed, more universities being able to offer the experience to their students," he said.