American College of Greece Faces Country's Turmoil

The American College of Greece, which offers an American-style and American-accredited education for 2,500 students in Athens, is allowing students to enroll without making a down payment that would normally be required, in light of the closure of banks and Greece's economic crisis. The vote Sunday by Greek citizens against a bailout plan that would have imposed new austerity measures may add to the economic chaos. About 84 percent of students are Greek nationals, so the lack of access to their funds and family funds is significant. Thimios Zaharopoulos, provost of the college, said via email that the continued closure of banks could create problems for the college and all parts of Greek society. The college's endowment, he said, is in the United States and so should not be directly affected by the crisis.

Zaharopoulos was optimistic about the long term. "ACG has been around for 140 years and has survived multiple disasters. It will survive this one as well," he said.

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Argentine University Criticized for Sex Performance

The social sciences department at the University of Buenos Aires is being criticized for hosting a live sex performance with actors, the Associated Press reported. The event was promoted as a "post-porn" work of performance art. Rector Alberto Barbieri said that the university is investigating. He said he was particularly concerned about the event taking place in a public space where minors could attend.

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Webster Pays $95,464 for U.S. Aid Violations at U.K. Programs

Webster University was found to owe the U.S. government $95,464 for federal aid violations involving its programs in the United Kingdom administered in partnership with Regent’s University London. An examination of the agreement between Webster and Regent’s led Education Department auditors to conclude that Regent’s, not Webster, was the entity that was primarily responsible for the delivery of the programs, and that Webster had therefore “permitted an ineligible institution [Regent’s] to improperly receive Title IV [Higher Education Act] program funds and provide a program to Title IV recipients.”

Webster, a private university based in St. Louis, was found to owe $87,869 in improperly disbursed Pell Grants, plus another $1,024 in interest and an additional $6,571 to account for projected defaults on direct loans that were awarded to students in the ineligible programs.

A Department of Education spokesman said that Webster had paid the full amount and had not appealed. “Webster has met all commitments to the Department of Education,” Webster said in a statement. Webster, which has campuses in seven countries, including a campus in Thailand that has a host of problems, is ending its partnership with Regent’s.

“As the [department's] report clearly concludes, this issue was exclusive to degree-seeking students enrolled full-time in programs offered at Regent’s University campus,” the university's statement said. “Webster looks forward to identifying new campus partners in the U.K. that will allow us to continue our presence there.”

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Survey finds academics in Ireland believe their working conditions have deteriorated

Irish academics believe that their working conditions have deteriorated, study finds.

Report on Performance-Based Funding in Europe

A report from the European University Association released on Wednesday analyzes the impacts of performance-based funding systems in which universities are rewarded for producing certain outputs included in funding formulas or meeting targets agreed upon in performance contracts. The report finds that performance-based university funding can increase transparency and accountability in public spending and can support the strategic positioning of universities. But it also finds that "its effects are hard to control and are highly dependent on other factors such as the regulatory framework of a specific higher education system, the funding system and the share of funding allocated on the basis of performance as well as the institutional profile, income structure and internal management and governance." The report also warns of unintended adverse effects of performance funding tied to teaching or research-related outputs, such as the risk of professors "slicing" their research into multiple papers to boost their publication numbers. 


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Mudslinging by Top Chinese Universities

Two top Chinese universities -- Peking University and Tsinghua University -- have been taking to social media, each accusing the other of unfair tactics in attracting top students, The Wall Street Journal reported. Each accused the other of using money to lure students with top test scores to attend. The Education Ministry responded by calling on colleges to maintain an orderly admissions process and not to use large scholarships to “maliciously carry off students.”

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Officials at U.S. universities in China tell Congress they have protected academic freedom

At congressional hearing, officials at American institutions operating in China say that academic freedom is preserved.

Study links procrastination and bogus excuses by German university students

In Germany, university students who delay their work are more likely than others to lie about it and to engage in other forms of academic misconduct, study finds.

WikiLeaks memo sheds new light on 2012 cheating scandal involving Saudi students

Saudi Arabian students are snared in a grade-change scandal at Montana Tech that became a diplomatic incident.

U.S. Academic Leaders Hold Talks in Iran

A delegation of American academic leaders, organized by the Institute of International Education, has returned from a visit to Iran, the BBC reported. The delegation is believed to have been the highest-level American academic group to visit Iran since the 1970s. Officials hope that with some thaw in tensions between the two countries' governments, academic relationships could grow.

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