international

New Push on Green Cards for Foreign STEM Graduates

On Tuesday, House Judiciary Chairman Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas) introduced a bill that would reallocate up to 55,000 green cards per year to foreign graduates of U.S. universities with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. The STEM Jobs Bill is being fast-tracked for a full House of Representatives vote on Thursday.

To be eligible, students must graduate with a doctorate or two-year master’s degree from a university classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as doctorate-granting with a high or very high level of research activity (or a university certified by the National Science Foundation as equivalent). Qualifying universities also could not pay commissions or other forms of incentive-based compensation to recruiters of international students. Graduates in the biological or biomedical sciences would be excluded.

The STEM Jobs Bill eliminates the "diversity visa lottery" program – which is open to individuals from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S. -- in order to reallocate the slots to foreign STEM graduates. A competing bill sponsored by Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-Cal.) would create 50,000 visas for STEM graduates without eliminating the diversity visa program.

Higher education and technology industry lobbying groups have long called for easing the immigration process for foreign scientists educated at U.S. universities.

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$180 Customized Art Textbook -- Without Any Art

Students at OCAD University, an arts institution in Toronto, are furious about a required custom textbook for an art course for which they must pay $180, but which does not feature any illustrations. Petitions are attracting signatures. Bloggers are expressing outrage, and word is spreading. The university notes that students have access to online versions of the art discussed in the book, and that the customized textbook was an attempt to save students money by combining several books. University officials said that obtaining the rights to the art would have resulted in a huge increase in costs. Still, university officials have scheduled a meeting with students later in the week to talk about the issues.

 

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International educators debate mass vs. elite higher education

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International educators at a meeting of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development put a new twist on an old debate, prodded by New York University's provocative president.

British Public Favors Limits on Foreign Students

About 70 percent of the British public believes that caps should be placed on the number of foreign students who can enroll there, according to a poll discussed by Times Higher Education. Anti-immigrant groups cheered the results. Andrew Green, chairman of MigrationWatch UK, said: "This gives the lie to those who have been claiming that the public are not concerned about student inflows. When the questions are posed in their factual and policy context the public display the firm common sense that one would expect."

 

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Australian Universities Urged to Double Aboriginal Enrollments

A report much awaited by Australian academics has called for the nation's universities to double their enrollments of Aboriginal students, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. Such a doubling would bring Aboriginal enrollment to 2.2 percent, roughly the share of the Aboriginal population among Australians who are 15 to 64 years old.

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Accrediting Council Creates Group on International Quality Assurance

As participation in higher education worldwide rises and geographic barriers and boundaries fall, collaboration on some postsecondary issues has increased. But most countries and regions still operate independently on many fronts, both purposefully (because countries want to go their own way) and less so, because of inadequate communication and cooperation. That fragmentation can be particularly vexing in areas such as quality assurance, and it is a major reason for a new endeavor announced Thursday by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Through the new CHEA International Quality Group, the council -- which represents American colleges and universities that are accredited by agencies that it recognizes -- aims to bring together colleges, accreditors, quality assurance agencies and associations from around the world to work together on dealing with quality-related issues in higher education. CHEA itself has been active in international matters, setting aside part of its annual meeting for an international forum and working with entities such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and UNESCO on issues such as diploma mills.

But Judith S. Eaton, CHEA's president, said council officials believed that the "growth in worldwide activity of our institutions, through study abroad and branch campuses, and the expanding international activity of U.S. accreditors" -- as well as the explosion of issues such as cross-border education, for-profit higher education, and massive open online courses -- made this a logical time to expand its involvement. The council does not plan either to accredit institutions or to recognize international quality assurance agencies as it does U.S. accreditors.

"We're trying to create a forum in which we and our partners around the world can work together on quality assurance issues," she said. The new entity, which will be part of CHEA, plans to convene discussions, conduct research, share news and best practices, and provide consulting services on quality assurance issues.

British universities urged to get more ambitious on fund-raising

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Institutions urged to invest more in development and to create strategies to get more alumni to donate.

Can a Robot Pass Tokyo U.'s Entrance Exam?

Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd. announced that it will join forces with Japan’s National Institute of Informatics to create a robot that can earn admission to Tokyo University, the most prestigious university in Japan, The Wall Street Journal reported. To gain admission, the robot (like other applicants) will have to pass a national entrance exam for universities and one that is given only by Tokyo University. The project is prompting renewed debate over artificial intelligence.

 

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OECD releases report on global education trends

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New, wide-ranging report from OECD includes statistics on the relationship of the recession to education, student mobility and degree attainment, among other topics.

 

Iran vs. Iranian Studies Association

The Middle East Studies Association of North American has written to senior Iranian officials asking them to stop official newspapers from attacking the International Society for Iranian Studies. That group typically holds its annual meeting in North America, but this August held its 2012 meeting in Istanbul, with the goal of allowing more scholars in Iran to participate. As described in the letter from the Middle East Studies Association, an officially supported newspaper ran an article on the international group, saying it was dominated by "Royalists" and "Zionists," among others. Following this article, many of the scholars based in Iran canceled plans to go to Istanbul for the meeting. The letter to Iranian officials said, "The open pursuit and free expression of knowledge and ideas, without fear of reprisal and discrimination are guaranteed under Iran's Constitution.... MESA urges the authorities in Iran to work towards and protect the free exchange of ideas, freedom of expression in all forms, and the unrestricted pursuit of academic research without fear of intimidation and persecution."

 

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