A special board that oversees Israeli higher education on the West Bank on Tuesday granted university status to the Ariel University Center, Haaretz reported. The action overruled the decision this month of the body that typically would recommend on granting university status, and which opted not to. University status for Ariel has been championed by advocates of Israeli settlements on the West Bank, but has been denounced by many Israeli academics. Some argue that their country doesn't have enough money for its existing universities. Others fear that granting Ariel university status involves using higher education to promote a more permanent Israeli presence in occupied territories.
The U.S. agency charged with overseeing the student visa system has inadequate processes in place to investigate, identify and combat fraud, the Government Accountability Office said in a report to Congress Tuesday. GAO said that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which manages the Student and Exchange Visitor Program, has not done enough to ensure that 10,000 schools and colleges that enrolled a total of 850,000 foreign students as of January have done so legitimately.
"SEVP does not have processes to (1) evaluate prior and suspected cases of school noncompliance and fraud and (2) obtain and assess information from ... field offices on school investigations and outreach events," the GAO report said. "Without a process to analyze risks, it will be difficult for ICE to provide reasonable assurance that it is addressing high-risk vulnerabilities and minimizing noncompliance." The report notes that the Department of Homeland Security, of which ICE is a part, concurred with its recommendations, which focused on strengthening its procedures.
Swiss universities are reporting declines in applications from students in other European countries, The Local reported. The Swiss franc is performing well against the Euro, and tuition is up at many Swiss universities, while some European countries do not charge tuition.
Students at the new university being created in Singapore by Yale University and the National University of Singapore will not be permitted to hold protests or to form political groups, the new president of the institution told The Wall Street Journal. Pericles Lewis, the new president, said that despite these limits, students "are going to be totally free to express their views." The new university has been controversial, in part because of Yale faculty concerns over Singapore's less than full commitment to democratic values of the sort that are expected at American universities.
Faculty members at Lebanese University are questioning the creation of new departments to study Persian and Turkish languages, The Daily Star reported. The administration created the programs, citing the values of language study. But faculty members say that the administration ignored the faculty role in creating new academic programs. Further, some professors are concerned about the political implications. Some faculty members say that they were alarmed to see the new Persian language program included in an education agreement between Iran and Lebanon. And some faculty members question the teaching of Turkish, which is not widely taught in Lebanon, in part because of lingering anger over Ottoman rule in the region.
Thirty-four percent of the presidents of Japanese universities said that class content is boring and not aligned with student interests, according to a survey by the Japanese government, Daily Yomiuri Online reported. Many presidents suggested that more participatory classroom activities were needed. Nearly 75 percent of presidents said that students weren't spending enough time studying.
Hundreds of Canadian scientists staged an unusual protest Tuesday, wearing their lab coats to Parliament, where they rallied against government policies that they said were leading to the "death of evidence," The Globe and Mail reported. They criticized a number of policies of Canada's conservative government, including the elimination of funds for a research station that has collected data relevant to climate change, and what the scientists said was the government's policy of favoring job creation over environmental research.
A year after the British government essentially tripled tuitions, applications for university spots fell by nearly 9 percent in Britain and by 10 percent in England, Times Higher Education reported. Applications from students of traditional college age fell less sharply than did those from older students, and government officials played down the impact of the dip; “the proportion of English school-leavers applying to university is the second highest on record and people are still applying,” David Willetts, the universities and science minister, told the newspaper. But others said the decrease was the predictable result of the dramatic change in government policy.