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Hello everyone! My name is Karin Fischer, and I write about international education. Here are some of the developments I’m keeping an eye on this week:
Education Department Calls Colleges’ Foreign Contracts “Disturbing”
The Department of Education says early findings of its investigation into the foreign ties of six universities are “disturbing.” In a letter to a Senate panel, Reed Rubinstein, the department’s principal deputy counsel, shared some preliminary findings, among them that the institutions failed to report a total of more than $1.3 billion in contracts, gifts, and other funds from foreign sources over seven years; that one university had a contract with the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China; and that one university accepted funds from the arm of a foreign government to create an “academic” center expressly for the dissemination of propaganda and to conduct other soft-power information activities. Congress may want to open its own investigation, Rubinstein wrote to the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. I’ve been posting regularly about the inquiry in my global-education newsletter, latitude(s).
Publishers to Review Papers on Chinese Minority Groups
Two publishers of prestigious scientific journals, Springer Nature and Wiley, will re-evaluate previously published papers on Uighurs, Tibetans, and other minority groups in China to make sure that the researchers got consent from those they studied. The publishers’ announcements follow reporting about how the Chinese government has been trying to use technology and science, in particular genetics forensic research, to spy on and oppress minority groups. The papers were written or co-written by scientists funded by the government. The publishers also pledged to put in place tougher guidelines on consent and to exercise greater scrutiny of papers in which consent was potentially not freely given.
Graduate Student Freed in Prisoner Swap With Iran
A Princeton University graduate student held in Iran for three years has been released. Xiyue Wang was doing archival research in August 2016 when he was arrested and charged with espionage; he was sentenced to 10 years in prison. American officials have denied that he was a spy. Wang was freed in exchange for an Iranian scientist who had been convicted of violating American trade sanctions on Iran.
Lawsuit Filed Over Disclosing Social-Media Accounts in Visa Applications
A pair of documentary-film organizations have sued the Trump administration over its rule that foreigners must share social-media accounts when applying for a visa to the United States, including those they set up using pseudonyms. The lawsuit argues that forcing people from authoritarian countries to disclose the pseudonyms they use to discuss politically sensitive matters could endanger them by creating a risk that the information gets back to their own governments. The plaintiffs also say that the administration did not follow proper procedures in putting the rule into effect. The case affects international students, who are included in the social-media requirement. Earlier this year, a Palestinian student was deported, reportedly on the basis of posts from friends in his social-media accounts, when he flew to the United States to begin classes at Harvard University. (He later was allowed to enter.)
New Executive Order Involves Anti-Semitism on Campus
President Trump signed an executive order today aimed at what he sees as anti-Semitism on campuses by threatening to cut federal funding to colleges that don’t act to combat discrimination. The order is, in part, a response to movements to boycott Israel that have roiled some campuses in recent years. And it gives the Education Department greater authority in cases like one in which it took action against alleged religious bias in a Middle Eastern-studies program run jointly by Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The president’s order reclassifies Judaism as a race or nationality, which would allow officials to penalize colleges under civil-rights law for not fostering an open climate. Critics say it would stifle free speech on campus.
- Education notebook – Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
- California – Ravenwoode: Offering appreciation to health, education officials – Lake County News
- Education News – Texarkana Gazette
- US Department of Education Releases “COVID-19 Handbook, Volume 2: Roadmap to Reopening Safely and Meeting All Students’ Needs” | US – U.S. Department of Education
- The more you learn, the more you earn: education and poverty alleviation in Thailand – UN News
- Dep’t of Education issues emergency order waiving test requirement for seniors, series of adjustments – Florida Politics
- D.C. mayor proposes boost in education spending as she calls on schools to fully reopen in the fall – The Washington Post
- Faculty invited to apply to General Education Scholar Program | Penn State University – Penn State News
- US Department of Education Announces More Biden-Harris Appointees | US – U.S. Department of Education