WENR, October 2017: Europe
Hungary: Central European University Strikes Agreement with New York, Likely Saved
Hungary’s Central European University (CEU) was on the brink of closure following changes to education law that many said were a clear attempt by the government to suppress its critics. The legislation requires all foreign universities in Hungary to have a campus in their home country. CEU now has a framework agreement with the state of New York, where it is registered, which will allow teaching to continue at its Budapest campus. CEU will also provide educational activities at Bard College in the U.S. The agreement is still awaiting approval from the Hungarian government.
U.K.: Adonis Calls for Former Polytechnics to Lose University Status
Twenty-five years ago, 30 polytechnic universities were granted university status, a decision Andrew Adonis calls “a mistake” made without “proper consideration or advice”. The former education minister calls for a reversal of this decision, saying that these lower performing schools should, in turn, have lower fees, and offer greater value to students. This is a controversial move, and would be strongly opposed across most of the higher ed sector. Adonis has frequently come to bat against university leaders over vice-chancellor pay and tuition fees, and has described the U.K.’s loan and fee system as “a pack of cards waiting to collapse”.
U.K.: Quality Assurance Agency Recommendations to Defend Against “Essay-Mill” Sites
The U.K.’s Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) has answered Jo Johnson’s call for advice in combating “essay-mills”; websites where students are able to purchase custom essays, a form of academic dishonesty called contract cheating. QAA estimates that there are over 100 of these sites in operation, and they have become a serious issue for universities, with thousands of U.K. students believed to be using their services. QAA suggests bolstering support for struggling students, as well as introducing better software to analyze student essay submissions, and blocking sites offering these services. Many applaud these efforts, but still feel more needs to be done to make the service itself illegal.
Turkey: U.S. and Turkey Suspend Visa Processing, in Wake of Consulate Employee Arrest
Due to the recent arrest of a Turkish consulate employee, the U.S. embassy has suspended nonimmigrant visa processing in Turkey. The Turkish government stopped all visa processing for Americans in response. The arrested consulate employee has alleged ties to Fethullah Gülen, a key figure in the attempted coup in July of 2016. Both countries have stated that the recent events have created the need to reevaluate their relationship, and the other’s commitment to the security of their facilities and personnel.
Inside Higher Ed
U.K.: Visa Delays Disrupt Start of Semester for Many International Students
Many international students seeking admission to U.K. universities have seen long delays in the visa application process. A number of visas came very late, with some students still left waiting as classes began. This can be very difficult for students, who are then tasked with catching up on coursework. Even students who paid a premium for an expedited application process saw similar delays to those of the standard service. The Russell Group has been working with the Home Office and higher education institutions to understand the cause of these delays, and hopes institutions will issue assurances that students and sponsors won’t be penalized as a result. The Home Office has not yet reported the total number of visas affected.
The Pie News
Turkey: Report Points to Stifling of Academic Freedom Following Coup Attempt
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan continues to fight back against alleged supporters of the coup attempt in July of 2016, according to a new report from Scholars at Risk, a nonprofit organization operating at New York University. Over 7,000 faculty and staff members have been dismissed, and almost 300 students have been expelled from Turkey’s universities since September of 2016. According to one academic, there is now a climate of fear at universities, and he and his peers must be careful in making any comments about the government or politics. The many dismissals have ravaged the university system, leaving many courses understaffed and programs disrupted. This academic climate may hinder Turkey’s higher education system for years to come.