Category Archives: Politics

Venezuela: Education in Crisis

February 1st, 2019

venezuela

Venezuela’s deep political and economic crisis is in recent news headlines with reports on daily protests, violent repression of those opposing the Madura presidency, fomenting international tensions.  For an unbiased analysis of the current situation in Venezuela, click here. In this week’s blog post, we take a look at Venezuela’s education system and how it has been impacted by the crisis.

For decades, Venezuela’s standard of education had been ranked among the highest in the region. And, although the country’s education system is overextended and underfunded, the government had remained committed to the vision that every citizen is entitled to a free education.

The Ministry of Education was and still is the authority responsible for oversight and regulation of education in Venezuela which is highly centralized. Students are required to attend school from the age of 6 and complete the first cycle known as basic education (educación básica) which is free and compulsory. After which, they can continue onto secondary school (educación media diversificada) for another two years and receive the bachiller.  Secondary students also have the option to pursue a two-to three-year specialized curriculum (educación media profesional) that leads to the award of a technical degree.

Under the 1999 constitution, higher education in Venezuela remains free with access to more than 90 institutions of higher education.  Caracas is an educational center and home to several notable universities, including the Central University of Venezuela (founded in 1721) and the National Open University (1977). Other prominent state institutions are the University of Zulia (1936), the University of Carabobo (1852), and the University of Andes in Merida (1810).

Once among the top countries in the region for its strong education system, we can see the negative effects the economic crisis has and continues to have on Venezuela’s institutions of higher education.  A 2015 report from Associated Press recounted that many faculty members were quitting jobs as they were unable to support themselves on government-mandated salaries that are as low as the equivalent of US$30 a month. According to the article, the Central University of Venezuela lost 700 faculty members out of a total 4,000, an exodus that begun four years prior to 2015. The situation has not improved.

Tense relations between U.S. and Venezuela has also hurt study abroad and student exchange programs. In September 2018, the U.S. issued a presidential proclamation outlining new restrictions to the travel ban for nationals of eight countries that include Chad, Libya, Iran, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen — and also recommended that nationals from Iraq be subjected to additional scrutiny. The restrictions imposed by the travel ban have made it difficult for Venezuelans to obtain visas as students, tourists, or for business. To see how the travel ban and the latest restrictions have affected the number of visas issued to Venezuelan students, click here. A recent article in PIE News  includes an interview with an educational counseling service based in Miami, FL that assists Venezuelan students, offers a bleak perspective on the current situation.

The interactive chart on World Inequality Database on Education created by UNESCO Institute for Statistics provides an up-to-date glimpse on the state of primary and secondary education in Venezuela.

We highly recommend this in-depth article about the state of higher education in Venezuela, the continued exodus of university faculty, and the Bolivarian University of Venezuela that was founded 15 years ago during Hugo Chavez’s presidency as an institution of higher education intended to be more inclusive and afford access to the underprivileged and poor, which too is suffering under the strains of economic austerity.

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There are also reports of massive desertion of students from universities. One report in 2017 said that close to 50% of university students had dropped out of the three public universities in Táchira.

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It’s not only public universities experiencing faculty and student desertions; private universities too report students dropping out and leaving the institutions. Not only do students and faculty blame the economic crisis for their decisions to leave the institutions but they also claim lack of academic freedom and university autonomy as additional reasons for their departure.

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We will continue to post updates on Venezuela’s education system as information becomes available.

Sources:

Encyclopedia Britanica https://www.britannica.com/place/Venezuela/Education

The Nation https://www.thenation.com/article/how-severe-is-venezuelas-crisis/

PIE News https://thepienews.com/news/education-agency-venezuela-calls-for-industry-support/

The New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/30/world/americas/venezuela-maduro-protests-faes.html?rref=co               

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US Department of State: https://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/35766.htm

World Inequality Database on Education: https://www.education-inequalities.org/countries/venezuelarb/indicators/eduout_upsec#?dimension=all&group=all&age_group=|eduout_upsec&year=|2000UNESCO

Washington Office on Latin America: https://venezuelablog.org/higher-education-venezuela-skirting-university-autonomy-creation-parallel-system/

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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10 Facts on U.S. Immigration

January 25th, 2019

immigration

In November 2018, the Pew Research Center, which regularly publishes statistical portraits of the nation’s foreign-born, released the results of its latest research on U.S. immigration. We would like to share a summary of this research to help answer some key questions about the U.S. immigrant population.

  1. The United States has the world’s largest immigrant population. Currently, more than 40 million people living in the U.S. were born in another country representing nearly about every country in the world. (For more, click here)
  2. Today, immigrants account for 13.5% of the U.S. population, but this number remains below the record 14.8% share in 1890, when 9.2 million immigrants lived in the U.S. (Fore more, click here)
  3. 76% of immigrants are in the U.S. legally, while a quarter are unauthorized. (For more, click here)
  4. In 2016, 45% were naturalized U.S. citizens. Approximately, 27% of immigrants were permanent residents and 5% were temporary residents in 2016. Another 24% of all immigrants were unauthorized immigrants.
  5. Mexico ranks on the top as the origin country of the U.S. immigrant population. The next largest origin groups were those from China (6%), India (6%), the Philippines (4%) and El Salvador (3%). (For more, click here)
  6. Other regions which make up a smaller share include: Europe/Canada (13%), the Caribbean (10%), Central America (8%), South America (7%), the Middle East (4%) and sub-Saharan Africa (4%).
  7. Immigrants from South and East Asia, Europe, Canada, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa are more likely than U.S.-born residents to have a bachelor’s or advanced degree.
  8. According to a recent Pew Research Center report, the United States was home to 10.7 million unauthorized immigrants in 2016, a 13% decline from a peak of 12.2 million in 2007. (For more, click here)
  9. Although the vast majority of immigrants in the U.S. are in the country legally, only 45% of Americans in a survey conducted by PRC in June 2018 correctly said most immigrants were in the country legally. (For more, click here)
  10. Most Americans, that is 71%, hold a positive outlook on undocumented immigrants and see them holding jobs that American citizens do not want and approximately 65% say undocumented immigrants are not more likely than U.S. citizens to commit serious crimes. (For more, click here)

Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world.  It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts.  To learn more about Pew Research Center and its research, go to http://www.pewresearch.org.

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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Why is Canada the favored destination for International Students?

January 18th, 2019

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Right before the end of 2018, Forbes posted an article on how successful Canada has been in attracting international students to its institutions while the United States, United Kingdom and Australia are experiencing the opposite. The US has been keeping its #1 spot for a few decades as the preferred destination for international students, followed by the UK, Australia, and Canada but it is losing its hold on this title, as is the UK. We have decided to look at these four countries and highlight what has caused the uptick for Canada while the others are seeing the numbers plateauing.

Spotlight: U.S.A.

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The 2018 Open Doors Report cited the political climate in the U.S. as one of the major factors contributing to the ongoing declining enrollment of international students. Out of 540 institutions surveyed for the report, 60 percent cited the present political and social climate as one of the major reasons for the slump.

  • Security and safety are an issue
  • High cost of living and tuition
  • New strict visa rule make is very difficult for securing student visas and work permits after graduation

Spotlight: United Kingdom

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UK has enjoyed holding the #2 spot after the US, but it has seen a decline in international student number due to the following:

  • Tougher Immigration policies
  • Brexit caused an immediate decline in EU students attending UK institutions
  • High cost of living
  • High tuition fees

Spotlight: Australia

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Australia is heavily reliant on China for its international students and is becoming less popular for the Chinese because of the following:

  • Security and safety concerns
  • Tougher immigration policies
  • High tuition fees
  • Difficult in securing student visas

Spotlight: Canada

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Between 2015 and 2017 alone, the number of international students in Canada increased by over 40 per cent. What is Canada doing?

  • Lenient immigration policies
  • Seen as open, safe and welcoming
  • Offering postgraduate work permits for up 3 years and encourages international students to apply for permanent residency
  • Availability of study visas which are significantly easier to obtain
  • Lower cost of living
  • Lower tuition costs
  • Canadian employers have shown great interest in hiring international student graduates not only because they speak several languages but they are seen as an asset to the Canadian work force and economy. According to the Forbes article: “As baby boomers retire from the workforce, Canada looks to newcomers like international students to help cover projected worker shortages in local economies by 2025. As a result of international student spending, approximately 170,000 jobs were created in the Canadian economy in 2017. That is a significant economic stimulus.”

A few common threads we see amongst the US, UK and Australia are their stricter immigration policies, many of which were shaped because of shifts in their respective governments, but they are also seen as expensive both in terms of cost of living and tuition. Limited or no opportunities for employment and possibilities to apply for permanent residency on graduation also makes these countries less attractive higher education destinations. When you compare Canada’s open and welcoming approach to international students and the opportunities students have on graduation, it is obvious why it is the favored destination and why it will soon make its way to the #1 position.

Source Links:

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/articles/2018-12-10/how-international-students-are-changing-australias-universities

https://www.forbes.com/sites/andyjsemotiuk/2018/11/16/international-students-pour-into-canada-ahead-of-projections/#45eac55853ec

https://collegepostnews.com/international-student-enrollments-decline/

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/eu-students-numbers-apply-uk-universities-fall-7-per-cent-brexit-latest-news-figures-a7558131.html

https://www.studyinternational.com/news/uk-universities-losing-out-on-international-students-due-to-stricter-immigration-policies/

https://www.bbc.com/news/education-36252302

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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Repair America. Go, vote. 

November 2nd, 2018

vote

In 2004-2005, I was working in a bookstore near my college in New Delhi. Every day after classes, I would ride my motorbike and take over the shift at the store until almost midnight. During those shifts, I sold a lot of books and I read a lot of books. I also met a lot of new people. One of them was an American professor, Marie from Dallas, who strolled into the bookstore with her walking cane and her two wonderful kids. All three of them got immersed in the books, flipping pages, chatting with each other, and making their reading selections.  I could tell they loved being in the bookstore. A few minutes passed by, and Marie and I also started talking about specific readings. I think we discussed Manju Kapur’s “Difficult Daughters” and that got us started. I don’t think I had such a long conversation with an American family before. We discussed many things: education, culture, readings, travels, and more. I had read that open, informed conversations build lifelong bonds. That’s what happened on that late evening in South Delhi’s New Friends Colony Community Center. Who could name it better! I have known Marie and her family since then. Through her, I met Sandy and her family. And then many more friends and families.

After college, I got a fellowship that allowed me to study anywhere in the world on a full ride. My choice to study in the US was strongly influenced by that curious, welcoming, and smiling American family who walked into the bookstore and spoke comfortably about the nuances of culture and social experiences. For a communication major, those things mattered a lot more. Three years later, I went to Appalachian Ohio to pursue a master’s degree in International Affairs. During college, I went to Dallas to celebrate Christmas with Marie. We bought the Christmas tree together, we went door-to-door singing Christmas carols with many friends in the neighborhood. Sandy lived almost next door. A few days later, Marie and her family had to travel while I still had a couple of days to stay in Dallas. So, I stayed with Sandy. That night of 2009 was the first night of Hanukkah. I devoured on latkes that Sandy made and served with sour cream. To have Sandy’s family around was deliciously amazing!

Fast forward three years: I picked up a career in public diplomacy. Fast forward five years: I founded a company on a simple idea of connecting people with people.

Spool back in Delhi in that bookstore: I got interested in another country whose people I had met, trusted, and enjoyed talking with.

That, to me, is the highest form of citizenship and patriotism: stuff you do and words you utter that gets people to look up to your country with a sense of positivity and trust. And you end up taking life decisions based on that positivity. No foreign policy can do it. No IMF can do it. It requires a human decency to appeal to another human decency. So, folks, go out and vote this November. Vote for someone who represents your decency, and who can walk into a bookstore in a foreign land and can make the bookseller fall in love with your nation. You deserve it. America needs it. More than ever.

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Syed K Jamal is the CEO and Founder of Branta. He first came to the US as an international student before moving back to India. Since 2015, he has been living in the Seattle area with his wife, a 5-year old son, Ibru, and three cats who also came with him from India. Syed loves chai and storytelling, would love to host you for both. Email him at syed@goBranta.com.

 

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China and Africa…Building Bridges, Not Walls

September 7th, 2018

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Hello friends,

It’s been a while since I posted a blog and it hasn’t been because of a lack of material. Au contraire. Blame it on ennui, lethargy, world-weariness. I’ve been feeling disenchanted with the state of the world, especially, how overnight the U.S. went from welcoming and embracing international students and scholars, to one that is imposing even stricter visa requirements, blacklisting some countries by placing them on a travel list, and spewing rhetoric that is seen as unfriendly and inhospitable by potential students around the globe who have looked at the U.S. as the beacon of higher education. Yes, long sentence, my apologies, but I couldn’t help myself. I’ve a lot on my chest and all I can think is that while we see the numbers of international students dropping at our institutions, one country is forging right ahead with its agenda of winning the hearts and minds of students in African countries. You may already know the savvy country that is ahead of the economic and diplomatic game, but in case you don’t, here is it, drum roll please….it’s CHINA!

Just this week, China pledged 60 billions US dollars to Africa with no political strings attached. Yes, you read correctly. No strings attached. You don’t believe me? Click here.
While we were celebrating our three-day Labor Day weekend, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced on Monday, September 3rd, that his country would “give $60 billion in aid and loans to Africa over the next three years without asking for any political concessions in return.” Wow!

China’s pledge involves a combination of grants, low-interest loans, financial investment and trade finance. China’s state media added on Tuesday that these types of overseas commitments were presented as “aid” or “support”, which is their way of implying that the country would make no profit.

The bottom line is that this is part of China’s “soft power” drive to anchor its geo-political and economic influence throughout Africa. According to Chinese state media, in just the first half of 2018, China has spent more than Rmb270m ($40m) on “Silk Road scholarships” for students from developing countries, according to state media.

Here is a sample of some of the countries (there are plenty more, but need to keep this blog brief) that are enjoying the financial aid offered by China supplemented by opportunities in education:

Angola

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China is thinking of projects that could contribute to the development of Angola in the areas of industry, agriculture, health and education. China and Angola established diplomatic relations in 1983 and since 2002, China has become more proactive when it comes to helping Angola by financing projects to recover and build roads, railways, airports, strengthen health and education and other infrastructure that is a priority for the country’s development. In the first quarter of this year, trade between the two countries grew 22.4% to US$6.8 billion. To read more, click here.

Kenya

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China and Kenya have established many education schemes, and one is the China-Kenya Vocational Education program designed to help train students and teachers for mechanical engineering. To read more, click here.

Rwanda

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In Rwanda, Integrated Polytechnic Regional College Musanze (IPRC Musanze) is playing an important role in training technical persons in Rwanda. The college which was constructed by China Geo-Engineering Corporation based on funds received from the Chinese government, is the largest polytechnic in northern Rwanda and it is contributing to technical training in the country. To read more, click here.

Sierra Leone

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If you speak to Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio, he will tell you that China has always been “a reliable friend and brother” that has stood by the country at all times. This says it all, but if you want to learn more, click here.

Tanzania

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The Ministry of Energy recently announced that it was inviting applications from candidates to qualify for Chinese scholarship opportunities for postgraduate studies in “one of China’s best Oil and Gas Universities – the China University of Geo-sciences (Wuhan).”

Uganda

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On the recent launching of a project sponsored by China that provides digital learning to rural regions in Uganda, the country’s Minster of Education and Sports, Janet Museveni, said: “This is a project that has several benefits, it will support education and encourage digital learning in rural schools by providing learning aids in form of projectors and televisions. These will be utilized to implement lessons plans and demonstrative education through videos and pictures.” To read more, click here.

Zambia

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The appreciation for China’s supports is also shared by Zambia where the country’s Higher Education Minister, Nkandu Luo, has praised the Chinese Government for supplementing government’s efforts in the education sector. For more, click here.

Zimbabwe

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Zimbabwe has been sending students to study in China because it is affordable and gives the graduating students the chance to develop business connections. It makes sense, since China is Zimbabwe’s largest overseas trading company. And, as China’s visa rules don’t allow international students to remain in the country after graduating from university, the students return to Zimbabwe which prevent brain-drain. To read more, click here.

China-Africa: Soft Power Diplomacy

These are just a handful of the countries in Africa, where China has established bi-lateral relations through its “soft power” approach. China continues to award education scholarships to various African countries allowing students to study at its institutions of higher education and to return to their native lands on graduation. It’s a win win situation for all sides.

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I recently saw the big box office hit “Crazy Rich Asians”, a film about a super wealthy Chinese family in Singapore whose son is returning home to attend a friend’s wedding. He brings with him his Chinese-American girlfriend, a college professor who has absolutely no idea of his extreme wealthy origins. The film is billed a rom-com, but for me, it was a reflection of where we are today and what the future holds. Today, the number of Chinese billionaires exceed those in the United States. This is a major turning point for China which now boasts 596 billionaires – 60 more than the U.S.-  after a staggering 242 Chinese people became billionaires for the first time in just one year, according to a new survey.  There may be more Chinese billionaires, but according to the survey, those in America are richer and dominate the list of wealthiest people on the planet with Americans making up seven of the top ten. Regardless of who is the richer billionaire, at the rate China is expanding its reach into Africa, through education, manufacturing and trade agreements, it will not be for long that it will truly be a super power with Africa by its side.

Frustrated
Frustrated Evaluator

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

Related Links:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BnXLOm0Bdd8/?utm_source=ig_share_sheet&igshid=e883epcfuvxk

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2013/may/13/china-educating-africa-what-means-west

https://www.timeshighereducation.com/features/what-chinese-investment-means-for-african-higher-education

https://www.news4jax.com/news/international/chinas-president-xi-pledges-another-60-billion-for-afri

https://www.newsweek.com/why-china-giving-africa-60-billion-no-political-strings-attached-investment-1104360

https://macauhub.com.mo/2018/08/24/pt-china-estuda-novas-formas-de-investimentos-e-financiamentos-a-angola/

https://www.newsghana.com.gh/china-africa-education-scheme-helps-train-students-teachers-for-mechanical-engineering/

https://www.lusakatimes.com/2018/08/21/nkandu-luo-commends-china-for-support-in-education/

http://nilepost.co.ug/2018/08/31/more-zimbabwean-students-seek-education-in-china/

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The Plight of Liberal Arts Institutions in an Era of Nationalism, Spotlight: European University at St. Petersburg, Russia

August 31st, 2018

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The European University at St. Petersburg (Yevgeny Asmolov/TASS)

A headline in a recent article in the New York Times reads “In Russia, a Top University Lacks Just One Thing: Students.” Said institution is the European University at St. Petersburg.

Like it’s counterpart, the Central European University (CEU) in Budapest, the European University at St. Petersburg, founded in 1994, is experiencing similar problems. In the case of the European University, it is the target of attacks from Russia’s reactionary, nationalist forces. As was the case for CEU in its early years, the European University received generous funding from the George Soros Open Society Foundations. It also received funding from the Ford and MacArthur Foundations. And, besides their large endowments and top-notch faculty, the European University is recognized for its outstanding reputation as a research institution. (For more on the CEU, click here)

The troubles for the European University started in mid-2017 when it lost its license over minor building code violations, specifically, plastic windows which were temporarily left outside the building. The building, known as the Small Marble Palace, was built in the 18th century in the Italian Renaissance architectural style and designated a historical landmark. In late December 2017, the university was forced to vacate the premises and moved to a less than impressive building across the street. Critics say the university is being targeted for political reasons because of its liberal curriculum in social sciences and humanities.

Having lost its teaching license, the next obvious casualty were the students who were forced to leave and continue their education elsewhere. In the meantime, the university set off on a frantic search for top-level officials in the Russian government to plead its case and have its teaching license reinstated. Even with support from President Vladimir V. Putin who signed three resolutions ordering officials to support the university, the doors of the campus remain shut and the lecture halls empty of students.

The European University is not the only institution targeted by the nationalists. According to the New York Times, “Last month, the Russian government revoked the accreditation of the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences, another highly regarded Western-oriented institution.” The growing influence of Russia’s nationalists has spelled trouble for the European University and any institution seen an intolerable outpost of Western liberalism.

In the New York Times article, Vladimir Y. Gerlman, one of Russia’s leading political scientists is quoted as saying: “The European University’s problem is that it is European. The set of principles followed by our school — academic freedom, self-organization, and international openness — is the opposite of the one followed by today’s Russia: centralized control, power vertical and isolationism. We are not compatible with these principles.”

Immediately following the collapse of the Soviet regime, the European University was set up in 1994 in an effort to stop the brain drain and bring together Russia’s leading scholars in social sciences and humanities with a style of teaching modeled after Western universities which encourage critical thinking and freedom to choose their fields of study.

The university built an impressive cadre of Russian academics who had been teaching at leading universities in the U.S.A. and the United Kingdom. Alongside its permanent faculty, the university regularly invited guest lecturers from abroad. In 2016, it was even named the school the top research university in the country, surpassing the highly respected Moscow State University.

Even with the appointment of a new education regulator who after a survey of the building concluded that the university had not violated any building codes and approved to have its teaching license granted this month so that it can reopen in October, the European University’s troubles have not disappeared. Promises of having its teaching license reinstated were made on and off in the past year and a half and each time it led to disappointment.

The future of the European University at St. Petersburg is uncertain. The question will be if students will return in October, that whether the teaching license will not be revoked just when the University prepares to open its doors.

You may ask what has become of the Small Marble Palace, the university’s former home? The Moscow Times reports that the vacated palace will house a new digital technology academy.

For more detail on the Kafkaesque treatment of the university by the Russian authorities, we highly recommend the links to articles provided below:

https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/dmitry-dubrovsky/closure-of-european-university-at-st-petersburg-dead-cert

https://themoscowtimes.com/news/authorities-take-over-european-universitys-building-in-st-petersburg-60163

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/26/world/europe/european-university-st-petersburg-russia

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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Canada and Saudi Arabia: The Tweet that Sparked a Diplomatic Feud

August 24th, 2018

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Image Credit: Alexander Glandien

We recently learned of news that Saudi Arabia has expelled the Canadian ambassador from the country and has decided to recall its students from Canada.

What caused this diplomatic spat between the two countries? The short answer is: a tweet. It started with a tweet sent by Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland criticizing the Saudi government over the detention of human rights activists.

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In response, Saudi Arabia responded by taking the following retaliatory steps:

• expelled the Canadian ambassador and announced that it would pull out more than 15,000 Saudis studying in Canada on government-funded courses or grants at colleges and universities;

• ordered a suspension of patients being transferred to Canada for medical treatment;
announced that it is suspending Saudi state airline flights to Toronto;

• on Monday, August 6th, the Saudi Arabian Cultural Bureau, a division of the Ministry of Education, announced on its website that by the end of the Islamic calendar year in September it will suspend all training and scholarship programs Saudi students are enrolled in at Canadian institutions;

• any accompanying family members of the Saudi students are also expected to leave Canada which according to The Business Insider could bring the number of Saudi nationals departing up to 20,000.

The Saudi government intends to place the Saudi students and their tuition in programs in other countries with similar education systems, such as the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand.

No sooner had the Saudi government announced its plans to withdraw its students from Canadian institutions that we hear of a US university announcing its plans to ease admissions process for the Saudi students. Regardless of this offer, relocating so many students to other countries so close to the start of a new academic year is going to be very problematic.

Academicians also see an agenda in this latest move by the Saudi government. According to an interview in Times Higher Education with Dr. Chris Davidson, professor in Middle East politics at Durham University, he sees the transfer of students from Canada to the UK or elsewhere as complicated and costly. Dr. Davidson adds: “I don’t believe that’s their [the Saudi government’s] intention. They want to trim their bloated higher education budget by reducing the amount of students they pay to send to the West.” The Saudi government’s actions are also seen as a warning to other countries to refrain from publicly criticizing Saudi Arabia as done by the Canadian minister.

Canadian universities, especially the smaller institutions, will feel the effects of the financial loss, but they will recover since they continue to be one of leading top countries in attracting and receiving international students. It’s the Saudi students that are going to be affected the most. In an age of political overreaction, we can see that higher education is affected as much as any other entity and blameless students used as pawns.

Source Links:

https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/saudi-removal-students-canada-warning-shot-us-and-uk

https://www.businessinsider.com/saudi-arabia-canada-human-rights-students-2018-8

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-saudi-arabia-to-withdraw-all-saudi-students-studying-at-canadian/

https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/us-university-welcomes-saudi-students-canada

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/06/opinion/saudi-arabia-canada

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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