“Report into study abroad students being radicalised”

Interesting. Hadn’t really thought much about this being an issue, but I can understand the concern. You would definitely want to be careful about your friends or acquaintances. If not because they’ll try to convert you, then simply that they might use an obvious traveler as an unwitting smuggler or transporter of goods. That’s always a problem (never carry something for someone you don’t know), but perhaps more so in countries currently involved in terrorist-like warfare. Students abroad are in a dangerous situation of being obviously naive, unfamiliar with local rules, and in a strange situation–it makes them vulnerable to being taken advantage of.**DB

“Report into study abroad students being radicalised”

by Sudarto Svarnabhumi via “University World News

A number of Asian governments – among them Indonesia and Malaysia – are concerned their citizens who study abroad in the Middle East could become exposed to Islamic State doctrine, or, due to the proximity of Turkey to Islamic State strongholds in Syria, could be recruited from Turkey.

Reports from Jakarta, Indonesia, suggest students returning home from the Middle East have been monitored by the Indonesian government for evidence of radicalisation.

However, a wide-ranging study of Indonesian students studying in Egypt and Turkey over the past five years has found the students are not being radicalised, even though many of them, particularly those studying in Egypt, are religious students.

The just-released report by the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Australia in collaboration with the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, Jakarta, examined the effect of political unrest in Egypt and Turkey, and the rise of Islamic State – variously known as ISIS, ISIL or Daesh – in Iraq and Syria on Indonesian students’ views on democracy, religion, political leadership and terrorism.

“Religion is only one criterion by which they [students] judge political events,” the report’s authors said.

“What came through in this study, in common with others [other studies], is that people are not radicalised, by and large, in the Middle East,” said Anthony Bubalo, deputy director of the Lowy Institute, launching the report in Sydney, Australia, on 15 April. “People tend to go to the institutions and study with Islamic scholars that reflect their existing outlooks in Indonesia. They are not suddenly exposed to extremist ideology.”

Students saw events in countries like Egypt – such as the overthrow of former president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 in what some called an ‘Islamist coup’ – as having “only limited relevance to the situation in their home country”, he said.

‘Firmly against IS’

Indonesia is particularly concerned about the threat from returning students, after major terrorist attacks by groups linked to al-Qaeda, notably the 2002 Bali bombing which killed over 200, including foreign tourists.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for a bomb attack on a shopping mall in Jakarta on 14 January that killed eight and injured two dozen.

From the research, and interviews with some 47 Indonesian students in Egypt – mainly at Al-Azhar University, an Islamic university in Cairo – and Turkey, “there was no sense at all that any of the Indonesian students would change the system they already have [in Indonesia] even though they were critical, in some cases, of the political system in Egypt”, said Sidney Jones, director of the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, Jakarta.

The students interviewed were “very firmly against Islamic State”, she said, noting Indonesians known to have joined Islamic State had not come from universities and schools in the Middle East.

“Overwhelmingly the people that have joined [Islamic State] have come from Indonesia and not from studying abroad,” Jones said. . . .

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Study abroad applicants concerned about Islamic State

“Study abroad applicants concerned about Islamic State”

by Taylor Eisenhauer via “The Times Delphic

Each year, Drake sends approximately 450 students abroad to study for credit, and they can choose from more than70 countries.

However, student safety abroad is a growing concern with the recent unrest caused by the Islamic State, a terrorist organization commonly referred to as ISIS.

Recent attacks include the burning of a Jordanian pilot and the Paris attacks on the Charlie Hebdo magazine office.

ISIS also took credit for the killing of at least 20 people at a Tunisian museum in March.

In countries like Syria and Saudi Arabia, the U.S. Department of State has issued travel warnings for these countries due to terrorist threats from “violent extremist groups,” including the Islamic State.

The State Department issues travel warnings when travelers should very carefully consider whether they should go to the county in question.

Drake has its own criteria for determining a country’s safety for students.

Associate Director of Drake International and Education Abroad Jen Hogan explained that two routes could be followed, depending on the student’s program. If the program is through affiliate providers, Drake heeds their advice.

“We really follow their guidance and their knowledge in regions that might have various issues going on,” Hogan said.  “(Our providers) keep their pulses on … critical global issues, such as health pandemics or threats of terrorism. If they feel like there’s a threat … they will suspend the program until they feel like that program is not going to impact the students’ safety and security.”

The affiliates provide evacuation insurance to cover medical, political or other types of emergencies.

For programs through Drake’s strategic partnerships abroad, a Risk Assessment Committee has the final say on safety.

The committee consults with other schools or providers, such as the School for International Training in Vermont and allows Drake staff to determine evacuation plans.

Three students were evacuated from Egypt during the Arab Spring in 2011 and a January-term course to Ghana was cancelled this year due to the Ebola outbreak, Hogan said. But ISIS hasn’t affected Drake students abroad — yet.

“Anyone is vulnerable to ISIS,” Hogan said. “…It’s kind of the state of the world right now. Safety is not guaranteed no matter where you go.” . . .

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Middlebury Schools Abroad: School in the Middle East

Middlebury Schools Abroad:

School in the Middle East

Host(s)

  • CV Starr-Middlebury School in the Middle East
  • Brandeis University
  • Ben Gurion University
  • Middlebury Schools

Countries:

3 Tips for Making the Most of a Study Abroad Program in the Arab Region

“3 Tips for Making the Most of a Study Abroad Program in the Arab Region”

by Vicki Valosik via “USN”

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Studying abroad can be a life-changing experience for students, exposing them to new places, customs and foods, as well as new ways of thinking.

For students from the Arab world, studying abroad within the Middle East and North Africa can have particular advantages, says Walid I. Moubayed, professor and dean of admissions and registration at the University of Balamand in Koura, North Lebanon, which currently has 602 international students.

Being closer to home makes it easier for students to travel back during holidays and for parents to visit. Moubayed points out that students staying within the Middle East for college or graduate school are less likely to face the language barriers they would encounter in other parts of the world.

But that doesn’t mean that the adjustment will be easy for everyone. Brian Moran, dean of graduate affairs at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia, says, “Some [KAUST] students from the Middle East have expressed that they didn’t feel they experienced a drastic culture shock, while others have felt that even coming from within the Middle East there was a big difference in the culture, weather or environment.”

[Discover the top-ranked universities in the Arab region.]

Regardless of where you are headed, there a few things you can do to help ensure you have a positive study abroad experience.

Be in the Know Before You Go

Before you travel, taking the time to familiarize yourself not only with the university where you will be studying, but also with the city will help make the transition upon arrival a little smoother.

Moubayed advises international students coming to his institution to “make sure to learn about Lebanon ahead of time, including weather conditions, transportation systems, what facilities are provided in their residency, whether on or off campus, ​areas of attraction and leisure activities.” He also suggests finding out whether the university you will be attending provides transportation to campus for international students, so that it can be arranged ahead of time.

[Get advice on how to pay for higher education in the Arab region.]

Omar Almasri, a Syrian software engineering student at the Jordan University of Science and Technology in Irbid, recommends visiting the country before moving, if possible.

“If you can have a tour inside the country, go for it,” he says. ​Since campus housing is not available for male students at the college, Almasri used his visit to Jordan to find the apartment he now rents.

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UMass Resumes Study Abroad Program to Israel Next Semester

“UMass Resumes Study Abroad Program to Israel Next Semester”

by Diane Lederman via “MassLive

Palestinians seen celebrating news of  truce with Israel

AMHERST – With conditions improved in Israel since the August ceasefire, the University of Massachusetts study abroad program there will resume there in the spring.

This summer, the university suspended its program as Israel and Hamas were engaged in battle launching rockets to and from Gaza

“The situation has calmed down,” said Jack Ahern, 
vice provost for International Programs. Both sides agreed to a ceasefire Aug. 26.

Also Ahern said the U.S. Department of State has modified its stance. The department in the summer advised the deferral of any non-essential travel.

That advisory has been lifted but still warns of risks traveling to the region.

The university meanwhile has no programs in theWest African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea where thousands have been infected with the Ebola virus. UMass has programs in Tanzania and South Africa, Ahern said.

He said if there were programs in the effected countries, they would advise against travel there. . . . .

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“Middle East unrest puts Study Abroad Programs on Edge”

 

“Middle East unrest puts Study Abroad Programs on Edge”

by Akane Otani via USA Today

Middle East

“Concerned about political unrest in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries, American universities are increasingly suspending their study abroad programs for fear of their students’ safety.  Citing the U.S. Department of State travel . . . “