Overseas briefing

February 12, 2009

United States

Lecturer linked to genocide

A lecturer in Baltimore has been suspended from teaching duties after being accused of involvement in the Rwandan genocide. The allegations against Leopold Munyakazi, who taught French at Goucher College, were detailed by an Interpol statement, which said that he had been indicted on genocide charges in his native Rwanda in 2006, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported. Sanford J. Ungar, the college president, said Dr Munyakazi denied the allegations. He added: "Considering the seriousness of the allegations, however, I felt it to be in the best interests of the college community to remove him from his teaching duties until we could investigate further."


Strikers protest Sarkozy plans

Strikes forced the closure of universities across France as academics and students protested against Nicolas Sarkozy's plans to overhaul the higher education sector. The industrial action followed a speech by the President last month in which he warned that the sector had "too often retreated" from reform in the past. He described it as an "infantilising system" of "weak universities", and said institutions needed greater autonomy in hiring staff and managing their finances. However, academics fear the mooted changes would lead to universities dictating how staff members allocate their time between teaching and other activities, The Chronicle of Higher Education said.


Anti-abortion protesters removed

A university has turned to the law to deal with a group of students who erected a controversial anti-abortion display on campus. The University of Calgary has brought in the police and charged the group with trespassing, The Toronto Star reported. The group set up its stand for a seventh time despite having been warned that its graphic pictures, which compared abortion to the Holocaust, must not be put on general view. Leah Hallam, who leads the group, said: "We had been warned beforehand that if we put up the protest we could be subject to fines, arrest, suspension or expulsion." The university said its aim was to "maintain a safe and secure environment" for all its students.


Overseas enrolments rise

Predictions that Australian universities might suffer a slump in overseas enrolments have proved wide of the mark, as demand from international students continues to grow. According to the latest figures, universities experienced a 10 to 15 per cent spike in applications last year, showing that the A$13 billion (£5.8 billion) a year sector is thriving. The Australian newspaper quoted experts who said the increases were further evidence that the economic downturn is prompting a "flight to higher education" by students. One unnamed international director from a large metropolitan university predicted that growth this year would be at least as strong as it was in 2008.

United States

Kidney removed through vagina

Medical pioneers at a US university have removed a woman's kidney through her vagina. The so-called natural-orifice surgery, carried out at the Johns Hopkins University Medical School in Maryland, was hailed as a "final frontier" by doctors. The 48-year-old patient donated the healthy kidney to her niece, who needed a transplant, New Scientist reported. Her recovery is expected to be more rapid and less painful than after a conventional operation, and she will not have any visible scar tissue.


Church should help lead, v-c says

The vice-chancellor of a Ghanaian university has called on the Church to exert greater influence over higher education in the country. Jane Opoku-Agyemang, head of the University of the Cape Coast, said it should do more to "exert moral influence" over universities, the Ghanaian Chronicle reported. "Persons churned out of our universities should not only be found worthy in learning but they should also have sound character," she said. "The challenge here is for church leaders to bring their influence to bear in ensuring that a good balance is struck between academic pursuit and moral education."

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