News in brief

January 24, 2013

Australia

The more the merrier

The author of a major review of Australian higher education has said that she is proud of the increase in student numbers that has followed the decision to implement the demand-driven system she recommended. “I’m really pleased the government has stuck with the … system,” said Denise Bradley, higher education consultant and author of the 2008 Review of Australian Higher Education. “It’s taken a lot of courage given how quickly demand accelerated, especially when the budget is under pressure.” Professor Bradley added that the rapid growth in demand, coupled with the government’s commitment to fund the additional places, surprised everyone. She said her report panel had predicted a more gentle upward curve, not the steep rise seen in practice: domestic undergraduate enrolments grew by more than 75,500 places between 2008 and 2011, The Australian reported.

Israel

Thumbs up for lingua franca

The governing body of an Israeli university has voted to allow PhD theses to be submitted in English. Currently, doctorates at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem must be written in Hebrew, with special permission required to use other languages. However, the university’s senate has decided to permit English submissions, a decision that has angered Hebrew language groups. Moshe Bar-Asher, president of the Academy of the Hebrew Language, wrote to the senate saying that the move had “devalued” the language. But David Avnir, head of the Authority in the Experimental Sciences at the university, said the rule change merely reflects reality, Haaretz reported. “Of the 1,000 most recent doctorates submitted, almost half were written in English,” he said.

United States

Educational evangelism

A US university plans to build a secondary school in Rwanda after the government donated 21 hectares of land to the project. The $6.5 million (£4.1 million) institution proposed by Oklahoma Christian University will be built in Kigali and is the second initiative by the institution in the African country: last year it set up an online master’s programme in business administration there. “We are planning to build the Central African School of Excellence, which will be a duplicate of what we have in Atlanta, Georgia,” said Mike E. O’Neal, president emeritus of the US university, during a visit to Rwanda last week. The ultimate goal is to expand the institution to university level, AllAfrica.com reported. Vincent Biruta, the Rwandan minister of education, welcomed the move, citing the need for more educational opportunities in the country.

Canada

Cuts to stop the bleeding

A Canadian university is cutting jobs to tackle a predicted deficit in its operating budget. The University of Saskatchewan will lay off about 40 employees this month, with more losses expected in April, according to an online statement released last week. Barb Daigle, Saskatchewan’s associate vice-president of human resources, said the losses will affect unionised and non-unionised employees in administrative and support positions throughout the institution, and will save C$2.3 million (£1.5 million) a year. Saskatchewan projects a C$44.5 million annual deficit in its operating budget by 2016, with salaries and benefits accounting for three- quarters of the total expenses. “It is unrealistic to think that we can address such a large deficit without making changes to our workforce,” said Ms Daigle.

India

Do not pass go

An Indian university has been ordered to pay a property tax bill of more than Rs760 million (£8.8 million) within 15 days or face “penal action”. The North Delhi Municipal Corporation said that the University of Delhi owes the sum in unpaid property taxes from 1988 to 2004, more than double the initial estimate the corporation calculated earlier this month. According to officials, Delhi has been calling itself a charitable trust, which would allow it tax exemptions under the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, The Hindu reported. However, since other higher education institutions such as Jamia Millia Islamia and Jawaharlal Nehru universities have been paying the property tax, Delhi’s claim is invalid, the corporation has alleged. Delhi has challenged the notice, claiming that it is entitled to the exemption, but a court has rejected its plea.

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