News in brief

April 25, 2013

United States

Holy trinity

A US accreditation body has approved the merger of two faith colleges with a university. The Higher Learning Commission gave the go-ahead for the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (AGTS) and Central Bible College to join Evangel University. Central is scheduled to close, with many of its courses moving to Evangel’s campus, while AGTS will be embedded in the institution. All three institutions are located in Springfield, Missouri and are operated by the Pentecostal body the Assemblies of God, which is headquartered in the city, the Springfield News-Leader reported. Last month, Carol Taylor, president of Vanguard University in California, was made president-elect of Evangel.

Australia

Plenty in midst of poverty

An Australian university has been granted an extra A$30 million (£20.3 million) by the federal government to build a campus just two days after Canberra announced countrywide cuts of A$2.3 billion to university budgets and student support. The University of Newcastle will use the cash to help build a city campus for its law and business students. But Caroline McMillen, vice-chancellor of the institution, pointed out that the government’s “efficiency dividend” budget cuts will take between A$8 million and A$9 million from the university by 2015, making paying for the building difficult, The Australian reported. Newcastle will contribute A$40 million to the project, while the New South Wales government will provide A$25 million. The campus, which is viewed as an intrinsic part of urban renewal in inner-city Newcastle, will bring 3,000 students and 1,200 staff to the city centre each day, Professor McMillen said.

Japan

Here starteth the lesson

A leading Japanese university is looking to improve the quality of teaching in the country by introducing a course for graduate students in pedagogy. The move by the University of Tokyo potentially signals a shift in priorities from research skills to teaching ability, an editorial in The Japan Times reported. “For too long, the quality of classroom instruction at Japanese universities has been insufficient, with students bored by teachers who know how to research and publish but do not know how to communicate well in the classroom,” the article said. It added that the initiative was “highly welcome”, particularly for undergraduates who are required to learn from lecturers with little or no training in classroom techniques. “The Tokyo course will hopefully show graduate students how to create teaching plans, conduct discussions, set up group presentations and deliver engaging lectures that encourage active participation and greater motivation,” it argued.

Canada

Failing shelf

A university is considering closing two libraries as a result of a C$1.8 million (£1.2 million) budget cut, the Canadian news website CBC News reported. McGill University may shut the Faculty of Education Library and merge the Life Sciences Library with one in another building. Angella Lambrou, a life sciences librarian, said: “Both faculty and staff are very shocked that this is happening without any consultation.” She added that the Life Sciences Library was Canada’s oldest and largest medical library. The university said that a number of options were being considered, but cuts were part of a larger budget reduction that local government had imposed on higher education.

India

Entrepreneurial drive

India’s human resource development minister has called for closer partnerships between academia and industry. Speaking at a two-day international workshop in New Delhi focused on greater national productivity, Pallam Raju said that employability in India would be improved if the two worked more closely together. He also announced that his ministry would set up an incubation fund for 100 institutions, the aim of which would be to provide money for student ideas that could then be turned into businesses. Mr Raju added that the government planned to identify 10 research institutes with the greatest potential to house research parks, depending on their current level of industrial engagement, The Times of India reported.

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