News in brief

June 20, 2013

Australia

Testing times for Teqsa

Australia’s new higher education regulator faces a test of its powers after it emerged that two private institutions have challenged some of its decisions. Stott’s Colleges in Melbourne, which offers courses ranging from a cupcake masterclass to a bachelor of business programme, and Williams Business College in Sydney, which recently launched its own business degrees, have lodged complaints about the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Carol Nicoll, Teqsa’s chief executive, revealed during a Senate hearing that the body had been taken to the AAT, The Australian reported. She would not reveal the cases under review but the AAT named the providers, adding that it was too early to state the nature of the decisions being challenged.

United States

‘Micromanagement’ line crossed?

The governor of Florida has been accused of overstepping the mark in his approach to universities as institutions voted to reject his proposals to cut tuition fees. Seeking to offset an automatic 1.7 per cent tuition rise, Rick Scott has met with university leaders individually to lobby them to cut fees by an equal amount next year. However, the University of Florida and Florida State University boards of trustees have voted to reject the request, the Tampa Bay Times reported, with other universities suggesting that they could follow suit. Former Florida State president Talbot D’Alemberte said that Mr Scott’s meetings with the sector bordered on micromanagement. “In terms of setting fees and the extent of operating the university, I never heard from a governor and I would have thought it sort of strange if I had been called,” he said.

India

Engineering upgrade

The Delhi government has promoted an institute of technology to full university status. The Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology in Dwarka was awarded the status at a Cabinet meeting overseen by Sheila Dikshit, chief minister of the Legislative Assembly of Delhi. Established in 1983, the NSIT has emerged as a high-quality technological institute for education and research in engineering, The Times of India reported. “The government has taken the decision as per the recommendation of the National Knowledge Commission,” a Delhi official said.

United States

Half-price online options

A US private university has cut tuition costs by more than 50 per cent and refined its online learning in a bid to meet the demands of working adults. Western International University, a wholly owned subsidiary of Apollo Global, announced that the shift was designed to provide students with more manageable and affordable higher education provision. Undergraduates will have the option to earn online bachelor’s degrees in accounting or behavioural science for a total cost of $30,400 (£19,420) under the framework, PR Newswire reported. Graduate students can earn MBAs or master’s in accounting for $11,950 (£7,640). The costs represent a 51 per cent reduction in programme prices, leaving tuition at approximately half the cost of many accredited competitors, the institution said. Western International made the changes to accommodate the needs of busy working professionals, it added.

Germany

Triumph of the feminine form

A German university has voted to adopt the feminine form of the word “professor” as its default appellation for the rank after an academic suggested the change as a joke. Under the measures, written documents from the University of Leipzig will use the term professorinnen when referring to professors in general. Footnotes will explain that male professors are also included in the description, The Local newspaper reported. Josef Käs, head of Leipzig’s Soft Matter Physics Division, suggested the change as a joke because he was becoming weary of extended discussions about gendered language. To his surprise, the university board voted in favour of the idea. Beate A. Schücking, Leipzig’s president, approved the alteration in early May and it is due to come into effect in the coming months. Sixty per cent of the university’s students but just 40 per cent of its academic staff are female.

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