News in brief

September 12, 2013

United States

Alabama State rebuked

A US university has lost an appeal against a sexual harassment verdict that ruled in favour of three former employees. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a 23-page document upholding the district court ruling, which granted the workers more than $1 million (£640,540) in back pay and lost wages from Alabama State University. The trio claimed that two university administrators had made numerous inappropriate comments and created a hostile work environment. The appeals panel also criticised Alabama State for creating and condoning such working conditions, the Montgomery Advertiser reported. “We are left to wonder who is in charge at ASU,” the ruling reads. “Regardless, however, we are unnerved by the apparent acquiescence to, if not outright condoning of, the abusive work environment created by its high-level employees.” Alabama State officials said they were reviewing the opinion.

Australia

The quietest cut of all

Academics at an Australian university have been warned by senior managers not to speak to the media about course cuts. Management at the University of Adelaide told humanities staff via email that there was “the very real potential to undermine the faculty’s capacity to attract new students” if they spoke to the media and that lower enrolments would “make matters worse”. The email was signed by two heads of school and an executive dean, among others. They denied the course cuts, saying that there would be “new courses with proven student demand”, The Australian reported. However, several academics said their proposals for courses next year had been declined and that there was a clear “climate of cutting” in the faculty.

China

If you love them, let them go

The head of a Chinese university has advised parents who “cling” on to their children even after they start university that they should “let go”. Joseph Sung Jao-yiu, vice-chancellor of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, offered the advice after noticing that many parents accompanied their children to campus on their first day. “It’s understandable that they care more about their children,” he said. “It’s a good thing, but they’ll need to let go at some point.” He added that when he went to the university canteen, half of the people there appeared to be parents, the South China Morning Post reported. He added that parents should put more trust in their children and give them more freedom to grow up properly, The Standard reported. “University education is aimed at training a secondary student to become an adult,” he said. “This also means they must learn how to make decisions when facing difficulties.”

India

Ranking on it

An Indian state is considering setting up a ranking system for its universities in a bid to improve their quality. The idea was raised during a meeting of the joint board of vice-chancellors by Prithviraj Chavan and Kateekal Sankaranarayanan, chief minister and governor of the state of Maharashtra, respectively. Vice-chancellors had expressed their concern over falling standards of education in the state and backed the proposal to start a grading system under which universities would be assessed on five points, including teaching quality, infrastructure and students’ academic performance, The Times of India reported.

Taiwan

Mutual goals, targets and arenas

An agreement has been signed between a Taiwanese university and a Hungarian institution for student exchange programmes and joint research in sports sciences. The deal between National Taiwan Sport University and Semmelweis University will be effective from March when the first student exchange will take place, the Focus Taiwan news channel reported. Kao Chin-hsung, president of National Taiwan Sport, said that the partnership would be mutually beneficial because Hungary is interested in sports that the Taiwanese play to a high standard, including archery, table tennis, baseball and tae kwon do. Similarly, Taiwan can make great strides in fencing, gymnastics, swimming, water polo, wrestling and judo, which generally have been Hungary’s strongest events in international competition, he added.

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