News in brief - 10 October 2013

October 10, 2013

China/Japan
Scholar held after Shanghai return

A Chinese academic living in Japan has been detained by his government since July, according to fellow Chinese academics and a Japanese newspaper. Chinese officials have declined to confirm that they are holding Zhu Jianrong, a specialist in Sino-Japanese affairs at Toyo Gakuen University, after he travelled to his native Shanghai for a meeting on 17 July. A statement from China’s foreign ministry last month said: “Zhu Jianrong is a Chinese citizen. China is a country ruled by law, and will protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens, while at the same time, all Chinese citizens should abide by the law.” In an editorial on 29 September, The Japan Times reported Professor Zhu’s detention, said to be on the grounds of the illegal collection of information. The Society of Chinese Professors in Japan - a group he helped to found - said last week it was almost certain he was being held and “currently responding to questioning”, The New York Times reported.

Australia
They ‘like’ you, but it’s not serious

Australian universities looking to boost their presence on social media to better communicate with students are acting in vain, according to a survey. The poll of more than 1,000 students by Tim Winkler, director of Twig Marketing, indicates that students do not expect social media to help with serious decisions about enrolment or assignments. The findings come despite a surge of “likes” on the Facebook pages of institutions such as the University of Queensland and Macquarie University, and an increased focus on using social media to market to potential students, The Australian reported. “Ninety per cent of students surveyed said social media had no influence over their course choice,” the survey found, although 85 per cent had engaged with a university’s social media profile at some point.

India
Local places for local students

The government of India’s National Capital Territory aims to ensure that more than two-thirds of undergraduate places at one of its universities are reserved for students from the region. Delhi’s government said last week that it hoped to set aside 12,000 places for locals across the 28 University of Delhi colleges it funds. The decision was announced by A.K. Walia, higher education minister for Delhi, who said that 90 per cent of places will be reserved for local students at the 12 constituent colleges that are fully funded by the government, The Times of India reported. At the other 16 colleges, which receive 50 per cent capital grants and 5 per cent recurring grants from the government, the local quota will be 50 per cent.

United States
UMass U-turn on union head’s job

A music tutor who heads an adjunct professors’ union at a US university has regained her job after a dispute over the non-renewal of her contract. Ellen Martins, who has taught horn lessons at the University of Massachusetts Lowell for almost 30 years, was told in May that she would not be reappointed for the autumn term. This prompted the UMass Lowell Union of Adjunct Faculty to pursue an internal grievance and then file a state charge accusing the university of union-busting, according to a report in local daily newspaper The Sun. University officials said it had acted in accordance with its collective-bargaining agreement with the union and the change was a result of hiring a full-time academic who could take on Ms Martins’ teaching duties. But Ms Martins, who is president of the union, has since been reinstated.

Hong Kong
Run harder to stand still

The head of a Hong Kong university has warned that the city’s institutions will be overtaken as first choice for the best students by better-funded mainland institutions. Tony Chan Fan-cheong, vice-chancellor of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, said the city should seek support from business to prepare for the challenges posed by elite rivals. Professor Chan added that the likes of Peking University and Tsinghua University were working hard to raise standards and Hong Kong needed to ensure it matched them, the South China Morning Post reported. “They have global ambition and great students. That’s the long-term competition we’re up against. We have to keep running to stay in place,” he said.

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