News in brief - 16 May 2013

May 16, 2013

Africa
Continental shift on plagiarism

Academics from across Africa will meet later this month to discuss plagiarism on the continent. The inaugural African Academic Integrity Seminars will take place on 20 and 24 May at the universities of Cape Town and Johannesburg, respectively. The events are sponsored by Turnitin, the maker of plagiarism-detection software used by universities and students worldwide. Olugbenro Oyekan, executive vice-president of the International School of Management in Lagos, Nigeria, said that African students and scholars were increasingly aware of the issue and involved “in the campaign for academic integrity and anti-plagiarism”. He added: “Honesty in scholarship should transcend geography and culture, and Africa seems as ready for that as the rest of the world.”

United States
Farewell to arms bill

A US state governor has rejected a bill that would have allowed university students to keep guns on campus. Steve Bullock, governor of Montana, turned down the proposal, which would have allowed students to keep firearms in their dorm rooms with their roommates’ agreement and to carry a concealed weapon if they had a permit to do so, Associated Press reported. The Montana University system had urged Mr Bullock to veto the measure, arguing that guns and stressed-out students could be a deadly combination. Hunting weapons are currently allowed on campus but are kept in secure lockers that students can access when they want to go hunting. Supporters of the bill argued that without guns, students are vulnerable to violent crime, adding that current regulations violate the Second Amendment.

Israel
Engineering better results

Israel must promote technology colleges and produce more engineers and technicians to create a productive society with “real industry”. So argued Naftali Bennett, the economics and trade minister, who said he was concerned with the country’s obsession with producing law and accountancy graduates. “I come from technology and I understand its problems,” he told the Knesset caucus for technology education. “Today the state produces hordes of lawyers and accountants. We need a productive country with real industry, not financial games fated to explode,” the Haaretz newspaper reported. Only 11 per cent of Israeli higher education students are enrolled in technology colleges, which receive just 1.7 per cent of the academy’s budget, the paper said.

Australia
The worst of times

Proposed funding cuts to Australian higher education will lead to a Dickensian future for students, the body representing the country’s universities has warned. Sandra Harding, chair of Universities Australia, told the National Press Club that students were struggling, even before the A$2.3 billion (£1.5 billion) funding cuts announced last month kicked in. She cited a soon to be released survey of student finances showing that more than 80 per cent of full-time undergraduates need jobs to support themselves, The Australian reported. Professor Harding said the cuts would undermine the government’s commitment on funding per student and lead to fewer international enrolments, less innovation, an exodus of researchers and other “knock-on effects on prosperity, international competitiveness and quality of life”.

Japan
Go West, young men and women

The Japanese education minister has announced plans to encourage more of the country’s students to study abroad. During a visit to Washington, Hakubun Shimomura said that the government would offer scholarships to those taking short-term overseas courses. The grants, which he said would be available as early as 2017, are linked to a series of education initiatives announced by Japan’s conservative government. Speaking at a conference organised by the US-Japan Research Institute, Mr Shimomura said that the scholarships could give a badly needed boost to the numbers studying abroad, which have been declining steadily, The New York Times reported. The number of Japanese students studying overseas peaked at 82,945 in 2004 and fell to 58,060 in 2010, according to Japan’s Ministry of Education.

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