News in brief - 19 December 2013

December 19, 2013

United States
Bucks start here

Universities in Michigan are worth $23 billion (£14 billion) a year to the state, a study has found. The survey, commissioned by the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan and conducted by Anderson Economic Group, shows that the 15 public institutions generate billions of dollars in direct and indirect spending, making them a key statewide economic driver. “This report shows our universities are important contributors to jobs and prosperity,” said Glenn D. Mroz, president of Michigan Technological University and chairman of the council. According to the report, there are an estimated 71,000 full-time equivalent employees who work for the universities and 51,000 whose jobs are supported by university and student spending, The Times Herald reported.

Brothers grim after name threat

Two Indian philanthropist brothers who plan to establish a free university in Australia for indigenous people have been warned they face legal action if they do not change its name. Harikumar and Arun Pallathadka had written to Grace Portolesi, South Australia’s skills and higher education minister, with a proposal to establish an institution for about 1,000 students, titled the Australian International University. However, the Australian National University has told them to change the title or face legal consequences. Arun Pallathadka said the ANU’s stance was “nonsense”, The Australian reported. “We did not name our university Australian National University. It was not necessary that it reacted that way.”

Ethical economy

Higher education must pay more attention to helping students understand how to lead ethical, fulfilling lives, according to an Indian minister. Pallam Raju, the Cabinet minister for human resource development, made the comments during a speech on business ethics organised by the XLRI School of Management. He said that the sector had not demonstrated a deep concern for this subject in the past. He added that even in business education, strong ethics could help counteract a narrowing worldview that often accompanied student progression through business school, The Economic Times reported. Mr Raju praised XLRI for being the first higher education institution in the country to introduce a core course on managerial ethics.

Blocked pipeline

The supply of Israeli engineers is being threatened by declining numbers studying the discipline, a research and development professional has warned. Yoram Yaacobi, general manager of Microsoft’s research and development centre in the country, said there were widespread concerns among businesses over the shortage. “Israeli high-tech has been built on human capital, namely engineers, but the picture doesn’t look good,” Mr Yaacobi told delegates at the Globes Business conference in Tel Aviv earlier this month. According to Mr Yaacobi, the number of Israeli graduates in computer science, engineering and mathematics has decreased in the past decade by about 50 per cent, the Xinhua news agency reported.

United States
Back in the good books

An accrediting body has lifted sanctions placed on two universities last year and removed another from probation, according to local media reports. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges penalised Florida A&M University and the University of Virginia last year, while Fisk University had been on probation for financial problems for the past three years. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Florida A&M had its year-long penalty, caused in part by the 2011 “hazing” death of marching band drummer Robert Champion, lifted on 10 December. Virginia, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported, had been sanctioned as a result of a leadership crisis in which its board of visitors had sought unsuccessfully to oust the institution’s president, Teresa Sullivan. Meanwhile, the financial picture at Fisk, which had been on probation since 2010, improved after Tennessee courts last year freed the university to enter an art-sharing agreement with the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, which provided it with a $30 million windfall, The Tennessean reported.

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