News in brief - 2 January 2014

January 2, 2014

United States
Majority interest

Apollo Global, a subsidiary of Apollo Education Group, has agreed to acquire a majority stake in Australian online learning company Open Colleges Australia. The US for-profit, which owns the University of Phoenix, said the deal would be financially beneficial in the long term. Apollo Global has agreed to purchase 70 per cent of the outstanding shares for $98.5 million (£60.2 million), as well as contingent payments of up to $47 million primarily based on 2014 operating results, The Wall Street Journal reported. It also has the option to purchase the remaining shares in the future. It noted that it does not expect the deal – anticipated to be completed during the second quarter of the 2014 fiscal year – to have a material impact on its financial results.

Australia
Demand for graduates dips

Graduates in Australia are finding it tougher to get jobs straight after study because of lower demand in the labour market, data suggest. Almost 11 per cent of the Class of 2013 had not found full-time work four months after completing their studies, a rise of 2 percentage points on 2012, a survey by Graduate Careers Australia shows. “These new employment figures suggest that the recruiters of graduates remain cautious in their hiring plans,” an analysis accompanying the survey states. “The survey says short-term job prospects for graduates have been poor since the global financial crisis although their longer-term career outlook remained bright.” It also shows that the proportion of graduates available for full-time employment fell from 64.8 per cent to 61.6 per cent between 2011 and 2013, suggesting that some had been discouraged from seeking places in the full-time labour force, The Australian reported.

China/India
Team building

A delegation of education officials from a Chinese province are considering drafting a memorandum of understanding between a university from the region and an Indian institution. A team led by Hao Lijun, deputy director general of the Henan provincial government’s Foreign and Overseas Chinese Affairs Office, visited Panjab University last month, The Times of India reported. Mr Hao said that Zhengzhou University and Henan University were open to collaboration, including teacher and student exchange programmes. Panjab’s registrar, A. K. Bhandari, welcomed the delegation’s plans and invited Chinese universities interested in collaboration to write to him so that he could assess the proposals.

United States
Status update: fired

A US state’s board of regents has approved a policy permitting universities to fire employees if they make “improper” use of social media that damages the institutions’ reputations. The Kansas Board of Regents devised the policy following a tweet by David Guth, a University of Kansas academic, whose anti-National Rifle Association comments at the time of the September 2013 shootings at the Navy Yard in Washington DC caused national uproar. Professor Guth was placed on administrative leave after posting his tweet. Under the unanimously approved social media policy, the chief executive of a state university now has the authority to suspend, dismiss or terminate any faculty or staff member who makes improper use of social media, the Lawrence-Journal World reported.

Egypt
Protest song’s low volume

The Egyptian minister of higher education and deputy prime minister has downplayed the effect of protests on the country’s universities, saying that only five institutions have been affected. In a press conference highlighting points from a recent Cabinet meeting, Hossam Eissa said that the Muslim Brotherhood’s political goal was to halt the educational process, an aim “they have failed to implement”. The Anti-Coup Alliance (an Islamist coalition formed to oppose the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi, who was deposed in July) and Muslim Brotherhood websites say that students in the country’s universities have been protesting “constantly against the coup”. However, Mr  Eissa claimed that the only institutions with “noteworthy” protests were Cairo, Mansoura, Zagazig, Assiut and Ain Shams universities, the Daily News Egypt reported.

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