News in brief - 25 July 2013

July 25, 2013

Violence bad-mouths violence

A Syrian university has stripped the Turkish prime minister of an honorary doctorate because of his support for Syrian rebels and his crackdown on Turkish protesters. Aleppo University accuses Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of “plots against the Syrian people” and condemns his use of “arbitrary” violence against protesters, SANA, the Syrian state news agency, reported. Khudur Orfaly, dean of Aleppo, described the decision as “a message of solidarity to the friendly Turkish people, who reject Erdoğan’s hostile policies”, Fox News reported. Relations between the states have deteriorated markedly since President Erdoğan became one of Bashar al-Assad’s harshest critics after the uprising against the Syrian leader’s regime began in 2011.

Cash crop

Six regional universities in Australia are requesting extra federal funding to help rural communities and industries to fulfil their potential. The Regional Universities Network is asking for an A$20.5 million (£12.5 million) allocation from the Regional Development Australia Fund to put its members “at the centre of strengthening and facilitating regional economic development”. David Battersby, Run’s chairman, argued that the role non-city institutions played in regional growth, development and employment more than justified the cash, The Australian reported. A recent Run study, Regional Universities Network: Engaging with Regions, Building a Stronger Nation, showed that its members contributed at least A$2.1 billion in economic activity, A$1.2 billion in household income and more than 14,000 full-time jobs to the Australian economy in 2011.

Rooms of their own

An Indian regional government plans to set up three universities, including a women’s institution. The Assam Assembly proposed the three motions, the Assam women’s university bill among them, last week. The bill seeks to establish a residential university for women in the state of Jorhat, education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said. The institution would offer opportunities for women in higher and technical education and promote research in the applied sciences and arts and technology, The Times of India reported.

United States
Hack attack intensifies

The US’ research universities are increasingly coming under cyberattack, mostly thought to be of Chinese origin, with millions of hacking attempts every week, The New York Times reported. Institutions are being forced to tighten security and restrict their culture of openness as a result, it added. University officials conceded that some hackers have been successful, but declined to go into details. “The attacks are increasing exponentially, and so is the sophistication, and I think it’s outpaced our ability to respond,” said Rodney J. Petersen, who heads the cybersecurity programme at Educause, a non-profit alliance of universities and technology companies. Tracy B. Mitrano, director of information technology policy at Cornell University, said that the hackers’ ability “to detect vulnerabilities and penetrate them without being detected has increased sharply”. Universities and their academics are awarded thousands of patents each year, some with vast potential value, making them prime targets for hackers.

Indian bridgehead established

A Singaporean university is extending its education programmes in India after signing six agreements with universities and setting up a seventh. Singapore Management University has linked up with institutions including the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, and the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, and is set to sign a memorandum of understanding with IIM Lucknow as part of its plan to expand executive education in the country. Rajendran K. Srivastava, SMU’s deputy president for academic affairs, said the university was ready to launch a number of education programmes in India in the short term and beyond, The Economic Times reported. “We want to link up and work with Indian universities as they provide us a landing spot to do research work in India,” he added.

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