News in brief - 27 June 2013

June 27, 2013

United States
Texas regency period continues

The governor of Texas has vetoed a bill that would have reined in the influence of university governing boards. Rick Perry refused to ratify the higher education oversight bill, which included a provision that regents could not fire university presidents without a recommendation from a chancellor. Legislators have accused the University of Texas system’s board of regents of micromanaging the University of Texas at Austin and harassing its president, Bill Powers, The Texas Tribune reported. Mr Perry, who appoints regents, said: “Limiting oversight authority of a board of regents is a step in the wrong direction. History has taught us that the lack of board oversight in both corporate and university settings diminishes accountability and provides fertile ground for organisational malfeasance.” The author of the bill, state senator Kel Seliger, described the veto as a blow to Texas’ public universities.

F grade and my money back?

A disgruntled Australian who failed a module in his business degree is attempting to get the fee reimbursed. Christopher Miller, a former student at Southern Cross University, said that assessment for the module in global marketing was so “educationally defective” that “the marks and grades given…cannot be validated and are a nonsense”. Mr Miller is seeking a refund of the A$969 (£590) he has been charged under Australia’s Higher Education Contribution Scheme. His case will be heard by the New South Wales Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal in early August, The Australian reported. In a statement, Southern Cross says it cannot cancel charges for students who have been awarded grades.

Professorial drive

An Indian university is to begin a massive recruitment drive from the first week of July to fill about 150 academic positions. Officials at the University of Madras said that the appointment process will aim to recruit 91 assistant and 50 associate professors. R. Thandavan, Madras’ vice-chancellor, said there were a total of 350 vacancies at the institution, The Times of India reported. “Half of them will be filled in two months as it is mandatory for us to meet the minimum faculty criteria set by the University Grants Commission,” he said. However, Madras professors and senior university officials said they were concerned that recruitment agents and politicians might attempt to influence the process. Madras’ previous large-scale recruitment drive in 2001 ran into trouble when a commission appointed by the state government found that a large number of ineligible candidates had been hired.

Arabs face barriers

Arab learners are being discriminated against in the Israeli education system, research has found. According to data from Haaretz newspaper’s economic supplement The Marker, only 18.9 per cent of Israeli Arabs – who constitute 20 per cent of the country’s population – attend higher education institutions, compared with 36.4 per cent of their Jewish peers. Responding to the report, the Israeli education ministry said that it had set as one of its main goals the promotion of education among Israeli Arabs and efforts to close the gap between the two communities, China’s Xinhua news agency reported. Another report, issued by Hirak − The Center for Advancement of Higher Education in Arab Society, found that just 11 per cent of Israeli Arabs are accepted into colleges, with the group constituting only 10 per cent of Israelis holding bachelor’s degrees.

United States
Parting shots at presidential trio

The outgoing chancellor of the North Dakota University system has criticised three campus presidents less than a month before his tenure ends. Hamid Shirvani lambasted the presidents of the University of North Dakota, North Dakota State University and Minot State University in their annual performance evaluations and called for independent reviews of their work, The Dickinson Press newspaper reported. University board members, under pressure from state lawmakers, student leaders and others who criticised Dr Shirvani’s leadership, voted earlier this month to buy out the remaining two years of his contract at an estimated cost of around $925,000 (£590,100).

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