News in brief - 29 August 2013

August 29, 2013

Origami for eyes to defeat cheats

Students at a Thai university will not take any more exams while wearing paper blinkers on their heads. Lecturers in the Faculty of Agro-Industry at Kasetsart University abandoned the anti-cheating tactic even though students had designed the hats and volunteered to wear them for a mid-term exam on a textile course. An image of students wearing the blinker-hats shared on social media attracted a mixed reaction from the public, said Tanaboon Sajjaanantakul, the faculty’s dean, and caused a lot of stress to lecturers. Professor Tanaboon insisted that cheating on exams was not a problem in the faculty and that students had not been obliged to wear the hats, the Bangkok Post reported. The experiment grew out of a discussion between lecturers and students about ethics and honesty, he added.

Professional mastery

An Australian university has laid the groundwork for a move towards professional master’s qualifications with plans for “dual-layer” courses made up of an introductory bachelor’s degree followed by a two-year master’s course. David Lloyd, vice-chancellor of the University of South Australia, said there were no plans to introduce a blanket model across the disciplines, as the University of Melbourne had done. However, some professions would inevitably begin to demand such qualifications and he wanted his university to be prepared, he said. Professor Lloyd suggested that a three-plus-two-year model could be introduced in areas such as teaching and physiotherapy as early as 2016, The Australian reported. He acknowledged that the university would be driven by employer and student demand and that undergraduate options would continue. “It is the way the wind is blowing,” Professor Lloyd said. “It is about meeting the needs of the professions.”

Painful rise

Tuition fees for some postgraduate courses are being raised by up to 300 per cent for the new academic year in an Indian university. Last year, Bangalore University students on MA English, history or Hindi courses had to pay 2,150 rupees (£21.60), while this year they will be expected to pay 5,050 rupees, an increase of 134.9 per cent. In some social science courses the rise is almost three times as great, with the price tag for social work programmes up 4.4 per cent. Bangalore has rationalised the fee structure for students under a number of categories – including general merit, scheduled caste, scheduled tribe and “other backward class” – which were differential until last year, The Times of India reported. Thus, students from the reserved categories might have to pay more than 150 per cent more, in some cases.

United States
Kevlar classrooms

Bulletproof whiteboards to help protect students in the event of a shooting on campus are being installed in a US institution. The University of Maryland Eastern Shore announced that it will buy 200 custom-made whiteboards from armour manufacturer Hardwire LLC. The 18×20in portable drawing boards can absorb “multiple magazines of ammunition from any handgun or shotgun without ricochet or injury”. They cost $299 (£191) each. According to George Tunis, Hardwire’s owner, the boards can provide teachers with a means to protect students should an armed person enter a campus, Time magazine reported. Although rare, a recent spate of mass killings at institutions has drawn national attention. “When Sandy Hook [Elementary School shooting] happened…a light bulb went off that it’s really the teachers and administrators [who need protection],” Mr Tunis told The Baltimore Sun.

National first for women

A bill seeking to establish India’s first central university for women has been introduced in the nation’s Parliament. The proposed institution will be set up in Raebareli in Uttar Pradesh, says the bill, introduced in the lower house. The university, to be named after former prime minister Indira Gandhi, would focus on advanced disciplines of education, The Hindu reported. “Establishment of a central university for women would have a multiplier effect on availability of empowered women in all walks of life…Such a university will help in the fight to overcome discrimination and change perceptions about what women can and should do,” the bill says.

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