News in brief - 4 April 2013

April 4, 2013

‘Average’ cost of cuts

The board of governors at a Canadian university has warned the premier of its province that the major cuts announced in the provincial budget will “set [it] back by many years”. In an open letter to Alison Redford, the University of Alberta’s board says it is “deeply concerned” by the 7.1 per cent cut and is worried about the institution’s potential slide from greatness. “Being just another ‘average’ university is not something that is part of our vision, nor is it something that we can accept,” says the letter, signed by 12 governors including Alberta’s chancellor, Ralph Young. “We are concerned that this great institution to which we willingly give our time and resources will be set back many years by the cuts that will have to be made to absorb the decrease in our provincial funding.” Doug Goss, the board’s chairman, said the letter “states the obvious” that finding C$43 million (£.9 million) in cuts to live within the budget will cause “dramatic change” at Alberta, the Edmonton Journal reported.

United States
Brought to book

The former manager of a US university bookshop has admitted embezzling more than $1 million (£660,000) as part of a fraud scheme that lasted more than a decade. Mark Brixey, who worked at Missouri State University, pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of wire fraud, money laundering and filing a false income tax return. During the 10-year period in question, Mr Brixey stole $1.16 million, an amount that Clif Smart, Missouri State’s president, described as “a staggering sum”, The News-Leader reported. Mr Smart added that the university would probably be able to recover almost the full amount through insurance policies, funds that federal investigators were able to recover and restitution that Mr Brixey is required to pay.

Emerson on self-reliance

Australia’s new tertiary education minister has endorsed the Labor Party’s massive expansion of university education, stating that a highly skilled workforce will offer the country a competitive edge in the 21st century. Craig Emerson, who replaced Chris Bowen after he quit the Cabinet over his support for Kevin Rudd’s failed attempt to return to the Labor leadership, called the policy a “great reform of the [Julia] Gillard era”. However, he warned that importing foreign workers on temporary business visas can be only a short-term measure to address the country’s economic needs, adding that there was no alternative to “nurturing the talents of young Australians”, The Australian newspaper reported. “We have wonderful universities and the capacity of Australia to be a success in the Asian century depends on the creativity of our…graduates,” he said. “I have never believed that if governments drop the ball on skills formation, the easy way is to ask people from overseas to fill the gap.”

Period of consolidation

India’s human resource development minister has stated his desire to consolidate the seven new Indian institutes of management under the government’s 12th Five-Year Plan. Speaking at the 15th annual convocation of IIM Kozhikode, Pallam Raju added that the move would deliver better learning outcomes. He also emphasised the need to strengthen links between industry and education, and hoped for more innovation from leading institutions such as Kozhikode, The Times of India reported. During his address, Mr Raju encouraged graduates to “choose risk, dare to fall greatly because only in that way can you ever achieve greatness”.

HR file transfers complete

Several computer science lecturers have left management positions at a Ugandan university to join a new institution. The scholars from Makerere University resigned to take up positions at the Uganda Technology and Management University (Utamu) after it was licensed to run its own degree programmes. Jude Lubega, formerly senior lecturer at Makerere’s department of information technology, has become deputy vice-chancellor of Utamu, while Rehema Baguma, a senior lecturer in the department of information systems, has become its academic registrar, Uganda’s The Observer newspaper reported. Utamu will welcome its first students next month.

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