News in brief - 7 November 2013

November 7, 2013

United States
Jobs to go at Edinboro

A US university is to make more than 30 staff redundant in an effort to reduce its multimillion-dollar budget deficit. Edinboro University in Pennsylvania announced last month the possible “retrenchment” of six tenured or tenure-track academics in its College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and the removal of around 26 full-time-equivalent temporary staff, effective at the end of the academic year. Edinboro spokesman Jeffrey Hileman said that other managers and staff will be affected, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. “Retrenchment is a difficult process…but the university must face its financial realities,” said Julie Wollman, president of the institution. Edinboro has a projected deficit of $10 million (£6.2 million) for 2014-15.

Professor title ‘must be earned’

Universities should not confer the title “professor” on former politicians appointed to honorary roles because it undermines the hard work of academics, it has been argued. Phil Honeywood, previously deputy of the Liberals in Victoria and currently national executive director of the International Education Association of Australia, said the temptation for vice-chancellors to cultivate groups of VIPs “should be resisted”. “Genuine academics spend many years acquiring the skills and knowledge to have the right to be called ‘professor’,” he said. But to hand out the title to those who have “never taught a graduate class or written a research paper that has been peer-reviewed” is wrong. He made the comments after a number of former politicians were appointed to academic posts, including Julia Gillard and Bob Carr, Australia’s former prime minister and foreign minister, respectively, The Australian reported.

Watchdog call ‘ignored’

Israel’s higher education body is ignoring the state comptroller’s request that it take responsibility for handling sexual harassment complaints at higher education institutions, a leaked document suggests. In a report compiled by the team appointed to respond to the comptroller’s directive and seen by Haaretz newspaper, the Council for Higher Education appears to decline the role. In his May report, state comptroller Joseph Shapira said the council should routinely receive statistics about complaints from higher education institutions and examine regulations and processes for handling them. But the document says it would not be possible to designate to the CHE such a role, including monitoring the manner in which institutions handle sexual harassment complaints. It adds that in most of the deficiencies cited by the comptroller, there are no grounds for distinguishing between higher education institutions and other employers.

Eastern exposure

The number of Chinese students studying overseas will increase by more than 12 per cent this year, an international education exchange body has said. Zong Wa, deputy secretary-general of the China Education Association for International Exchange, said the number will surpass 450,000 by the end of 2013, up from 399,600 in 2012. “Demands from China’s overseas study market have provided opportunities for educational institutes from various countries, and many foreign governments regard enrolling Chinese students as a key measure for…internationalisation,” he said on 28 October, ahead of the China Education Expo 2013 on 2-3 November, the Xinhua news agency reported.

United States
Forest hump

A US university has been criticised for its decision to sell its 79,000-acre forest to an agribusiness company. Trustees of North Carolina State University’s endowment fund agreed the sale of Hofmann Forest to Walker Ag Group for $150 million (£93 million) last week. Technically, the land is owned by the Natural Resources Foundation, a non-profit organisation that supports the university’s College of Natural Resources, The News & Observer reported. Money from the sale will be placed in endowment funds, with the income used mainly to benefit the college. Opponents – including conservationists, forestry experts and landowners – filed a lawsuit in Wake County Superior Court in September arguing that the state is required to consider public input and the environmental impact of selling the land.

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