News in brief - 9 May 2013

May 9, 2013

By George protesters stand

Academics and students at Nanyang Technological University have taken to the internet to protest over a prominent scholar and critic of state power in Singapore who has lost his appeal against the institution’s decision to deny him tenure. Cherian George, an associate professor in the department of journalism and publishing at NTU who has written about the lack of media freedom in the city state, had his appeal rejected last week. A red photo banner with the words “We Stand with Cherian George” has replaced the regular Facebook cover pictures of more than 50 students and academics at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information to show support for the scholar, Yahoo! Singapore reported. It also emerged that Mark Featherstone, a professor in NTU’s School of Biological Sciences, criticised the university’s leadership for its handling of the case in a letter sent in March.

Oz tour reaps joint rewards

An Indian university’s business school has signed a memorandum of understanding with an Australian institution to promote academic exchange between the countries. The deal between the Maharashtra Institute of Technology’s School of Management and La Trobe University aims to benefit students and staff by organising joint projects, exchanges, study tours and degree programmes. The move forms part of a visit to India by a senior delegation from La Trobe, during which similar agreements were struck with Sharada University and the Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, The Times of India reported. “India has always inspired us to come out with something new…which can help Indian students,” said John Rosenberg, senior deputy vice-chancellor at La Trobe.

Inside, no job

A high-ranking staff member at a prestigious Swedish university has resigned in light of revelations that he had been fined over alleged insider trading in Greece. Last month, Dagens Industri, the business newspaper, revealed that Justin Jenk - who had been hired last autumn to run the Stockholm School of Economics’ IFL Executive Education subsidiary - had in 2008 been ordered to pay €350,000 (£297,000) in fines to the Greek financial authorities after an investigation into insider trading, The Local website reported. According to the school, Mr Jenk informed president Rolf Wolff of the matter last year, explaining that he had since appealed the ruling and been acquitted. However, the school last week announced that Mr Jenk was leaving his post after “relevant parts of the CEO’s background and other circumstances which had not previously been known” had come to light in an external investigation. It also emerged that the Greek food company Mr Jenk used to work for had been fined for breaking European Union competition rules.

Smaller intake, bigger income

International students account for more than 80 per cent of the fee revenue generated by an Australian state’s public universities - a 40 per cent rise over five years - despite student numbers declining each year since 2010. According to a recent report by the auditor-general of Queensland, total student fee revenue across the state’s seven institutions increased by A$23 million (£15 million) to A$935 million in 2012. Despite the fact that there were 2,290 fewer international students enrolled in the state, fee revenue from them fell by only A$2 million, The Australian reported. However, the report notes a downward trend in higher education’s importance as an export industry in the state.

United States
Conservative-liberal balance

A member of a US university’s board of regents has suggested that liberal arts departments should recruit more conservative professors to strike a better political balance. Jim Geddes, a board member at the University of Colorado, said that leaders in liberal arts disciplines on the institution’s Boulder campus should honestly assess their staff and ask whether the major political viewpoints were represented. If there were too few conservatives, he suggested, they should recruit more when positions opened up. They should look at academics’ published works to glean their political leanings, The Daily Camera newspaper reported. However, fellow board member Stephen Ludwig said he doubted the legality of asking job candidates about their politics.

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