News in brief

August 12, 2010

India

Bid to revive ancient university

A leading economist is involved with plans to revive what some describe as the world's oldest university. Amartya Sen - Lamont university professor and professor of economics and philosophy at Harvard University - is chairman of an international group aiming to re-establish Nalanda University in India. The university was founded in the 3rd century AD and at its height accommodated 10,000 students from all over Asia. It was sacked by invading Turkic forces 800 years ago. The Hindu reported that the "first big step towards making the dream a reality" was the introduction of the Nalanda University bill to the Indian Parliament last week. Professor Sen said: "The building work will begin as soon as the bill passes. I should imagine that within a couple of years, there will be buildings and we will begin faculty appointments."

Australia

Minister sees sun not storms

Fears of a collapse in the number of overseas students coming to Australia have been dismissed by the country's education minister. Simon Crean spoke at Sydney's Macquarie University, which The Australian newspaper described as being "heavily reliant on overseas income". "I've heard talk of the imminent collapse of overseas student markets," Mr Crean said. "Let me just make this point: the last figures I saw showed that enrolments in university-run courses have increased for overseas students." Universities Australia had warned of a "perfect storm" in crucial overseas recruitment, caused by the strong Australian dollar, increased competition from other countries and tougher visa rules.

Canada

Lure them in and make them stay

A university president has called for Canada to do more to attract international students - including making it easier for them to stay in the country after graduation. Amit Chakma, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Western Ontario, said: "Providing international students with access to affordable healthcare would remove another financial hardship. And once these students graduate - equipped with the employable skills, knowledge and desire to contribute to our communities and economy - we must make it easier for them to make Canada their home." Writing in The Globe and Mail, he also called for more Canadian students to study abroad. Professor Chakma praised the Ontario government's plan to increase the number of overseas students it attracts by 50 per cent.

Bangladesh

54 arrested after clash over fees

Fifty-four students were arrested and 100 people injured after violent clashes between police and students protesting against an increase in tuition fees at Bangladesh's Chittagong University. Police mounted baton charges and fired rubber bullets during the violence, which has prompted the university to shut for an unscheduled vacation until 16 September. Students are demanding the resignation of the vice-chancellor, whom they blame for the escalation of initially peaceful protests over a decision by the university's governing body to raise tuition, admission and examination fees from 1 July this year. Police detained more than 250 students after the clashes and following raids on male dormitories. The Financial Express said: "The injured included dozens of police constables, the assistant commissioner of police, a correspondent of a national daily and a good number of students."

United States

Investigation into fibs for funds

Undercover investigators posing as students interested in enrolling at for-profit US colleges found that recruiters encouraged prospective students to lie on their financial aid applications, potentially increasing the amount of government aid the institutions would receive. The report and its accompanying video were released by the Government Accountability Office, the auditing arm of Congress, at an oversight hearing on for-profit colleges by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. The New York Times said the report does not identify the colleges involved, but "includes both privately held and publicly traded institutions in Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington DC". At one college in Texas, a recruiter encouraged the undercover investigator not to report $250,000 (£156,781) in savings, saying it was "not the government's business".

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