News in Brief

December 2, 2010


Cheers for 310 new chairs

A C$5.6 million (£173 million) injection of funds for science and technology research aims to put Canada among the world leaders in those fields. Tony Clement, the federal government's industry minister, said the investment would fund 310 research chairs at 53 Canadian universities. "This funding will help strengthen Canada's capacity for leading-edge research while, at the same time, building economic opportunities for Canadians," Mr Clement said. The investment includes C$13.4 million for research infrastructure from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the CBC website reported. "Advancements and discoveries made by these researchers will have a real and lasting impact on the lives of all Canadians," said Gilles Patry, head of the foundation. Scientists appointed to the chairs will conduct research in fields including water security, molecular neuroscience and globalisation.


A new watchdog for Christmas?

Talks between the Australian government and universities over a new higher education regulatory body are set to continue. Last month, the government was unable to finalise legislation relating to the creation of the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency in time for the present parliamentary session after university representatives raised concerns over the draft documentation, The Australian newspaper reported. "I'm hopeful there will be further opportunities for discussions between now and Christmas," said Peter Coaldrake, chairman of Universities Australia and vice-chancellor of Queensland University of Technology. Denise Bradley, interim chairwoman of Teqsa, told Times Higher Education in November that she understood the sector's concerns that a new regulator would bring "more regulation and red tape and not enough attention being paid to quality".


Minister attacks 'mindless' sector

India's university system must be revamped to enhance graduate employability, according to the country's minister for law and justice. M. Veerappa Moily was quoted in The Times of India as saying that "India's university system, which was the best in Asia after the Second World War, has fallen into bad times...Considering that we have 480 universities that have produced some of the finest brains in the world, it is a very poor reflection of our university system. The recent trend of many universities mindlessly offering programmes just to generate funds must stop." He said "graduates including those from professional colleges are unfortunate to have been trapped in a substandard education system which fails to impart training that is relevant to the job market", the newspaper reported.


Students sign their life away

More than 20,000 students have been made to sign a "life and death contract" with a Chinese university. The China Daily newspaper reported that a system has been introduced at Shandong Jianzhu University whereby, in the event that a student commits suicide or is injured, "the university will not assume legal responsibility if it has performed its responsibilities". The newspaper quotes an unnamed engineering management student as saying, "The school asked us to sign the contract. It is bad for us. I'm afraid." According to a college spokesman, the institution hopes to use the contract to make students more aware of safety.


International understanding

Four Spanish universities have joined forces with six Indian counterparts to further the internationalisation of higher education. Alliance 4 Universities, a grouping of Spanish institutions, said: "Indian and Spanish institutions have signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on internationalisation of higher education and develop programmes that benefit student and faculty exchange." The Spanish alliance comprises the Autonomous University of Barcelona, the Autonomous University of Madrid, Carlos III University of Madrid and Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona. "With this collaboration we aim to enhance international mobility of students, researchers and academics and help establish research collaboration partnerships worldwide," said Ana Ripoll Aracil, president of the group.

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