News in Brief

December 23, 2010

China

It's Party time, Xi tells academy

The man seen as favourite to become China's next president has urged the nation's higher education sector to build closer links with the Communist Party. In a move likely to worry advocates of greater university autonomy, Xi Jinping spoke to university leaders about the promotion of "Party building at universities", according to Xinhua, the state-run news agency. Mr Xi, who is currently China's vice-president, was reported as saying that it was "imperative for higher institutions of learning to train more talents and further reinforce and improve Party building to ensure the successful implementation of a blueprint for China's development over the next five years". He emphasised that "leaders in higher institutions of learning should have both political integrity and professional competence".

Australia

Ill wind from Britain feared

The end of public funding for undergraduates in the arts, humanities and social sciences in the UK has sent shivers down the spines of some in the Australian academy, as a government review examines the "appropriate balance" between public and private contributions in higher education. "If they (the UK government) can get away with saying there is no public good in half of the programmes and it is all just private benefit, then other governments are likely to try to save money in that way as well," Simon Marginson, professor of higher education at the University of Melbourne, told The Australian newspaper. "Longer term, all treasury officials and political parties now have the potential to reduce subsidies from whole swathes of higher education programmes."

Bangladesh

'Illogical' private sector criticised

Private universities must set up their own campuses or be banned from admitting students, the Bangladesh government has said. Private universities are asking to be given 15 years to open independent campuses, the Bdnews24.com website reported, rather than the five-year maximum in the government's Private University Act 2010. The institutions also want government land. Nurul Islam Nahid, the minister for education, called the request "illogical, unrealistic and unacceptable". He added: "Their demand for government lands to move to their permanent campuses cannot be a condition. This is absurd and illegal." The government has so far allowed 51 private universities to operate. Of those, 49 have failed to meet the five-year timeline to establish their own campuses.

United States

Hard choices in pension reform

The next generation of University of California employees may have to work longer to receive pensions and other retirement benefits. The UC board of regents has approved a "contentious" plan to raise the retirement age for future university employees (from 60 to 65 for maximum benefits) and require retirees to pay more for their healthcare benefits, the Associated Press reported. The plan must be negotiated with the university's 28 employee unions, which have been critical of the reforms. University officials said the changes are needed to address an estimated $21 billion (£13.4 billion) unfunded liability in its retiree health and pension programmes. Russell Gould, chairman of the board, said: "It's a hard decision, but it's a decision for the long-term future of the university."

Canada

Protests over 'white flight' story

Suggestions that some students shun certain Canadian universities as "too Asian" have been dismissed by critics. In a report headlined "Too Asian?", Maclean's magazine said: "Discussing the role that race plays in the self-selecting communities that more and more characterise university campuses makes many people uncomfortable. Still, an 'Asian' school has come to mean one that is so academically focused that some students feel they can no longer compete or have fun." The University of Toronto was among the institutions that some white students said they would shun, according to the article. The Toronto Star newspaper reported that Toronto city councillor Mike Layton had tabled a motion urging the city to "disassociate itself from the views expressed by Maclean's". The magazine changed the story's headline on its website to "The enrollment controversy".

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments