News in Brief

March 3, 2011

Spain

Non-residents need not apply

Foreign students will not be allowed to apply to Spain's two main doctoral fellowship programmes unless they can prove they are residents of the country. Under new regulations, non-Spanish candidates applying for fellowships from the schemes run by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Science and Innovation will require a "foreigner identification number" or prove they are registered European Union nationals living in Spain. According to Eurodoc, the European doctoral students' association, most EU countries do not impose barriers on non-residents. However, Spain is following the lead of the UK, where all public funding for PhDs goes to UK nationals or people who have lived in the country for at least three years. Nature reported that Spain's scientific community was upset by the restrictions, which it fears could have a detrimental effect on science in the country.

France

Branded seduction

A Parisian university has introduced its first official line of branded clothing and accessories in a bid to attract students. The decision by the University of Paris 1 - commonly known as Pantheon-Sorbonne - has been hailed as a watershed for French higher education, which traditionally has shied away from self-promotion. The New York Times reported that the move followed recent reforms that have made universities more autonomous, with greater control over hiring and funding. The changes have increased competition for students, lecturers and researchers. Jean-Marc Lehu, director of communications at Pantheon-Sorbonne, said: "This is all very new for us...Yesterday, the university student body was captive. Today, you have to go out and seduce them."

United States

Suspension contention

The American Association of University Professors is threatening to investigate Idaho State University over the suspension of its Faculty Senate. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, the state's Board of Education suspended the body on the recommendation of Arthur C. Vailas, Idaho State's president. The situation is reported to have arisen after the Senate held a vote of no confidence in Dr Vailas. In a letter to the president, Gregory F. Scholtz, associate secretary of the AAUP, writes that the board's decision "contravenes widely observed principles of shared governance". Pressure has also been heaped on Dr Vailas by student representatives. Holly Saltzman, a student senator at the institution, told him: "If you are unwilling to reinstate the Faculty Senate, then for the betterment of Idaho State, you need to resign."

New Zealand

Classes shut in disaster zone

Universities in affected areas of New Zealand were closed in the aftermath of the huge earthquake that destroyed large parts of Christchurch. Thousands of students were hit by the closures, with the earthquake striking on the second day of lectures for the first semester of 2011 at the University of Canterbury. The news website TVNZ reported that classes were cancelled for a week and students and staff told to stay at home, although the university health centre remained open to help those injured in the quake. Lincoln University and Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology were also shut to allow an inspection of buildings, but were expected to reopen this week. Roger Field, Lincoln's vice-chancellor, said: "First, we are concerned about staff and students, their circumstances and ability to travel, particularly those outside Canterbury. The second issue is that decisions need to be made by government and local agencies on whether the Canterbury infrastructure can support the reopening of major institutions."

United States

History of violence? Report it

New legislation in the state of Arizona will require universities to report students to behavioural-health authorities if they are excluded or suspended twice for violence. The Arizona Daily Star newspaper reported that the Committee on Military Affairs and Public Safety voted unanimously in favour of the motion in light of the Tucson shootings in January, in which 19 people were shot, including Congressional representative Gabrielle Giffords. Jared Lee Loughner, the alleged gunman, had a history of confrontations with Pima Community College officials.

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