News in brief

March 10, 2011


Media frenzy ends with arrest

A week-long media frenzy in Japan over cheating in university entrance exams ended with the arrest of a 19-year-old student. Police had been asking the internet service provider Yahoo! to hand over records for a website that published questions and answers from entrance exams to Kyoto, Doshisha, Waseda and Rikkyo universities in a bid to identify the culprit. On 4 March it was reported that the unnamed student had admitted passing on the questions and answers from the exam hall "by holding the phone between my thighs and texting with my left hand". Miiko Kodama, a professor at Musashi University who specialises in media studies, said of the scandal: "I think the coverage has been a bit overdone myself, but this goes to show that university entrance exams are taken very seriously here."

United States

Plundering the past

An anthropology professor at a US university has pleaded guilty to removing 17 protected artefacts from public land in New Mexico. The Chicago Tribune newspaper said that Daniel Amick, an employee of Loyola University, will serve a year's probation and assist federal officials in tracking down rare arrowheads from two of his associates, one of whom is a collector and seller. The scholar admitted to breaking the Archaeological Resources Protection Act. His lawyer said his actions were led by his research interests. According to court documents, one of the other men implicated in the case is believed to have hoarded prehistoric arrowheads, which he sold on internet auction site eBay.


Mission improbable

A leading sociologist has labelled as unrealistic the government target for 40 per cent of young Australians to be graduates by 2025. According to Bob Birrell, a demographer at Monash University, one government scenario would require the number of domestic students completing degrees to rise by 82 per cent between 2009 and 2025. Dr Birrell said that politicians are unaware of how steep the rise in graduates would have to be to achieve their goals. Speaking to The Australian newspaper, he called for more realistic targets, as well as focused funding and campus building in poorly served areas. A Labor spokesman said the party was confident that its demand-driven system would deliver the student places needed to meet the target.

United States

Easing the white man's burdens

A scholarship scheme has been launched in Texas - exclusively for white men. The Former Majority Association for Equality, a non-profit body founded by a student at Texas State University, will hand out five $500 (£307) scholarships this summer to deserving applicants who are at least 25 per cent Caucasian. Colby Bohannan, the body's founder, said he had no "political agenda" but wanted to help a group who were often excluded from other scholarships. "We know we're going to be receiving some vicious attacks from people claiming that we're racists or promoting some (bigoted) agenda. Our aim is actually to help students," he said.


Death is a price worth paying

Student protests have continued in Yemen despite a number of fatalities in clashes between demonstrators and government supporters. The anti-government demonstrations, part of the wave of pro-democracy protests that have swept across the Arab world in the past month, are focused in an area outside Sana'a University. According to local reports, there have been several deaths and injuries, but despite this the numbers taking part have swelled to as many as 100,000. Students have erected tents and are camped outside the university.

United States

Saudi 'bomber' targeted Bush

A Saudi man who studied at two American universities has been charged with attempting to make bombs to attack US targets. Khalid Aldawsari, who attended Texas Tech University and Vanderbilt University, has been charged with one count of the attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. The offence carries a sentence of life imprisonment. Prosecutors claim Mr Aldawsari had acquired the chemicals needed for a bomb, with former president George W. Bush's Dallas residence earmarked as a potential target.

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