News in Brief

April 7, 2011


Could UK's loss be others' gain?

Changes to the UK's visa system may provide an opportunity for Australian institutions to strengthen their position in the global market for students. The argument was made by Stephen Connelly, deputy vice-chancellor at RMIT University and head of International Education Association Australia, who said the tougher UK visa rules introduced last month would make students "look elsewhere". He added that the most significant influence on students' choice was the information they received about the merits of rival countries. "The UK will be in for hard times as far as recruiting international students is concerned because...the message goes out to the whole market that it's difficult to get a visa," he said. "There is a potential opportunity for Australia." Changes to visa rules in the UK include restrictions on the right to work after graduation, time limits on study and higher English-language proficiency requirements for those taking vocational courses.


'Press freedom' plaudit for Chávez

An Argentinian university has caused controversy by presenting Hugo Chávez, the president of Venezuela, with an award for championing freedom of the press. Presenting the Rodolfo Walsh award, the National University of La Plata said it was given in recognition of President Chávez's efforts to break Latin American media monopolies and his support for popular communication. It praised his "commitment to defending the liberty of the people, consolidating Latin American unity and defending human rights, truth and democratic values". News of the award drew protests from President Chávez's critics, who have accused him of stifling opposition media in Venezuela.


Dropout offers a million thanks

A 23-year-old entrepreneur has donated US$1 million (£620,000) to the university he left before completing his degree. The Globe and Mail newspaper reported that Ted Livingston has given the sum to the University of Waterloo, where he studied mechatronics engineering before leaving mid-course to focus his efforts on his software company. Mr Livingston's business boomed when his social messaging application for smartphones, Kik Messenger, attracted a million users in two weeks following its launch. Waterloo said the donation would help support its VeloCity facility, a "mobile and media incubator" for student entrepreneurs.

United States

Top fine for massacre response

A university that was the scene of one of the worst-ever mass shootings in the US has been fined the maximum amount over its handling of the crisis. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper, Virginia Tech, where 33 people died in a shooting spree in 2007, has been fined US$55,000 (£34,000) for waiting more than two hours to issue a warning after the first two students were killed. Virginia Tech undergraduate Seung-Hui Cho shot dead a further 30 people before killing himself. The university said it would appeal, arguing that its actions "were well within the standards and practices in effect at that time". In a letter to Charles Steger, Virginia Tech's president, the US Department of Education, which imposed the fine, says the institution breached two provisions of the Clery Act by failing to follow its published procedures for handling a threat. The law, named for Jeanne Clery, a student who was murdered in her campus residence hall in 1986, requires universities in receipt of federal funds to keep and disclose information about crimes on campus.


NYU unveils Shanghai surprise

The construction of the first Sino-American university has begun in Shanghai. New York University Shanghai will be an independent institution run by New York University and East China Normal University and will have the power to grant degrees, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency. It will be a "comprehensive research university with a liberal arts and science college", according to NYU's website. John Sexton, the president of NYU, said it would be part of a planned "global network university" along with campuses in London and Abu Dhabi. He estimated that the new institution would accommodate some 3,000 Chinese and international students. It is expected to open in 2013.

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