News in brief

May 12, 2011

United States

Top of the terror class

A former student of a US community college has risen to the upper echelons of al-Qaeda's global operations, security officials have said. According to the US government, Adnan el Shukrijumah, a former science and chemistry student from Broward County Community College in Florida, was part of an "external operations council" that conceived and approved terrorism plots. The Miami Herald reported that the fugitive, who is believed to be hiding in Pakistan, rose to operations chief when a number of his fellow terrorists were killed by a US drone attack. His precise whereabouts have been unknown since he left his home in Miramar, Florida a week before the New York terror attacks of 11 September 2001.

Europe

'Arab Spring' in the academy

The European Students' Union is to work with the Euro-Mediterranean University to back democratic change at North African and Middle Eastern universities. The collaboration will focus on institutions in Jordan, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia in light of the recent uprisings in those countries. The ESU states that the fluid situation in the region made it necessary to set up "a solid foundation for a democratic civil society" by organising workshops to support democratic change and human rights in higher education institutions. Bert Vandenkendelaere, the ESU's chairman, said: "It is of tremendous importance to improve the quality of education in North African and Middle Eastern countries. They need our assistance in setting up high-quality universities ... to improve the future life prospects of young people."

United States

'Sham' leader in dock for fraud

The president of a US university dubbed a "sham" by federal prosecutors has been arrested over her alleged involvement in fraudulent student-visa schemes. Susan Xiao-Ping Su, president of Tri-Valley University, was arrested last week after a federal grand jury indicted her on 33 counts of conspiracy to commit visa fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, "alien harbouring" and making false statements. The Contra Costa Times reported that the indictment alleges that the president engaged in a two-year scheme to allow students to stay in the country on student visas without attending classes in exchange for cash. It also claims she committed money laundering crimes totalling more than $3.2 million (£1.9 million) from the proceeds of the visa fraud. "Today's indictment alleges a visa-fraud scheme through which the defendant accrued millions of dollars and took advantage of others' eagerness to come to the US," said Melinda Haag, US attorney for Northern California.

Singapore

Flour power

Three public universities in Singapore have received S$1 million (£493,000) each from a flour-milling firm. Prima Ltd has donated the sum to the National University of Singapore, the Nanyang Technological University and Singapore Management University to mark its 50th anniversary. In addition, the Singapore University of Technology and Design has been awarded S$2 million, which it said would be used to fund scholarships. The company said the institution had received more than the others because it was a new university and needed more financial support. Channel NewsAsia reported that some of the donations will be used to set up professorships and fund research.

Qatar

Multidisciplinary oversight

The vice-president of a Qatari education organisation has become the inaugural president of the country's new multidisciplinary university. Abdulla bin Ali al-Thani, a senior official at the Qatar Foundation, will head the Hamad bin Khalifa University, according to the Gulf Times. The university was created by the foundation to complement the activities of international branch campuses at the Education City complex. Dr al-Thani said he was "deeply honoured" to have been entrusted with the leadership of the institution. "Qatar Foundation's academic network enables it to offer programmes whose quality matches that of its partner institutions. Now we are seeking even greater benefit for Qatar and the region by guiding a multidisciplinary, research-led university," he added.

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