News in brief

May 26, 2011

United States

Five-year ban for Yale frat boys

A Yale University fraternity has been banned from campus for violating undergraduate rules on "harassment, coercion or intimidation" and "imperiling the integrity and values of the university community". Members of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity - which counts former US president George W. Bush among its old boys - chanted "No means yes, yes means anal" during a pledge initiation last year. The university has taken action against the group, banning it from "conducting any fraternity activities on campus", including the recruitment of new members, for five years. The sanctions also "severely limit its use of the Yale name in connection with the organization", Inside Higher Ed reported.

Australia

Safety - sound use of visa cash

Money should be set aside for each overseas student moving to Australia to fund safety and well-being programmes, it has been suggested. International student safety has been a hot topic in Australia since a series of attacks on Indian students threatened the reputation of the country's higher education sector overseas, as well as cooling diplomatic relations between the two nations. Now the government's Knight Review of the country's visa system has heard a recommendation that part of each student-visa fee should be used to fund safety programmes. Larry Anderson, executive director of the Think Before student information service, said the programmes could be run nationwide, possibly through video and social media.

China

Rich go West for learning

Figures showing that most of China's new generation of wealthy citizens were educated abroad have inspired fresh doubts about the state of the nation's higher education sector. A new rich list published by Hurun magazine showed that of the 56 yuan billionaires in the country under the age of 40, half were educated in the US or Europe. In addition, four out of five of the ultra-rich said they would consider sending their own children overseas for a better education. The findings come during a period of massive expansion in the Chinese higher education sector. "More and more Chinese people may be collecting degrees, the critics say, but they are not being trained in analytical and creative thinking," notes an article on the Wall Street Journal website.

Nigeria

Support status quo, union says

Nigerian academics have condemned the creation of new federal universities as a response to growing demand for student places, arguing instead for more investment in existing institutions. The Academic Staff Union of Universities said there were "serious issues with the existing federal universities that demand immediate action instead of the establishment of new ones", according to the Daily Independent newspaper. Awuzie Achuzia, the ASUU's president, said: "While we are deeply committed to the expansion of university education in the country, we believe that the process must be proper and not the outcome of a knee-jerk reaction to some unanticipated political pressure. At the moment, existing federal universities have a shortfall of more than 30,000 lecturers and creating more universities means further depleting the existing universities of qualified staff." The ASUU has also threatened strike action if the government does not implement agreements governing members' retirement age and other working conditions.

Germany

So many taught by so few

Student-to-staff ratios of 60:1 in German universities are "no longer tenable", senior academics have warned. Concerns about the problem of overcrowding in German institutions were highlighted by a report in The New York Times. It focused on the case of a seminar on "migration and education" at Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt, which was intended for 50 students. "According to Carmen Eckstein, a student who vied for one of the spots, 400 students showed up the first day," the newspaper reported. "For lack of seats, most sat on the floor or stood during the seminars." Matthias Jaroch, spokesman for the German Association of Professors and Lecturers, said: "We are now working at a ratio of 60 students to one professor. The system is no longer tenable."

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