News in Brief

June 9, 2011

Australia

We'll stop the journal games

The Australian government is to ditch a ranking of journals used as part of a national research assessment programme completed for the first time earlier this year. The inaugural Excellence in Research for Australia programme, run by the Australian Research Council, ranked journals as A*, A, B or C. However, in a statement last week, Kim Carr, the research minister, said the ranking had resulted in game-playing among research managers. "There is clear and consistent evidence that the rankings were being deployed inappropriately within some quarters of the sector in ways that could produce harmful outcomes," he said. "One common example was the setting of targets for publication in A and A* journals by institutional research managers." Senator Carr said that the journal ranking would be dropped next time the exercise is carried out, The Australian newspaper reported.

Poland

Pole position on global stage

Its universities may not have the international clout of those in the US or the UK, but Poland is keen to claim a chunk of the international student market. According to the newspaper Rzeczpospolita, the domestic student population in Poland is set to drop by a third by 2020. As a result, growing numbers of universities, both public and private, are starting to promote themselves abroad, the newspaper reported. Waldemar Siwinski, head of the Perspektywy Education Foundation, said: "Polish universities are trying to make themselves known at educational fairs in various countries." As well as neighbouring countries in Eastern Europe, Poland's target markets include the US, Canada and China. There are currently 1.9 million students in Poland, of which only about 17,000 are foreign.

Canada

Booze culture under scrutiny

A Canadian university has vowed to address the culture of drinking among students following two recent deaths. The Globe and Mail newspaper said that two students at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario fell to their deaths last year, with alcohol a factor in both cases. A coroner's report released last week recommends that Queen's should speed up a review of its policies and take steps to alter an unhealthy "culture of drinking on campus". This should include removing jurisdiction over alcohol-related misbehaviour from a student judiciary, the coroner says. Daniel Woolf, Queen's principal, said the recommendations would be considered. But he added that allowing students to discipline their peers had "served Queen's very well" for more than 100 years. "Excess alcohol consumption is an issue on pretty much every campus," Dr Woolf said.

United States

Money bin of history

The president of a US university is to become the institution's highest-paid lecturer when he stands down from his current post and returns to teaching history. Richard McCormick, president of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, plans to step down next year, when he will take up a teaching post worth $335,000 (£205,000) a year. The Star-Ledger newspaper reported that his bumper pay deal was negotiated in 2002 as part of his presidential contract, which said that if he were to return to teaching, his salary could be "no less" than the highest-paid faculty member. While the minds of most academics will boggle at such sums, for Professor McCormick the salary will represent a pay cut: as president he earns $550,000 a year and is eligible for a $100,000 annual bonus.

India

Muslim focus

The vice-chancellor of the first central university in India to be awarded minority status has pledged to accept more Muslim students from all over the country. Central universities are established by Act of Parliament and controlled by the central government, while those with minority status are allowed to reserve up to half their places for students from particular groups. Jamia Millia Islamia, a Delhi-based institution, was awarded minority status earlier this year, becoming the first central university to win such status in the country. It will now focus on Muslim students. Najeeb Jung, its vice-chancellor, told The Times of India that he would "not compromise on matters of discipline and quality of education" following the change.

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