News in Brief

June 30, 2011

United States

Building bridges across the world

New York has hosted a conference of the International Association of University Presidents, where university leaders from more than 80 nations discussed the issues facing the global academy. The theme of the conference, which ran from 17 to 20 June, was building bridges using higher education. A session titled "Cracking the Glass Ceiling" looked at ways of increasing the number of female university presidents, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported. A panel on "Quality Assurance in the Arab World" noted that Western standards were not necessarily applicable to the region, and that the recent failure of foreign institutions in the Arab world highlighted the need to work to its academic realities. J. Michael Adams, president of Fairleigh Dickinson University, will lead the association until its next meeting, scheduled for 2014 in Japan.

Australia

Science is fair dinkum

A campaign is being launched across Australia to promote respect for science. The campaign comes after it was announced last week that climate scientists in the country had received death threats, with the Australian National University increasing security around nine climate scientists and administrative staff. With national debate over climate change becoming increasingly heated owing to the government's carbon tax, scientists are having to battle against what Anna-Maria Arabia, chief executive of the Federation of Australian Science and Technological Societies, called "a noisy misinformation campaign by climate denialists". The campaign was launched at the Science Meets Parliament event in Canberra on 20 June, which drew more than 200 scientists, The Australian reported.

Ghana

Chancellor: draw the purse string

A university chancellor has called for a national dialogue to address the issue of higher education funding. Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, chancellor of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), said Ghana could not rely on other countries for answers to the difficulties facing its academy, the Modern Ghana website reported. Speaking at the 45th congregation of KNUST, Mr Tutu went on to say that if the nation wanted to progress in the areas of science and technology, it needed to deal with the sector's problems - including funding - once and for all. William Otoo Ellis, KNUST's vice-chancellor, emphasised the importance of partnerships with the private sector and urged graduates to work hard to better the lives of those less fortunate than themselves.

Egypt

Coalition calls for regime change

A coalition of staff from Egypt's public universities will begin a nationwide open sit-in with the aim of forcing the resignation of Amr Salama, the interim minister of higher education, along with university leaders who were allied to the deposed Mubarak regime. The group's statement, available on Facebook, calls for the election of new university heads and an increase in the state budget for scientific research. The scholars aim to continue the sit-in until their demands are met. Sayed El-Bahrawy, professor of Arabic literature at Cairo University, told Daily News Egypt that the academics were within their rights to demand reform. He said action had been postponed until after the end of term to protect the interests of students.

United States

Let's go for a cheaper option

With US student debt exceeding $500 billion (£308.5 billion), there are reports that students are rejecting expensive universities in favour of cheaper community colleges. Community college tuition fees average $2,713 a year nationwide, compared with $33,679 for the most expensive private institutions, the New York Post reported. Many community college students graduate with enough credits to then attend one of the more expensive institutions and obtain their bachelor's degrees within two years, thus saving half of the fees. As demand for places soars, City University of New York is poised to open its seventh community college. Enrolment across the six existing CUNY colleges stands at 92,000, a 47 per cent increase over the past two years. It is thought that the economic downturn and rising unemployment have also fuelled extra applications to community college.

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