News in brief

July 7, 2011

Sweden

Overseas students go AWOL

Foreign students at Swedish universities are committing widespread visa fraud by not attending classes, a report suggests. The Swedish Migration Board, which conducted the survey, believes that vast numbers of overseas students abuse their residency rights with their absenteeism, choosing to work rather than study, TheLocal.com news website reported. The study suggests that up to a third of foreign students with resident visas regularly fail to attend classes. It concludes that the lack of enforcement of visa regulations is to blame. Sten Alstander, spokesman for the board, said: "Sadly, that is the way it has happened. It hasn't been our responsibility to check and no other agency has shouldered it either."

Australia

Culture compensation

A scholar at an Australian university has argued that indigenous people should be given compensation for the loss of their native languages. Ghil'ad Zuckerman, professor of linguistics and endangered languages at the University of Adelaide, also said that of 250 known Aboriginal languages, only 15 were now widely spoken. Professor Zuckerman told The Australian that people's cultural connection to their language was more important than the connection to land, and compensation for lost languages should be prioritised over native title payments. "Why is it that Aboriginal people get compensated for loss of land and not loss of language?" he said. "In my opinion, your language is much more important. If you want to bean count, you could quantify a language at A$100 million (£67 million) or so."

Turkey

Dimming the light of freedom

Academics and other public figures in Turkey have accused the government of blocking academic freedom at the nation's universities. The group has alleged that the prime minister, Recep Erdoan, has ordered the interior ministry and security forces to raid universities suspected of "un-Islamic" behaviour, the World Tribune news website reported. "Erdogan is turning out the light - not all at once, but very slowly," said Bedri Baykam, a Turkish artist. "One day it will be completely dark." The protests come after Turkish security forces raided Istanbul's Bilgi University in January following reports that a student had used a pornographic film in his dissertation. Three lecturers were subsequently dismissed. "Our government is trying, step by step, to turn our community inside out," Mr Baykam added. "Professors are being intimidated, and university rectors are being brought into line ideologically."

United States

Medicinal favours

A senior member of a US medical school has been suspended pending an investigation into allegations of favouritism. The Johnson City Press newspaper reported that Hetal Brahmbhatt, director of the internal medicine residency programme at East Tennessee State University, has been relieved of his administrative duties in the wake of the accusations. However, a university spokesman said that Dr Brahmbhatt was still employed as an assistant professor at the institution and was allowed to see patients. Details of Dr Brahmbhatt's suspension emerged after Johnson City Press obtained a letter from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education to the college stating that they had received two separate complaints that he "greatly favors residents of Indian descent".

North Korea

Institutions shut to aid economy

North Korean authorities are reported to have closed the country's universities for 10 months to get students to help rebuild the flagging national economy. Students have been asked to put their studies on hold to work in factories, the construction industry and agriculture, according to the Malaysian National News Agency. Authorities are reported to have told all universities to cancel lectures except those for final-year and foreign students until April 2012. The government's stated goal is to "open the gate to a great, prosperous and powerful nation" next year, and aims to shore up the economy while advancing the process to transfer power from leader Kim Jong-il to his third son and heir apparent Kim Jong-un. The government is said to be focusing efforts on major construction projects in the capital, Pyongyang.

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