News in Brief

July 21, 2011

Australia

The men are coming up short

Women have all but met the Australian government's higher education attainment goal; however overall targets will not be reached unless participation among men rises dramatically, according to research. Alan Olsen, an international education consultant, told The Australian that about 603,000 domestic female students had obtained higher education qualifications between 2000 and 2009, almost 50 per cent more than the 404,000 completions registered by their male counterparts. His 10-year analysis, which tallied domestic completions against the corresponding population of 25- to 34-year-olds, revealed a 39.1 per cent attainment rate among women. The rate for men was 25.8 per cent. Mr Olsen said women enrolled at a consistently higher rate than men, passed at higher rates, dropped out less frequently and were almost 50 per cent likelier to do some of their study overseas.

United States

Too rich for the Golden State

The governor of California believes that the heads of state universities are being paid too much, a letter has revealed. Writing to Herbert Carter, chairman of California State University's board of trustees, Jerry Brown voices concerns that the state "cannot afford" proposed salary increases for senior managers. "I write to express my concern about the ever-escalating pay packages awarded to your top administrators," Mr Brown says. The letter was sent after trustees met to approve a $400,000 (£250,000) compensation package for the new head of San Diego State University, Elliot Hirshman. "The assumption is that you cannot find a qualified man or woman to lead the university unless they are paid twice (the salary) of the Chief Justice of the US," Mr Brown continues. "I reject this notion. At a time when the state is...laying off public school teachers...it is not right to be raising the salaries of leaders."

Japan

Diplomatic impasse halts relief

Taiwanese students studying at Japanese universities were denied disaster relief payments after the recent earthquake and tsunami, according to media reports. The Kyodo news agency said that officials from the education ministry told foreign students that they were ineligible for payments "because of a lack of diplomatic relations with Taiwan". To support self-funded foreign students after the disaster, the Japanese government decided to treat them in the same way that it dealt with students on scholarship programmes. Because these programmes are provided only to those from a country that has diplomatic relations with Japan, the ministry stated it would be the same for relief payments. However, the government is facing strong criticism, not least because Taiwan was one of the most generous countries offering help after the disaster, providing about Y17 billion (£134.4 million).

Nigeria

Closed until radical threat passes

A Nigerian university has closed because of threats from Islamic radicals. The University of Maiduguri, a public institution with 35,000 students, is reported to have taken the decision after receiving threats from a radical Muslim sect that is believed to have been responsible for a recent bomb attack that killed three people. The group, Boko Haram, also claimed responsibility for a bombing in June that killed two. Ahmed Mohammed, a spokesman for Maiduguri, said: "We can no longer guarantee the safety of our students. If anything happens to our students, the university will be held responsible". He said the institution would remain closed indefinitely.

India

Quality needs quantity

More than 1,000 additional lecturers are to be hired by a state government in India in a bid to improve the quality of public colleges. Madhukar Gupta, principal secretary for higher education in Rajasthan, made the announcement last week. He said that public institutions in the region needed 30 per cent more staff than they have at present. The Daily Bhaskar website reported Mr Gupta as saying that plans were being laid for new appointments, including bringing former academics out of retirement to "improve the quality of higher education". The comments were made at a meeting organised as part of a planning exercise to identify the key areas for policy intervention for the Twelfth Five Year Plan.

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