News in Brief

August 18, 2011


Rise in mental illness predicted

The prevalence of mental health problems among Australian students is likely to rise as more are recruited from disadvantaged backgrounds, researchers have claimed. An analysis of major population surveys found that students with financial difficulties are three times more likely to report psychological distress, putting them at greater risk of developing a mental illness, The Australian reported. The research, carried out by the University of Melbourne's Centre for Youth Mental Health, also found that students from poorer families reported significantly higher rates of "moderate" psychological distress than those in work from the same background. The researchers said universities should take note of their findings and provide counselling services similar to those on offer in schools. "It is going to become more of an issue because the government is encouraging universities to take in disadvantaged students, so they are going to have more people from backgrounds where these sort of mental health issues will be more prevalent," said Tony Jorm, professorial Fellow at the Melbourne centre.

United States

Michigan cuts student food aid

Thousands of students have been removed from a food aid programme in the US in a bid to save money. Maura Corrigan, director of the Michigan Department of Human Services, said that cutting 30,000 students from the scheme would save the state $75 million (£46 million) a year. College students are not usually allowed to collect food stamps, but the state had changed its regulations to make them eligible, The Detroit News reported. However, Ms Corrigan said the policy needed to change. "Maybe (students) could go get a part-time job - that's what I did. We want to encourage people to be self-sufficient, not to be dependent on the government," she said.


Graduate faces 15 years for blog

A recent graduate in Thailand is reported to have been arrested after a senior university employee accused him of offending the monarchy on his blog. The unnamed 23-year-old, who studied accountancy at Kasetsart University, is reported to have been accused of the crime of lese-majesty, or disparaging the monarchy, by a senior administrator, who said he was preserving the university's reputation. The student made the remarks on his blog while he was a student at the university, according to the Prachatai website. The comments were first spotted by fellow students. If found guilty of the charges, he faces up to 15 years in jail. A secondary charge under the Computer Crimes Act carries a five-year prison term.


Two injured in parcel bombing

Two professors have been injured in an explosion at a Mexican university. The academics, from the Monterrey Technological Institute in the northeastern state, were hurt when a parcel bomb went off. The attack followed the discovery of another suspected explosive device at the National Polytechnical Institute in Mexico City, Associated Press reported. The professors, whose names have not been released, are said to have suffered second- and third-degree burns, but their injuries are not thought to be life-threatening. An anti-technology group called "Individuals Tending to Savagery" has claimed responsibility for the attack. Alfredo Castillo, the state attorney general, said the group opposed experiments with nanotechnology and had attacked academics before.

United States

Presidential merry-go-round

The president of a US university has resigned less than a year after she took office. Irma McClaurin is the third president to have left the top job at Shaw University in North Carolina in as many years, the News & Observer reported. "Shaw University has seen many changes and experienced challenges in the last six months. And with change comes transitions," the university says in a statement. Dr McClaurin was the first female president at Shaw, which in 2009 revealed it had serious debts. It was later bailed out with a $31 million (£19.1 million) federal loan. Dr McClaurin recently revealed that the university's financial difficulties, which were compounded when a tornado caused extensive damage to facilities, had prompted her to seek new investors.

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