News in brief

September 1, 2011

The Netherlands

Scandal hits recruitment

A higher education college in the Netherlands that was embroiled in a corruption scandal last year has seen its student intake fall by almost a third. The Inholland college was alleged to have given easy passes to struggling students to boost its income, while former administrators were accused of fiddling expenses, The Telegraaf newspaper reported. In the first enrolment following the scandal, the number of student registrations has fallen by 30 per cent. Doekle Terpstra, the college's director, said a drop in student numbers had been expected as a result of the negative publicity, but the scale of the decline - amounting to between 3,000 and 4,000 students - had come as an unpleasant surprise. "That's a significant number," he said, warning that job cuts were now inevitable.

United States

Dean's untimely exit

The dean of Columbia College, the undergraduate division of the Ivy League Columbia University, has abruptly resigned, blaming administrative changes that she claimed would diminish her authority. Michele M. Moody-Adams, whose resignation left the institution without a leader two weeks before the start of term, told Columbia alumni and donors in an email that the university had begun to "transform the administrative structure" of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, The New York Times reported. She said this would compromise her authority over "crucial policy, fundraising and budgetary matters". She had repeatedly expressed concerns that the changes would affect "the college's academic quality and financial health", she said, and had recently realised that "the structural transformations intended to fundamentally alter decision-making in and for the college cannot be stopped".


Interest in fatal shores falters

The future of Australian studies is in doubt after a review at the University of Melbourne recommended scrapping its programme for undergraduates. The review by four international historians has also called on the School of History at Melbourne to redesign its Australian curriculum to go beyond the "national narrative". The Australian newspaper said the review had been commissioned to consider the issue of falling student interest in Australian history, and Australian studies in particular. In its report to the Melbourne administration, the review panel says: "It is our view that Australian history subjects need to be designed (to) attract a broader range of students." The review advocates subjects such as Australian environmental history, which it says connects Aboriginal, economic and cultural history, and historical geography.

South Africa

Trouble at the top

The South African higher education ministry has stepped in to take control of a university after it appointed a vice-chancellor who is alleged to hold a fraudulent PhD. Blade Nzimande, the higher education minister, said the scandal at the Tshwane University of Technology had put the reputation of the country's entire higher education system at risk. Tshwane's council has been criticised for appointing Johnny Molefe vice-chancellor despite claims that he holds a fraudulent doctorate, the Eye Witness News website reported. Mr Molefe has been placed on leave while a government-appointed administrator decides what action should be taken. Mr Nzimande said he could not explain why the council had appointed Mr Molefe while "serious questions" were being raised about his qualifications. "They didn't even officially inform us. We read it in the newspapers," he said.

United States

Fraternities hung out to dry

A US university has suspended seven fraternities for providing alcohol to underage students during recruitment parties. The University of South Carolina took action after 115 of its students were hospitalised last year as a result of alcohol consumption. The Houston Chronicle quoted Keith Ellis, the university's associate director for Greek life, as saying: "We cannot, as a community, continue to send people to the hospital." The fraternities complained that the decision to suspend them was unfair, and called for a "gradual" approach to tackling alcohol consumption. But Mr Ellis said: "Alcohol at recruitment is not going to be tolerated...If you're asking me to gradually expect you to take alcohol from 18-year-olds, I can't do that."

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