News in brief

September 15, 2011

United States

Cuts call for campus autonomy

A US state university system should loosen its control over its 26 campuses, according to a report. The recommendations to the University of Wisconsin, given by an in-house committee, also suggested that individual campus chancellors should be given more authority, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. The proposals come after the UW system disclosed that it needed to reduce its operating budget by $2.4 million (£1.5 million) a year and shed 51 full-time jobs. Kevin Reilly, UW president, convened the committee to evaluate the UW system's role and advise him how best to cut costs. Potential changes include UW administration no longer being permitted to review academic programmes for quality assurance, and allowing chancellors to serve on Dr Reilly's cabinet and help set agendas. Dr Reilly said he will eliminate 51 full-time positions by laying off eight people and not filling vacancies.

Canada

Foreign students cheat more

Universities in Canada are finding that overseas students are more likely to violate standards of academic integrity than home students. The disproportionate number of foreigners accused of plagiarism or cheating in exams is setting off alarm bells, The Globe and Mail reported. Canada is a popular destination for international students, who occasionally struggle to adapt to the new educational standards. Karen Bellinger, a staff lawyer at the University of Toronto's legal aid clinic, which deals with students accused of cheating, said: "I would say, anecdotally, that well over 50 per cent of (clients) are international students. This group makes up about 12 per cent of the student body at U of T". The University of Windsor began tracking offenders by country of origin three years ago and found the number of international students caught cheating was three times that of domestic students.

The Netherlands

Treble Dutch merger talks

Three Dutch universities are considering a merger to ensure they get the most out of dwindling science research budgets. Speaking at the start of the Dutch academic year last week, officials from Leiden University, Delft University of Technology and the Erasmus University of Rotterdam said that creating a "Triumvirate of Science" in the province of South Holland was essential to maintain their strengths, an article on the Nature news blog said. Earlier this year the Dutch government said financial constraints would mean university budgets would be frozen at 2011 levels. The universities believe that intensifying collaboration by creating joint student programmes as well as streamlining research will help avoid duplications and save money.

Indonesia

Saudi king's award criticised

The University of Indonesia has angered citizens by awarding an honorary doctorate to the King of Saudi Arabia, whose human rights conduct has been questioned by labour activists, The Jakarta Post reported. The decision comes two months after Ruyati binti Satubi, an Indonesian maid, was beheaded in Saudi Arabia for murdering her employer - a crime she committed after allegedly being subjected repeatedly to torture. International human rights organisations have long criticised Saudi Arabia for its treatment of migrant workers. The degree was awarded in recognition of King Abdullah's efforts in promoting moderate Islamic teachings. Thamrin Amal Tomagola, a University of Indonesia sociologist, said the award "insulted the university's reputation".

United States

Yale faces lawsuit over murder

The family of a student murdered by a co-worker at a US university has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the institution. The family of Annie Le, who was killed at a campus research facility at Yale University two years ago, accuses Yale of failing to protect women and tolerating aggressive male behaviour, the Hartford Courant reported. A 10-page lawsuit filed by the administrator of Ms Le's estate said Yale had failed to take adequate steps to ensure the safety and security of women on its campus and alleged that "sexual attacks on and harassment of women at Yale had been a well-documented and long-standing problem". The killer, Raymond Clark III, was sentenced to 44 years in prison. A statement from Yale said "there is no basis" for the civil suit.

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