News in brief

January 26, 2012

United States

Thou shalt not teach this

A US university has dropped plans to offer a course on how biblical principles can be applied to business management after objections from civil liberties groups and staff. Iowa State University's decision to remove the "Application of biblical insight into the management of business/organisation" class came after the American Civil Liberties Union and academic staff at the university complained that it would breach the separation of church and state at the public institution. The Iowa State Daily newspaper reported that in a letter of protest, Warren Blumenfeld, a professor in the department of curriculum and instruction, said: "We can teach world religion, but we can't promote it. This class was promoting it and looking at it through one evangelical perspective." Randall Wilson, the ACLU's legal director, added: "It was pretty clear that this class was advancing a religious agenda."


Branches bear employment fruit

Graduates who study at branch campuses of foreign universities in Dubai are to be guaranteed a government job to put them on an equal footing with students from other institutions. New legislation, due to be put in place next month, will give degrees from institutions accredited by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority - which oversees the branch campuses in Dubai - the same status as those from universities accredited by the Ministry for Higher Education and Scientific Research. Although students at these institutions, such as Zayed University, are certain of government positions after graduation, those at KHDA institutions are not, meaning many Emiratis have been reluctant to study at them, The National newspaper reported. "Now students can all be guaranteed employment," said Warren Fox, executive director of higher education at the authority.

United States

Spreading the scientific method

The American Natural History Museum in New York is to offer a new master's degree programme to help train school science teachers. The museum will introduce its first MA in teaching in June, offering students with a science background 15 months of training to become an earth science teacher. The New York State Board of Regents is helping to fund the course, which will not charge for tuition, and students will receive $30,000 (£19,522) in stipends and health benefits, The New York Times reported. "We're looking for people who want to make a career of teaching," said Ellen V. Futter, president of the museum. These could be recent graduates, she said, but also "former participants in a volunteer corps or career changers or veterans". The aim is to produce 50 science teachers over two years to address a shortage in the state's school system.


Campus leads Sony growth plans

Consumer electronics heavyweight Sony has opened its first overseas Sony University campus in Singapore. Following in the footsteps of the Tokyo-based institution set up by the company in 2000, Sony hopes the new 312 sq m facility will bolster its expansion plans to the Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa regions. The campus is the first of its kind outside Japan and will be used to teach Sony's future leaders for emerging markets, ZDNet Asia reported. The company said it will invest S$4.5 million (£2.3 million) over the next three years in the project, which will teach between 70 and 100 Sony staff each year.


Overseas loans considered

Higher education officials are investigating a new student-loans system that, it is hoped, will strengthen Australia's international education industry. Bruce Chapman, architect of the Higher Education Contribution Scheme for domestic students, is examining whether similar income-contingent loans could be used to finance international students' education. The three-year study, funded by a A$400,000 (£0,678) Australian Research Council grant, is also looking at loans for student income support and extra financial help for Australians studying abroad, The Australian reported. Professor Chapman, based at Australian National University, said many overseas students currently had to raise about A$20,000 a year for fees.

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