News in brief

February 9, 2012

United States

'Misled' dental students refunded

A US institution has suspended one of its courses and reimbursed students after some claimed it misled them about its credentials. Kaplan College in Charlotte, North Carolina has surrendered its operating licence for its dental assistant programme after allegations that officials lied to students about the qualifications they would receive after graduating, The Charlotte Observer reported. Many students complained that they had taken out large loans to pay for the 12-month, $18,000 (£11,400) programme only to learn they would not receive the "Dental Assistant II" certification they were promised. Instead they would graduate with a less valuable credential. College officials have agreed to pay refunds to 200 students, as well as a $9,000 (£5,700) stipend for graduates while they study for appropriate qualifications. Janice Block, Kaplan's chief national compliance officer, said the company was spending "well over $1 million" on the refunds. She added that Kaplan had not meant to mislead students, "and yet somehow...a misunderstanding occurred".


No BA/BSc? No problem for PhD

An Israeli university has come under fire for accepting doctoral students who do not have an undergraduate or master's degree. Bar-Ilan University is facing sanctions from the Council for Higher Education after violating regulations about taking on students for advanced degrees. An investigation against Bar-Ilan was launched after Haaretz newspaper reported that a journalist, Yair Lapid, was accepted on to a master's programme and then a doctoral programme despite not having an undergraduate degree. Other Israeli institutions were asked to report similar infringements by mid-February, but the Council of University Presidents said that, as yet, only Bar-Ilan was found to have broken the rules. In response, a Bar-Ilan spokesperson claimed that all universities carried out this practice.


Campus ban on dissident group

A Thai university has banned the use of its grounds as a meeting place for a faculty-run dissident group. The decision by Thammasat University comes amid growing unhappiness with the Nitirat group, which proposes an amendment to the lese-majesty - offence against the monarchy - law (Section 112) and a rewrite of the chapter in the constitution about the monarchy. Nitirat - made up of seven law lecturers from Thammasat - has held its meetings and activities on the university's Tha Phrachan campus since its establishment in 2010, the Bangkok Post reported. "The university's executive committee has resolved unanimously to prohibit the use of the university's premises for any movement related to Section 112," Thammasat rector Somkit Lertpaithoon wrote on his Facebook page last week. He added that allowing meetings could give the impression the university endorsed the movement.

South Africa

Demand outstrips supply by 4:1

More than 60,000 students have missed out on a place at higher education institutions in a province of South Africa. Four universities in the Eastern Cape turned away more than 75 per cent of their applicants, The Daily Dispatch reported. In total, Walter Sisulu, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan, Rhodes and Fort Hare universities received 76,966 applications for 16,767 places, forcing them to reject 60,199 students. "All programmes are full and have waiting lists," said Angela Church, acting director of marketing, communication and development at Walter Sisulu.


School-fee exemption withdrawn

Hundreds of international students studying in Queensland, Australia have been hit with an unexpected charge if they have school-age children. From next year, school-fee exemptions for children of international students will be limited to those studying for doctorates or on AusAID or defence scholarships, The Australian reported. The state's Department of Education and Training has brought in "minor changes", which include a charge for children of students from countries whose governments sponsor the education and living costs of scholarship holders and their dependants. The move is a reining-in of a 2001 scheme that saw the dependants of all international postgraduate research students covered by school-fee exemptions.

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