News in brief

February 23, 2012

Germany

No short-changing young scholars

Young professors in Germany should be paid a salary matching that given to civil servants of similar rank and responsibility in other sectors, a court has ruled. The Karls-ruhe federal constitutional court made the announcement after it ruled in favour of a University of Marburg chemistry professor who complained that his basic salary was inadequate - public employers are required by law to provide adequate salaries. Judges said that his pay, which was less than that of secondary school teachers of a similar age, was "evidently insufficient", Nature reported. Nationwide regulations introduced in 2005 allowed federal states to pay newly hired professors 25 per cent less than serving colleagues. The Hesse state government has a year to adjust the salaries of professors hired since 2005. The German Association of University Professors and Lecturers (DHV) welcomed the decision. "This court ruling confirms our view that the [2005] salary regulations are in large parts unconstitutional," Bernhard Kempen, the DHV president, said.

Australia

Bad medicine?

Changes to rules governing grant eligibility for human health studies in Australia could damage the country's world-class medical research, leading scientists have warned. Under the Australian Research Council's new arrangements for its Discovery Projects, more biomedical research will be channelled into the National Health and Medical Research Council grants system, The Australian reported. Scientists claim that the NHMRC favours applied-science projects with the potential to deliver quick clinical benefits. ARC officials stated that the changes were necessary to free funds for projects from other fields. Margaret Sheil, the chief executive, also spoke of the need to close a loophole that allowed biomedical researchers to apply to the ARC and to the NHMRC for funding for "broadly similar work".

United States

Campus serfdom

Full-time, non-tenured professors lack a professional identity and a sense of self-worth, a study has found. In interviews with academics at US colleges and universities, researchers from the University of California, Riverside and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis discovered that lecturers, researchers and administrators without permanent employment protection and roles in institutional governance felt like "serfs". John S. Levin, professor in UC Riverside's Graduate School of Education and co-author of the paper based on the study ("The hybrid and dualistic identity of full-time non-tenure-track faculty", published in American Behavioral Scientist), argues that such employees need better compensation and more institutional authority. They often describe themselves as "foreigners, detached observers and members of a counterculture", the paper says.

Pakistan

Mind-expanding plans

The governor of Pakistan's Sindh province has given his permission for the establishment of a new general university in Hyderabad. Ishrat ul Ebad Khan has handed responsibility to the secretaries of education, health and law to complete the formalities, The News International reported. The institution, Mohammed Ali Jinnah University, will have a medical college. Dr Khan earmarked 500 acres of land for the institution, starting in the premises of a comprehensive school in the Latifabad-10 district. The proposed medical college will be set up in the Kohsar area. Building work is set to begin this year.

United States

The gift of people

A US businessman has donated $30 million (£19 million) to his alma mater, the biggest donation it has ever received. Chicago investment manager and philanthropist Richard Driehaus made the gift to DePaul University's business school to recruit and retain faculty, The Chicago Tribune reported. However, the institution will be able to use the interest on the endowment alone to meet this requirement for the 100-year-old College of Commerce. In return, the college is being renamed the Richard H. Driehaus College of Business. Mr Driehaus, who earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from DePaul, said he wanted his money to go towards staff rather than buildings or a general fund, where its impact would be dispersed and less relevant to his interests.

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