News in brief

April 12, 2012

United States

More fool them

An April Fool's Day edition of an independent student newspaper has been criticised for trivialising rape, drug use and prostitution. The Boston University paper The Daily Free Press renamed itself The Disney Free Press for the day and featured stories about the drugging and gang rape of a student by "seven frat dwarves" and a crackdown on Cinderella's prostitution ring, the WHDH.com website reported. In a statement, the paper says: "Our aim was to publish satirical material about Boston University as a whole, and we did not intend to perpetuate harmful stereotypes or inappropriately make light of serious issues." Its editor, Chelsea Diana, has now resigned. Boston already faces intense scrutiny after two members of its men's ice-hockey team were arrested and charged with sexual assault.

India

Stick in the muds

India's human resource development minister has blamed the country's "archaic" approach to higher education on decision-making bodies run by "vested interests". Speaking at a conference in Kolkata, Kapil Sibal said many academic and executive councils were made up of people who were politically motivated and unwilling to look to the future, The Times of India reported. He criticised the system's variations and attacked institutions that continue to take colleges under their wing, such as the University of Calcutta and its almost 400 affiliates. "Such universities cannot concentrate on academics because they have become centres that set exam question papers and publish results," he said.

Israel

Big tent partnership

Harvard University and the University of California, Los Angeles have joined forces with Ben-Gurion University of the Negev to build a campus in Israel's Bedouin heartland. Rahat is the country's largest recognised Bedouin town and will soon be home to its first Bedouin-orientated university. Leading academics from Harvard and UCLA have told Shimon Peres, Israel's president, that they will contribute to the initiative, the Ynetnews.com website reported. Mr Peres hopes that the institution, where Bedouin and Jewish students will study side-by-side, will facilitate greater interaction between the communities. He said: "I see tremendous importance in making higher education accessible to the Bedouin community," adding that better-educated people will be able to improve their economic situation and quality of life.

United States

Medieval manuscript

Staff at Shorter University in the state of Georgia have expressed concern about a lifestyle statement they must sign condemning premarital sex, homosexuality and adultery. Donald Dowless, president of the Baptist institution, called the statement an "affirmation of our Christ-centered mission". It also prohibits staff from drinking alcohol in public places such as restaurants, the Rome News-Tribune newspaper reported. But a survey sent to faculty members by Shorter's Committee for Integrity - an internal body set up by academics - shows overwhelming opposition to the statement: 78 per cent of staff say they are against signing it. Dr Dowless said that staff could voice their concerns via Shorter's board of trustees, its provost or him. He added: "We are excited about our future. We are moving forward."

Australia

Higher ceiling, but it's still glass

Australian graduates earn an average of A$66,000 (£42,700) after four years in the workplace - a 40 per cent rise from their starting salaries. Postgraduates performed even better, with a jump in average salaries from A$65,800 in 2008 to A$85,000 in 2011, according to a Graduate Careers Australia survey reported in The Australian. The study of 12,000 members of the Class of 2007 from 34 universities found graduates in engineering and related technologies were the best paid last year, earning an average of A$76,000, followed by IT, then management and commerce. But the gender pay gap continues to widen, with women earning less than their male counterparts in every industry despite making up 60 per cent of all undergraduates. Even in female-dominated industries such as health and education, men's earnings continued to outstrip women's.

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