News in brief

May 17, 2012

China

Scholarship proves short-sighted

Study habits may explain why the vast majority of Chinese students wear glasses, new research has suggested. A study published in The Lancet says that "increasing educational pressures, combined with lifestyle changes ... have reduced the time children spend outside", prompting higher levels of short-sightedness. A recent survey by China's Education Ministry indicated that 85 per cent of university students suffer from myopia, compared with 20 to 40 per cent in the US and European countries, The Wall Street Journal reported. It was previously thought that there were genetic reasons for the condition's prevalence in China, Japan and South Korea, but the Lancet study found that environmental influences - specifically, an emphasis on education - may play a more significant role. Consequently, it says, East Asia faces an adult population "at high risk of developing pathological myopia" over the next century.

United States

Growing degree of deprivation

The number of PhD holders in the US who depend on public aid has tripled over the past two years, and government data also show that a large number of people with master's degrees are also depending on food stamps to survive. Austin Nichols, a senior researcher from the Urban Institute, looked at data from the US Census Bureau and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and found that the number of people with PhDs who received some kind of public assistance more than tripled to 33,655 in 2010 from 9,776 in 2007. Meanwhile, about 360,000 Americans with master's qualifications or above were receiving some kind of public assistance, according to the latest Current Population Survey released by the US Census Bureau in March 2011.

West Bank

Hunger striker barred from rally

A West Bank university has blocked an activist from attending a rally on its campus. The Arab American University in Jenin prevented Khader Adnan from participating in a demonstration supporting Palestinian inmates. Mr Adnan, who was released from Israeli prison last month after a 66-day hunger strike, was invited by a student group to speak about his experience in prison, The Jerusalem Post reported. But the university banned him because he failed to arrange his visit with the institution. This explanation was countered by his supporters, who said the university was aware of the planned visit because it had been widely advertised on campus. A group of students staged a sit-in outside the office of the university's president in protest.

Nigeria

Explosive devices found on campus

State police have defused bombs at three locations inside a university in the state of Kano, according to a police spokesman. The three devices were found in buildings belonging to the faculties of sciences and law and at a sports complex in Bayero University. The discovery came about 10 days after 21 people were killed and 22 injured in an attack on a Christian worship centre at Bayero, Bloomberg reported. Police said the attackers, who may have been members of the militant Islamist group Boko Haram, opened fire and threw explosives at worshippers. Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is a sin", has claimed responsibility for a series of attacks and bombings in the mainly Muslim north and Abuja, the capital, since 2009.

United States

Golden State's system loses lustre

Concern is growing at the rising number of Californian high-school students who decide against attending the state's public universities, despite the system's excellent reputation, researchers have found. Figures released by the Public Policy Institute of California showed that from 2007 to 2010, the number of students attending campuses of the University of California or California State University dropped by 20 per cent. The fall occurred as budget problems saw institutions raising tuition fees and being forced to turn away qualified students, according to the San Jose Mercury News. The report added that only 55 per cent of the highest-achieving students from the state's schools went on to enrol at state universities, down from 67 per cent. The figures echo data showing a shift from public institutions to private universities, with the latter seeing a significant rise in the number of applicants from California.

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