News in brief

May 24, 2012

United States

Degree dividends: long life

Participation in higher education is linked to better health habits and longer life, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The annual report from the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics says that people who have at least a bachelor's degree live around nine years longer than those who do not graduate from high school, USA Today reported. The study, drawing on data from the past decade, found that in 2010, 31 per cent of adults aged 25 to 64 with high school diplomas or less smoked; the rate was 24 per cent among those with some college experience and 9 per cent among those with undergraduate degrees. "Highly educated people tend to have healthier behaviors, avoid unhealthy ones and have more access to medical care when they need it," said Amy Bernstein, the report's lead author.


Revolution slows

Universities in Cuba reduced their admissions by 26 per cent in the 2011-12 academic year, according to government statistics. The latest figures from the National Statistics Office show that Cuban institutions enrolled 351,116 students, a drop of more than 120,000 from the 473,309 recorded in the previous academic year. According to Fox News Latino, enrolment has been cut in all areas, but the social sciences and humanities have been hardest hit, despite having the second-highest number of admissions (more than 77,000). The most popular subject is medical sciences, with more than 118,000 students. Cuba announced in 2010 that it had more than 1 million university graduates.


Pro-Nazi no cause for celebration

The rector of a Lithuanian university has called off the institution's plans to commemorate a pro-Nazi head of state. In a letter to the country's government, Zigmas Lydeka, the head of Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas, says that political events should not take place on university grounds. Thus, a commemorative conference for Juozas Brazaitis Ambrazevicius, the "prime minister" of Lithuania's 1941 puppet government, has been cancelled, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported. However, the remains of Ambrazevicius - who died 40 years ago in the US - will be repatriated from Connecticut to Kaunas to be reinterred. En route, he will be honoured in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius. This has angered Holocaust survivors, Lithuania's Jewish community and the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel, the newspaper reported.


Infrastructural decline

A leading academic has claimed that research facilities in Australia are in danger of being "wound down" as a multi-million-dollar federal support programme nears its end with no plans to replace it. Les Field, deputy vice-chancellor of research at the University of New South Wales, made the warning as a report from the country's chief scientist, Ian Chubb, says that Australia is lagging behind many industrialised nations in terms of private sector research support and development. Professor Field criticised the government for missing a chance to "establish a long-term investment platform for the nation's research infrastructure", The Australian newspaper reported. He said that Canberra lacked a research strategy and bemoaned the failure to replace the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy.

United States

Still no Pill, and you may get ill

A Catholic university claims that it has been forced to scrap a student health insurance programme because it has become too costly as a result of Barack Obama's mandate that religious-based institutions provide birth control coverage in their insurance policies. Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, which had health insurance policies that did not cover contraceptive assistance and products, has stated that it will not agree to a plan that "requires us to violate the consistent teachings of the Catholic Church on the sacredness of human life". A university official said that its basic $600 (£377) policy for students was set to double in the autumn and triple by next year. Franciscan's insurance provider said that the rises were the consequence of President Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

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