News in brief

June 7, 2012

United States

Presidential addresses are costly

A public university system has spent $2 million (£1.3 million) on renovating presidents' homes over the past decade. An investigation by California Watch - part of the Center for Investigative Reporting - found that California State University had expanded garages, fixed up kitchens and even hired interior designers to refurbish eight presidential living quarters on different campuses. Half of the money came from state funding and the figure does not include annual maintenance and repairs. Some $257,000 was spent on kitchen upgrades, new windows, pool replastering and other projects at San Diego State University in 2011.


Higher quantity, lower quality

Australian universities' overseas student numbers will return to "decent growth" next year, but the intake will be less able academically, an analyst has said. Daniel Guhr, managing director of US-based Illuminate Consulting Group, was speaking ahead of the Nafsa: Association of International Educators' annual conference, held in Houston, where his firm launched a database to analyse overseas student performance, The Australian reported. He predicted that the Australian sector's international market will grow by 6 to 7 per cent after a limp 2012. This assumed, he added, that visa streamlining and post-study work rights prove attractive to applicants. But he warned that the country would attract lower-quality students than 10 or 20 years ago because the Australian brand had been "damaged". "Part of the perception is that Australia actually didn't deliver the classroom quality it marketed. In a sense, it became a victim of its own recruiting success," he said.


Leaks replaced by wave of chaos

An examination system designed to stop questions being leaked has caused chaos, according to a newspaper. The University of Mumbai, which has been dogged by exam leaks, recently implemented the system, where question papers are dispatched to colleges by methods including fax and password-protected CDs, The Times of India reported. However, after chaos on its first day of use, 10,000 engineering students endured a "harrowing" exam on the second day when incorrect or incomplete papers were sent out. Many candidates, including finalists, were forced to sit papers from old syllabuses, despite not having prepared for them.


Rename is a shame

Students at a Nigerian university have protested against the president's decision to rename the institution after a late politician. Goodluck Jonathan has renamed the University of Lagos as Moshood Abiola University in honour of a politician who won the presidency in 1993, but was denied after the result was annulled by former military leader Ibrahim Babangida. Mr Jonathan said the new name would honour Mr Abiola - who died in mysterious circumstances in 1998 - "for making the ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of justice and truth". But students have said they want to keep the univer-sity's famous "UniLag" moniker. After the announcement, thousands congregated at the university's main gates to oppose the decision, the All Africa website reported. "The president has erred by not consulting anybody before taking (an) arbitrary step in changing the institution's name," said student Fustino Babatunde. "The name UniLag commands respect everywhere."

United States

No quarter given, not any more

Seventeen public institutions in Ohio will change their academic calendars from "quarters" to semesters in the autumn. The institutions have spent years and millions of dollars making the change so that their calendars are aligned with the state's other public and private institutions, and students can transfer credits from one to another more easily. The universities of Ohio and Cincinnati are among the largest institutions to make the switch, moving from three 10-week quarters to two 15-week semesters, The Plain Dealer newspaper reported. "It has to be a system with clear lines of articulation and credit transfer," said Jim Petro, chancellor of the Ohio board of regents. The 17 institutions have pledged to their students that there will be no loss of academic progress, no delay in degree completion and no increased costs.

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