News in brief

July 5, 2012

United States

Legal tender

A US university aims to buy a law school from another "local" institution for $25 million (£16 million). Texas A&M University will pay Texas Wesleyan University $20 million on closing the deal and $5 million in five years' time for its School of Law in an unusual partnership between a major public university and a smaller private institution, the Austin American-Statesman newspaper reported. A&M will acquire ownership and operational control of the school, and its faculty and staff will become A&M employees. Texas Wesleyan will continue to own the building and surrounding land, and will lease the property to A&M for about $2.5 million a year. John Sharp, chancellor of the A&M system, said: "What we're going to do is take a good law school and turn it into a world-class law school."

The Netherlands

'Massaging' the figures

An academic in the Netherlands has resigned after his university began investigating his data for fraud. Dirk Smeesters, a Belgian-born social psychologist, has left his post as professor at Erasmus University Rotterdam after an investigative panel concluded that it had "no confidence" in the scientific integrity of his research, Science reported. The university has also asked for the retraction of two of Professor Smeesters' papers, one from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and the other from the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. The panel's report says that the scholar conceded to "massaging" the data in some papers to "strengthen" their outcomes, but defended his actions as common in the field.

Australia

Growing concerns

Private higher education in Australia has grown so rapidly that it now accounts for 50 per cent of provision and teaches about 10 per cent of students, according to an analysis. If technical and further education providers and theology colleges are included, the non-public university sector also accounted for more than A$290 million (£187 million) of the A$1 billion in government student FEE-HELP loans issued last year, The Australian reported. "Almost a third of [the] funding goes to non-university providers - that's a significant statistic," said Peter Ryan, a higher education researcher, whose analysis leads the inaugural edition of the ACPET Journal for Private Higher Education. In 2005, the non-university sector accounted for about A$30 million of the loans (just 9 per cent of the funding).

Sri Lanka

Change is a necessity

Sri Lanka's academy needs radical reform to keep up with global trends and meet the government's goals, the country's higher education minister has stated. "Our higher education sector is changing slowly...with regards to global trends, when compared with other countries," S.B. Dissanayake said. "Not only education but [also] the attitude of academic and non-academic staff and the mentality of undergraduates have to be changed." Mr Dissanayake made the comments at a workshop run by the University Grants Commission-Sri Lanka and the government. The minister added that foreign students had to be attracted to the country's universities if the nation were to become a knowledge "hub" in Asia, Daily News reported. "The standards of our universities have to be upgraded," Mr Dissanayake added. "Then our universities will reach world standards gradually."

United States

Bleeding to balance the books

A university system is to cut degree programmes and jobs to balance the $2.8 billion (£1.79 billion) budget set for the fiscal year 2013-14. Officials at the University of Missouri system approved the budget during a two-day meeting last week, which will require more than $35 million in cuts. About $1.1 billion (40 per cent of the budget) is earmarked for instruction and comes from state support and tuition fees at the system's four campuses - the universities of Missouri-Kansas City, Missouri-Columbia, Missouri-St Louis and the Missouri University of Science and Technology. The savings will be delivered by cutting pay by $11.5 million, leaving some positions vacant and eliminating 180 posts. Cutting and consolidating programmes will save an additional $8.1 million, The Kansas City Star newspaper reported.

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