News in brief

July 19, 2012

United States

You booze, you lose

The governing body of a US university has warned its president to curb her drinking or it will sack her. In a recent letter to Susan Martin, Eastern Michigan University's board of regents says that a "recent incident" at an event in Washington DC (which involved an argument with an alumnus) was "inappropriate". It also makes references to other unspecified events involving alcohol, the Detroit Free Press reported. The letter, signed by regents Roy Wilbanks, Francine Parker and Mike Morris, states: "This incident involved the consumption of alcohol. You have acknowledged that you acted inappropriately and have apologized, but explained your conduct as the result of not having eaten and then consuming alcoholic beverages...If there are any further incidents, you will leave us no alternative but to recommend to the board that your employment be terminated."


Vocational vision

Australia needs to export more of its skills and training know-how to India, a conference has heard. Chris Evans, tertiary education minister, told the Australia India Skills Conference in Perth last week that his country needed to engage more actively in imparting its knowledge to Asian countries that are hungry for skilled workers. He said that vocational training had been "very much on the agenda" at the recent intergovernmental East Asia Summit, although he admitted that Australia's federal government had been slow to seize the opportunities, The Australian reported. "But it is the case that [vocational and educational training] is going to be a key area of engagement between Australia and various Asian countries, particularly India," he added.


Commodity vices

A teaching union at an Indian university has criticised impending reforms at the institution, arguing that they signal the commodification of higher education. The Delhi University Teachers' Association criticised the University of Delhi's proposals to bring in four-year undergraduate degrees, a BTech in humanities with an option to pick and choose subjects, and the "Meta University" project, which allows students to choose courses from institutions including Delhi, Jamia Millia Islamia and Jawaharlal Nehru universities. In a report released last week, the union says the changes aim to commercialise the system, the Deccan Herald reported. "The teaching community has been ignored as these proposals weren't even discussed with the teachers before being announced in the media," a union member said.


Committee casts out Ariel

Israel's higher education body has ruled against giving university status to an institution on the West Bank. The planning and budgeting committee of Israel's Council for Higher Education recommended against making Ariel University Center of Samaria a fully fledged university. Alex Miller, member of the Knesset for Yisrael Beiteinu and head of the lobby group devoted to making Ariel a university, called the recommendation "a disgraceful decision", which he attributed to committee members' "surrender to narrow political interests", The Jerusalem Post reported. The decision came after Israel's seven existing universities wrote to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other ministers to say that making Ariel a university would "deal a mortal blow" to the country's academy.

United States

Accreditation denied

A for-profit US university plans to appeal against an official body's decision to deny it accreditation while adding that the snub will not affect its students or its operations. Shari Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for Ashford University in Iowa, said the institution, which is accredited by the regional Higher Learning Commission (HLC) until 2015, will continue to lobby the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (Wasc), which rejected its application, The Quad-City Times reported. "[There will] not be a gap; we're still accredited," she said. She added that Ashford was "disappointed" with Wasc's decision, but that it was "still our plan to move to Wasc from HLC". Wasc presides over the accreditation of a number of higher education institutions in California. Ashford applied to the body after a significant portion of its activities in support of its online courses moved to San Diego.

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