News in brief

August 2, 2012

United States

Decimation isn't the half of it

A university in West Virginia has announced that it will cut its workforce by 50 per cent. Mountain State University officials made the announcement last week in response to the Higher Learning Commission's intention to withdraw its accreditation. The staff affected have already been told that their employment will end in September. "This is a difficult decision," said Jerry Ice, chairman of Mountain State's board of trustees. "The reductions are not about performance issues... employees are hard-working and dedicated. Their contributions to the university, its students and their communities are greatly appreciated." Reductions have been made at all administrative, faculty and other staff levels, The Register-Herald newspaper reported.


Rich seam of advertising

Australian university heads may have to adopt the strategy of mining magnates and invest in newspaper advertisements to get the authorities to listen to their concerns, according to a leading vice-chancellor. Fred Hilmer, president and vice-chancellor of the University of New South Wales, told the National Press Club at the end of July that current government policy was a "mix of rose-coloured aspirations, oppressive regulation and Scrooge-like funding". According to website The Conversation, he added: "I think we're getting closer to a time where we've got to do pretty much what the mining industry did - just say 'no', take out ads and be absolutely vocal. And if we did that I think we would be listened to." Professor Hilmer said that Australia's new higher education regulator, the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency, was strangling universities in red tape, adding that the sector was also struggling under a funding system that did not work.


Affirmative action

China's universities will admit more poor students from rural areas, according to the government's college admissions plan. The policy, introduced by the Ministry of Education, allocates 12,100 vacancies to students from 680 poverty-stricken counties in 21 provincial areas, the Xinhua news agency reported. Residents in those areas earn on average 2,676 yuan (£0) a year - about half the national figure. High school graduates from the counties will be given preferential treatment in an attempt to address regional discrepancies in Chinese education.


Successful negotiations

Students and researchers demonstrating at an Indian university in Tamil Nadu have agreed to abandon their sit-in protest after holding talks with the vice-chancellor. The protesters had been incensed by Madurai Kamaraj University's decision to close their accommodation - known as "hostels" - because some of them had been living there for more than five years. They demanded that the Malligai, Thiruvalluvar and Bharathidasan hostels be reopened; that single rooms be provided for researchers; and that a seven-year period of stay be allowed for men and women. Talks between the demonstrators and Kalyani Mathivanan, vice-chancellor of Madurai Kamaraj, lasted for three hours and ended with the university leader saying that the demands would be met, The Hindu newspaper reported. She added that other issues such as an increase in fees would be dealt with in due course.

United States

Breaking the law school code

The education arm of the US legal profession's support body has publicly censured a university for reporting false admissions data. The legal education section of the American Bar Association determined that the University of Illinois College of Law had violated standards "requiring law schools to maintain sound admissions policies ... and to publish basic, accurate consumer information". It has announced sanctions against Illinois in reference to "intentionally false (admission test) scores and incoming student grade-point-average data the school provided for the entering class of 2005 and the entering classes of 2007 through 2011", a press release on the ABA's website says. Sanctions include a $250,000 (£161,000) penalty and the requirement that the school post a copy of the censure prominently on its website, the Chicago Tribune reported.

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