News in brief

August 23, 2012

United States

Self-examination's all-clear

A US university has told a state senate panel that an internal audit has cleared it of grade-fixing allegations. Portia Shields, interim president of Tennessee State University, told the higher education subcommittee hearing that mistakes were made but an internal investigation had found no wrongdoing on the part of the institution's administrators. Some academics had alleged that Tennessee State officials changed "incomplete" grades of more than 100 students on two pilot courses into "letter" grades without instructors' permission, The Commercial Appeal newspaper reported. The officials responded that they had received permission from the university's board of regents to change the grades and that the instructors had been informed. Dr Shields said she was dismayed that those who had brought the allegations felt they could not address their concerns to administrators directly.

Australia

Moving on up

Australia is on course for a world-class university system after five years of higher investment, according to the vice-chancellor of one of the country's top-ranked institutions, The Australian reported. Glyn Davis, vice-chancellor of the University of Melbourne, made the comments after the 2012 Shanghai Jiao Tong Academic Ranking of World Universities named his institution the highest-rated Australian university. Five institutions from the country were ranked in the top 100 and 19 in the top 500, making Australia the fourth-best system in the world, according to the ranking. "We are well on our way to becoming a world-class system," Professor Davis said.

Hungary

Pay your own way

The prime minister of Hungary has said that he wants the country's higher education students to cover the costs of their own education. Viktor Orban said the aim was part of an overall transformation of the academy that would take years to achieve. He added that he planned to create a system whereby students could take out affordable long-term loans, the Politics.hu website reported. Mr Orban also said that employers should be offered incentives to take over the loan repayments of the graduates they employ. However, the proposals were criticised by opposition politicians, who said that restructuring the system on self-financing lines would impoverish Hungary, increase inequality and punish the poor.

United States

Suspended state

A financially struggling US institution that has lost its accreditation has suspended all classes for the autumn semester. Saint Paul's College in Lawrenceville, Virginia, announced that most operations will be halted while the institution appeals the loss of its accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper reported. Saint Paul's will offer evening classes in an accelerated-degree programme for working adults and maintain its childcare centre, which serves about 100 local children. However, it will not house students or offer its single-parent support system, which provided housing for 19 at-risk mothers and 22 children last year. Saint Paul's is exploring other options, including a merger with another college, should its appeal prove unsuccessful.

India

Requested upgrade

The chief minister of an Indian state has called for an existing university in the region's capital to be upgraded in status, despite two other institutions of high prestige already being set up in the state. Nitish Kumar said he would like to see Patna University, a public university in Bihar and the seventh-oldest higher education institution in the country, upgraded to central university status (ie, those overseen by the Indian government). "[The government] has agreed to establish two new central universities in Motihari and Gaya after our prolonged struggle," he told a conference of the students' wing of the Janata Dal (United) political party in Patna. "Now, Patna University should get the status of a central university, too." Mr Kumar had resisted requests for the release of land in the state capital to create a new central university because he believed Patna would be upgraded, the India Today newspaper reported.

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