News in brief

August 30, 2012

United States

Unoriginal sinner stands down

A prominent US journalist who admitted copying parts of an article from a rival publication has resigned from his position on a university's governing board. Fareed Zakaria, a host on television channel CNN and editor-at-large at Time magazine, stepped down from the Yale Corporation, telling president Richard C. Levin he needed to shed some of his workload, the New Haven Register reported. "My service at Yale is the single largest commitment of time, energy and attention outside of my writing and television work," he said. "The work of the Yale Corporation needs and deserves such attention, but I simply do not have the capacity to do it and keep up with my main professional obligations." The decision comes after an editorial in the newspaper suggested that Mr Zakaria should step down from the post after admitting to lifting passages from an article in The New Yorker without attribution for one of his Time columns.

Australia

Slim choice

An Australian university has played down claims that changes to humanities courses will hit students in its three regional campuses hardest. Tim Murray, dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at La Trobe University, assured students that the institution's streamlined arts degree, flexible online learning and block teaching would enhance courses, The Australian reported. Students, however, are dismayed that from next year they will lose the option of single-subject majors, with the politics programme being cut entirely. In place, La Trobe will introduce an interdisciplinary major combining English, history and sociology. Professor Murray said the changes were necessary to meet the financial challenges of providing students in regional campuses with "credible" choices.

India

More doctors in the house

India needs to increase the number of PhD candidates in engineering and technology because it is lagging behind countries such as China and the US, a leading academic has argued. Anil Kakodkar, a nuclear scientist and former chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission of India, said the country needed to scale up its doctoral research to compete. Giving the Brahm Prakash Memorial Lecture at the Indian Institute of Science, Dr Kakodkar said that education, research, technology and commercial deployment needed to be addressed collectively and not as individual tasks, The Times of India reported. "Our university campuses need considerable transformation," he said. "Faculty should orient their teaching and research to address some of the major challenges before society."

Sri Lanka

Closing time

Sri Lanka's higher education minister has announced the indefinite closure of 21 universities and educational institutions. Sumanaweera Dissanayake took the decision after two months of industrial action by the Federation of University Teachers Association, which has been striking over demands for higher wages and better facilities. Institutions affected by the decision include the universities of Colombo, Moratuwa and Peradeniya, the Daily News reported. Mr Dissanayake said he suspected political agendas and motives behind the trade union's action, adding that the government had made every effort to resolve the matter through negotiations. "The government strongly believes that this is not a healthy environment to all stakeholders, especially...students and parents," Mr Dissanayake says in a statement.

United States

Decade of deception

The president of a US university has disclosed that employees at the institution had for around a decade released false data that had been used to determine college rankings. James Wagner, head of Emory University in Atlanta, said the perpetrators no longer worked at the institution, CNN reported. In a post on its website, the university states that from 2000, rather than reporting test scores for students enrolled at the university, it had also included data for those offered places who had decided to study elsewhere. It had also neglected to include information regarding the bottom 10 per cent of students. Emory adds that the misreporting pertained only to its undergraduates, not to those on its graduate and professional degree programmes.

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