News in brief

September 20, 2012

Australia

Technical failure

New South Wales has become the third Australian state to propose significant cuts to technical and further education programmes. Most TAFE enrolment fees will rise by about 10 per cent next year, with concession fees almost doubling to A$100 (£65), The Australian reported. The newspaper added that the cost of advanced diplomas will go up to A$1,720 a year, an increase of A$150, and that TAFE fine arts courses will be charged at commercial rates, organisations that find work for apprentices will lose their funding and other grant programmes will also be reduced. A total of 800 jobs are also to be cut. The state government blamed cuts on reduced tax revenue. The announcement on 11 September coincided with revelations that Queensland's budget will cut TAFE funding by about A$80 million. Victoria has already proposed sweeping cuts to TAFE funding.

Canada

Sorry is the hardest word

Researchers from a Canadian university have issued a retraction and an apology for using work that originated with US academics. Dongqing Li, Canada research chair in microfluids and nanofluidics at the University of Waterloo, and Yasaman Daghighi, one of Professor Li's PhD students, have retracted a report about advances in lab-on-a-chip technology, The Vancouver Sun reported. The retraction says their report failed to provide "appropriate references [for some] reproduced figures" and took "unaltered text" from a research paper by Martin Bazant, associate professor of chemical engineering and mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Todd Squires, associate professor of chemical engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Professor Bazant said his paper was "blatantly plagiarised". Waterloo officials declined to comment because of "privacy concerns".

United States

Giving with one hand

A US university will slash undergraduate tuition fees by a third but reduce financial aid at the same time. Concordia University in St Paul, Minnesota, is proposing a £10,000 (£6,217) cut in tuition fees although actual savings for students will be considerably less owing to concurrent cuts in aid packages, the Pioneer Press newspaper reported. But the university's new tuition level of $19,700 a year compares favourably with other private colleges in the state. Average private college and university tuition statewide was more than $33,000 this year. "We're trying to get away from this shell game of having high tuition and high discounts," said Eric LaMott, Concordia's senior vice-president and chief operating officer.

India

Moving on up

The number of Indian students going abroad for higher education study rose 256 per cent between 2000 and 2009, according to a survey by the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore. As reported by The Economic Times, the findings also suggest that while students from the north of the country have traditionally been more likely to travel abroad for university, increasingly students from Gujarat and the southern states are studying overseas. The study showed there had been a steady annual rise of more than 7 per cent in Indian nationals travelling overseas for a degree. More than 53,000 went abroad in 2000, rising to almost 190,000 by the end of the decade. The US has consistently been most popular with Indian students, the report found, with the UK coming a close second.

South Africa

Don't put education to the chop

South Africa's higher education minister has urged the Jamaican government not to cut investment in education. Blade Nzimande made the comments during a visit to the HEART College of Beauty Services in Kingston, Jamaica. "Jamaicans at no stage should not believe that education is a priority," Dr Nzimande said, according to the Jamaica Observer. "Despite this economic crisis that we have, we must not make the mistake of cutting back on investment in education. If you cut on education, you could even undermine your prospects for economic recovery because you haven't developed in human resource development and skills," he added. Dr Nzimande has been on a four-day visit to Jamaica, suggested last year by the country's high commissioner to South Africa.

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