News in brief

November 8, 2012

Switzerland

Payment is now due

Foreign governments should help to cover the cost of their citizens studying at universities in Switzerland, according to a report from the country's higher education leaders. The Rectors' Conference of the Swiss Universities wants to introduce the measure to ease the growing financial burden on institutions, the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper reported. Around 35,000 foreign students studied in Switzerland last year, 10,000 from Germany. Currently, if an inhabitant of one Swiss region opts to study in another region, a fee is payable by the former to the latter to help spread the cost of higher education. The universities want a similar arrangement for international students. "The Swiss model could certainly also function internationally," said Mauro Dell'Ambrogio, the Swiss secretary of state for education and research.

United States

NYPD blue over terrorist course

New York University has been criticised by the city's police officers after it was reported that a class on transnational terrorism asked students to "hypothetically plan a terrorist attack". According to the New York Post, the course, which is taught by former Navy criminal investigator Marie-Helen Maras, asks the students to "step into [a terrorist's] shoes" and write a 10- to 15-page paper on their strategy. The syllabus says: "In your paper, you must describe your hypothetical attack and what will happen in the aftermath of the attack." Professor Maras - who has a PhD from the University of Oxford - defended the course after two "sources" from the New York Police Department described the task as "disgusting" and said it flew "in the face of the 11 years of hard work the NYPD has done in tracking down terrorists". Professor Maras said: "This is a grad-level assignment for a grad-level course. Why didn't the police call me if they have concerns? I have NYPD officers in my class."

Australia

Eastern standard time

Every Australian university should have a presence in Asia, according to a government White Paper published last week. Australia in the Asian Century states that each institution should look to establish exchange programmes featuring transferable credits with at least one major Asian university, The Australian reported. Simon Marginson, professor of higher education at the University of Melbourne, said that the paper's launch signalled the beginning of months of policy development in which the government would be open to funding ideas consistent with its vision. "The chance now is to lift study in Asia from a small activity to a big one at some universities," he said. Belinda Robinson, chief executive of Universities Australia, praised the government for presenting an optimistic view of Australia's place in Asia and promoting the sector's role in boosting productivity.

Republic of Korea

Green growth paradigm

The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology is to launch a graduate school dedicated to environmentally friendly growth. President Lee Myung-bak, the country's leader, said that the school would produce global talent to "lead and develop the environment-friendly growth paradigm", The Korea Times reported. "At the heart of the remarkable transformation of Korea from the poorest country in the world to the Korea of today is the power of education. Likewise, the green growth transformation will also require talented people," he said. Officials said the graduate school will be launched next year with 40 students, expanding to accommodate 200 students by 2018.

Republic of Ireland

Fight for independence

Universities in the Republic of Ireland are fighting a proposed law that would give the government absolute control over pay, conditions and staff numbers in the sector. University leaders met education minister Ruairi Quinn to express their reservations about the proposed legislation, which would require institutions to comply with state guidelines. Representatives of the Irish Universities Association warned the minister that the move would push away top academic talent and investment in the country, the Irish Independent reported. The college heads added that philanthropists had indicated that the law could discourage them from making donations.

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