News in brief

November 15, 2012

United States

Bachelor's boys and girls

Record numbers of young adults in the US are completing high school and attending and finishing university, according to research. Analysis of newly available census data by the Pew Research Center shows that in 2012, one-third of 25- to 29-year-olds in the US completed at least bachelor's degrees. The increases have occurred despite dramatic immigration-driven changes in the racial and ethnic composition of college-age young adults, a trend that led some experts to predict a decline in educational attainment. The report shows that university completion is at record levels among key demographics including foreign-born Americans. The analysis also found that 90 per cent of the age category had finished at least high school and 63 per cent had completed some university courses.

Australia

Copyright restrictions

Australian universities keen to sign up to massive open online courses (Moocs) may fall foul of copyright legislation. Under copyright law, the millions of dollars' worth of third-party content that universities pay licences to access may only be legally supplied to formally enrolled students, The Australian reported. This would probably exclude those signing up for free Moocs. "This is a big deal if you want to do more than provide some of the university's content on the open web for nothing," said Derek Whitehead, director of information resources at Swinburne University. "If you want to go beyond your university's own content, that is a much more complex issue." The country's universities spend about A$200 million (£130.6 million) a year on commercially licensed content and almost A$30 million to Copyright Agency Limited, Australia's declared collecting society for the educational and government statutory licences required by the country's Copyright Act 1968. Such content is inside what Mr Whitehead called the "walled garden": it can be used only within universities by enrolled students. If institutions wanted to make third-party content available via Moocs, they might have to pay for separate licences, he warned.

China

We don't want your advice

The Ministry of Education is considering banning foreign companies or individuals offering help to students who wish to study in overseas universities. The proposal is part of the regulation mooted by the ministry at the end of October to strengthen supervision by domestic operators. The government is keen to curtail fraud among international recruitment agents, some of whom are accused of falsifying student information on applications, Global Times reported. "Some foreign chambers of commerce or cultural exchange associations...cheat their customers," said Zhang Weiyong, an overseas study consultant with the National Development and Reform Commission Training Center. Mr Zhang added: "Generally, the agencies offer two kinds of service: providing information on foreign universities and handling the student's application process." He said the first service should be free, while those offering the second should be licensed.

United States

Boston glee party after elite invite

A Massachusetts university has become only the fourth institution since the turn of the millennium to be invited to join an elite organisation representing North America's leading research universities. Boston University is also the fourth Boston-based member of the Association of American Universities after Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brandeis University. It also becomes the AAU's 62nd member after Hunter R. Rawlings III, the AAU's president, announced last week that the university's president, Robert A. Brown, had accepted the invitation. "Boston University is an outstanding institution," Professor Rawlings said. "It belongs in the AAU by virtue of the strength of its research and academic programmes. AAU universities play an essential role in [the US] research enterprise and in educating the nation's young scientists, engineers and scholars. Boston is a welcome addition to the ranks." Membership in the organisation is by invitation only. The Georgia Institute of Tech- nology, Stony Brook University-State University of New York and Texas A&M University are the other members invited on board since 2000.

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