News in brief

November 29, 2012

Israel

Two-rate solution

An Israeli university is charging overseas students rents that are almost double the amount paid by domestic students. Foreign students at Tel Aviv University pay nearly 2,400 New Israeli shekels (£386) for their share in a double room and nearly NIS3,200 for a single room. In contrast, Israelis pay about NIS1,200 a month to share a room. Overseas students are not subsidised by the state, and this is why, the university says, tuition fees for its English-language year-abroad programme are also much higher than those paid by Israelis, Haaretz newspaper reported. However, the state does not subsidise domestic students either. "The housing needs of foreign students are different from those of Israeli students," the university said. "While Israeli students pay for a room for an entire year, many foreign students come for a semester and don't commit to 12 months. As a result, frequently dorm rooms are empty for several months."

Australia

Anti-abortion bandwagon

A controversial anti-abortion movement in Australia has received its third endorsement from a university student union, six months after it began. LifeChoice Macquarie, which shares the same name and branding as groups at the universities of Sydney and New South Wales, was supported by Macquarie University's students' union this month. Affiliation with the Macquarie University Student Representative Association means the club could receive up to A$6,000 (£3,895) in union funding each year, The Australian reported. Rebecca Elias, head of the original LifeChoice group at the University of Sydney, said the movement has grown beyond expectations. "We certainly weren't expecting to have three LifeChoices by the end of the year," she said, adding that she had received emails from students outside Sydney expressing interest in the group. Australia's National Union of Students has opposed the group.

Burma/US

Road to Mandalay

Nine US universities have formed an academic partnership to help Burma rebuild its higher education sector, it was announced last week. Under an initiative launched by the Institute of International Education, institutions including Northern Illinois and Samford universities and the universities of Massachusetts and Washington will develop links as part of the IIE's International Academic Partnership Program, The Irrawaddy news magazine reported. The IIE's president, Allan Goodman, will lead a delegation of US university faculty and administrators to Burma in February. During the week-long visit, they will hold public workshops at a number of universities in Rangoon and Mandalay.

Poland

Researcher linked to bomb plot

Polish authorities claim to have thwarted an alleged terror plot by a university researcher to detonate a four-tonne bomb in front of the parliament building in Warsaw. According to Prime Minister Donald Tusk, the suspect was discovered by investigators looking into Polish links to Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people in Norway in two attacks last year. The suspect worked as a researcher at Krakow's University of Agriculture, according to the Fox News website. Mariusz Krason, the prosecutor, said that the suspect, named only as Brunon K, was building bombs and had detonators and had planned to launch his attack outside parliament when the president, the prime minister, government officials and legislators were present.

New Zealand

Surface tension

The New Zealand government is threatening to force a university to admit more engineering students despite protests that this could lead to redundancies in other parts of the institution. In this year's budget, the government gave universities an extra NZ$42 million (£21.4 million) in funding for engineering and NZ$17 million more for science, while freezing funding for all other subjects in a bid to ease skills shortages in the engineering and computing fields. However, Stuart McCutcheon, vice-chancellor of the University of Auckland, said that the increase had been paid as a bulk sum and that his institution did not have to put it all into engineering and science. In response, Steven Joyce, the tertiary education minister, said he would step in to force the change at Auckland. "If they want us to be more directive, I'm more than willing," he said.

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