Overseas Briefing

February 28, 2008



US universities and colleges received a record $29.8 billion (£15 billion) in donations in 2007. The study by the Council for Aid in Education found that a strong economy and growing stock market contributed to a 6.3 per cent rise in private giving, year on year. It is the fourth consecutive year that donations have gone up. Stanford University tops the list of the most successful institutions, raising more than $832 million. The fundraising totals also show that the richest universities and colleges are benefiting the most, news portal InsideHigherEd.com reported. The top 20 institutions, representing just 2 per cent of the sector, raised 25.8 per cent of all private funds going to higher education. These same 20 also account for 29.6 per cent of the increase in 2007.



Thousands of Saudi Arabians are taking orientation courses on how to behave when studying abroad. More than 3,000 students attended a recent four-day course in Jeddah before travelling to other countries, including the UK, to take part in the King Abdullah Scholarship Programme. The course stressed the need for students to stick to their religion but also to respect local traditions, the English-language daily newspaper Arab News has reported. Appropriate limits when dealing with members of the opposite sex were also addressed. Nasser Al-Maiman, assistant general secretary of the Muslim World League, told students it was fine to interact in "normal" situations, for example while studying. But he added: "What is forbidden in Islam is that a man and a woman sit together in a closed environment or have inappropriate conversations."



Campus safety in the US could be improved by training students to respond to violent incidents, experts have said. The comments followed the most recent student deaths, the lecture-hall shooting in Northern Illinois University this month in which six people died. Jesus M. Villahermosa Jr, former director of campus safety at Pacific Lutheran University, said: "I can foresee the day when freshman orientation includes a video on the campus emergency-response plan, as well as training. In these incidents, police are not the first responders - students are." The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that a 2002 study by the United States Secret Service into school shootings suggested that students had an important role in preventing attacks. In nearly all of the 37 shooting incidents examined, the study found that the attackers had told at least one peer about plans for the attacks - but no one had reported their comments.



The Indian Government should make more money available to speed up higher education reform, the National Knowledge Commission has said. The high-level advisory body, set up to help create a knowledge economy in India, has put forward suggestions about how extra funds could be spent. One recommendation is for a high-bandwidth network connecting all universities, laboratories, libraries, hospitals and agricultural institutions, to enable them to share data and resources, the Indian business newspaper Business Standard reported. About 1,000 institutions will have to upgrade their own systems to take advantage of the new network, which the NKC says will require more funds.



The slow increase in the number of Aboriginal students at Australian universities has been highlighted in a new report. From 1996 to 2006, the number of indigenous people in Australian higher education increased by only 1,860 students, despite record total enrolments. A report by the Department of Employment, Education and Workplace Relations says that the number increased by 484, or 5.8 per cent, in 2005-06 to 8,854. An education lecturer at the University of Western Sydney told The Australian that, at a conservative estimate, Aboriginal university participation would have to double to 18,000 students to bring them in line with non-Aboriginal fellow Australians on a proportion of population basis.

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