Overseas briefing

March 20, 2008

CANADA

STUDENT 'PLAGIARISED' VIA FACEBOOK

A debate about plagiarism and collusion has arisen after a Canadian student was accused of cheating via Facebook. A first-year computer engineering student at Ryerson University in Toronto set up a group on the social networking website to allow classmates to discuss approaches to a coursework project. University officials ruled that this amounted to cheating. A Ryerson spokesman said: "It is our job to protect academic integrity. If that threat comes from new online tools, we have a responsibility as academics to understand the risks, assess them and educate people about how to avoid misconduct." However, Chris Avenir, the student penalised, told the Toronto Star: "If this is cheating, then so is tutoring and all the mentoring programs the university runs." The 18-year-old is fighting a charge of academic misconduct that could lead to expulsion.

IRELAND

THOUSAND-PHD MILESTONE PASSED

The number of PhDs awarded in the Republic of Ireland this year is expected to top the 1,000 mark for the first time. The number of PhDs awarded has doubled in ten years, in line with a Government strategy to make Ireland a knowledge economy and a "world centre" for learning and research. Michael Kelly, chairman of the Higher Education Authority, Ireland's funding body, said: "This is a hugely symbolic milestone. These graduates, combined with a relentless focus on quality in our graduate education programmes ... are the keys to our future prosperity and development."

UNITED STATES

TOP PROFESSORIAL PAY IS IN LAW

Law professors remain the best-paid academics in the US, a survey has found. A review of 838 institutions found that law professors had the highest average pay in 2007-08 at $129,500 (£64,000), followed by engineering professors earning an average of $107,100 and business professors with average salaries of $103,000. The disciplines with the lowest salaries, whose professors earned an average of $76,000, were English literature, visual and performing arts, fitness studies and parks, recreation and leisure.

INDIA

FRAUDULENT DEGREES UNCOVERED

Ten fake universities have been found to have sold forged degrees in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. A probe was launched after foreign embassies questioned the authenticity of some degree certificates, Calcutta newspaper The Telegraph reported. Police have said that degree certificates were being sold for as much as 20,000 rupees (£245). P. N. Batham, State Higher Education Special Secretary, said: "Many countries have learnt their lesson after recruiting people with fake degrees ... They are getting back to us to verify."

UNITED STATES

A DEGREE OF ADDED LONGEVITY

A study at Harvard School of Medicine has found that the gap in life expectancy between people with a university qualification and those without is growing. Between the 1980s and 2000, life expectancy increases occurred nearly exclusively among high-education groups, the study says. Comparing 1981-88 with 1991-98, life expectancy at age 25 grew 1.4 years for "high-education" groups, but only 0.5 years for "low-education" groups. The total difference in longevity allows enough time to complete a bachelors, masters and doctorate degree, the study showed.

AUSTRALIA

RESEARCH FUNDING DISPUTED

Calls for non-research-intensive Australian universities to reduce demands on the federal research training scheme have been rejected. Ian Chubb, vice-chancellor of the Australian National University, said money should be redirected to a handful of leading research institutions. His comments echoed the Government's aim of focusing research effort, The Australian reported. Professor Chubb said that for every A$1 ANU won in research income, it received just 33 cents from the RTS, while less research-intensive institutions received A$1-A$2. Professor Chubb said the RTS formula should recognise institutions' success in attracting research grants. However, Arshad Omari, deputy vice-chancellor (research) of Edith Cowan University, said the university's A$4.3 million in RTS funding was essential "for providing a supportive learning community".

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