Overseas briefing

May 29, 2008

United States

Raid nets drugs, guns, students

A five-month undercover police operation has led to more than 100 arrests and the seizure of huge quantities of cash and drugs at a US university. The sting, which involved federal agents as well as university and local police, was instigated, reportedly with the university's blessing, after a student died last year from a cocaine overdose. Officers posed as students to search San Diego State University's campus for drugs and drug dealers, concluding the operation this month with the arrest of 125 people, including 95 students, and the seizure of drugs worth $100,000 (£50,500), $60,000 in cash and four guns. Six fraternities were also suspended, and 33 students were charged with felonies. Stephen Weber, the university president, dealt robustly with questions about the ethics of inviting undercover agents on to the campus. He said: "Drug use is a concern on virtually every campus in our country, and SDSU has taken this action to confront it directly."

India

'Neglected' university criticised

One of India's oldest universities may be brought under the control of the country's central Government after a report found it to be short of academic staff and focused more on administration than teaching or research. The damning assessment of the University of Mumbai blamed the Government of the state of Maharashtra for neglecting it, resulting in a skewed student-to-teacher ratio. Some departments are operating with just one third of the academic staff required, the University Grants Commission said. The university, founded 150 years ago, is India's second-oldest higher education institution. It was assessed as part of a country-wide review of higher education. If control over the university is centralised, which is a move welcomed by a number of academics, the state Government will no longer have any say over how it functions.

United States

Canine companion gains BSc

A dog has been awarded a degree in canine companionship at a university in the US. Zeeke, a one-year-old golden retriever, this month received a bachelor of science degree from Ohio Northern University. As a participant in a Canine Companions for Independence programme, Zeeke was trained to provide physical assistance to people with disabilities. The BSc recognised his ability to pull wheelchairs, open doors and retrieve fallen objects. Kendall L. Baker, the president of the Methodist-affiliated private university, said it was the first time the institution had awarded a diploma to an animal.

China

Western partners disappointed

Western business schools running MBA programmes in China may be growing disillusioned with the unexpectedly small and highly bureaucratic market. Anecdotal evidence suggests that US and UK business schools have begun to close down their operations in China, Business Week reported, after becoming bogged down by problems with local partners, red tape and limited demand for English-language curricula. Foreign degree providers are required to operate in partnership with a Chinese university and are closely monitored by the Chinese Ministry of Education, while language skills limit the number of prospective students, despite the country's population of 1.3 billion. Walter Hutchens, a professor at Whitworth University in Washington State, said that executive-education programmes in China were "a field of broken dreams".

United States

Academic charged with spying

A university professor has been accused of passing US military secrets to a Chinese graduate student. J. Reece Roth, a professor emeritus and the former head of the Plasma Sciences Lab at the University of Tennessee, has been charged with 18 offences, Associated Press reported. The charges are linked to work performed by Professor Roth, the student and a university spin-off company set up to develop flight controls for unmanned US Air Force aircraft. The US Government also claims that Roth carried sensitive documents on a lecture trip to China in 2006 and directed wire transmissions of restricted technical data to China. The student involved in the alleged offences was in the US on a visa to work on a doctorate in electrical engineering at the University of Tennessee.

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