Overseas briefing

June 19, 2008

Gaza

Israel lets 7 scholars leave for US

A bar on a group of Palestinian students leaving Gaza to study in the US has been lifted. The seven students faced having their Fulbright fellowships withdrawn, but Israel has now agreed to facilitate special exit permits to allow them to travel. However, hundreds of other Palestinian students who have won foreign scholarships remain trapped in Gaza by the Israeli blockade, The New York Times reported. An Israeli official said that a limited number of permits would be granted, but it is estimated that about 600 students with scholarships may be prevented from leaving. The ban is part of an economic blockade imposed on the civilian population of Gaza in response to Hamas rule and rocket attacks on Israel.

Australia

Academics back beleaguered v-c

Alan Pettigrew, vice-chancellor of the University of New England in New South Wales, received a vote of confidence from the institution's association of professors after the university's chancellor John Cassidy reportedly told him to "move on" by the end of July. The pair have been in conflict after Professor Pettigrew objected to the pace of changes being driven through by the chancellor, The Australian reported. As well as voicing support for Professor Pettigrew the professoriat also passed a vote of no confidence in the chancellor by 319 to one. Mr Cassidy recently riled academics when he said in an interview: "Whether you're selling fish and chips, construction or education, the business is the same."

United States

$350K fine for murder cover-up

A university that covered up details of the rape and murder of a student in her campus lodgings has been hit with a record fine. When 22-year-old Laura Dickinson was found dead in her room at Eastern Michigan University in December 2006, officials told her parents and the media that she had died of asphyxiation and that there was no sign of foul play, despite evidence to the contrary. A police investigation followed, and a 21-year-old man was convicted of murder and jailed for life. Now the university has been fined $350,000 (£178,000) by the Department of Education for violating a federal law requiring accurate disclosure of campus safety information. The university's president and safety director have been fired.

China

Institutions target alumni pockets

Elite Chinese universities are turning to alumni for donations for the first time, reports suggest. Institutions that have in the past relied solely on public funding and tuition fees are now seeking to develop a "donation culture", Forbes.com reports. Fudan University, which receives about 5 per cent of its income from alumni, has 15,000 former students living in the US, where higher education philanthropy is strongest.

India

IITs plan institute for women

Plans have been tabled for the first women-only Indian Institute of Technology. The IITs are part of a drive to expand the country's skills base in areas such as engineering, with eight new institutes in the pipeline, which will bring the total number to 16. Technology is still a largely male-dominated area in India, and only about 10 per cent of students at the existing seven institutes are women, Business Standard reported. A professor at IIT-Kanpur told the newspaper: "As there have always been a limited number of girls pursuing engineering, setting up an all-girl IIT may encourage more girls to pursue engineering as a career."

United States

Lecturer fired over liaison

An academic suspended after a female student died at his home has lost his job for having a relationship with a student. As Times Higher Education reported last month, Michael Todd, a psychology lecturer at Paradise Valley Community College in Arizona, was put on administrative leave after 19-year-old Andria Ziegler died at his home. Now an Arizona medical examiner has ruled that she died from an accidental cocaine overdose, and police have ruled that Mr Todd was not involved in her death. However, he was sacked by the governing board for breaking rules prohibiting "amorous relationships" with students, the East Valley Tribune reported.

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