Overseas briefing

August 28, 2008

Australia

Plans for better fundraising drive

Australia's top universities are to adopt uniform reporting standards on philanthropic gifts by the end of the year as part of a drive to improve their positioning for high-profile fundraising campaigns. The Australian newspaper reported that the so-called "Group of Eight" will work with the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (Case) to adopt a modified version of the Case standards. Similar standards have been adopted by British universities. In May, Monash University went public with a three-year campaign to raise A$200 million (£94 million), and other universities are queuing up to follow suit, says the paper.

Switzerland

ETH teams up with Disney

ETH Zurich, Switzerland's top federal institute of technology, will undertake a five-year research and development project with the Walt Disney Company in the US. The organisations will share technical resources and conduct research into computer animation, image generation and robotics.

Australia

Greer angers Aborigines

Academic Germaine Greer has come under fire over a new essay, "On Rage", published by Melbourne University Press. Professor Greer uses the essay to suggest that loss of land, women, language and culture over the past 200 years has led to a rage among Aboriginal men that helps explain the high levels of violence, suicide and self-destructive behaviour prevalent in indigenous communities, reports The Australian. Her arguments have angered indigenous leaders, who say her comments discourage personal accountability. The latest to step into the fray is leading Aboriginal scholar Marcia Langton from Melbourne University, who uses an opinion piece in the newspaper to brand the essay a "cleverly disguised but nonetheless racist attack on Aboriginal people". "We are not in the mood for failed leftist excuses for the rising levels of homicide, femicide and suicide," she writes.

United States

Anti-feminist sues Columbia

An anti-feminist crusader has sued Columbia University, saying its women's studies programme is unconstitutional. Attorney Roy Den Hollander filed the lawsuit in federal court in New York this week, Associated Press reported. The suit said the university was using federal money to fund a "religionist belief system called feminism". The class-action suit argues that Columbia's women's studies programme demonises men and exalts women to justify discrimination against men. The lawsuit also claims the college programme is discriminatory because there is no comparable men's programme. Mr Hollander has also sued nightclubs for discriminating against men by charging them more on discount ladies' nights.

Gaza

Students unable to study abroad

Some 400 Palestinian students may lose university places and scholarships unless Israeli authorities allow them to leave Gaza before the new academic year, Amnesty International has said. At least 37 of the students have university places and scholarships in Europe and North America, while hundreds of others are due to travel to universities in the Middle East and elsewhere, but they are being denied permission to leave Gaza. Amnesty said some fields of study, particularly in sciences, were limited or not available at Gaza's universities, especially at postgraduate level. "By denying students permission to pursue studies abroad, the Israeli authorities are ultimately denying the Palestinian community the benefit of their future contribution," Amnesty said.

Europe

Pilot will put research online

The European Commission is to make the results of the research it funds in seven key subjects available online. The pilot project will cover about 20 per cent of the budget of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) and will see a clause added to grant agreements requiring researchers to ensure their articles are freely available for six to 12 months after publication. The Commission said the initiative should make European research more visible and drive innovation. The pilot will run until 2013 and, if successful, will be expanded in the next framework programme.

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