Overseas briefing

September 4, 2008

India

Private sector threat to research

Generous private-sector pay packets for young Indian graduates are damaging the country's research base, The Times of India reported. The newspaper said "alarm bells are ringing" in higher education over a sharp drop in the number of students enrolling as research scholars. According to a report, the number of PhD students has fallen from 45,000 in 2000-01 to 36,500 in 2005-06. The report blamed poor career prospects for the decline. K. Krishnaiah, dean of academic research at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, said: "There is no clear career path for the research scholars ... Even a person with a bachelors degree gets paid higher."

United States

Sex-charge academic found dead

An academic accused of offering female students higher grades if they let him fondle their breasts has been found dead. Arthur Miller, a professor of political science at the University of Iowa, was arrested last month and charged with accepting bribes, but he went missing a fortnight later, the Cedar Rapids Gazette reported. His body was found with gunshot wounds in a park next to a high-powered rifle, with which the 66-year-old is believed to have committed suicide.

Greece

Universities facing crisis

Tougher admissions criteria and deteriorating economic conditions are causing a "crisis" in higher education in Greece. Data show that there are a record number of vacant places for the next academic year. Some have blamed a drop in admissions at public institutions on government support for private colleges, according to the website Emportal.

Australia

Big fund, but even bigger wish list

Universities in Australia have presented the Government with a A$2.4 billion (£1.1 billion) wish list to be funded from the A$6 billion Higher Education Endowment Fund. However, the bids for cash from the fund, which was set up last year, far outstrip the A$304 million that will be made available, meaning that the vast majority of the 55 proposals submitted will be turned down. Of the 41 eligible institutions, 39 submitted proposals. Philip Clark, the chair of the fund's advisory board, said they were from "a pretty good cross-section" of academia. The fund is authorised to distribute only money earned from the A$6 billion capital, but Mr Clark said he was "not too concerned" that many proposed projects would miss out. "The sector understands that this is a long-term funding pipeline," he told The Australian newspaper.

China

Surge in China-bound US students

The number of students travelling to universities in China from the US is growing enormously, according to the latest figures. There are at least 10,000 US students at higher education institutions in China, a fivefold increase on a decade ago. At one institution, Purdue University in Indiana, the numbers of students wanting to study in China doubled in four years, making it the top overseas destination. Brian Harley, associate dean for international programmes, said: "There's a sense it's a cutting-edge destination." While the overall number of US students opting to study abroad is increasing, China's status as a study destination was attributed to low costs, the prevalence of US-trained Chinese academics and moves by China to be "more welcoming", the International Herald Tribune said.

United States

Mooning professor is fired

A "mooning" professor who flashed his bottom at a room full of students and academics when a debate got out of hand has been dismissed. The antics of Bill Shanahan, assistant professor of communications at Fort Hays State University in Kansas, were exposed in a video posted on internet file-sharing site YouTube. The clip showed him swearing, jumping up and down and dropping his trousers during a furious argument with a debating coach from the University of Pittsburgh. In a statement announcing the academic's dismissal, Edward H. Hammond, the university president, said: "Everyone has the right to freedom of speech, but these actions are not acceptable for someone who is representing our university."

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