Overseas briefing

September 25, 2008

Israel

Dating off limits after sex charge

Sexual relations between teaching staff and students have been banned by a university in Jerusalem after allegations of sexual assault were made against a senior male academic by a number of female students. The ban on consensual sexual relations at the Hebrew University was passed by the senate with immediate effect for the new academic year. Last month, a professor of sociology and anthropology at the university was placed under house arrest after being accused of sexually assaulting at least ten doctoral students over the past decade, the Jerusalem Post reported. The allegations stem from an anonymous letter sent by several female students to the university's administration claiming that they had been raped and coerced into having sex by the professor's threats that their grant money would be cut off if they refused.

United States

Campus priest on cocaine charge

A priest based on campus at the University of Illinois has been charged with selling cocaine from his office. Father Christopher Layden, 33, was arrested after police found 3g of the drug as well as items of drug paraphernalia in a search of the premises, USA Today said. He has pleaded not guilty to the charge of drug dealing and has been suspended from his office pending the outcome of the case.

Australia

Research inactivity will cost jobs

Academics who have fallen behind with their research output may have to appear before a panel to justify their jobs as plans are tabled for redundancies at Melbourne University. In a bid to plug its deficit, the institution is considering cutting up to 20 jobs from its arts faculty in order to save A$2.1 million (£943,425) a year. Melbourne has proposed making lack of research activity the primary criterion for potential sackings, but the National Tertiary Education Union has branded the plan "unfair" in view of rising teaching loads, The Australian reported. In response to the union's concerns, the university has said that research-inactive staff with a teaching output at least 50 per cent above expectations will be exempt from redundancy plans.

India

Big pay hike will end regionalism

A large increase in pay could be on the cards for academics at Indian universities as the Government attempts to create uniformity in employment conditions in the sector. The University Grants Commission announced that the this year's average pay rise for lecturers would be higher than the settlement for civil servants, some of whom received as much as 21 per cent last year. A committee, headed by a former university vice-chancellor, also sets out plans to establish a standard retirement age for academics, which currently varies from 55 to 70, according to which state they work in. "The uniformity is essential to rid India's higher education sector of inter-regional disparities," the review chairman told the Calcutta Telegraph.

Canada

Bomb-hoax student spared jail

An art student who caused panic in the centre of Toronto when he unveiled a sculpture of a bomb was given a conditional discharge when he appeared in court. Thorarinn Jonsson, who is from Iceland and was studying at the Ontario College of Art and Design when the incident occurred, turned himself in after his sculpture was treated as a bomb threat by the police, the Globe and Mail reported. Following the scare, two instructors were suspended by the college, along with the student, although they were reinstated after an investigation.

China

Uranium find shocks staff

Staff at a university in China were surprised when they were handed a lump of metal to identify and discovered it was depleted uranium from a Soviet-era dump. The radioactive material was brought to Tsinghua University to be identified by a Chinese tourist who had bought it at a flea market in Kyrgyzstan, the website Shanghaiist reported. On closer inspection, it was found to be uranium and police were called, although the tourist was not charged with any offence and it has since been disposed of safely.

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