Overseas briefing

November 6, 2008

Australia

Universities back in vogue

University applications in Australia have experienced a surge after "years in the doldrums", according to The Australian newspaper. Statistics from the University Admissions Centre show an increase in applications from both school-leavers and mature students in New South Wales, where figures are up 4.7 per cent on last year. Victoria Tertiary Admissions Centre figures show that applications in the Garden State rose more than 6 per cent, reversing a 4 per cent fall the previous year. Glenn Withers, chief executive of higher education lobby group Universities Australia, said that if the enrolment figures were sustained, the Government should increase its funding to the sector.

Saudi Arabia

World's biggest female university

Work has begun on what will be the world's largest university for women. The Riyadh Women's University, in Saudi Arabia, will have 13 colleges and schools of medicine, dentistry, nursing and pharmacology, as well as a 700-bed hospital. According to the Arab News website, the campus is expected to be completed and ready for use by 2010, and will accommodate up to 40,000 students. Ibrahim Al-Assaf, Saudi Finance Minister, said that the project, the largest specialised campus for women in the world, will improve the "condition of Saudi women" and enable them "to participate in the country's development process efficiently". Princess Al-Jowhara bint Fahd, the university's president, said it would "usher in a new era in higher education for women in Saudi Arabia".

United States

Head accused of plagiarism

An investigation has been launched into claims that the president of a south Texan university plagiarised portions of her dissertation. The allegation against Blandina Cardenas, president of the University of Texas-Pan American, was made anonymously in a letter to the US media. The Houston Chronicle said the complainant claimed that the 200-page dissertation, written in 1974 at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, contains 100 instances of plagiarism. The University of Texas System, which includes the University of Texas-Pan American, said it is taking the claims seriously.

Pakistan

Expulsions lead to protests

A decision to expel about 200 students for missing classes for more than two days, and then charge them to re-register, has triggered unrest at a Pakistani university. The row at Government College University in Lahore has led to protests by students, who said the expulsions had affected even colleagues who had good reasons for taking time off. The Daily Times said all 200 were offered the chance of readmittance, but only after paying a fee, which led protestors to accuse managers of running a money-making scam.

Malaysia

More overseas students sought

A plan to attract more students from Africa and the Middle East has been unveiled by the Malaysian Government. According to the Ministry of Higher Education, expanding the number of overseas students at Malaysian universities is a key part of its strategy to ride out the world-wide economic downturn. "We are intensifying our efforts to attract foreign students, especially from Africa and the Middle East, since this contributes growth to our economy," a spokesman said. Insisting that there was "abundant opportunity" to increase Malaysia's share of international students, he told The Star that the Government would spread its net wide.

United States

Bonfire tragedy damages agreed

A $2.1 million (£1.3 million) payout has been agreed by Texas A&M University over a tragedy in which 12 students lost their lives. The settlement was reached in court almost a decade after the students were killed, and others injured, by the collapse of a 59ft-high bonfire built as part of the university's 90-year-old Thanksgiving tradition. Parents of the victims said the university should have provided better supervision to prevent the tragedy, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported. The university will pay $500,000 of the settlement; the remainder will be funded by its insurers.

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