Overseas briefing

February 5, 2009


Brandeis sells pop art valuables

A university is selling its art collection to help it survive the recession. Brandeis University, Massachusetts, is closing its art museum and selling all 6,000 pieces in its collection, including paintings by Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. The move is an attempt to recoup some of the losses in its endowment fund, which has been hit by the economic downturn, Reuters reported. The Rose Art Museum will close at the end of the summer, and it is hoped that the collection will raise about $350 million (£245 million) at auction. Terry Hartle, senior vice-president of the American Council on Education, said: "This is an indication of the seriousness with which universities are examining their financial situations."


Lecturers' strike leads to violence

Angry students smashed up a vice-chancellor's car as protests about an ongoing lecturers' strike in Zimbabwe spilled over into violence. According to local news reports, a Mercedes belonging to University of Zimbabwe vice-chancellor Levi Nyagura was stoned during the demonstration. The Zimbabwean reported that part of a psychology faculty building was also destroyed, and that a security guard was beaten by protesters. The demonstration came a year after lectures were suspended, with academics walking out over the deterioration in pay and conditions under Robert Mugabe's regime. One student said: "They are playing with the nation's lives."


God demoted in Alberta

God's role in a Canadian university's graduation ceremony has been scaled down. The University of Alberta has officially changed its ceremony after pressure from an atheist student group, the Calgary Herald said. Until now, graduates have been asked to use their degrees "for the glory of God and the honour of your country", which the group claimed discriminated against non-believers. The new wording, approved by the university's general faculties council, tells them to use their degrees "for the uplifting of the whole people; to inspire the human spirit; (and) for all who believe, to serve your God".


ARC game's not worth the candle

Researchers are "disenchanted" with their chances of winning funding as the Australian research pot shrinks, a leading researcher has said. Last year, the proportion of grant applications to the Australia Research Council (ARC) that won funding fell to 20.4 per cent. According to Ken Baldwin, president of the Federation of the Australian Scientific and Technological Societies, if success rates slip below 20 per cent, the cost of applying for grants will not be worthwhile and applicants will withdraw from the system. Writing in The Australian, Professor Baldwin said that the ARC funding pot had not grown for three years and needed to double.


Zealots storm Mumbai University

Activists from a right-wing political party that insists Mumbai belongs to the ethnic Marathi community ransacked the University of Mumbai after it sent a memo telling students that studying in the Marathi language was not compulsory. About a dozen men from Maharashtra Navnirman Sena stormed the university, exchanging blows with staff and damaging property, India Today said. Venkatesh Kumar, a professor at the university, said: "Premier institutions will crumble if graduate forums and non-student bodies are manipulated by parties like this."


Yen rise causes foreign headache

More foreign students at Japanese universities are defaulting on their tuition fees as a result of the appreciation of the yen. According to the Daily Yomiuri, 90 per cent of Japan's 124,000 overseas students are self-funded. Many hail from China and South Korea, which have seen their currencies drop sharply against the yen. Of 80 students from ten nations studying at Kyoto University of Foreign Studies, 44 from China and South Korea were unable to pay their tuition costs for the autumn semester. Lee Yon Suk, 30, a South Korean student, said: "I've pushed myself to the limit and I don't know what more I can do if the yen stays high."

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