Overseas briefing

April 30, 2009

Czech Republic

Ex-KKK head's lecture cancelled

A lecture by David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader, that was planned to take place at a university in the Czech Republic has been cancelled by the institution. Mr Duke was visiting the country to promote a translation of his book My Awakening, Associated Press reported. He was due to give the lecture at Prague's Charles University to students taking a course on extremism, but the university cancelled the event after reportedly learning that neo-Nazis were planning to gatecrash it. Michael Kocab, Minister for Human Rights and Minorities in the outgoing Czech Government, described Mr Duke's visit as "alarming".

United States

Hefner's organ points to Miami

A Florida university has been named as the best in the US for its parties in an annual poll published by Playboy magazine. Hugh Hefner's organ pointed to the University of Miami, adding that it was also number one for "hard-bodied co-eds laying out on the campus lake between classes". Playboy claimed to use a complex algorithm to generate the results, The Miami Herald newspaper reported. Among the categories measured in the widely reported ranking were how easy it was to get a tan and good grades at particular institutions. The ranking's "sex" category was based on the number of empty rooms in university libraries, which Playboy said is "the best place to have sex on campus if your roommate is home".

New Zealand

Overseas numbers plummet

Universities in New Zealand are struggling to maintain international student numbers despite the falling value of its currency. The New Zealand Herald newspaper said that institutions in the country were increasingly reliant on new markets such as Saudi Arabia to boost flagging numbers of overseas students. The universities of Auckland, Otago, Massey and Victoria have all seen student numbers decline, it said, despite claims earlier this year that recruitment was healthy. According to official figures from the Ministry of Education, there were 34 per cent fewer international students in the country in 2008 than in 2004. Des Graydon, pro vice-chancellor (international) at the Auckland University of Technology, said the declining headcount was largely a result of a slump in student numbers from China.

India

Body needed to tackle plagiarism

The Indian Government is being urged to set up a national agency to tackle plagiarism. Last year, Pattium Chiranjeevi, professor of chemistry at Sri Venkateswara University, was found to have plagiarised or falsified results in more than 70 published articles in a scientific fraud case that rocked the country. However, one year on, Indian academics have complained that not enough has been done to tackle the problem. Sundarababu Bhaskaran, professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, told Chemistry World magazine that plagiarism would continue to "haunt" journal editors unless a national body was set up to deal with the problem. Goverdhan Mehta, a member of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Science Advisory Council, said: "This issue has been discussed by members of the council and we have entrusted the responsibility of setting up a watchdog agency to the Department of Science and Technology. It should be created soon."

Australia

Higher funding would boost GDP

Number-crunchers in Australia have said that an A$11 billion (£5.4 billion) boost to funding for higher education by 2040 would generate an additional A$137.8 billion in gross domestic product. The figures are cited in a study by Universities Australia, which looks ahead at what will happen if the Government accepts the recommendations of last year's Review of Australian Higher Education, to which it is due to respond next month. The total cost of implementing the proposals, which include support for funding research at its full cost, is more than A$7 billion, the report says. It also predicts that a boost in university funding from 1.6 per cent of GDP to 2 per cent and an increase in Commonwealth grants from 42 per cent to 50 per cent would generate a 5.8 per cent gain in GDP and a 5.2 per cent rise in living standards, The Australian newspaper reported.

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