Overseas briefing

May 21, 2009

United States

'White African-American' sues

A student who classified himself as "white African-American" during a class exercise is suing a New Jersey medical school for racial discrimination. Paulo Serodio, who was born in Mozambique, filed a lawsuit against the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, claiming that he was harassed and ultimately suspended for the way he classified himself. According to legal papers, Mr Serodio was asked to define himself during a discussion on culture and medicine as part of a clinical skills course. He labelled himself as a white African-American, but another student took offence. Mr Serodio claimed that a tutor then told him never to define himself as African-American "because it was offensive to others and to people of colour for him to do so". His lawyer told ABC News: "It's crazy, because that's what he is."

Australia

Visa fee hike hits foreign study

Foreign students wanting to study in Australia will have to pay an extra 20 per cent for their entry permits after an increase in visa fees. Although tourists have been spared, students, business people, skilled migrants and certain family categories are set to be charged more, with foreign students likely to be hit for about A$540 (£0), compared with the current charge of A$450. The increase came as university chiefs warned that they would continue to rely on fees from international students to subsidise research, despite the promise of an extra A$813 million announced in the Budget, The Age newspaper reported.

Canada

Premier's degree sticks in craw

Academics have protested against the University of New Brunswick's decision to give the province's Premier, Shawn Graham, an honorary degree. The row stems from controversial plans tabled by Mr Graham to restructure tertiary education in the province, which critics claim will reduce access to higher education. Robert Whitney, a history professor at the University of New Brunswick in Saint John, told the Globe and Mail newspaper: "It just doesn't make sense that the Premier would be granted an honorary degree, when one of his main policies - or stated objectives - in the last couple of years was to actually restrict access to university education." About 100 staff have signed a letter protesting against the university's decision. However, in response, Mr Graham said that the debate was "what universities are all about".

India

IT's nothing to do with me, v-c says

The vice-chancellor of an Indian university has been forced to distance himself from a circular that demanded payment from every student for an IT awareness campaign. The letter was sent to nearly 400,000 students at Bangalore University, demanding 400 rupees (about £5) from each of them. The mystery deepened when N. Prabhu Dev, Bangalore's vice-chancellor, told the Times of India newspaper that he knew nothing about the letter. A senior member of staff at the university told the newspaper that any IT awareness campaign would be a waste of time and money. "Students in the city have personal computers and laptops. They are exposed to technology already. This kind of programme should be given for rural students as not many are well informed about IT," he said.

China

Official accused of identity theft

A Chinese government official has been arrested on suspicion of helping his daughter win a place at university by stealing the identity of one of her classmates. According to Xinhua news agency, an official in Hunan province is alleged to have forged official documents. Both he and a school adviser are under investigation for alleged identity theft.

United States

Take my bonus, please

One of America's highest-paid university presidents has donated his $285,000 (£188,000) bonus to help students who are struggling financially. Bernard Machen, president of the University of Florida, said he wanted to assist students from less wealthy backgrounds because he remembered how difficult it was to juggle jobs and study as he paid his way through college, the Associated Press reported. "I had all the advantages of the American Dream," he said.

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