Overseas briefing

June 11, 2009

Australia

Assaults may batter market

A series of physical attacks on foreign students have left Australia dangerously close to sanctions that could lead to the collapse of its international student market, an academic has warned. Chris Nyland, a professor at Monash University who has been studying the safety of overseas students, said protests by foreign diplomats about the security of their nationals had been ignored by the Government. His warning came in the wake of high-profile attacks that left two Indian students seriously injured, The Australian newspaper reported. Professor Nyland said Australia was in danger of losing much of its A$15.5 billion (£7.7 billion) overseas student market. "This is now an industry where the governments of our supplier countries are already actively intervening and expressing their disquiet with how things are being done in Australia, and they have the power to affect supply," he said.

United States

Liberty fails to live up to name

Arguments over a fundamentalist Baptist university's decision to withdraw recognition from the campus chapter of the College Democrats show little sign of abating. Liberty University in Virginia made the move last month, arguing that the Democrat club supported abortion rights and other political positions that conflicted with the institution's religious mission. The equivalent Republican club continues to be recognised by the institution. According to US website Inside Higher Ed, Timothy Kaine, Governor of Virginia and chair of the Democratic National Committee, has written to the university, asking it "to reverse this attack on the liberty of its students". Others have called for the institution to lose its tax-exempt status over the decision.

Malaysia

Overseas intake on the up

One of Malaysia's largest universities has announced that it will increase its international student intake by up to 40 per cent, the New Straits Times newspaper reported. The University of Malaya, which currently has about 2,500 overseas students, said the move was part of a broader government strategy to make Malaysia a hub for higher education. Although it faces fierce regional competitors for foreign students, including neighbouring Singapore, Malaysia has the advantage of being an Islamic country, making it an attractive destination for Muslim students worldwide. Mohd Amin Jalaludin, the university's deputy vice-chancellor, said: "One of the thrusts of the National Higher Education Strategic Plan was to enhance internationalisation to turn Malaysia into a leading education hub. We are moving towards that."

United States

Selection 'interference' probed

The Chicago Tribune newspaper has accused the University of Illinois of yielding to "interference from state lawmakers and university trustees" and awarding places to students who did not meet the usual minimum entry requirements. Documents obtained by the newspaper showed that "hundreds" of applicants had received special consideration over the past five years. Many were awarded places despite protests from Illinois admissions officers, and others had their rejections overturned. The university's president, B. Joseph White, told the paper that it was "not unusual for selective universities to receive input on applicants from interested parties". He added that additional information "can help the admissions office make a more informed decision".

Canada

Walcott set for Alberta role

Derek Walcott, the Nobel laureate who withdrew from the running to become professor of poetry at the University of Oxford after allegations of sexual impropriety made against him in the past resurfaced, is expected to be named the inaugural distinguished scholar-in-residence at the University of Alberta this autumn. According to the Globe and Mail newspaper, the University of Alberta has not reconsidered its decision to appoint the Caribbean poet despite the claims of sexual harassment that re-entered the spotlight during the Oxford election campaign. "We put Professor Walcott through a typical University of Alberta appointments process. We did our background checks, and we were very impressed," Carl Amrhein, Alberta's provost, told the paper.

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