Overseas briefing

June 25, 2009

United States

Call to oust university president

A row has broken out in Nevada after Jim Rogers, the state's higher education chancellor, called for the dismissal of the president of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. In a last act before his retirement, Mr Rogers wrote to the Board of Regents, which governs the higher education system, calling for change at the university. The letter, published by the Las Vegas Review Journal, said: "I recommend that David Ashley's contract not be renewed and that you consider immediate termination of the contract as president." His intervention reportedly followed meetings in which he and others tried to persuade Dr Ashley to quit after complaints about a "lax" management style. The university president said: "I believe I've done a great job and I'd like to see it through."


Foreign languages not popular

Just one in ten first-year students study a foreign language in Australia, a new report has shown. The study by the Australian Academy of the Humanities also found that about one-third of students who start studying a language give up after just one semester. The problem is being blamed on an "aggressively monolingual culture" by the review. "Students look at language learning as a sort of 'add on' rather than something that is fundamental to their education," Colin Nettelbeck, an honorary professorial fellow at the University of Melbourne, told The Australian newspaper.


Scholarship fund expanded

The Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan (CSFP) is to benefit from a new Anniversary Endowment Fund. The fund was announced at the 50th annual meeting of the Commonwealth's education ministers in Malaysia. Initial donations of £1.6 million, including contributions from the governments of Kenya, Malaysia and the UK, will be supplemented by money raised in an 18-month campaign. The fund aims to increase the range of countries in which Commonwealth scholarships are available. Kamalesh Sharma, the Commonwealth secretary-general, said: "Some ,000 individuals have benefited from what has become one of the most ... successful forms of Commonwealth collaboration."


Task force against racist attacks

Escalating concern about violence against Indian students in Australia has led to a task force being set up by the Prime Minister to address the matter. The development follows attacks on Indians studying at Australian universities - including a stabbing which has left a man in a coma - that have provoked outrage in India. John McCarthy, Australia's High Commissioner in New Delhi, said wall-to-wall coverage of the attacks had caused undue friction between the two countries. "It's done damage. You can't have three weeks of (negative headlines) ... without the perception of Australia among Indians being damaged," Mr McCarthy told The Australian newspaper.

United States

Shameful revelations

Higher education in the US holds a "record of shameful complicity and indifference" in its slow response to the rise of the Third Reich and Nazi atrocities, it has been claimed.

In a controversial new book, The Third Reich in the Ivory Tower, Stephen Norwood, professor of history at the University of Oklahoma, says universities collaborated with the regime by organising student exchange programmes and sending delegates to Nazi festivals while ignoring protests over the treatment of Jews.


International summit

An international education summit was launched in London this week by the Qatar Foundation. Wise - the Word Innovation Summit for Education - will take place in Doha, Qatar in November. It has been set up by the foundation "to provide a multidisciplinary platform which will enable a global educational network to think differently, implement change, and collectively tackle the 21st century's educational challenges". The event will also include six $20,000 "Wise awards" celebrating innovation in education. See www.wise-qatar.org.

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