Overseas briefing

July 9, 2009

United States

Brigham Young lifts YouTube ban

A Mormon-affiliated university where students must agree to live a "chaste and virtuous" life has lifted its ban on YouTube. For the last three years, Brigham Young University in Utah has upheld a strict ban on the video-sharing website, fearing that too much of its content would violate its conservative standards. However, lecturers have now succeeded in changing the policy. A university spokeswoman told the Associated Press that the institution had decided to bite the bullet and allow students access to all the site's material, educational or not. "I think there's no other way but to provide all of it," she said, adding that students and faculty had signed an "honour code" to ensure that their YouTube use meets the principles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Australia

Fraud watchdog with bite

The Australian Government is planning to create a tough independent watchdog to deal with cases of academic fraud. Kim Carr, Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Minister, told The Australian newspaper: "We are considering a research integrity advisory board ... We need to establish the legal framework and the appropriate legal indemnity for the chair and panel members." Australia already has a Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, which places the onus on institutions to handle complaints themselves. It was revised as recently as 2007, but has been criticised for failing to resolve a number of cases. "This is a sensitive issue, but we've attracted broad support for the programme. There is general agreement about the need for further reform," Mr Carr said.

India

Always the sun for green kitchen

Green initiatives may be de rigueur for higher education institutions, but a university in India is doing more than most to save the planet. Sathyabama University, a private institution based in Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, has set up more than 100 solar panels, which provide 2.2MW of thermal power to a kitchen that cooks more than 30,000 student meals each day. The project was part-funded by local and national authorities, which provided a 50 per cent subsidy, according to The Times of India.

Central Asia

Silk Road to join superhighway

Researchers in Central Asia are to benefit from a new high-speed data-communications network. The European Union-funded Central Asian Research and Education Network (Caren) project will provide broadband for the first time to about one million students and faculty in more than 200 universities and research institutions. Countries dotted along the old Silk Road will benefit, including Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The network is due to come online early next year.

China

Ethnicity lie downs high-flyer

A high-achieving Chinese student who won a place at Peking University has been barred from entry after he was found to have lied about his ethnic status. He Chuanyang, who posted the highest score in the National College Entrance Examination in south-west China's Chongqing Municipality, is one of about 30 students alleged to have falsely claimed an additional 20 test points because of their "ethnic-minority" status. The rejected student's parents told Xinhua news agency he was "saddened and speechless" at being barred. The university said it would ban all students involved in the scandal. Lan Yuhong, a student at Beijing Sports University, said: "With severe competition for college entrance, parents and students will not give up any possibility to get bonus points."

Uganda

Sacked trio blame 'tribalism'

An African university is facing possible court action over claims of "tribalism". Kyambogo University in Uganda has been accused of sacking three members of staff because of their ethnicity. Uganda's The Observer newspaper said the dismissed employees claimed that the university had sacked them because they came from western Uganda, adding that they had been given no official reason for the termination of their contracts. Kyambogo denies the allegations.

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