Overseas briefing

August 27, 2009

United States

Pittsburgh rejects killer's legacy

A university has said it will not accept a $225,000 (£136,400) legacy from the will of a gunman who went on a shooting spree before killing himself. George Sodini, 48, murdered three women and left nine others wounded after a rampage at a Pittsburgh gym earlier this month. He has left his entire estate to his alma mater, the University of Pittsburgh. However, the institution told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review newspaper that it had "no interest" in accepting it. A legal expert told the paper that the bequest is likely to be moot in any case, as Mr Sodini's estate will probably be used to pay damages to the victims and their families.


Laws hinder terrorism research

Researchers investigating the motives of home-grown terrorists in Australia remain hamstrung and even liable to prosecution, despite a government overhaul of anti-terror laws, an expert has claimed. George Williams, professor of public law at the University of New South Wales, told The Australian newspaper that obstacles ranged "from the censorship of material that prevents it being studied to the removal of books from university libraries". He said: "Unless we understand what motivates terrorists, it's difficult to prevent terrorism and develop a long-term solution to the problems of extremism."

United Arab Emirates

Drive to improve quality in Dubai

About 700 universities, schools and other educational institutions across Dubai must obtain permits to operate under a new scheme to improve standards. No educational institution will be granted a licence unless it has acquired a permit showing the agreed rate of fees and grades for courses, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) has said. Higher education institutions will also need certification from the University Quality Assurance International Board. Mohammed Darwish, head of licensing at KHDA, told the news website ArabianBusiness.com that the move to tighten controls on standards was part of a push to become a "hub" for education. "The most important thing we can do is to raise the quality of education in Dubai," he said.


Top accolade for polytechnics

At least three polytechnics are to be awarded "Apex" status in Malaysia in an attempt to change the perception that they are "second choice" options for higher education. Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, the Deputy Higher Education Minister, told The Star: "People still feel that polytechnics are second choice, and polytechnic trainees are second-class students because they failed to enter other institutions of higher learning." In fact, he said, polytechnic graduates are highly sought after and have a lower unemployment rate than university graduates. The Malaysian Government confers Apex status on the institutions that it believes have the potential to be recognised as "world class".


Business school looks to Canada

An Indian institution is hoping to tap into the world's estimated 30 million "non-resident Indians" by opening a business school in Canada. The Mumbai-based S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research, which already has campuses in Singapore and Dubai, is undertaking due diligence regarding the new project, the Indian newspaper Business Standard reported. The paper said the expansion plan was indicative of the ways in which business schools are gearing up for the competition they could face from international universities once they are permitted to set up campuses in India.


New 'FD' grade for cheats

A university in Canada has introduced a new fail grade to deal with the growing problem of student cheats. Simon Fraser University, in Burnaby, has introduced a grade called "FD", signifying failure with academic dishonesty. Rob Gordon, chairman of the university's Senate committee on academic integrity, told the Calgary Herald that the grade was introduced to shame cheats who use the internet to plagiarise. He said it was part of measures designed to clamp down on "student misconduct issues and honesty". The FD would remain on a student's transcript during their time at Simon Fraser and for two years after graduation.

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