Overseas briefing

October 8, 2009

United States

No sex please, we're room-mates

Students at Tufts University in Boston have been banned from having sex in undergraduate halls of residence while their room-mates are in. A spokeswoman for Tufts told Associated Press that the policy had been introduced after a dozen or so complaints were made in the past three years. "It's really about respect and consideration, and it's a question of how room-mates utilise their space," she said. On the issue of overnight guests, the policy says: "You may not engage in sexual activity while your room-mate is present in the room."

Iran

A woeful week for minister

Anti-government protests have been staged by students at one of Iran's largest universities. The reformist website Mowjcamp.com reported that more than 1,000 students demonstrated at Sharif University in Tehran on 29 September after learning of a visit by Kamran Daneshjou, the Minister of Science and Higher Education, who ran the Interior Ministry's election headquarters during the fiercely disputed presidential election earlier this year. Meanwhile, questions have been asked about a paper co-authored by the minister, published this year, which appears to draw heavily on an earlier report by South Korean researchers. The journal Nature reported that Iranian scientists are pressing for an examination of the alleged duplication to determine whether there has been misconduct.

Canada

Hard marking? We're leaving

Falling school standards have been blamed for a 14 per cent dropout rate among Canadian undergraduates. Michael Zwaagstra, research associate at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, said students were finding it hard to cope with higher education's academic demands. Writing on the Troymedia.com website, he says: "Many schools do not allow teachers to deduct marks for late assignments or academic dishonesty, and make it almost impossible to assign zeroes for incomplete work. As a result, students who achieved high marks in school with minimal effort find out the hard way that things are quite different in university."

Vietnam

Oh, sugar: mistakes are repeated

The rush to build new universities in Vietnam has been likened to an earlier drive to build sugar factories, which resulted in processing capacity outstripping supply. An editorial in Thanh Nien, the paper of Vietnam's National Youth Association, says the Government is "making the same mistakes" with higher education: "Not only have these universities failed to create high-quality educational programming, but like the sugar factories, it didn't take into account a shortage of raw materials." It adds that Vietnam needs more investment in schools to ensure students are ready for higher education.

New Zealand

2020 vision of staff shortages

Severe academic staff shortages are forecast to hit universities in New Zealand by 2020. The chairman of the Academic Workforce Planning - Towards 2020 project, in which eight universities are collaborating, said traditional offshore sources of staff are decreasing. In addition, native staff are moving into other sectors and going overseas, while the retirement rate is higher than ever before. Kevin Seales told the New Zealand Press Association: "Due to the changing demographic profile, it is expected that the workforce will need to include a significantly greater proportion of Maori and Pacific peoples than at present."

Uganda

Scholars demand in-house v-c

Academics at Makerere University in Uganda have rejected proposals that non-Ugandans should be considered for its vice-chancellorship. The lecturers' verdict, reported by the Allafrica.com website, followed a call by the university council to allow foreigners to apply for the post. A spokesman for the Makerere University Academic Staff Association said it "would not be fitting for the 85-year-old institution to fail to produce a vice-chancellor ... We shall not be a party to any arrangement that seeks to mortgage our university to foreign control ... importing a vice-chancellor would belittle our leadership capacity."

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