Overseas briefing

October 15, 2009


Business plans are 'baloney'

A Nobel laureate has spoken out against the bureaucracy that he says is stifling science. Willard Boyle, a Canadian who won the 2009 Nobel Prize for Physics with George Smith for their development of technology that is integral to digital photography, told the Globe and Mail newspaper that bureaucrats were holding researchers to ransom by demanding "business plans". "Do you think that George Smith and I ever wrote a business plan?" he said. "Not at all. You don't have time to do that kind of baloney." The duo shared the Nobel Prize with Charles Kuen Kao, a physicist who trained in Britain.

Saudi Arabia

'Evil'-claim cleric is dismissed

King Abdullah, the monarch of Saudi Arabia, has dismissed a senior Muslim cleric after he described a new university that will teach male and female students together as "evil". The Arab News newspaper reported that Sheikh Saad Al-Shethri was relieved of his duties on the Council of Senior Islamic Scholars after he described the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology as a "great sin". He also demanded that the institution's curriculum be vetted to ensure that it was compatible with Sharia. The university near Jeddah, which opened last month, is part of King Abdullah's plans to open up the conservative kingdom.


Elder statesmen scupper merger

A merger between Melbourne Business School and the University of Melbourne has fallen through. The A$200 million (£113m) deal broke down in the face of opposition from "elder statesmen of the city's business establishment", according to the Herald Sun newspaper. The plans to combine the business school with the university's faculty of economics and commerce were to be tabled at a meeting of donors this month. Ron McNeilly, the school's chairman, said the ballot had been called off after some members warned that they would vote against the merger.

United States

Pornographic policy

Public universities in Maryland are poised to become the first in the US to adopt a policy on campus screenings of pornographic films. It has been drawn up in response to demands for legislation after a screening of Pirates II: Stagnetti's Revenge - an X-rated homage to Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean - at the University of Maryland in April. The policy will probably require that the screening of pornographic material be paired with an educational discussion, the Baltimore Sun newspaper reported. Brady Walker, chair of the Maryland Student Council, said the policy was the first of its kind, adding: "For Maryland to be known for something like this is troubling."


Ban on veils at Al-Azhar

A leading Islamic cleric, Muhammad Sayed Tantawi, has announced plans to ban students who wear a face veil from entering Al-Azhar University, one of Egypt's best-known higher education institutions. Associated Press, quoting local media, said police have been ordered to bar women wearing the niqab from entering Al-Azhar. It said the move appeared to be part of a government crackdown on overt manifestations of ultra-conservative Islam. The ban has been opposed by other Muslim scholars, who have suggested that it would be impossible to enforce. In 2001, a researcher took legal action after she was barred from using the library at the American University in Cairo while wearing the niqab. Egypt's supreme court ruled that such a ban was "unconstitutional".

The Netherlands

What do you want to do?

A Dutch university is asking students and others to submit short statements on what they want to do with their lives for a project tracking worldwide aspirations. The Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, which will post the comments on a world map online, said the project would help to encourage students to follow up their aspirations with concrete action. George Yip, dean of the school of management, said the I Will campaign would "give everyone the opportunity to co-create and share their ambition with the world".


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