Overseas briefing

October 29, 2009

Australia

Wireless windfall

The Australian Government will inject A$150 million (£83 million) into scientific research thanks to its premier scientific agency's seminal development of wireless internet technology. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) recently won a court battle to secure the intellectual property rights to the technology it developed in the 1990s, and the Government now plans to plough A$150 million of the royalties into reinvigorating its Science and Industry Endowment Fund. "The fund is a step towards an Australian culture of endowment of scientific research," said Kim Carr, the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research. "It has been made possible by CSIRO's remarkable success ... and is the start of something significant and long term - reinvesting the fruits of the successful adoption of Australian knowhow into our innovation system."

France

Suspensions over bribery probe

The president of the University of Toulon and two of his senior managers have been suspended over accusations of irregularities in the admission and graduation of Chinese students. On 19 October, Valerie Pecresse, the French Higher Education Minister, suspended Laroussi Oueslati, president of Toulon, and vice-presidents Pierre Sanz de Alba and Yves Lucas, The Washington Post reported from Paris. The suspensions follow accusations that the trio tried to derail an Education Ministry investigation into the payment of bribes by Chinese students. They stand accused of intimidating professors, threatening witnesses and hiding key documents. A criminal inquiry into the case has been opened.

Cyprus

Cypriots act to boost profile

Universities in Cyprus have joined forces to lobby their Government to help make the country a regional centre of higher education, the Cyprus Mail newspaper reported. Representatives of the six public and private institutions on the island have said that the Government must take action to support the sector. Charis Charalambous, chair of the University of Cyprus, said that the autonomy and independence of universities should be established in law and more should be spent on research. He also called on the Education Ministry to promote Cyprus to foreign students and fund a system for approving student visas.

Iran

US plea ignored

Iran ignored an appeal by Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, and last week sentenced an Iranian-American academic to 12 years in prison for his alleged role in anti-government protests that followed the country's disputed presidential election. Associated Press said that Kian Tajbakhsh's sentence is the longest prison term yet in a mass trial of more than 100 opposition figures, activists and journalists. An urban-planning scholar, the academic would have been teaching at Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation were it not for his arrest.

South Africa

Young blood is drying up

There is a dearth of South African medical researchers under the age of 30, the country's Parliament heard on 21 October. Bongani Mayosi, head of internal medicine at the University of Cape Town, told a health committee that less than 1 per cent of medical research was being carried out by the under-30s. "In ten years' time, we will have no one doing research in the country," he said in a speech reported by the Associated Press. "Systematic underinvestment" was to blame for the problem, he added.

Canada

Prices down, fees up

Despite deflation, Canada's university students face rising tuition fees this year, Statistics Canada reports. The agency states that for the 12 months ended 31 August, the consumer price index showed a 0.8 per cent decline, but tuition fees rose. "Undergraduate students paid C$4,917 (£2,825) in tuition fees in 2009-10, compared with C$4,747 in 2008-09," the report says. "On average, graduate students paid 4.7 per cent more than in 2008-09." Students in Ontario paid the highest fees at C$5,951.

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