Overseas briefing

January 7, 2010


Rooftop occupation

Italian environmental scientists have spent weeks on a rooftop in Rome in protest at job cuts imposed by the Government. Some 200 workers at the Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (Ispra) lost their jobs last year and about 230 more are expected to go, comprising about a third of the workforce. Massimiliano Bottaro, an expert in biodiversity and fisheries and one of 15 rooftop protesters, said that Italy was cutting environmental research while other countries were increasing it. Italy is one of the lowest-spending countries in Europe on research and development.

United Arab Emirates

Struggling US branches

American universities that rushed to open branches in Dubai are struggling to attract students following the collapse of the emirate's economy. According to The New York Times, outposts of Michigan State University and the Rochester Institute of Technology, which both opened in 2008, are suffering a shortage of students. Michigan State, with only 85 undergraduates, is now offering half-price tuition to the first 100 qualified applicants. George Mason, one of the first US universities to open a branch in the United Arab Emirates, closed its Ras al Khaimah campus in May, without producing a single graduate.


Indian student numbers fall

The number of Indian students studying in Australia is forecast to decline sharply. The Australian Tourism Forecasting Committee said a 21 per cent drop in the number of students travelling from India was likely, leading to a loss of A$78 million (£44 million) in revenue. The decline is attributed to a spate of attacks on Indian students in mid-2009. Up to 4,000 fewer Indian students will travel to Australia this year, the committee estimates, after growth of 35 per cent in 2009. Bernard Salt, the TFC chairman, said: "The question is whether this is a structural issue that will be with us for some time - that is, one fifth of the market has evaporated - or whether, in fact, this is a knee-jerk, one-year reaction."


Campus protests

Students in Iran have clashed with pro-government militiamen on the campus of a Tehran university. A protest broke out on a campus of Azad University, with clashes lasting for several hours both inside and outside the buildings. According to local media, opposition activists have begun asking students to boycott classes as an act of civil disobedience. The recent anti-government protests in Tehran have been the most violent since those that followed the disputed presidential election in June last year. Iranian state television has given contradictory figures for the numbers killed in the clashes, ranging from eight to 15.


Ban lifted

A ban on four private universities by the Higher Education Council in Bahrain has been lifted after they met demands to improve their administrative and academic standards. The council has allowed the Kingdom University, Applied Sciences University, Bahrain University College and Birla Institute of Technology International Centre to resume enrolments. However, business management programmes at the Kingdom University and Applied Sciences University will remain banned, the website TradeArabia said. Meanwhile, the Gulf University and Delmon University have also been barred from admitting new students until they meet the council's requirements.

United States

Discrimination ruling

A US university discriminated against a disabled student by refusing to let him live in halls on campus, a court has ruled. Oakland University, in Michigan, declined Micah Fialka-Feldman access to a dorm, forcing him to take two-hour bus rides to get to and from his non-credit-bearing classes in a programme for cognitively disabled students. The university said its policy was that only students taking degrees could live on campus. But this amounted to discrimination, a US District Court ruled, because Mr Fialka-Feldman's disability restricted him to studying a non-degree programme.

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