Overseas briefing

February 11, 2010

United States

College fundraisers 'hit a wall'

Philanthropy is being squeezed by the economic crisis, with donations to US colleges falling 12 per cent in a year. Private giving to colleges dropped sharply to $.85 billion (£17.5 billion) in 2009, down $3.75 billion on the previous year. The Chronicle of Higher Education said the findings of the annual Voluntary Support of Education survey were "grim but not unexpected". It added that college fundraisers reported "hitting a wall" with donors who had either lost significant portions of their wealth or were nervous that they would. "The economy was so bad, the only thing that would have been a surprise is if it had been a really good year," said Ann E. Kaplan, the survey's director.

Australia

Expansion needs funding growth

Teaching funding needs to be increased by 10 per cent to cope with the Government's expansion agenda, Universities Australia has warned. In its 2010-11 budget submission, the representative body calls for an immediate increase in teaching funding at a cost of A$480 million (£266 million), and wants an overall funding boost of A$881 million, The Australian newspaper reported. "Many of these universities are relying on commitments for better funding from 2011 and 2012 ... as present per student funding doesn't necessarily cover costs and the sector has experienced a long period of decline in real funding per student," the body says in its submission. "Risks to either quality and/or sustainability are therefore present."

China

Extra time to ease job pressures

Students in Beijing could take between three and six years to complete their courses under a flexible credit system. The Beijing Municipal Commission of Education is considering an overhaul to ease unemployment pressures brought on by large numbers of students graduating at the same time, the China Daily newspaper reported. The plan could come into effect as early as this autumn. An estimated 220,000 students will graduate from Beijing universities this year, and the overhaul would mean that students could move at different speeds and graduate at different times of the year.

Canada

State pulls First Nations cash

A university for aboriginal people has had its public funding stopped amid allegations of financial irregularities. The Saskatchewan Government will stop funding the First Nations University of Canada in April. Rob Norris, Advanced Education Minister, said: "For years there has been uncertainty swirling around this institution. We've seen the intensification of that trouble. This Government has lost confidence in First Nations University." He said the institution was "beginning to tarnish the reputation of post-secondary education in Saskatchewan".

Italy

Minister takes up lettori cause

A government minister is to take up the case of British lecturers fighting for equal treatment in Italian universities. Chris Bryant, the UK's Europe Minister, met with representatives of British lettori - foreigners who teach in Italian universities in their own languages. The lettori say they earn, on average, half the amount paid to their Italian counterparts. David Petrie, who teaches at the University of Verona, said: "The minister fully supports us and said that equal treatment in the European Union was a fundamental principle." In a recent court ruling, seven British lecturers at the University of Padua were awarded about £300,000 each in back pay plus interest after a 12-year legal battle.

Canada

China lashes out over Dalai Lama

The Chinese Government has punished the University of Calgary for awarding the Dalai Lama an honorary degree by stripping it of accreditation. Degrees from Calgary, which currently teaches 600 students from mainland China and Hong Kong, will no longer be recognised in the country. A university spokeswoman said: "We have offended our Chinese partners by the very fact of bringing in the Dalai Lama." He has angered the Chinese state by calling for Tibetan independence or greater autonomy for the country.

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