Overseas briefing

May 27, 2010

United States

'Fraudster' fools Harvard

A man has been charged with faking his way into Harvard University and duping the institution out of $45,000 (£31,000) in financial aid, grants and scholarships. Adam Wheeler, 23, of Milton, Delaware, was admitted to Harvard in 2007, the Associated Press reported. Prosecutors said he falsely claimed he had earned a perfect academic record at Phillips Academy in Andover, and had studied for a year at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Harvard started to look into Mr Wheeler's background after he sought the university's endorsement for Rhodes and Fulbright scholarship applications. He was indicted on 20 offences, including larceny, identity fraud and pretending to hold a degree. Mr Wheeler was trying to transfer to the universities of Yale or Brown when he was caught, according to Gerry Leone, the local district attorney.

China

Learn from the best

About 100 Chinese university officials will be dispatched overseas on a three-week training course to help them build world-class universities at home. The Ministry of Education said officials would visit Australia, Britain, Japan and the US to "learn advanced management skills" to help build "a batch of first-class universities by 2020", it was reported in the Shanghai Daily newspaper. The course will last 24 days, with three days in China and the rest overseas. As well as allowing university leaders to learn from the world's top institutions, the course also aims to promote cooperation with overseas partners.

Canada

'Cretins' get more foreign help

A C$200 million (£130 million) international recruitment drive has enticed 19 leading scientists to Canada and is "setting off alarm bells" in other countries worried about a potential brain drain. The researchers from Brazil, France, Germany, the UK and the US will each receive funding of C$10 million over seven years as the first inductees to the Canada Excellence Research Chairs programme, The Globe and Mail newspaper reported. The UK press "ran angst-filled stories over the loss of four top-flight academics" to the scheme, the newspaper said, with the departure of University of Cambridge neuroscientist Adrian Owen causing a particular stir. Foreign help is needed if an article published in the journal Interchange and written by Robert Martin, emeritus law professor at the University of Western Ontario, is to be believed. It calls students entering Canada's universities "a horde of illiterate, ignorant cretins", who leave "just as illiterate, just as ignorant and rather more cretinous".

India

That certain ratio

Officially recognised universities in India will need to have at least one lecturer for every 25 undergraduates under new rules. The University Grants Commission has set out regulations for central universities and those with "deemed" status. They will need one teacher for every 10 students in postgraduate science courses, and one for every 15 in humanities and the social sciences. At the undergraduate level, the ratio must be 1:25. "The regulations prescribe a varied set of required teacher-student ratios for different streams of studies, in addition to laying down strictures that the workload of the teacher should not be less than 40 hours a week for 30 working weeks," The Times of India newspaper reported.

Australia

Unhappy days are here again

The days when Australia had one of the worst records of investment in higher education compared with other members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development are returning, according to the head of a university umbrella group. Glenn Withers, chief executive of Universities Australia, said: "After two good years, we're going back to the pattern that the (Rudd) government criticised the coalition for." The Australian newspaper said he was "pointing out that public investment in universities would decline as a share of gross domestic product, notwithstanding extra money for indexation and indirect costs of research. Since its period in opposition, the Rudd Labor team has made heavy use of OECD statistics to suggest (its predecessor) underinvested in tertiary education," the newspaper said.

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