Today's news

November 20, 2006

Iran's fundamentalists push for segregation on campus
Religious fundamentalists in Iran are demanding separate university classes for men and women in a drive to impose puritanical Islamic values on the country's campuses. The call - backed by senior figures close to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei - comes as new statistics show female students outnumbering their male counterparts in a sharp reversal of traditionally masculine-dominated trends. It is being spearheaded by Hojatoleslam Mohammad Mohamadian, a cleric heading the state body representing Mr Khamenei in the nation's universities. Mr Mohamadian warned in a speech that universities were descending into "fashion shows" and urged chancellors to punish students who breached Islamic rules on dress code and gender-mingling.
The Guardian

Imperial College rejoins the NUS
Imperial College has voted to rejoin the National Union of Students in a closely fought ballot. The vote was precipitated by Imperial's decision to leave the University of London next year, which meant students would no longer benefit from the University of London Union facilities or its weight as a campaigning body. Opponents argued joining would be a waste of £50,000. After a hotly contested debate, pro-NUS campaigners secured a narrow 53 per cent to 47 per cent majority in favour of reaffiliation, ending 30 years of going it alone. The issue prompted 4,007 people to vote, a turnout of more than 30 per cent and the highest ever recorded at the college union.
The Guardian

China uses smear tactics against bird flu professor
On one side is an internationally renowned scientist at the forefront of the fight against bird flu. On the other is the Communist Party. The authorities in Beijing, accused of covering up Sars three years ago, are pursuing a bitter feud with a professor who published a paper hinting at a new cover-up, this time of the avian influenza virus. Professor Guan Yi's paper was ostensibly about a strain that it found to have become the dominant type in poultry. He and his team had to work without the authorities' approval. The new strain's dominance also implied that the mass vaccination programme must have failed, or even been counterproductive.
The Daily Telegraph

Eton leads charge to dump A levels
Eton College is leading a rebellion that could result in it dropping A levels in favour of an alternative examination system with no coursework and tougher questions. Tony Little, Eton Head Master, said that “Pre-U” examinations being developed at Cambridge University would offer pupils more stimulation and a system of testing that rewarded creativity and lateral thinking. He said that A levels forced children to “think inside a very small box” and discriminated against highly imaginative pupils, whose exam answers were often marked down because they were considered too sophisticated.
The Times

Pay of top university heads starts to hit $1m
E. Gordon Gee, chancellor of Vanderbilt, a top-tier university in Nashville, Tennessee, has an enviable distinction: he is the only US university head who earns more than $1 million (£530,000) a year. Last year, Mr Gee earned a salary of $905,296 plus $265,915 in benefits and a sizeable expense account. While his pay far outstrips that of most college leaders, salaries of university presidents - of both public and private institutions - are rising rapidly. According to an annual survey released today, the number of college and university presidents earning at least $500,000 increased by 53 per cent from the year before.
The Financial Times

Chinese honour for principal
A Scottish university principal has been made an honorary citizen of a province of China. Professor Joan Stringer, the principal and vice-chancellor of Napier University in Edinburgh, is only the 51st person - and the first British woman - to be honoured by Shandong province. The award was in recognition of her achievements in developing educational links between Scotland and the region.
The Scotsman

A business degree can make a success of an entrepreneur.
The Financial Times

From the weekend's papers:


  • Students sue over Christian rights at colleges. The Times
  • Oxford and Cambridge universities are taking steps to boost the number of entrants from state schools. The Financial Times


  • Undergraduates are to draw up charters detailing what they expect from universities in return for fees. The Observer
  • University science crisis grows as courses are scrapped. The Observer

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