World in brief – 28 September 2017

September 28, 2017
Car driving on flooded road
Source: Getty

United States

Right-ear advantage

Inside Higher Ed reported on recent cases in which universities have ensured that figures from the Right speak on campus, while speakers on the Left have been “censored” by Right protests, in cases that “don’t quite fit” the dominant media narrative. The University of California, Berkeley spent $600,000 (£443,000) on security to ensure that Ben Shapiro, a conservative writer, could speak on the campus without being disrupted. Meanwhile, Harvard rescinded Chelsea Manning’s invitation to be a visiting fellow, and the Catholic University of America revoked a lecture invitation to a priest whose book urges reaching out to gay and lesbian Catholics, both after protests from the Right. “I want to write a book titled Snowflakes Fall Everywhere,” said John K. Wilson, one of the editors of the American Association of University Professors’ Academe blog.

United Kingdom

Don’t count your research cash

The UK will “not necessarily” continue to be part of the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research programmes after Brexit in March 2019, the European University Association has advised its members. The EUA says in recently published frequently answered questions on Brexit and universities that the UK would, in principle, be able to participate in future research programmes as an associated country as well as Erasmus. But on the question of whether the post-Brexit UK will continue in Horizon 2020, the current research programme and Erasmus+, the EUA’s briefing says: “Not necessarily. Both programmes are part of the Settlement of Accounts (or Brexit Bill), which will be dealt with early in the negotiations. If the UK agrees that it has committed to pay into these programmes until the end by agreeing to the 2014-2020 EU budget, it will continue to both pay and benefit.”


Quantum of synergy

Microsoft and the University of Copenhagen have signed an agreement that they hope will lead to their building a “general-purpose, scalable” quantum computer. The US technology company will establish new laboratories on the university’s site and increase the number of its employees working with Copenhagen researchers on quantum computing. This collaboration amounts to a “multimillion-dollar” investment in new facilities and equipment, according to the university. The world’s biggest technology and computing companies, including IBM, Google and Microsoft, are currently competing to harness quantum physics to create super-powerful computers.


Dozens charged over killing of ‘blasphemer’

Almost 60 people have been indicted for the on-campus murder of a Pakistani university student who was falsely accused of blasphemy. All 57 people accused of killing Mashal Khan, a journalism student at the Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan in northeastern Pakistan, have pleaded not guilty to murder, the Hindustan Times reported. They are accused of joining a lynch mob that seized the 23-year-old from his dormitory before he was stripped, beaten and shot by fellow students on 13 April. A report compiled by a joint investigation team that examined the lynching said that a group of faculty members and student leaders within the university had incited a mob against Mr Khan by using the pretext of blasphemy.

United Kingdom

Moving closer on common ground

The Association of Commonwealth Universities has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Commonwealth Secretariat to develop a programme for far deeper cooperation. The memorandum expressed “their mutual interest and desire to provide inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning for all the peoples of the Commonwealth”. Areas flagged up for possible collaboration included “addressing graduate employability”, while there were also plans to “strengthen policy responses for building resilience and advancing the values of tolerance and pluralism, preventing education-related gender-based violence, and fostering an appreciation of cultural diversity by promoting understanding and respect of different cultures and beliefs”. The memorandum was signed by Baroness Scotland, secretary-general of the Commonwealth, and Joanna Newman, chief executive and secretary general of the ACU.


Pop-up tents

The University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne suspended lessons at one of its campuses after about 40 refugees and asylum seekers pitched tents on its premises. Guillaume Gellé, the institution’s president, said that access would remain restricted until “conditions of security have been re-established”, The Local reported. “I demand security for all concerned…You can see in this camp there are children and minors,” he added. “We call on the local authorities, the mayor of Reims and the district to urgently house these families,” said Unef, France’s main students’ union.

South Korea

Bin ‘biased’ tests, academy told

The South Korean government has ordered 11 universities to change their admissions tests as part of a clampdown on excessive tutoring and elite private schools. The education ministry told the institutions to remove content that was not covered in the high-school curriculum, claiming that it violates regulations intended to strengthen public education and reduce students’ reliance on private education, according to The Korea Times. The government is also looking into the possibility of punishing repeat offenders by reducing the number of students they are allowed to recruit for the 2019 academic year and by decreasing subsidies for university projects, according to the paper.

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