World encompassed

April 27, 2007

MACQUARIE PLANS INDIAN OFF-SHOOTS

An Australian university has unveiled plans to open several campuses in India.

Macquarie University in Sydney is seeking approval from the Indian Government to open the first campus, probably in Delhi.

An Indian firm, Somani Group, which is involved in insurance, IT and manufacturing, would fund most of the building. Macquarie would control academic matters.

The university would provide undergraduate, postgraduate and research degrees, and some students might visit Australia as part of their postgraduate studies. The new campus, projected to open in 2009, would initially cater for up to 300 students, with numbers reaching 2,000 by 2014.

Melbourne's Monash University recently set up a joint research centre with the Indian Institute of Technology.

STAFF FEAR JOBS CULL AFTER COURSE OVERHAUL

Melbourne University staff fear that job cuts will result from a radical restructure of courses.

The university planned to take the number of degrees from 96 to six, allowing students to major in one subject while also studying several others. Professional subjects such as law would become postgraduate courses and a fifth of the government-funded places on graduate courses would go to students from deprived backgrounds.

A draft redundancy policy proposed that staff would be made redundant if the course were no longer taught or if student numbers dropped.

However, anyone in that situation would be able to apply for other positions at the university without having to wait for the customary two years.n n

TELEVISION TYCOON WILLS $400M TO ALMA MATER

UK academics who complain that universities are becoming too student-focused may wish to reconsider in the light of the decision by a former Columbia University student to leave his alma mater $400 million (£200 million). John Werner Kluge (pictured above), whose company Metromedia Broadcasting owns several American TV and radio stations, is to leave $400 million from his estate when he dies.

He studied at Columbia on a scholarship and said the experience helped him become a successful businessman. The money is intended to provide support for students.

Kluge has already donated $100 million to the Kluge Scholar Programme, which has supported 500 undergraduates. The donation came as Columbia aimed to raise $4 billion for financial aid and endowed staff.

CODE KEEPS ACADEMICS FROM MEDIA MONEY

A new moral code in China will be music to the ears of those who resent the rise of the "media don".

Chinese scientists will be forbidden from publishing their findings in the media before they appear in academic journals and barred from appearing as experts in advertisements.

The code, published by the China Association for Science and Technology, also bans "plagiarism, fraud and fabrication in research, seeking improper economic profit from research". Du Xiangwan, vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said the code would promote scientific research and innovation as well as a "clean" academic environment.

ANCIENT HERB INSPIRES MALARIA MEDICINE

Scientists at a US university have cured a mouse infected with malaria using a drug based on a Chinese herbal remedy.

The peroxide compounds designed by a scientist at Johns Hopkins University mimic artemisinin, the active ingredient in a herbal remedy used for centuries to treat malaria.

The new drug had advantages over the herbal version, which required the active ingredient to be separated from the plant, said Gary Posner, who led the research team. It was also better than other peroxide-based anti-malarial drugs, which broke down too quickly, left a toxic residue or did not cure the illness when used alone, he added.

Malaria kills between 1.5 million and 3 million people a year, including many children and citizens of developing nations.

INDIAN ACADEMIC STRIPPED OF PhD

An Indian university has revoked a doctorate for the first time in its 150-year history after accusations of plagiarism.

Calcutta University took away the PhD of a former student who had become a lecturer at another institution, according to The Times of India . Surajit Kumar Basu, a lecturer at Charuchandra Evening College, was accused of copying part of his 2003 thesis from that of Ashoke Kumar Sarkar, a retired reader of Siliguri College.

Sarkar had complained about the delay in taking action against Basu. But Calcutta's registrar, Samir Bandopadhyay, said the procedure had taken time because there was no precedent for it. An inquiry launched into the thesis when it was published in 2005 was inconclusive. The university's syndicate later decided to punish Basu.

DON'T LIKE GREENS? TRY BLUES OR PINKS

CHildren in Denmark might no longer have to eat their greens now that researchers have expanded the vegetable palette to include purples, whites and pinks.

Scientists at Åarhus University have created mauve carrots. They can also manipulate the vegetables to change their taste and smell.

Changing vegetables' colour and taste might encourage people to eat more of them, said Stine Kreutzmann, a PhD student. "It is important that consumers are able to find vegetables they like. Otherwise they will not eat them, and then they do not benefit from their nutritious qualities."

ARCHIVES ADDRESSED IN LIGHT OF APARTHEID

Academics and archivists in South Africa met this week to discuss the future of the national archive, whose contents are skewed by apartheid.

It is 13 years since South Africa became a democracy and ten years since South Africa's National Archives Act, yet the national achive contained a disproportionate amount of material from white South Africans and relatively little from black citizens.

Other problems include the absence of many apartheid-era state records and the fact that the archive of Desmond Tutu's Truth and Reconciliation Commission was still contested.

The meeting was hosted by the University of the Witwatersrand, the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the National Archives.

COLLEGE BANS WIKIPEDIA AS INFORMATION SOURCE

An American university has banned history students from using Wikipedia as a primary source for research. The Middlebury College History Department will warn students that the popular online encyclopaedia, whose entries can be edited by anyone, "suffers inevitably from inaccuracies deriving in large measure from its unique manner of compilation". The department said several students submitted papers with erroneous information that was traced to Wikipedia.

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