World Encompassed

June 1, 2007

Dubai ruler invests $10bn in education

The ruler of Dubai has donated $10 billion (£5 billion) to improve his nation's education system. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum will set up a charitable foundation to improve education and research, stimulate job creation and fund scholarships.

Sheikh Mohammed, who is also Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and a successful racehorse owner, announced the fund at the World Economic Forum in Jordan.

Monsanto sued by university of Iowa

A US university body has accused biotechnology giant Monsanto of infringing its patent on a new type of soya bean.

The Iowa State University Research Foundation, which handles intellectual property for the university, filed a lawsuit last week and said the company had commercialised a type of bean that is healthier than ordinary soya beans. The university holds at least eight patents for breeding and manufacturing the beans and accused Monsanto of knowingly infringing its patent.

Monsanto said the company developed its beans using publicly available materials and did not infringe the university's patents.

Two leave posts in US student loan scandal

Student loan officials at two prestigious US universities have been dismissed after a wide-ranging probe into the industry.

Columbia University's director of financial aid, David Charlow, was dismissed after the institution accused him of promoting a loans company whose shares he owned.

Meanwhile, Ellen Frishberg, a financial aid director at Johns Hopkins University, resigned after being accused of receiving $65,000 from a lender between 2002 and 2006. The university said the lender paid her $43,000 as consulting fees and $22,000 in tuition payments for a doctoral programme in which she was enrolled.

Her lawyer said she had "never intended to do anything that would be perceived as harmful to Johns Hopkins University, its students or their parents, and has always acted in good faith. However, in light of current circumstances, she has decided to resign." The university said it found no evidence that any students or parents were financially harmed by her relationship with the lender and it had cancelled lists of suggested lenders produced by her office and six other financial aid offices in the university.

Italian scientists say drink slows dementia

Italian scientists have made a discovery to bring joy to pubs worldwide - one alcoholic drink a day could slow the onset of dementia in older people with mild cognitive impairment.

The researchers at Bari University found that having one drink a day reduced the risk of dementia by 85 per cent compared with abstaining.

However, drinking larger quantities did not offer any protection. Vincenzo Solfrizzi and Francesco Panza speculated that the arrangement of blood vessels in the brain may have a role in explaining why low alcohol consumption appears to delay the progression to dementia.

Art collection given to Maine college

A US college has been given a $100 million (£50 million) art collection including works by James McNeill Whistler, Edward Hopper and Georgia O'Keeffe. Colby College in Maine was given the 500 prints, paintings and sculptures by local collectors Peter and Paula Lunder. Peter Lunder, who sold his shoe company to billionaire investor Warren Buffett, graduated from the college in 1956. The collection will be housed in the college's art museum, which will be expanded.

Bologna process will miss 2010 deadline

Attempts to integrate higher education across Europe through the Bologna Process are unlikely to meet the 2010 deadline, an expert in higher education management has said.

Jeroen Huisman of Bath University said it was "not wise" to try to meet all the objectives over the next four years. Instead, priority goals should be set for 2010 and other issues left until later. At present most of the debate is on structural changes in education rather than whether integration improves the employability of graduates, and the competitiveness and compatibility of the university systems.

Meanwhile, European education ministers have agreedto set up a register of quality assurance agencies. The register will be managed by the European UniversitiesAssociation with the European Association for QualityAssurance in Higher Education, the European Association of Institutions in Higher Education and the European Student Union.

Dispute settled over Derrida papers

A Californian university has settled with the family of eminent philosopher Jacques Derrida over control of his papers.

University of California, Irvine agreed to retain the papers it already has but relinquish claims to the rest and pay about €12,000 (£8,119) of his widow's legal fees. The university withdrew the lawsuit it brought against his widow in November 2006, which said Marguerite Derrida had violated a written agreement made by her husband to leave his papers to the university, where he had taught part-time from 1986 until his death in 2004.

Private data revealed on American website

A US university accidentally published the social security details of nearly 90,000 students, alumni and staff on its website.

The mistake happened when a file was copied to a public area of Stony Brook University's health centre library website when it was being updated. The university has notified all the people whose details were on the web page although it said the files were never easily accessible and the information was removed from the search engine within 24 hours of being contacted by the New York State Cyber Security Office.

Chinese scientists issue dam warning

The world's largest hydropower project is causing significant river erosion, a new study has found. The Three Gorges Dam in China is leading to erosion in the downstream reaches of the Yangtze River and retention of sediment upstream. Scientists at East China Normal University in Shanghai said continued sediment retention at these rates combined with more dams would "severely affect" the people and ecosystems of the Yangtze delta. Official Chinese press reports said the build up of sediment was under control.

Belgium signs up to Google digitisation

Search engine Google will digitise thousands of books from a Belgian university library. Ghent University is the first Flemish-language library to have works digitised and made publicly available by the company.

Google is working with 14 other libraries to digitise out-of-copyright works. Institutions involved include Oxford University, Complutense University of Madrid, Lausanne Cantonal and University Library, Harvard University, Stanford University, Michigan University, Virginia University, Wisconsin-Madison University, Princeton University, California University and the University of Texas at Austin. Google is also working with the Library of Congress in a joint digitisation pilot project.


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