World Encompassed

December 21, 2007


Charges against four Pakistani professors and two students accused of chalking graffiti on a wall have been dropped.

The six from Lahore University of Management Sciences had been charged under public order laws, according to the university.

The institution expressed its "outrage" at "baseless, false and malicious" charges against them.

The university said students and staff had been gathering on campus to discuss the unrest in Pakistan. It defended the right of its students and staff to peaceful freedom of speech.


Hundreds of Australian academics have sent a letter to their new Prime Minister saying that a "revolution" is needed in the country's higher education system.

The letter, put together by the group of academics working under the name Academics Australia, told Kevin Rudd to reduce bureaucracy in order to save money and rebuild academics' morale.

They also appealed to him to provide full funding to cover teaching costs and increase funds for research. Additionally, they urged Mr Rudd to reduce institutions' reliance on fees from overseas students, which they said had led to a growth in "cash-crop" courses that damaged the reputation of Australian universities.


A group of scientists, including 11 Nobel laureates, has called for US presidential candidates to hold a public debate on science.

The group said science and technology were at the heart of many important policy issues, and a debate would allow candidates to discuss national priorities in the area. They urged politicians to help the US become a world leader in finding cures for serious disease, developing alternative sources of energy and improving children's scientific literacy.


Turkey's new head of higher education, Yusuf Ziya Ozcan, has promised to work to end the ban on the wearing of religious headscarves in universities.

On being appointed to lead Yok, Turkey's higher education board, Professor Ozcan outlined his priorities, including "the lifting of all kinds of bans in universities ... My other vision is seeing that universities attach a greater importance to being scientific, which is their basic duty".

For the past decade, tens of thousands of female Muslim students who wear headscarves were obliged to remove them to participate in higher education.

The Turkish media has accused Professor Ozcan, formerly a professor of sociology at Middle East Technical University, of being a member of a secret Islamist group. His appointment has already led to the resignation of Yok's deputy head.


An Australian academic has come up with a novel way to tackle climate change.

Barry Walters, clinical associate professor of obstetric medicine at the University of Western Australia, said families with large numbers of children should pay higher taxes to reflect the greater strain they put on the planet's resources. In a letter to The Medical Journal of Australia, Professor Walters said people with more than two children should pay an extra tax to underwrite the greenhouse gases that additional children generated and the resources they used.

He proposed that the money be used to plant 4 hectares of trees per child to offset the extra carbon dioxide they generate. In addition, he suggested that users of contraceptives, and clinics that prescribed them, should be rewarded with "carbon credits".


More than 80 per cent of Chinese students want to study abroad, according to an online survey. A poll of 2,400 students by the China Youth Daily found that 42 per cent believed an overseas education would help their career, and 66 per cent thought those with a foreign education stood a better chance when job hunting than graduates of Chinese universities.


Plans have been unveiled for the first of a series of universities set up jointly by the Pakistani Government and European universities.

The Pakistan-Austrian University is being established by a group of Austrian institutions led by Technical University Vienna. Similar ventures are also planned with universities from Germany, Italy, France, Sweden and China, Pakistan's higher education commission announced.

The universities will focus on science and technology and have their own science parks in a bid to attract more foreign technology companies to the country.


A group of Harvard alumni from the 1960s has written to the college's president to protest that today's students are politically apathetic.

The 13 alumni, all of whom graduated in 1967, wrote to Drew Faust suggesting that a task force be set up to tackle political indifference among students, according to a report in The Harvard Crimson.

In an editorial, the student paper said today's students were politically engaged but were more likely to debate policy, work in a homeless shelter or in the poorest parts of the world than to occupy a university building.

"The actions of current students are just different responses to a very different world," it said.

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