World Encompassed

October 19, 2007

Jo'burg students in tuition fee clash

Students at a South African university have protested to the institution about police brutality in quelling a demonstration over tuition fee rises.

Johannesburg University said police had used rubber bullets to disperse demonstrators who tried to lift a security gate off its hinges. Students said the police had fired without reason; the police countered that students had thrown stones at officers.

Ihron Rensburg, the vice-chancellor, agreed to help secure the release of the arrested students. The university was closed for two days during the protests, and a court order has banned protesters from disrupting activities on campus. The African National Congress's Youth League called on students to continue with negotiations with the university and for the university to suspend the fee increase.

India formulates five-year targets

The Indian Government and vice-chancellors met last week to finalise a five-year plan for universities. Minister for Human Resource Development Shri Arjun Singh, Science and Technology Minister Shri Kapil Sibal, state higher education officials and university representatives discussed ways to implement the targets. The initiative aims to increase enrolment, setting up new universities and colleges, strengthening existing institutions, removing barriers to education and ensuring the quality of education.

Cancer research in line for big windfall

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology will set up a major new cancer research institute using a £50 million donation from a former student.

The David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research will bring together molecular geneticists and cell biologists with engineers to discover new ways to detect, diagnose and treat the disease.

The university said the interdisciplinary nature of the institute was unique in the field and that it would be a major research initiative "comparable to MIT's spearheading the development of radar technology in the Second World War". Twenty-five MIT staff will join the institute, including past winners of the Nobel prize and the National Medal of Science.

Meanwhile, the former US ambassador to Hungary has donated £5 million to Webster University in Missouri. The donation by George H. Walker will go to Webster's School of Business and Technology.

US groups taunt muslim community

There have been protests at several US universities after "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week" was advertised with posters depicting a robed man holding a gun to the head of a kneeling figure.

The initiative is the work of two conservative groups, Young America's Foundation and the David Horowitz Freedom Center's Terrorism Awareness Project. A statement from the latter said the action is intended to "confront the two big lies of the political Left: that George Bush created the War on Terror and that global warming is a greater danger to Americans than the terrorist threat".

It continued: "According to the academic Left, anyone who links Islamic radicalism to the War on Terror is an 'Islamophobe'. According to the academic Left, the Islamo-fascists hate us not because we are tolerant and free, but because we are 'oppressors'."

The group's website claimed students at 147 universities had signed up for the week, although officials at one institution have written to the foundation asking to be removed from the list. Posters have been torn down at several universities, and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee is writing to ask why universities are hosting the events.

A further set of posters advertising the week with the slogan "Hate Muslims? So do we!" were put up at George Washington University, purporting to be from Young America's Foundation. However, the foundation said the posters, which also mentioned Conservo-Fascism Awareness Week, were a prank by students trying to smear the group.

Collaboration in alzheimer's fight

US academics have joined forces with a health insurer and two healthcare companies to work toward early detection of Alzheimer's disease.

The University of Rochester Medical Centre, researchers from Georgetown University and the University of California, Irvine are working with patients and doctors from healthcare companies Unity Health and ViaHealth to determine whether the disease can be diagnosed before symptoms appear. Scientists will look for disease indicators in blood samples and hope to develop a test for the condition.

Yale and India combine leadership talents

Yale University has set up a leadership course for Indian MPs. The India- Yale Parliamentary Leadership Programme starts with a five-day leadership programme followed by three days of meetings with US government and business officials.

Laureate plans 'super vaccine'

A Nobel laureate hopes to develop a vaccine against flu, bird flu, HIV and malaria. Barry Marshall of the University of Western Australia believes that a genetically modified version of the bacterium Helicobacter pylori could be used to create a "super vaccine" as long as people do not become immune to it. H. pylori can cause stomach infections although many people carry it with no ill effects.

Mineral find hints at water on mars

A new mineral has been discovered by a Canadian geologist after investigating data from the surface of Mars and material from a frozen pond on Earth.

Ron Peterson, of Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, and his team discovered the substance, now named meridianiite, which is composed of magnesium, sulphate and water. The team studied data from the Mars Exploration Rover that revealed fissures in Martian rocks, which were thought once to have contained the meridianiite crystals. It is believed that the meridianiite had evaporated, supporting the theory that Mars was once covered by water.

Conference to study ranking importance

The impact of rankings on quality at universities is among the subjects of the European University Association Autumn Conference 2007 in Wroclaw, Poland, from October 25 to . It will also look at the extent to which institutions have control over recruitment, pay, courses, financial management and governance.

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