World in brief - 11 December 2014

December 11, 2014

United States
Cosby ends trustee role at alma mater

The comedian and actor Bill Cosby has resigned as a trustee of his alma mater, Temple University in Philadelphia, the university has announced. Mr Cosby had held the post for more than 30 years. A number of US universities have distanced themselves from the entertainer, who has been accused of sexual assault by more than a dozen women. Mr Cosby denies the allegations.

Republic of Ireland
Mapping the glass ceiling

The Republic of Ireland’s Higher Education Authority has published a breakdown of the gender divide of senior academic posts within publicly funded institutions. While the overall gender ratio for academic staff is 50:50, in senior posts men outnumber women by 71 to 29 per cent. Men fill 81 per cent of professorial roles across the whole sector. The HEA expressed its support for the Athena SWAN project and the Irish Research Council’s strategy and action plan designed to ensure gender equality in the research arena.

Murdered scholar’s peers protest slow pace of investigation

Protests have followed the murder of a Bangladeshi academic, after his colleagues became concerned at the progress of the investigation. Shafiul Islam, a professor of sociology at Rajshahi University, was said to have been “hacked to death”. Some years ago he had called for a ban on full-face veils in classrooms and exams, prompting speculation that he had been murdered by Islamist students. A previously unknown Islamist group claimed responsibility for the 15 November killing, but police said they were investigating several possible motives. Rajshahi academics have alleged “neglect” in the investigation.

Nobelist’s papers gone to Texas

The National Library of Colombia has expressed its regret that the archive of Gabriel García Márquez will go to the US. The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas has acquired the collection from the writer’s heirs. The papers include the original manuscript materials of books including One Hundred Years of Solitude. A letter to the Associated Press from the novelist’s family says that the materials were offered to the US literary archive because of its expertise in the preservation of documents. It was later reported that effects including García Márquez’s Nobel Prize medal would go to the National Library of Colombia.

South Africa
Minister warns private university over Afrikaans-only policy

The South African government has threatened to withdraw the registration of a private university if it remains exclusively Afrikaans. Akademia, located in Centurion in Gauteng province, offers only Afrikaans-medium instruction. “There is unfortunately no place for racist institutions, no place,” said Blade Nzimande, the higher education minister. In an interview with the Afrikaans-language newspaper Rapport, Mr Nzimande said he wanted South African universities to reflect the country’s diversity, regardless of language.

Backbenchers baulk at research fund bill

Backbench MPs from Australian prime minister Tony Abbott’s own party have refused to rubber-stamp a bill to set up a A$20 billion (£10.7 billion) medical research fund. The fund would be paid for by the introduction of a A$7 co-payment for seeing a general practitioner. But the Coalition government’s economics committee took the rare step of refusing to approve the draft bill last week, amid MPs’ concerns that the government was failing to convince the public of the wisdom of its reforms.

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