World in brief - 12 June 2014

June 12, 2014

United States
No guns on campus, say leaders

University leaders in the US overwhelmingly oppose the idea of allowing concealed firearms on campus, according to a survey of more than 400 college presidents. Some 95 per cent of those responding to the poll conducted by Ball State University in Indiana opposed allowing concealed handguns on campus, with 91 per cent saying that they feared that accidental shootings would result. The poll, published in The Journal of American College Health, was conducted before last month’s mass killings near the University of California at Santa Barbara, where six students died, three from gunshot wounds.

Congressional hearing for women’s achievements

The Polish ministry of education last month marked the 10th anniversary of the country’s accession to the European Union with a panel discussion at the sixth annual Congress of Women, celebrating the achievements of innovative women in science and business. Those taking part in the event in Warsaw included a Polish-American transplant surgeon, the first woman to serve as president of the council at Cern and the chief executive of Geek Girls Carrots, a national network that aims to increase the number of women working in new high-tech industries.

In a league of its own

Russia is to unveil its own university ranking system next year. The league table will include not only Russian higher education institutions but also those from the BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – and several ex-Soviet states, the government has said. The new ratings system’s first results will be released by June 2015, with prime minister Dmitry Medvedev stating that it was important for Russian universities to be internationally competitive, according to the news agency Ria Novosti.

German aid for research labs

A programme to modernise science at Colombia’s universities has begun with a €15 million (£12 million) investment from Germany’s Max Planck Institute. The money will be used to build two laboratories at the National University of Colombia and the University of Antioquia as part of a five-year research programme focused on tropical diseases and medicinal plants. Colciencias, Colombia’s government research agency, will open applications in August to Colombian and foreign researchers for 30 posts at the laboratories.

Women segregated, restricted and barred in academy, finds Amnesty

A report by Amnesty International has highlighted discrimination against women at Iranian universities. Although approximately half of higher education students in Iran are female, in 2012 women were barred from 77 courses at 36 universities across the country, according to the study, Silenced, Expelled, Imprisoned: Repression of Students and Academics in Iran. In the same year, 60 universities also took measures to make sure that women were segregated from male students, it adds. The report also documents torture, arrests, flogging and imprisonment of academics and students for opposing the regime.

Warning over soaring student debt

The amount owed by Australian students to the state via its Higher Education Loans Programme will exceed the Australian government’s net debt by the early 2020s, an academic union has claimed. Last month, the government announced the removal of all tuition fee caps, along with cuts in teaching funding. The National Tertiary Education Union calculated last week that rising fees and increasing numbers of students eligible for loans would cause total student debt to rise from about A$53 billion (£29 billion) in 2016-17 to more than A$200 billion by the mid-2020s.

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