World in brief - 15 January 2015

January 15, 2015

Source: Getty

United States
‘Sober squad’ to patrol fraternity parties

The University of Virginia has introduced new safety rules for fraternities in a bid to monitor behaviour at parties. The move comes in response to a Rolling Stone article which told the story of a Virginia student who alleged she was gang-raped at a fraternity house. The story later unravelled, with the magazine’s managing editor forced to apologise for journalistic errors. But nevertheless, new rules will require fraternity parties to be monitored by three “sober and lucid” members, ban pre-mixed alcoholic drinks and implement guest lists to control entry to the fraternity houses during an event.

Macedonia
PM questions motive behind professors’ protest

Students and staff are continuing to protest against an amendment to higher education legislation in Macedonia, which will mean the introduction of a state-run exam for university students. However, Nikola Gruevski, the prime minister, has claimed that opposition from academics is really motivated by a new requirement to publish in world-class journals. The nation’s academics, he said, had only published “5,000 works over the past five years” in journals that formed part of the Web of Science. From 2018 “every professor must publish at least two academic works in a [high] impact-factor magazine within five years”.

China
More Marxism, please

China’s president has called for universities to focus more on teaching Marxism and developing future Communist Party leaders. Xi Jinping “made the remarks in an instruction to a two-day national meeting on party building in higher learning institutions”, reported Xinhua, the state-run news agency. “The core socialist values should be incorporated into the whole teaching process while ideological guidance should be enhanced to ensure the leadership in the universities’ ideological work,” he said.

Morocco
Medical hub brings hopes of stronger research ties

A new university for health sciences in Morocco could forge closer links between European and African research. Construction of the 465 million dirham (£33 million) Mohammed VI University for Health Sciences is under way in Casablanca, including a medical school and graduate schools for public health and biomedical engineering. The campus will provide “a hub for medical research between Europe and Africa”, according to a government statement. A foundation stone for the 31,000 sq m scheme was laid by King Mohammed VI.

India
A vote for greater freedom

India’s prime minister has called for its universities to be given greater autonomy. Narendra Modi, who leads the ruling Hindu nationalist BJP, told the 102nd Indian Science Congress in Mumbai that the scope of investment in science and technology must be expanded beyond its present focus on central government agencies. He also said: “Our universities must be freed from the clutches of excessive regulation and cumbersome procedures. They must have a higher degree of academic freedom and autonomy, and there should be as much emphasis on research as on teaching.”

Australia
Minister in reverse gear on grants audit

Christopher Pyne, Australia’s education minister, appears to have decided against carrying out a pre-election pledge to audit “ridiculous” grants given by the Australian Research Council. Just days before its election in September 2013, the Coalition pledged to “reprioritise” A$103 million (£55 million) of ARC funding to where it is “really needed”. However, a spokesman for Mr Pyne said earlier this month that “at no point has the minister sought to intervene” in the ARC’s reviewing of grant applications.

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