World in brief - 16 January 2014

January 16, 2014

United States
Court stymies NYU expansion

A leading US university has seen half of its building expansion plans unexpectedly blocked in court. A state judge announced last week that New York University’s plans to build four high-rise towers in the institution’s predominantly low-rise Greenwich Village neighbourhood had been wrongly approved by former mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration. The university insisted that the ruling would permit it to move forward with its largest building – a 1 million sq ft academic tower – The New York Times reported. However, opponents to the expansion said the ruling should halt the process completely. NYU issued a statement saying that the “complex ruling is a very positive one”, since the judge threw out five of the six claims made by opponents of the project, while Deborah J. Glick, a member of the New York State Assembly and plaintiff against the expansion, said the ruling showed that “sometimes communities can win”.

Collaborative project launched

The largest college in Israel has signed an academic collaboration pact with a leading Chinese university. The agreement between the College of Management Academic Studies in the city of Rishon LeZion and the University of Science and Technology Beijing involves long-term plans to launch a joint undergraduate programme. In the short term, beginning in the 2014-15 academic year, the two institutions will offer Israeli and Chinese graduate students the opportunity to participate in a workshop in Israel focusing on entrepreneurship and strategy, The Jerusalem Post reported. The institutions will also participate in an exchange of lecturers and students.

Dangers of ‘extreme views’

Academic extremism risks harming the reputation of Australia’s universities, the education minister has claimed. Chris Pyne’s comment follows controversies such as the support for the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement by the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney, and The Australian’s revelations last week that a Sydney senior lecturer was part of a WikiLeaks Party delegation granted an audience with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, where they affirmed “the solidarity of the Australian people”. “Each university is responsible for its own governance, but universities should avoid needless controversies that damage their reputation [and] also make Australia look less respectable to our potential international student market,” Mr Pyne said. He also warned universities against ideological self-indulgence that could harm the sector.

University provision for only 10%

Only 10 per cent of Indian students have access to higher education, according to a report. The Intergenerational and Regional Differentials in Higher Education in India study by Abusaleh Shariff, a development economist at the Centre for Research and Debates in Development Policy, and Amit Sharma, a research analyst at the National Council of Applied Economic Research, found that a huge disparity exists across gender, socio-economic and religious groups and geographical regions in terms of access to university education. Geographical region accounts for the most marked difference, with students from even the most disadvantaged backgrounds from south India more likely to enter higher education than their more privileged counterparts in the north central and northeast regions, The Times of India reported.

United States
$540m for six cancer centres

Five US university centres for cancer research have benefited from one of the largest donations in the field. The Ludwig Cancer Research organisation has pledged a total of $540 million (£328 million) to six centres it helped to establish to resolve continuing mysteries of why cancer starts, spreads and how it can be stopped. The higher education institutions involved are the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Harvard, Stanford and Johns Hopkins universities; and the University of Chicago. Each centre, which will have a different research focus, is expected to invest its $90 million and spend the annual income from the investments to fund basic scientific research, USA Today reported.

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