World in brief – 23 April 2015

April 23, 2015

Source: txking/Shutterstock.com

United States
Part-time scholars need permanent aid

A quarter of part-time academic staff in the US receive some form of public assistance such as food stamps or Medicaid, a social healthcare programme for people with low incomes. According to a report by the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education, there are growing numbers of part-time scholars enrolled in public assistance programmes. “We’re seeing a second-class status of professors emerging,” said Carol Zabin, director of research at the centre.

Poland
Six months to be proud of

A 6 per cent increase in the higher education budget and a new system for funding research institutes are among the achievements highlighted by Poland’s Ministry of Science and Higher Education, marking six months since prime minister Ewa Kopacz formed a new government. Also singled out by the ministry are internationalisation plans, including scholarships for about 100 “outstanding” Polish students to attend major universities across the world. It also points to the Polish Erasmus for Ukraine programme, which has enabled almost 450 students to study at leading Polish universities with a view to “the development of democratic institutions and social capital in Ukraine”.

Greece
Police end ‘anarchist’ sit-in

Police ended a 19-day sit-in at a leading university after Alexis Tsipras, Greece’s prime minister, was urged to end the “anarchist” occupation. As the sit-in at the main administration building of National and Kapodistrian University of Athens entered its third week, senior management sent an open letter to Mr Tsipras asking him to take action against the protest, which demands the closure of Greece’s maximum security prisons. University staff claim vandalism, drug taking and looting took place during the protest. Greece’s interior ministry initially refused to evacuate the building as state police have traditionally been banned from entering campuses under long-standing rules.

Iraq
160,000 students have courses cut short by Islamic State

Some 160,000 students have been displaced from Iraqi universities as a result of the conflict with Islamic State (Isis), according to the country’s minister of higher education. Hussain Al-Shahristani told a press conference at the ministry that the students had left the universities of Anbar, Fallujah, Mosul and Salahaddin after Isis took control of the areas, the Middle East Monitor, an online press monitoring organisation reported. Most of the students had enrolled in institutions in government-controlled areas of the country, said the minister. “Next year will witness the reconstruction of all the universities that were under the control of Isis,” he added.

India
State switches to ‘headless institutes’

An Indian state is thought to have become the first in the country not to have permanent vice-chancellors at any of its state universities. The New Indian Express said that in the southern state of Telangana, seven out of 10 state universities were “headless institutes” – and that the remaining three were set to join them this month when their vice-chancellors retired or were relieved of their duties. Registrars were now running universities in the majority of cases. “Development activities like building infrastructure and recruiting teaching faculty in universities, especially in the newly established ones are badly hit due to the absence of regular v-cs,” the newspaper said.

Australia
Dozens sign up for first ‘body farm’

More than 30 Australians have offered to donate their dead bodies to a “body farm” where the country’s scientists can study human decomposition. The high-security 48-acre Australian Facility for Taphonomic Experimental Research will be run by the University of Technology, Sydney. It will open next year, but can begin operations only when its first donor dies. The bodies will be exposed to the elements or buried in shallow graves before being returned to their families for formal burial or cremation, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

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