World in brief - 26 February 2015

February 26, 2015

Republic of Ireland
European cash aids expansive thinking

The National University of Ireland, Maynooth has announced a €150 million (£111 million) investment in new facilities, with half the funding coming from the European Investment Bank, as part of its campus master plan. University president Philip Nolan said that it was “essential that our campus is able to accommodate our continued plans for growth and excellence in education”. Projects include new information and communications technology and education hubs, accommodation for 300 more students and new sports facilities.

France
Hijab row leads to academic’s suspension

A law professor at a French university has been suspended for refusing to teach a Muslim student wearing a veil. The academic at the University of Paris North – Paris 13 in Villetaneuse will not return to teach on the master’s programme in insurance law, the university’s president Jean-Loup Salzmann told Agence France-Presse. One witness claimed that the lecturer said he objected to the display of religious signs in the classroom. The recent deadly terrorist attacks in Paris have reignited the debate over the wearing of hijabs in public spaces, with the political party of former president Nicolas Sarkozy calling for an outright ban on veils at public universities.

China
Early doors for Peking president

The president of Peking University, China’s highest-ranked institution in the THE World University Rankings, is departing after a controversial tenure of less than two years. The Communist Party’s Central Committee Organisation Department announced the departure of Wang Enge, who had been criticised over plans to turn the largest green space on campus into an elite academy offering Chinese studies courses taught in English. He will be replaced by Lin Jinhua, current president of Zhejiang University, who has himself “stirred controversy”, according to the South China Morning Post. Some scholars claimed that Professor Lin’s appointment at Zhejiang was not merited, owing to his modest academic record, the newspaper reported.

United States
Kaplan sheds 38 campuses

Education Corporation of America, a for-profit education provider, has purchased 38 Kaplan College campuses in the US. The acquisition, the financial value of which has not been disclosed, means that ECA now has 70 campuses and online programmes covering 20 US states and serves about 30,000 students. In the US, Kaplan University and eight professional schools will still to be owned by the for-profit firm Kaplan, as will its overseas colleges, including those in the UK.

South Africa
Expel Jews, demands students’ group

A South African students’ group has called for Jewish students to be expelled. Durban University of Technology’s student representative council made the request in a letter to university management, the day after Leila Khaled, a Palestinian activist and plane hijacker, visited the campus. Alana Baranov, vice-president of the Council of KwaZulu-Natal Jewry, described the demand as “blatantly anti-Semitic”, according to The Times of Johannesburg. Council president Ayanda Ngidi later clarified that the request was aimed only at “Zionists” – his term for students funded by the state of Israel – and not all Jewish learners.

Australia
Government review urges hard line on ‘evidence-based’ teacher training

Australian universities should have accreditation for their teaching degrees removed unless they can demonstrate that their programmes are evidence-based and lead to successful careers, a government-commissioned review has recommended. An advisory group chaired by Greg Craven, vice-chancellor of the Australian Catholic University, also called for greater integration between theory and practice and for new teachers to be tested to ensure that they are in the top 30 per cent of the population for literacy and numeracy.

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