World in brief - 28 August 2014

August 28, 2014

Source: Alamy

United States
Little labour market profit from for-profit degrees, study finds

Do US employers prefer people who attended for-profit institutions to those with qualifications from community colleges? This was the question posed by five economists in a paper that analysed the number of call-backs received in response to 9,000 fictitious job applications. The research reported no statistically significant difference in the success rates of applicants from the two sectors. The paper from the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research says there is “little labor market payoff” for students who had invested in often more expensive qualifications from for-profit institutions.

France
State moves to plug gap as cost of student life outstrips inflation

French ministers have responded rapidly to a survey by the National Union of Students in France, which suggests that the cost of student living has risen by four times the rate of inflation over the past academic year. Key elements are higher rents and registration fees, as well as a freeze in student grants – worth €799 (£640) a month on average – as part of wider austerity measures. Benoît Hamon, education minister, and Geneviève Fioraso, secretary of state for higher education and research, quickly announced €458 million in funding to increase all means-tested grants by 0.7 per cent from September.

The Netherlands
Rising tide of foreign academics

About a third of academics at Dutch universities are from abroad, mainly from China and Germany, figures show. According to statistics released by VSNU, the association of Dutch universities, nearly 3,000 foreign PhD students, researchers and professors were recruited between 2007 and 2013, while the number of Dutch personnel remained stable at 20,000 over the same period. Nearly half of PhD students come from abroad and between 15 per cent and 20 per cent of professors have non-Dutch passports, it added.

Venezuela
Researchers evicted to make way for military organisation

Scientists working for a research foundation on a remote Venezuelan archipelago have been evicted by the government. The researchers from the philanthropist-funded Los Roques Scientific Foundation have been told that they must hand over their facilities to a new research organisation led by the military by the end of September, the Science and Development Network reported on 14 August. The foundation has been researching the species and ecosystem of the Los Roques National Park, 80 miles (130km) from the country’s mainland, since 1967.

Ghana
Strike and sickness keep university closed

A Ghanaian university has delayed its reopening for the 2014-15 academic year, partly because of the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa. The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, located in the city of Kumasi, said that the suspension was also in response to upcoming industrial action by a university teachers’ union. It warned students to be prepared for new term dates that may be announced at “short notice”.

Australia
Elite make case for student loan surcharge

Imposing a 25 per cent surcharge on Australian student loans would be less regressive than imposing a real interest rate, a study by the Group of Eight, the coalition of research-intensive institutions, has concluded. The government wants to link the interest rate on student loans to the bond rate, but the study says that since students with lower earnings take longer to repay their debt, they would pay more interest than high earners. Imposing a loan surcharge while keeping interest linked to inflation would avoid this regressive effect, it adds.

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