World in brief - 3 July 2014

July 3, 2014

Ireland
Teacher to student ratios ‘out of line’ with other nations

Class sizes in Irish universities have grown rapidly in recent years, a report says. According to the Higher Education Authority study, staff to student ratios have increased from 1:15 in 2007 to 1:19 today and are projected to rise to 1:20 by 2016. The OECD average is 1:16. This trend means staff to student ratios are “considerably out of line” with those of other developed nations “and the national implication is incredibly serious”, Andrew Deeks, president of University College Dublin, told The Irish Times.

Norway
Saved: Sudan’s TV archives

A short film has been released to celebrate the University of Bergen’s plans to digitise the complete audiovisual archives of the Sudan Radio and Television Corporation. Anders Bjørkelo, coordinator of the Centre for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, and an expert on Sudanese history, is overseeing the three-year project. It arises out of a contract signed last year between the university and the Sudanese Ministry of Information. The film, by Frédérique Cifuentes Morgan, was released on International Archives Day last month.

Abu Dhabi
Satellite campus to lure foreign postgrads

Abu Dhabi University is to open a branch campus in neighbouring emirate Dubai in order to attract students from overseas. It hopes to have set up the outpost by September 2015, offering mainly postgraduate education. Dubai has already attracted numerous outposts of Western universities, including 11 set up by UK universities. As well as a campus in the city of Abu Dhabi, the university already has another campus in Al Ain, another city in the emirate.

United States
Staff told to buck the peer-to-peer travel trend

University of California employees have been told not to use peer-to-peer travel services such as Uber, a mobile app that can be used to book taxis, and Airbnb, a website that sources short-term accommodation, because of fears about security. An email from the office of Risk Services said there were concerns that the services “do not protect users to the same extent as a commercially regulated business”. But in reporting the story, Inside Higher Ed pointed out that such services were often founded by UC alumni, including Travis Kalanick, co-founder of Uber, who went to the University of California, Los Angeles.

Brazil
Merger to create education colossus

Antitrust authorities in Brazil have approved a merger of two of the largest private higher education providers. The chains, Kro ton Educacional and Anhanguera Educacional, both trade on the São Paulo stock exchange. Any merger would create the world’s largest publicly traded for-profit education company, worth more than US$8 billion (£4.7 billion), according to a report in the DealBook financial news service of The New York Times. Institutions owned by the merged company would have more than 1 million students.

India
V-c steps down in row over four-year degrees

The University of Delhi’s vice-chancellor has resigned amid claims that he was pressured by India’s new government to scrap controversial four-year degrees. Dinesh Singh had been told by the University Grants Committee that he must abandon the move, which was aimed at boosting graduate employability but which critics said would price out poorer students. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party had pledged in its manifesto for state elections in Delhi last year that it would roll back the policy.

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