World in brief – 30 April 2015

April 30, 2015

United States
Rich get richer faster

The 40 richest universities in the US are getting wealthier at a faster rate than other higher education institutions, according to a report by the Moody’s Investors Service credit agency. The 10 richest universities had about a third of total cash and investments at four-year institutions in 2014, while the top 40 had $6.3 billion (£4.2 billion), or two-thirds, The Wall Street Journal reported. “The expectation is that this [gap] will only widen,” said Karen Kedem, vice-president and senior credit officer at Moody’s.

The Netherlands
Cycling professor clips in

A university in the Netherlands has appointed an American transport expert as its first professor of cycling. Kevin Krizek, professor of programmes in environmental design at the University of Colorado Boulder, will research the Dutch enthusiasm for cycling when he takes up the visiting professorship at Radboud University Nijmegen. Professor Krizek will also work with city officials on issues relating to electric bicycles and unused bikes parked outside railway stations, the DutchNews website reported.

Hong Kong
Apology over ‘pro-China’ remarks

A senior figure at the University of Hong Kong has backtracked after provoking anger when he said that all undergraduates would have to take part in exchange programmes with mainland China by 2022. Critics of the plan said it was an attempt to exert pro-China influence at the university, some of whose students and staff participated in last year’s pro-democracy Occupy Central campaign. Ian Holliday, pro vice-chancellor (teaching and learning), is reported to have told students at a dinner: “If students do not wish to go to China, they should not come to Hong Kong U.” But he later told reporters that he wished to “apologise unreservedly for the clumsy and inappropriate remarks”.

Demands for free higher education lead to protests

Students in Chile took to the streets of Santiago to demand free higher education and to protest against corruption. President Michelle Bachelet unveiled a series of tax reforms a year ago designed to fund free education for all. Campaigners from Education 2020, a non-profit organisation that promotes equality in education, has said that there may not be enough money to cover the higher education portion of the programme. Event organisers said that 150,000 students took part in the march, but police put the figure closer to 20,000. More than 130 protesters were taken into custody and seven police officers were injured.

Government not budging on blacklist

India’s government has refused to clear 34 of 44 blacklisted higher education institutions, going against the recommendation of the country’s University Grants Commission. The Ministry of Human Resource Development, which is led by Smriti Irani, said that the higher education regulator’s report that recommends clearing the institutions was “flimsy”. The previous government recommended the blacklisting of the institutions in 2009, saying that they were not fit for “deemed to be university” status, which allows institutions to award their own degrees.

Recruitment agents ‘falsify’ students’ records

Australia’s leading universities, including the University of Sydney and the Australian National University, “have engaged corrupt education agents who are falsifying the academic records of prospective international students to ensure their acceptance”, according to reports. The Sydney Morning Herald reported on an ABC TV investigation “which also exposed soft-marking, mass-cheating, and the bribery of academics as a commonplace occurrence in Australia’s higher education sector”. The investigation found that many students were arriving at Australian universities with scores of 4.5 on the International English Language Testing System, well below the exam’s recommended minimum score of 7 for university entry.

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