World in brief - 30 October 2014

October 30, 2014

United States
Scrutiny over sexual assaults grows

There has been a 50 per cent rise in the number of government investigations into US higher education institutions’ handling of sexual assaults on their campuses in the past six months, according to government data reported in The Washington Post. The Department of Education is currently working on 89 cases at 85 colleges and universities, the newspaper said. This compares with 59 cases at 55 institutions in May.

Belgium
Flanders’ fees to grow

Undergraduate tuition fees in Flanders are to increase by almost 45 per cent despite continuing student protests. The majority of the 230,000 students in the Dutch-speaking Belgian province will have to pay €890 (£705) a year, up from €619, in annual inschrijvingsgeld (registration charges that are in effect tuition fees). The controversial hike fell short of the symbolically significant €1,000 mark that some observers expected after an austerity-minded centre-right coalition took power this summer.

China
It’s Party time again

China’s Communist Party has reaffirmed its “leadership” over the country’s universities. The party’s People’s Daily newspaper reported on a statement from the party’s Central Committee this month. “The core leadership of Party committees should be consolidated at universities,” the statement said, according to the newspaper. The newspaper added that the announcement “clarified the division of powers: Party committees are in charge of colleges’ reform, stability and ideology while presidents should focus on teaching, scientific research and daily operations of the school.”

Egypt
Bomb blast injures 10 at Cairo

In the latest unrest to hit Egypt’s universities, 10 people were wounded by a bomb that exploded outside Cairo University after reported clashes between Islamist students and police. Students supporting Mohammed Morsi, the Islamist former president who was ousted last year by the military, have battled with police at several universities in recent months. According to the Interior Ministry, six of those injured in the 22 October attack were police officers.

Syria
The lucky few: cohort of refugees at Turkish universities swells by 300%

Students forced to flee Syria’s civil war are struggling to continue their education abroad, a report warns. The number of Syrian students enrolled at Turkish universities grew by 300 per cent between the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years, a study by the Institute of International Education and the University of California, Davis found. However, this group represents only about 2 per cent of the university age refugee population. The report says this disruption could deprive Syria of its future professional class and increase the risk of isolation and radicalisation among its young people.

Australia
Medical grant success rates drop

Success rates at Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council have fallen to a historic low of less than 15 per cent in its latest grant round. Just under 14 per cent of the applications that the funding committees rated “very good” went on to secure financial support. The fall – from nearly 23 per cent five years ago – has been attributed to a policy shift towards supporting fewer but larger grants and a static grant budget. Only 553 applications were approved for funding, compared with 646 in last year’s funding round.

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