World in brief - 4 December 2014

December 4, 2014

Source: Alamy

United States
Millions balance parenthood and study

More than a quarter (26 per cent) of undergraduate students in the US – some 4.8 million – are raising dependent children, a study has found. Women make up 71 per cent of all student parents, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research study, while roughly 2 million students (43 per cent of the student parent population) are single mothers. Students who are single fathers make up 11 per cent.

Spain
Sí, Podemos – party founded by academics wins approval in Spain

A far-left political party founded by university lecturers in January has topped an opinion poll in Spain. Podemos, an anti-establishment movement set up by a group of academics at Complutense University of Madrid, gained 8 per cent of the national vote and five seats in the European Parliament elections in May. A survey published in El Mundo last week gave Podemos 28.3 per cent of the vote, two points more than the ruling centre-right Popular Party and more than eight points ahead of the opposition centre-left Socialist Party.

Iran
Fifth time lucky for president’s nominee

Iran’s parliament has approved President Hassan Rouhani’s fifth nominee to head the country’s Ministry of Science, Research and Higher Education. The post has been held by a caretaker since August, when former minister Reza Faraji-Dana was impeached over alleged links to pro-democracy unrest after the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009. President Rouhani’s previous nominees were rejected in recent months. Mohammad Farhadi, a physician and former health minister, proved to be more acceptable in a vote on 26 November.

Brazil
Campus parties suspended after rape allegations

The Faculty of Medicine at the University of São Paulo has suspended campus parties after a public prosecutor opened an inquiry into allegations of rape, sexual assault and racism. Three victims of sexual violence at parties organised by a medical students’ organisation at the university gave evidence at the São Paulo State Legislative Assembly on 11 November. One of the victims has told the media that she was discouraged from reporting the attack to the authorities.

Thailand
Prime minister responds to students’ ‘Hunger Games’ protest

Thailand’s prime minister has been forced to respond after a high-profile Hunger Games-inspired protest against his rule. When Prayut Chan-o-cha made a speech last month, five students from Khon Kaen University flashed a three-finger salute, a symbol of rebellion against a tyrannical government in the film. They were protesting against his military government, which came to power in a coup in May. General Prayut said he was open to hearing students’ and academics’ ideas on reform in a forum, but urged them not to protest “at this time”.

Australia
Senate urged to pass reform bill

The umbrella body representing Australia’s universities has written to senators urging them to pass the government’s higher education reform bill, which is stalled in Australia’s upper house. The Universities Australia letter says that declines in per-student funding mean “a new approach…is needed to maintain quality”. However, it adds, proposals to cut the teaching budget by a fifth and to charge a real rate of interest on student loans should be eased.

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