World in brief - 4 September 2014

September 4, 2014

Source: Alamy

Campus ‘stalking’ tips draw fire

A student newspaper article offering first years advice on how to date a teaching assistant – including stalking them on social networks – provoked outrage at Western University in London, Ontario. The piece was one of several controversial items in a special edition of the university’s student newspaper, The Gazette, along with others detailing drinking games and the illegal drugs freshers might encounter. “The time is long past when these kinds of articles can be defended as being either satire or humorous,” said Jane Deakin, Western’s provost and vice-president (academic). Copies of the issue were later scrapped and an editorial apology given.

Lifelong learners, your overtime is up

Greece is to remove some 118,000 “eternal” students from its universities. The issue of those remaining on universities’ books long after dropping out has plagued the sector for decades, with university leaders claiming that they interfere in campus elections and politics. Some “eternals” have been students since the 1950s, the newspaper Kathimerini reported on its website. Education minister Andreas Loverdos said that anyone spending more than 11 years on a course that should take five years or less will no longer be classed a student from 31 August.

Rankings target ‘utterly unattainable’, says university head

A Japanese university president has described the government’s goal of having 10 universities in the world’s top 100 by 2020 as “utterly unattainable”. Takamitsu Sawa, president of Shiga University, said that the only route to boosting current performance – Japan currently has just two institutions in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings – was to hire more foreign academics. However, said Professor Sawa, writing in The Japan Times, “unless the government will guarantee shouldering the personnel costs, it will be impossible to fill 10 per cent of the teaching posts at Japanese universities with scholars from other countries”.

Slow pace of reforms sends students back to the streets

Clashes between protesters and riot police took place in the nation’s capital on 21 August. Tens of thousands of students took part in a largely peaceful rally in Santiago calling for President Michele Bachelet’s government to speed up education reforms and bring private universities under state control. Police used water cannon and tear gas to disperse participants, including small groups of masked protesters throwing sticks and stones. Student leaders claimed that 80,000 took part. Chilean authorities said the figure was 25,000.

Chinese funding for campus tower

A Chinese company has undertaken to construct a new 22-storey building at the University of Nairobi. According to Chinese state media, the new facility is budgeted at $313 million (£188.7 million) and is to be financed by a public-private partnership. It will house lecture halls, administrative offices and conference facilities, and will be built by construction firm China Wuyi. The foundation stone was laid by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta at a ceremony last week.

Research cash faces axe if Pyne’s bill stalls

Australia’s education minister, Christopher Pyne, has reportedly threatened to cut research spending if his tertiary sector reform plans are blocked in the country’s upper house. Mr Pyne last week introduced legislation to deregulate tuition fees, decrease per-student funding by an average of 20 per cent and increase the interest rate on student loans. Observers have predicted trouble for the bill in the Senate, where the government does not have a majority, but the Australian press reported that the government has identified cuts to research funding as a potential bargaining chip.

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