World in brief - 5 March 2015

March 5, 2015

United States
Students report being pressured into non-consensual sex

Almost 10 per cent of female and 4 per cent of male undergraduates say they have “been pressured or forced into sexual contact without their consent” during their four years at university, according to a survey of more than 500,000 students at 400 institutions in the US. The report Sexual Victimization and Social Norms on the College Campus, by sexual assault prevention training company EverFi, says that universities should “develop focused approaches to address their specific campus needs” relating to issues of sexual assault.

Poland
Overhaul for research evaluation

Plans for a new system to evaluate research have been announced by Poland’s minister of science and higher education. Its key objectives, Lena Kolarska-Bobińska explained, were to boost the “internationalisation of Polish universities and Polish science” and to take advantage of European funding initiatives – “not just to spend the money, but also to adjust our science and our thinking to new goals”. It is hoped that the reforms will foster more interdisciplinary research and more collaborations with industry, as well as facilitate work in new fields.

Turkey
Leftists suffer wrongful imprisonment, politician claims

Hundreds of left-wing students in Turkey have been wrongly jailed over charges of having links to terrorist groups, a leading politician has claimed. Veli Ağbaba, deputy chair of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), told a press conference on 30 January that more than 3,000 students are in prison, many of them on the basis of what he called spurious evidence of membership of a terrorist organisation. Students have also been imprisoned for reading Karl Marx, joining sit-ins in support of those whose relatives have disappeared and calling for democracy and freedom in universities, Mr Ağbaba said.

Guyana
Lockdown protest

About 30 members of a student society chained the main entrance of the University of Guyana’s Turkeyen campus on 21 February in a protest aimed at forcing a resumption of classes, which have been suspended since staff began a strike in late January. Academic and support staff began a sit-in on 26 January to press their demands for a 60 per cent increase in wages. Negotiations between university staff and management have since collapsed, although some lecturers have been taking classes, according to local media reports.

India
Sen to leave university post over political interference

Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has raised concerns about academic freedom in India after announcing that he will not seek a second term as a university chancellor because Narendra Modi’s government has “decided not to have me”. The economist and philosopher, who is chancellor of Nalanda University, told The Times of India that winning an election “does not give you permission to undermine the autonomy of academic institutions”. Professor Sen accused the government of using its powers over Nalanda as a “political weapon” because it was hostile to him.

Australia
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Universities should pay an escalating level of tax, or “subsidy”, on tuition fee rises above current price caps if Australia’s ceiling is lifted, the architect of income-contingent loans has suggested. The remarks by Australian National University economist Bruce Chapman come amid political deadlock over the government’s plans to abolish caps. In a policy with echoes of the Browne Review in England, Professor Chapman moots levies of up to 80 per cent on fee increases of more than A$10,000 (£5,057) above the current variable cap. The government is said to be considering the idea.

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