World in brief - 6 March 2014

March 6, 2014

United States
China-US research role for Rudd

The former Australian prime minister, Kevin Rudd, has taken up a new role at a prestigious US university, leading a major research project into United States-China relations. Mr Rudd will head the Harvard University project and split his time between Boston, Beijing and his hometown of Brisbane, ABC Radio Australia reported. Mr Rudd, who has worked in China and speaks Mandarin, said he was delighted at his appointment as a senior fellow at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. “I believe the China project is important if we are to advance both the concept and the substance of what the Chinese call ‘a new type of great power relationship’ between Washington and Beijing.” The project will explore the new shape of the relationship between the two superpowers as China’s economy looks likely to surpass the US’ over the next decade.

Free university tuition for women

Female students in all publicly aided higher education institutions (both state and private) in an Indian state will receive free education from the next academic year to improve girls’ enrolment into higher education, the  regional government’s minister for the sector has announced. R. V.  Deshpande said the Karnataka state government will cover tuition fees after revealing that out of 7 million students in the region, only 1.7 million have access to higher education or reach this stage in their education. Mr Deshpande made the statement at the inauguration of new infrastructure for the postgraduation centre of SDM College at Ujire, The Times of India reported. Describing students as a priceless human resource for the country, Mr Deshpande added that it was imperative to bring all students into mainstream society by granting them access to higher education.

South Africa
‘Racist’ intent of gesture denied

A South African university has been accused of misleading the country’s education minister about its attempts to stamp out racism. It follows the recent publication of a photograph in the Beeld newspaper of first-year students at North West University dressed in uniforms and apparently giving Nazi-style salutes. A statement released on behalf of the Department of Higher Education and Training said “it is clear that the university misled the minister in 2010” when reporting progress on its response to a task force that criticised some practices at the institution, which has a significant number of white, Afrikaans-speaking students. The university apologised but also said the “gesture should in no way be construed as a Nazi salute, but…purely as a way of greeting by a small group of residences, with no ulterior motives whatsoever”.

Integration despite differentiation

An Arab academic has been elected to a key role at the Israeli education council in a move that has been praised by the country’s education minister. Faisal Azaiza, a scholar in the School of Social Work at the University of Haifa, was unanimously elected deputy chairman of the Council for Higher Education’s budget committee last week. Professor Azaiza has been a member of the education council for 10 years and its budget panel for four years, and was its first Arab appointee. Shay Piron, the education minister, praised Professor Azaiza for using his skills and experience to integrate into Israeli society, the Haaretz newspaper reported. “I am certain that in his current position he will continue to contribute to and advance the higher education system,” he said.

State funding for online study

At least 500 students will be funded by the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais to complete online MBAs provided by Veduca, which is aiming to be the world’s main distance learning site for Portuguese speakers. The students will take Veduca’s MBA in engineering and innovation, which is accredited by the Brazilian Ministry of Education. A further 54 of Veduca’s massive open online courses will be available to local students on probability and statistics, basic physics and bioenergetics. The courses will be delivered through the Integrated and Open University of Minas Gerais, a project of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education designed to boost the qualifications of local people by offering postgraduate courses through distance learning.

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