World in brief - 6 November 2014

November 6, 2014

Source: Alamy

United States
Obama supports affirmative action

US President Barack Obama has expressed support for affirmative action. He told The New Yorker that if certain universities “do it in a careful way”, then they should be able to consider ethnicity and race during admissions. He added that the “single most important thing” he could do “for poor black kids” would be to make sure that they get a good school education. If they come “out of high school well prepared, then they’ll be able to compete for university slots”, he said.

Austria
Ban right-wing fraternities’ paraphernalia, says students’ union

Some Austrian student fraternities should be banned from wearing their traditional hats and chest bands on campus, a students’ union has said. Burschenschaften fraternities, some of which have supported right-wing or nationalist ideas, should also be banned from holding weekly meetings outside the University of Vienna, according to its students’ union branch. Union representatives have asked the university to “make a clear public statement against right-wing extremist and German nationalist ideology”, a local newspaper reported.

Iran
Parliament rejects president’s choice for higher education minister

Iran’s parliament has again rejected the man chosen by President Hassan Rouhani to take on the job of overseeing universities, which have been at the centre of pro-democracy protests. The president, seen as a moderate, nominated Mahmoud Nili Ahmadabadi, chancellor of Tehran University, to be minister for science, research and higher education – his third attempt to fill the post since his election last year. Parliament, dominated by conservatives, rejected this, despite a personal plea by Mr Rouhani.

China
Launch of Confucius Institute strengthens ties with China

China’s academic relationship with Cyprus has been praised by the Cypriot president at the launch of the country’s new Confucius Institute. Speaking at the event, which officially initiated cooperation between the Cyprus host institution and a Chinese partner, Nicos Anastasiades said: “I am certain that the collaboration of the University of Cyprus and the Beijing Institute of Education will be a bright example of exceptional partnership, which will enhance the bonds between our two countries on various levels,” the Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported.

Zimbabwe
Public kissing ban described as ‘nonsensical’

Students at the University of Zimbabwe have criticised a ban on kissing in public. Authorities at the Harare institution included being “caught in an intimate position” on campus by publicly kissing or having sex in a list of offences that would “attract immediate eviction” from halls of residence. Tsitsi Mazikana, student representative on gender issues, said the ban was “nonsensical”. Strict rules on mixing with the opposite sex are already in place at the university, which provoked students’ anger seven years ago by banning beer from campus.

Australia
Murdoch v-c resigns

Richard Higgott has resigned as vice-chancellor of Murdoch University and announced his retirement. Professor Higgott was suspended in September after allegations of unspecified misconduct were handed to Western Australia’s Corruption and Crime Commission. The former University of Warwick pro vice-chancellor, who had led the Perth institution since 2011, said: “At 65 I have other activities I wish to pursue, including a large writing programme.” Murdoch chancellor David Flanagan praised Professor Higgott’s “vision and leadership in refocusing Murdoch into a globally recognised research-led university”.

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