World watch

January 19, 2001

Toronto
Universities in Ontario are facing problems in recruiting enough academics to accommodate a double cohort of high-school graduates in 2003-04 despite an injection of C$660 million (£300 million) by the provincial government. Research suggests that the current supply of PhD students and uncompetitive salaries may lead to a shortfall.

Teheran
Iran has hit back at German government criticism of harsh jail sentences given to six reformist intellectuals who attended a Berlin conference on the future of the Islamic state last year. The six include Fariborz Raisdana, an economics professor, who was sentenced to three years in prison and is barred from teaching for five years, and Ali Afshari, a prominent student leader, who received a five-year term. They were charged with undermining state security and other crimes. An allegation of espionage is still pending.

Colombo
Nine students have been arrested in Sri Lanka for putting up posters calling on the government to respond to a truce offered by Tamil Tiger rebels.

Pretoria
A leaked South African department of education report says one in four undergraduates, one in eight postgraduates and one in five technikon students is HIV-positive.

Rome
The rector of Rome's Tor Vergata University has called on the Italian government to use university personnel and laboratories to conduct anti-BSE tests. "Universities may be autonomous, but they are still state structures that would be used in emergencies," he said. The intervention came two days before Italy's first case of BSE was discovered.

Rio de Janeiro
Academics and education officials are concerned after a survey revealed that only 15.7 per cent of the country's student population is black or mixed-race compared with 45.2 per cent of the national population. The proportion dropped to less than 8 per cent for those who were on dentistry, veterinary, medicine and law courses. Education secretary Antonio Macdowell de Figueiredo said the figures reflected an inequality already evident in schools.

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