World in brief – 2 July 2015

Higher education news from around the globe

July 2, 2015
Student protest at Parliament, Rome, 2008
Source: Corbis

United States

Court backs loan curbs on for-profits

A federal court has backed the Obama administration’s plans to tighten rules on the for-profit higher education sector. The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, the for-profit sector lobby group, had been fighting the proposed “gainful employment rule”, which would mean that institutions whose graduates had high debt but low earnings could be cut off from federal student aid. But a judge’s ruling said that the government had the authority to regulate the industry. Arne Duncan, the education secretary, called the decision “a win for America’s students and taxpayers”.

The Netherlands

Peak fares raise eyebrows

A Dutch university spent almost €300,000 (£213,000) in a single year on taxis and cars for its three board members, an investigation found. Utrecht University provided little information about the purpose of the journeys, according to RTL news. Delft University of Technology spent €180,000 running two Mercedes with drivers, while the University of Amsterdam spent €9,000 on a business class plane trip to Brazil for a board member, despite rules restricting travel to economy class, the Dutch national broadcaster reported.


Wall-levellers head to Berlin

A Falling Walls Labs competition for promoting the work of young scientists, organised by the University of Luxembourg, has been held in the duchy for the first time. As part of the Falling Walls Foundation’s global initiative to foster exchange between the next generation of scientists and business talents, Luxembourg offered the opportunity to 12 students, early stage researchers and young professionals to present their research projects, initiatives or business ideas to the public. A hundred winners of national competitions – held in countries around the world – will compete in the finals in Berlin in November.


‘Obama U’ shuttered prior to US leader’s visit

A Kenyan university named after Barack Obama has been shut down ahead of a visit to the country this month by the US president. Last month, Kenya’s Commission of University Education ordered the closure of Barack Obama University, near Nairobi, because officials said that it was unregistered, had not met the requirements to be a university and intended to trade on the president’s name. But Michael Muiga, the university’s director, told The Star newspaper that the institution had the backing of Mr Obama’s family, and it would reopen, he claimed.


Sanitation worker’s daughter gains MSc at 15

A 15-year-old girl may be the youngest-ever Indian to gain a postgraduate degree, after passing a course at the university where her father is a sanitation worker. Sushma Verma finished an MSc in microbiology at Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University in Lucknow last month. “Her father, Tej Bahadur, 51, was a daily-wage labourer till two years ago and the entire family lived in a dilapidated room — until help poured in,” The Indian Express reported. The university appointed Mr Bahadur to the post of assistant supervisor (sanitation) to help him support his daughter.


Help build Sino-US links, Liu tells university chiefs

Liu Yandong, the Chinese vice-premier, called on universities in her nation and in the US to play a bigger role in relations between the countries. “I believe that universities are pioneers for people-to-people exchanges between our two countries, and also the driving force for China-US relations,” she said at the second China-US University Presidents Roundtable, held at Rice University in Houston. Ms Liu also said that universities in the two nations should “fully play the role as thinktanks and recognise the defining features and overriding trends in US-China relations”, reported Xinhua, the Chinese state news agency.

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