World in brief

September 18, 2014

United States

Humanities units hang on despite dip in student numbers

The number of humanities departments at US universities has remained largely unchanged since 2007-08 despite fears that the subject is in decline, according to a report by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. A small number of departments awarding degrees in 2007-08 no longer did so in 2012-13, ranging from one of the 19 history of science departments surveyed to 40 of the more than 1,250 departments of languages and literatures other than English. However, the research found that the number of students majoring in the humanities has slipped.


A great funding leap forward

The Polish government has announced a significant funding boost, which the minister of science and higher education, Lena Kolarska-Bobińska, described earlier this month as “a great leap forward”. The draft budget for 2015 outlines an increase in national spending on higher education of Zl900 million (£171 million), a 6 per cent rise, to about Zl15 billion. Science will receive an injection of Zl690 million (a 10.2 per cent rise), bringing total funding for science close to Zl7.5 billion.


Capitalist comrades can study together

An international university aiming to train the future business leaders of Russia and China is set to open next year. The Russo-Chinese International University is expected to enrol its first students in 2015 after a deal was signed this month by Moscow State University and Beijing Polytechnical University. Situated in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, the joint university will educate about 500 students in its first few years, with numbers then set to increase to 5,000. About 80 per cent of students will be Chinese and will be taught in three languages before undertaking work placements at some of Russia and China’s major corporations.


Más, por favor

Retired academics in Cuba are being encouraged to return to work to help teach students. Cuba’s Council of Ministers has announced that retired professors returning to classrooms will be paid pre-retirement salary and may continue to draw their pension. Economics, natural sciences, agronomy and engineering are the subjects where more professors are required.

South Africa

Don’t let it go to pieces, ministry tells university

The South African government has called on the management of a leading university to meet with the student representative council after a recent strike over registration fee increases led to criminal damage. The Higher Education Ministry advised officials of the University of KwaZulu-Natal that “no party must withdraw” from talks “until a solution is found”. It also warned: “No amount of anger and frustration can justify the act that vandalizes public property that belongs to the future generations of students.”


Teach or research: it’s one or the other

Only half of academics in Australia now undertake both teaching and research, down from 61 per cent a decade ago, a study says. The shift is largely the result of a big rise in the number of junior-level teaching-only posts between 2002 and 2012 and a dramatic growth in the number of research-only jobs, according to the report by the Group of Eight, which represents Australia’s elite universities. The report says there are “diminishing entry opportunities to the traditional teaching and research academic career”.

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