Showing posts from April, 2013

Higher education that makes a difference

Posted by Arno Maierbrugger on March 15, 2012 in Education , Higher Education , Human Resources , Interviews     Professor Dato’ Omar Osman, USM’s Vice Chancellor Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), the second oldest university in Malaysia, is known for its special approach to higher education where students can reach a high degree of specialisation by combining related subjects and organised courses. Fields that USM promotes and develops are natural sciences, applied sciences, medical, health and pharmaceuticals, building technology, social sciences, humanities, and education. Inside Investor spoke with Professor Dato’ Omar Osman, USM’s Vice Chancellor, about the structure of this educational strategy and its focus on benefiting the people. Q: Could you give us an overview of the major milestones that USM has passed in building its brand credibility in the local education sector? A: We as a university did not reach the half-century mark yet, but I bel

Timor-Leste: Sweet potato improves life for subsistence farmers

27 April 2013 Issue No:269   The golden flesh of new sweet potato varieties is lifting living standards in one of the world’s poorest nations, Timor-Leste. Thanks to new varieties of the vegetable, farmers in the young tropical nation not only have a more reliable crop that out-yields local varieties of sweet potato, they can also produce a highly nutritious food. Sweet potato is mainly a breakfast or snack food on the island and is boiled in water, baked or roasted over an open fire, or fried in oil. But researchers have found that the new varieties are helping improve life for Timor-Leste’s 1.1 million people, of whom more than 80% are subsistence farmers. Professor William Erskine, director of the University of Western Australia’s centre for legumes in Mediterranean agriculture, co-authored a report of the research outlining the uses of sweet potato in a country that is third in a UN ranking of countries with the highest percentage of chronically malnourishe

UNITED STATES: ‘Jesus’ exercise ban curtailed academic freedom

The Palm Beach Post 27 April 2013 Issue No:269   A faculty committee at Florida Atlantic University has made a preliminary finding that academic freedom was compromised when the institution banned a controversial classroom exercise that asked students to write ‘Jesus’ on a piece of paper and step on it, writes George Bennett for The Palm Beach Post . The finding was read during a packed faculty senate meeting on 19 April. While teaching an intercultural communications class in February, instructor Deandre Poole followed the manual for a popular textbook, which said the ‘Jesus’ exercise was intended to teach students that “even though symbols are arbitrary, they take on very strong and emotional meanings”. Florida Atlantic University initially defended the exercise when a student went to a local TV station with complaints about it. But when a national uproar ensued, administrators apologised and ordered it removed from the curriculum without consulting faculty. P

UNITED STATES: After Boston, fear of backlash against Muslim students

Dan Berrett, The Chronicle of Higher Education 27 April 2013 Issue No:269   When she learned that two bombs had been detonated at the Boston Marathon, one thought crossed Ifrah Inam's mind: "Oh God, don't let it be a Muslim." This is an article from The Chronicle of Higher Education , America’s leading higher education publication. It is presented here under an agreement with University World News . The day after the bombing, the student in the pharmacy programme at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in Boston briefly considered visiting Boylston Street, the site of the attack. She decided not to, in part because she worried what the reaction might be to her hijab . "You couldn't help but be paranoid," said Inam, who is president of her campus's Muslim Students Association. Paranoia Paranoia has been in ample supply since the two bombs killed three people and injured more than 175 others. Before the susp

THAILAND: University autonomy prompts concern over student fees

Suluck Lamubol 27 April 2013 Issue No:269   Thailand’s government is continuing to allow universities more autonomy, claiming that this will deliver administrative flexibility and freedom from state bureaucracy. But it faces opposition from students and academics concerned about fees and lack of accountability. Last month the Thai parliament approved the first readings of three bills that make the three main universities in Bangkok – Thammasat, Kasetsart and Suan Dusit Rajabhat – autonomous bodies, granting executive and administrative power to their councils instead of the universities being subject to the Ministry of Education, as they currently are. The bills mean that the universities will no longer be guaranteed state funding subsidies per student, as financial responsibility will fall on the universities, but they will receive an annual block grant from the state budget. Among Thailand’s 172 universities, there are 15 universities that are already autono

GLOBAL: Scientists sent to prison for fraudulent conduct

Geoff Maslen 25 April 2013 Issue No:269  Every year around the world, scientists and other researchers are found to have committed various acts of fraud, often after they were discovered to have manipulated research findings. But rarely do they suffer any more severe punishment than being dismissed and, occasionally, having their reputations irreparably damaged in the media. Sometimes, though, a fraudster is actually sent to jail – as happened last month when a British scientist was convicted of scientific fraud after falsifying research data. Steven Eaton became the first person to serve time under the UK’s 1999 Good Laboratory Practice Regulations and was sentenced to three months in jail. Eaton had tampered with data from pre-clinical trials of an anti-cancer drug while working at the now-closed Edinburgh branch of US pharmaceutical company Aptuit. The BBC reported that in handing down the sentence, Sheriff Michael O’Grady said had the fraud not been discovere