28 July 2003
In an address last week to students, staff, parents and other interested parties, the University of Stellenbosch's rector, Prof Chris Brink, said that by 2012, the predominantly white, Afrikaans university hoped to "look more like the rest of the country", with students who were comfortable with one another. The gathering was arranged so that Brink could outline the future of the institution following a spate of negative publicity in recent months over language, diversity, racist violence and amalgamation.

Mondli Hlatshwayo, an MA sociology student at Wits University, is taking steel giant Iscor to court for refusing to disclose information on labour practices during the apartheid years. Hlatshwayo is conducting research on The politics of production and forms of worker responses at Iscor's Vanderbijlpark Works, 1965-1973 and needs access to reports or minutes of meetings (dealing with labour relations, health and safety issues) of Iscor's Vanderbijlpark Works management and compound or hostel managers during this period. Iscor claims that it is a private company and does not have to make its documents public.

The office of the deputy minister of education, Mosibudi Mangena, hosted a seminar in Johannesburg last week to motivate girls who excelled in mathematics, science and technology as part of government's and the private sector's move to increase the number of women taking up career paths in these fields. The Girl learner motivational seminars are part of interventions by the national department of education.

According to an article in Business Day, government's plans to bolster the higher education sector with 50 newly launched Further Education and Training (FET) colleges has received a setback, with a survey revealing that they do not meet the needs of students or the labour market. The survey, to be released soon in the Human Sciences Research Council's (HSRC) publication, Technical College Responsiveness, has cast doubt on the ability of SA's colleges to produce skilled graduates for the country's growing economy.

Under attack from some lower-profile colleges and members of Congress, presidents of some American colleges that are the country's biggest sports powerhouses have defended their governance of the football-bowl system. The Bowl Championship Series (BCS) is open to all qualified teams, they said, but they agreed to discuss the concerns of colleges whose fans believe they have been unjustly shut out of the highest-profile and richest-paying bowl games. The BCS's four biggest money-spinning leagues generate around $13-million (about R98.5-million) a year.

More than 2 400 professors, students and others have signed an international petition to support a sexologist in Taiwan who may be imprisoned for two years and dismissed from her university if she is found guilty of breaking the island's obscenity laws. The petition is in response to a complaint filed against Josephine Ho, a tenured English professor and founder of the Centre for the Study of Sexualities at National Central University. The complaint asserts that the centre's web page, which is run by Ho, contained a hyperlink to another website that displayed detailed pictures of bestiality. That link could be punishable under a law, designed to protect children, that forbids individuals to post obscenities on the Internet.

Billed by administrators as the largest women's university in the world (it boasts an enrolment of 21 000 students), Ewha Womans University in South Korea, which in January reversed its decades-old policy of expelling undergraduates who married, has decided to readmit women who were once expelled for that reason. Twenty-one former students applied by the June 5 deadline for the coming academic year, with 15 of the applicants over 50 years old. The ban on married undergraduates began in 1946 at the 117-year old institution, and at least 12 students have in recent years have been forced to quit or were denied a degree under the regulation.

The Harvard University Medical School will establish a series of research and training programmes in the United Arab Emirates to help improve the quality of medical education in the Middle East.

The UK's Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion has proposed that parents who can afford independent education should pay the cost of their children's university courses as well. The tuition fees of up to £10 500 (more than R127 000) a year being proposed by some leading universities should apply only to students from fee-paying schools, said the Centre. Under the new "top-up fees" system devised by some of England's leading universities, students would be charged up to £10,500 a year, depending on the status and "market value" of the university they attend.

Sources: Independent Online,, Chronicle of Higher Education,

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