World Watch

04 October 2004

The Department of Education is legally challenging a Sea Point doctor's will, in which he created a bursary exclusively for white Christian men, as being discriminatory and unconstitutional. In papers before the Cape High Court, former minister of education Kader Asmal and UCT are seeking an order that will allow them to change Dr Edmund Scarbrow's 1920 will, claiming that it discriminates on the basis of race, gender and religion, is unconstitutional and not in the public interest. Should the application succeed, it will have major implications for the right of individuals to create bursaries exclusively for particular demographic or cultural groups.

In Nigeria, presidential visitation panels touring facilities in the nation's tertiary institutions have described the situation in most of the universities, polytechnics and colleges of education visited so far as shoddy. They also observed that academic and physical facilities in these institutions are in a deplorable state with insufficient lecture theatres/halls, laboratories, old and obsolete equipment and inhabitable hostels.

The High Court in Kampala, Uganda, has issued an interim order stopping Makerere University from launching their lucrative Master of Business Administration (MBA) programme. Makerere University Business School (MUBS) has taken the university to court following squabbles over the programme. MUBS accuses Makerere of starting the MBA course and poaching its external Bachelor of Commerce programme - and students - without notifying the school. The court order bars Makerere from taking over the students and running the MBA and external BCom degree.

Ivy League Columbia University in New York in the US, boasting a US$4.3-billion endowment, is feeling the pinch. Located on one of the most crowded and affluent islands in the world, Columbia is cramped for space. That constraint is beginning to threaten the institution's reputation for excellence, top administrators say. Now the university has proposed a US$5-billion campus expansion into Harlem, an area where jobs and affordable housing are scarce and gentrification is rampant. Residents are opposed to Columbia's growth plan, many believing that the university will not follow through on its promises to compensate the community with thousands of new jobs and billions of dollars in new economic activity.

The Unified State Examination, Russia's take on the American Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), promises to bring fairness to a corrupt college-admissions process, but some academics don't want to cede control. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, the tests would introduce objectivity into an education system grounded since its inception in subjectivity, and would rattle to the core the way high schools and universities operate. But the test has been met with such aggressive opposition and scepticism by many academics that the country's ministry of education is officially calling it an "experiment".

A survey commissioned by the European discount airline EasyJet found that only 24% of British parents of college graduates thought their children were intellectually stimulated by higher education. With hindsight, 65% of parents would recommend their children learn a trade or travel abroad as an educational alternative to college life, says a report of the poll of 1 748 parents.

The California Western School of Law recently helped organise an Intellectual Property Week in Chile, a project financed by the US government and United Pictures International. Faculty members from the San Diego school joined government lawyers and investigators to offer a series of workshops to train Chilean lawyers to prosecute intellectual-property fraud. As part of a free-trade agreement, Chile has promised to crack down on such crimes against American companies.

In an open letter published on web sites around China in September, He Weifang, a well-known professor of law, has made a bold call for the reversal of the Chinese government's decision to shut down an online bulletin board, based at Peking University, that was one of the nation's most popular Internet sites. He called the Yita Hutu bulletin board a key forum for open discussion in China, and asked Xu Zhihong, president of the university, to save it. "Over the past few years, YTHT has become an important source of information and a channel for discussion for tens of thousands of netizens around the world, including the teachers and students of our university," He said in the letter. On September 13 the Beijing Communications Administration, the government agency that regulates web sites in Beijing, reportedly ordered the permanent closure of YTHT, which is popular with Chinese students, instructors and alumni. Students at the university said no reason was given for the shutdown. Shortly afterwards, discussion of the closure was banned on other online discussion groups in China, and the YTHT domain name was put on the government list of filtered Internet keywords.

SOURCES:, Chronicle of Higher Education online, Independent Online.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Please view the republishing articles page for more information.