World Watch

26 May 2003
A bomb went off in an empty classroom at Yale University's law school last Wednesday afternoon, but no injuries were reported. The Federal Bureau of Investigation's Joint Terrorism Task Force was dispatched to the scene, but government officials told the Associated Press that preliminary investigations did not suggest a terrorist attack.

Prof Loyiso Nongxa's appointment as new vice-chancellor of Wits University will make him the first black to lead the institution. In a departure from recent contract-based appointments for its last two vice-chancellors, Wits announced that the 49-year old Nongxa, a mathematician who trained at Oxford as the country's first black Rhodes scholar, would have the job "until retirement". Nongxa has committed himself to bringing a new dimension to Wits, and plans to increase the proportion of black students in first year to 79% by 2006. "My appointment is the beginning of a new era - an era that will mark a turning point in Wits' reputation," he said in a Business Day report.

The University of Durban-Westville has launched an investigation into a secret R70-million loan and a R69.3-million offshore investment that was made without the council's knowledge. Vice-chancellor, Dr Saths Cooper, confirmed last week that a probe was underway into the legality of the transaction in which the university borrowed R70-million from Investec Bank Limited and then placed R69.3-million in an offshore account in Mauritius. Cooper has also recommended that the institution be named after the late African National Congress stalwart Walter Sisulu once it has merged with the University of Natal. One newspaper reported pointed out, however, that Cooper and his UND counterpart Malegapuru Makgoba had urged the public to avoid names of individuals when the national campaign to find a name for the new institution was launched. The guidelines issued by the national Department of Education also advised institutions earmarked for a merger to avoid doing this.

Education minister Prof Kader Asmal says transformation and reconstruction of the higher education sector was unfolding with increased support. Presenting his department's budget vote in the National Assembly in Cape Town on May 20, Asmal said the remaining mergers and incorporations approved by Cabinet were due to be implemented in January 2004 and during 2005.

Following vigilante-style attacks by masked men and ongoing allegations of and investigations into issues of racism, anti-Semitism and gay-bashing, the University of Stellenbosch made the newspapers again when an envelope containing white powder and a threatening letter, which included crude and racist remarks, was sent to a university vice-rector. The powder, which sparked an anthrax scare, has been sent for forensic tests.

According to a Sunday Times report, South African universities "have swapped the begging bowl for boardroom savvy as they turn their laboratories into money-spinning companies". Universities are earning millions from companies that were started as spin-offs from their research, said the article. The piece also noted that the NRF had said that the government preferred universities to focus on research relevant to southern Africa's needs - and which could provide potential profit.

American colleges and universities have collected more than US$827-million (R6.5-billion) in royalties and other payments from licenses on inventions developed by university researchers in the 2001 fiscal year, according to data from an annual survey. During that year, the 143 institutions that participated in the survey filed for more than 9 454 US patents, negotiated and signed more than 3 300 licenses, and created more than 402 start-up companies.

The day before attending the burial of anti-apartheid hero Walter Sisulu, Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe also witnessed the graduation of Zimbabwean students from Fort Hare University. The students are beneficiaries of the Presidential Scholarship Scheme introduced in 1995 to benefit those from poor families and those who fail to secure places at institutions in Zimbabwe.

Twelve of Nigeria's 24 federal universities have backed out of the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

The University of South Florida violated Sami Al-Arian's academic rights when it suspended and later fired the professor without giving him an opportunity to respond to the university's charges against him, the American Association of University Professors concluded in a report released two weeks ago. Federal law-enforcement officials arrested Al-Arian in February this year on charges of raising money to support Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a group that has been designated a terrorist organisation by the US Justice Department. He is currently being held without bond in a US federal prison facility.

Trips by American college alumni associations to Cuba are forbidden under new US Treasury Department rules. Americans are already barred by the US government from visiting Cuba except with special authorisation.

Sources:, Independent Online, Chronicle of Higher Education

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Monday Monthly

Volume 22 Edition 14

26 May 2003

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