A survey of 3,700 scientists across disciplines has found large numbers reporting that their research and the way they spend their time have been severely affected by the across-the-board budget cuts ordered by Congress. The survey -- conducted by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular in collaboration with other science groups -- reported the following findings, among others:
18 percent are considering continuing their research career in another country.
64 percent report that they are having difficulty getting grant funding.
45 percent have a colleague who has lost his or her job.
80 percent report that the time they spend writing grant applications has increased.
64 percent said that their grant funding has decreased.
The University of Cambridge has ended the use of gender-specific rules for attire in graduation ceremonies, The Telegraph reported. Until now, men were required to wear suits, and women a dress or skirt. Now, all students have those options, and must also be neatly dressed. Students pushed for the changes, saying that the old rules were unfair to those who did not want to wear clothing associated with traditional gender identities.
The University of Liberia has announced that it will admit 1,800 students, even though they (like all 25,000 applicants this year) failed the entry exam, BBC reported. Officials have blamed the mass failures on lack of knowledge of English. It is unclear how the 1,800 who will be admitted were selected.
A “citation stacking" scheme, in which editors of certain Brazilian journals published articles cross-citing each others' publications in order to raise the journals’ “impact factors” – a measure of a journal’s influence based on the number of times its articles are cited – has been discovered, Nature reported. The four Brazilian journals are among 14 that have been suspended from the Thomson Reuters ranking of journals.
“We’ve been caught wrong-footed,” said Mauricio Rocha-e-Silva, a retired psychologist and former editor of one of the journals, Clinics. Rocha-e-Silva told Nature that the scheme emerged from frustration with the fact that an agency of Brazil’s national education ministry evaluates graduate programs based partly on the impact factors of the journals in which students publish; because emerging Brazilian journals are poorly ranked, researchers don't wish to publish in them and the local journals do not improve.
The article notes that the scheme is not limited to Brazilian journals -- journals in Italy and China are among those that have been sanctioned -- but only in the Brazil case has an explanation been put forward.
An internal report at the University of Oxford raises concerns about the “severe reputational risk” posed by the admission of wealthy foreigners – including American study abroad students – as visiting students for “purely commercial reasons," The Telegraphreported. The report states that the visiting students, who are typically admitted to an Oxford college for up to a year through third-party entities and pay a tuition rate higher than the £9,000 charged to British students, do not have to meet the same admissions standards as regular Oxford undergraduates: “Although there is some assessment of their GPA [Grade Point Average] scores before they are admitted by each college, the transaction seems to be one of a purely commercial kind."
In a reversal, the general and academic English programs run by INTO Oregon State University have gained initial accreditation from the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA). Oregon State’s intensive English institute lost its CEA accreditation in 2009 after the university partnered with the private, Britain-based INTO University Partnerships to offer English as a second language and “pathway” programs for international students. As Teresa D. O’Donnell, CEA’s executive director, explained, the partnership at that point fell outside the scope of CEA’s accreditation, which encompasses university-administered programs and independent language schools but made no provisions for public-private partnerships like INTO OSU’s. CEA has since altered its policies to allow for accreditation of such joint ventures if there is a direct reporting line from the English program to the university administration – meaning, in other words, that the director of the English language program reports to, say, a dean. (O'Donnell said that it is permissible under CEA's policies for there to be joint reporting lines, as long as one of the lines is to the university administration.)
“Many innovations in higher education are met with resistance at first so this adjustment in policy from CEA is a great step in opening up the model for how private companies and public institutions can partner,” David Stremba, managing director for North America at INTO University Partnerships, said in a statement.
The English language programs at Colorado State University and the University of South Florida, both of which have partnerships with INTO, are also CEA-accredited. The fourth and newest INTO site in the U.S., INTO Marshall University, in West Virginia, is accepting its first students this fall.
All 25,000 people who took the entrance exam for the University of Liberia failed this year, BBC reported. A university official said that most students "lacked enthusiasm and did not have a basic grasp of English," the BBC report said.
In another sign of tightening Chinese oversight of higher education, the government has barred a law professor -- Zhang Xuezhong of the East China University of Political Science -- from the classroom, the Associated Press reported. Zhang has been faulted by Chinese authorities for advocating that the country have a constitution under which the Communist Party would operate rather than having the constitution (as is currently the case) operate only within the rules of the party. Officials have said that Zhang's positions are unconstitutional.
The University of Sydney is debating the censorship of the cover of a student newspaper -- Honi Soit -- which was forced to place black bars over portions of 18 photographs of students' vulvas. The Student Representative Council, which publishes the paper, ordered the addition of the black bars, citing Australian laws on obscenity, The Sydney Morning Heraldreported. Michael Spence, vice chancellor of the university, told the newspaper that "personally my view is the cover is demeaning to women but I do realize I'm not the target audience for Honi Soit. However, the student body at the University of Sydney has a long and proud tradition of independence and it's a tradition we will continue to uphold."
Despite all the efforts to block the cover, copies of the original cover leaked and can be found on various websites and Twitter. (Readers who do not wish to see close-up female genitalia may not wish to follow this link, which shows the original version and the censored version.) While the body parts are not identified, some students have come forward to not only defend the project, but to point out their participation. See, for example, this blog post "That's My Vagina on Honi Soit."
The newspaper's website has been shaky with all the traffic since the controversy broke. But an editorial explaining the rationale behind the cover also was posted to the newspaper's Facebook page. "Eighteen vulvas. All belong to women of Sydney University. Why are they on the cover of Honi Soit?" says the editorial. "We are tired of society giving us a myriad of things to feel about our own bodies. We are tired of having to attach anxiety to our vaginas. We are tired of vaginas being either artificially sexualized (see: porn) or stigmatized (see: censorship and airbrushing). We are tired of being pressured to be sexual, and then being shamed for being sexual. The vaginas on the cover are not sexual. We are not always sexual. The vagina should and can be depicted in a non-sexual way – it’s just another body part. 'Look at your hand, then look at your vagina,' said one participant in the project. 'Can we really be so naïve to believe our vaginas the dirtiest, sexiest parts of our body?'"