World in Brief

Times Higher Education, March 27, 2014 | Go to article overview

World in Brief


Australia

'Poor standards' a fiction

There is no evidence that some Australian universities are softer markers or have lower academic standards than others, a study has found. The four-year "Office for Learning and Teaching" project, led by Kerri-Lee Krause, pro vice-chancellor (education) and professor of higher education at the University of Western Sydney, analysed 11 universities and found no patterns in assessment outcomes and learning standards across institutions or disciplines, The Australian reported. Professor Krause said that there was greater commonality of views on threshold standards and whether an assessment task was a pass or fail than there was on assessment inputs (criteria, tasks and guidelines). She said that she hoped the pilot would prove to be a "validated robust approach for assuring subject achievement standards" that could be easily implemented more widely.

India

Women obliged to stay indoors

An Indian university locked female students in their dorms during a religious festival to prevent them causing a "nuisance". Officials at Punjabi University locked the entrances to all six girls' hostels on Holi, the festival of colours, banning students from leaving the buildings. Female students told The Times of India that entrances remained closed for almost the entire day. They also alleged that security guards lashed out at some of them after they found colours smeared on their faces, indicating that they had taken part in festivities. The step was taken "keeping in mind security of girl students and to prevent any kind of nuisance on the campus", said K. S. Dhillon, dean of students' welfare. "Misbehaviour with girls could have led to quarrels and clashes," he added.

United States

Beat the clock, and beat the fees

A US university is offering free tuition to students in their final semester if they can finish their degrees in four years. The University of Baltimore's policy could boost its flagging graduation rates and reduce student debt loads. The "Finish4Free" plan will be offered to first-year students starting in autumn 2014 when they reach their final year, The Baltimore Sun reported. …

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