Student news wrap 8/08/18

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Student news from around the world.

Counting the cost of #FeesMustFall

Prompted by questions posed by the Democratic Alliance (DA) in parliament, Higher Education and Training Minister Naledi Pandor catalogued how laboratories, libraries and buildings were set alight and vandalised on campuses across the country over a three-year period. Universities reported that direct damage came to R492.4 million during the 2015-16 financial year, R237.7m during 2016-17 and R56.5m in 2017-18.

The three universities that bore the brunt of the damages were North-West University (NWU) at R198m after its Mafikeng campus was set alight, the University of Johannesburg (UJ) at R144m due to fire and vandalism and the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) at R100m for its torched law library and vandalised buildings.

“The costs to universities have been astronomical,” said Universities SA chief executive Ahmed Bawa. “I suspect the costs are much more substantial, as these figures do not include the costs of additional security or the loss of study time,” he added. Bawa also stated that universities still faced disruption as students continued to protest over problems with their financial aid and inadequate accommodation. – Read the full article on the Business Day site.

Bangladeshi students bring traffic to a halt for safer roads

After two school children were hit and killed by a speeding bus which lost control in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka on July 29, the country has been in the grip of mass protests bringing traffic to a halt as students demand safer roads. Thousands of schoolchildren and students blocked roads and intersections stopping vehicles and demanding to see the licences of drivers and checking if vehicles were roadworthy.

The incident took place in Dhaka, a city of 18 million people, where traffic is notoriously dangerous and buses regularly race each other to get to passengers. Last year saw 4,000 pedestrians killed in Bangladesh. This past weekend saw police using teargas and rubber bullets on students and skirmishes continued on Monday as police clashed with students on university campuses and in residential areas.

Journalists were also attacked and threatened with one female reporter being physically assaulted by a group of men after she had taken footage of them. “They kept saying that if they found I didn’t delete it, ‘you’re done… no-one can save you’,” the woman told the BBC, wishing to remain anonymous. “There’s now fear that those speaking to international media are being targeted.”

While the government has promised to address road safety concerns and approved a new Road Transport Act, officials insisted that they want the protests to end immediately. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina told students to return to their studies and that their demands will be “implemented soon and done systematically”. Rights group Amnesty International called for a stop to the government’s “violent crackdown” on “overwhelmingly peaceful student protesters”. – Read the full story on the BBC News site

Tokyo med school caught altering results to keep women out

Tokyo Medical University has admitted to routinely altering entrance test scores to keep women out, it was reported earlier this week. The scandal was uncovered when it was claimed that the university upped the scores of a bureaucrat’s son to help him gain admission. A probe found the alterations started as early as 2006 in order to keep the percentage of women in the school at 30% or lower.

The discrimination was the result of a view that women would not be reliable doctors as female doctors often quit when starting their own families. Women empowerment minister Seiko Noda called the practice “disturbing”. The university’s vice president and managing director issued an apology and has pledged that next year’s entrance exams would be fair but did not reveal how this would be achieved. – Read the full story on the Mail & Guardian website