Photo: David Schexnaydre / Flickr

Global Student Stories – 19/06/16

Here are this weeks global student stories. We have stories about Turkish academics, the high rate of students studying abroad in Australia, sexual assault at Stanford University and increased surveillance at Wuchang University of Technology in China.

USA: Stanford sexual assault

On 2 June, Brock Turner, a Stanford University student and a prominent swimmer, was convicted on three counts of sexual assault. He was sentenced to just six months in jail, despite a maximum sentence of 14 years.

One of the reasons for his short sentence was said to be his potential as an athlete. This has since resulted in a massive backlash in the media and a campaign to impeach the presiding judge in the case.

The court case became the centre of the controversy after the victim, who has chosen to remain anonymous, published the transcript of her final statement to her attack.

The statement addressed Brock directly, describing in harrowing detail her rape and the subsequent events. At the end of her speech, she stated: “Although I can’t save every boat, I hope that by speaking today, you absorbed a small amount of light, a small knowing that you can’t be silenced.”

Turkey: Academics to be banned from political activity

The Turkish government are drafting a bill to ban political activity amongst academics.

This is being seen as part of an attempt to implement greater discipline on Turkish universities.

Activities banned would include membership of political parties, political campaigning or activism and joining or supporting acts of ‘terror or division’.

The bill has been drafted by the ruling Justice and Development Party or AKP. It specifies four types of punishment if academics are found breaking the ban: reprimands, forfeiture of allowances, suspension of career promotions and suspension from duty.

The head of Turkey’s Higher Education Council, or YÖK, will also have the power to launch a disciplinary investigation against any academic.

Robert Quinn, head of the Scholars at Risk Network, commented: “Bestowing the head of YÖK with broad powers to initiate investigations of academics across the country is an affront to institutional autonomy.

“Combine this with the attempt to strip academics of basic political rights due all citizens and you eviscerate academic freedom.”

Australia: More students than ever studying abroad

The number of Australian students studying abroad has increased fourfold in the past decade.

In 2014, more than 30,000 students studied, worked or volunteered in another country as part of their Australian degree. This was massively up when compared to just 7,000 students in 2005.

This data comes alongside a survey conducted by the Universities of Australia, showing student satisfaction is also at an all-time high.

Of the 8000 students surveyed, 48% were actively considering and researching a year abroad.

It also found that students see overseas study as an opportunity to challenge themselves, enhance their future job prospects, build new networks and gain independence.

Belinda Robinson, Chief Executive of Universities of Australia, commented: “This expansion in the number of students taking up overseas study opportunities shows students are increasingly aware of the huge benefits for their education and career prospects.”

China: Surveillance in university dormitories

The Wuchang University of Technology in China reportedly paid six million Yuan (£645,000) to install CCTV cameras across their entire campus, including in students’ dormitories.

The reason for such surveillance, according to Sun Yi, from the university’s business school, is to encourage ‘good habits’ among students. The belief at the university is that it will improve behaviour by cutting down on smartphone use and rest breaks.

Not everyone is so happy about this increased and unprecedented surveillance. They believed it is an unforgivable invasion of their privacy, and women in particular were concerned and felt ‘uncomfortable’ by surveillance in accommodation, especially in summer when students wore fewer clothes.

This increased surveillance follows a trend for increased government surveillance across China in general, with political dissidents even reportedly waking up to find CCTV installed outside their homes to spy on and intimidate them.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.