International Brief

$165 billion for student aid in USAPresident Obama’s 2013 budget proposal was outlined on February 13th with $165 billion earmarked as federal student aid for those in higher education, an $11.5 billion increase on the previous year.The expenditures are forecast to include $36.1 billion in Pell Grants, $1.1 billion in Federal Work Study assistance and $8.5 billion for the Perkins Loan Program. This combination of programs constitutes the backbone of federal support for students in higher education in the United States.Accessibility of federal funding will, however, be subject to Obama’s Race to the Top programme and a university’s eligibility to receive the funds will depend on factors such as fees, graduation rates, student loan repayments, average student debt, and graduate earning potential.In conjunction with budgetary proposals, Obama has appealed to Congress to extend the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, which caps interest rates on student loan repayments at 3.5 per cent. Were the act to expire, as forecast, on July 1st, interest rates could rise to 6.8 per cent.With Obama’s budget facing a political impasse, there is little expectation that the provisions for higher education will be passed or that the Student Aid Act will be renewed.Cambridge University students to go to tribunal over summer camp scam Forty-one Cambridge University students have taken the director of the Cambridge College Program Taryn Edwards, to a UK Employment Tribunal in an effort to recover thousands of pounds they claim they are owed for summer work in 2011.As the tribunal operates outside of the court system, it lacks the ability to directly extract payment from the American registered company. However, students are also seeking an official condemnation from the CUSU in order to dissuade potential staff from participating in the program, which is scheduled to run again in summer 2012.According to its website, the goal of the programme is to “not only offer challenging academic courses, but also to incorporate an in-depth course study through lectures and excursions to expose scholars to both cultural and historic venues, which will broaden their horizons during their stay in England.”The target scholars are “high-school age” students who seek to participate in educational and cultural activities in the UK during the summer while the staff are partly recruited from the university student population.Ms Edwards is additionally alleged to owe payments to several other colleges and organisations within Cambridge for services such as accommodation, while also accused of delayed payment to staff in both Cambridge and Oxford in the past, according to the Cambridge University newspaper, the Cambridge Student.Lost and Found goes viralSecurity personnel at the University of British Columbia have established an online inventory of lost and found items in order to help students locate mislaid belongings.Having begun as a BlogSpot initiative, the inventory has, according to staff, become a full time job. With over 1,000 items lost on campus per month, the site has proven extremely popular with students and boasted 6,000 hits in January alone.Manager of community relations for UBC Security Paul Wong, believes the site’s appeal lies in its round-the-clock accessibility. “Two in the morning, you’re studying and you realise something goes missing, you can go online and you can search it.“Sometimes it’s only an hour between lunch you’ve got some time off, so to have to rush over here and be able to report something or to see if something has been found is sometimes a bit challenging.”Possessions which fail to be reunited with their owners are sold meanwhile, with proceeds donated to United Way, a volunteering organisation which helps community organisations that tackle local problems and issues.