International News Brief

New Student Amenities Fee approved at La Trobe University The newly approved Students Services Amenities Fee (SSAF) Bill will finally be put in place by Australian universities at the beginning of the 2012 academic year. The bill was set up to repeal the Howards government’s Voluntary Student Unionism (VSU) legislation passed by the Senate. This will allow Universities to charge students for their use of recreational facilities, services and amenities.The charges for the services can go up to $263 per annum depending on the amenity in question. The previous system in place was run under the VSU legislation, which stipulated that universities had to fully fund the services which their students had been using. Many services, including welfare, suffered a major blow from this.La Trobe Students’ Union President Adrian McMillan has expressed delight over the introduction of the SSAF, “after five years in the wilderness, student services and representation at Australian universities can start to be rebuilt”. Universities will negotiate with the Students’ Union through the Student Services Committee with regards to how the money shall be used. Sports facilities, as well as the University campus, will benefit from the SSAF.English Universities Seek To Lower Tuition Fees According to government sources, universities in England are considering lowering tuition fees for their students. The Office For Fair Access (OFFA) has revealed that approximately twenty-eight institutions across England have shown interest in reducing the fee to £7,500 or if possible, lower. Of these twenty-eight, eight universities have already submitted plans to achieve this goal.The Chief Executive of university think-tank million+, Pam Tatlow, has stated: “It is hardly surprising that some universities are now considering amending their bursary schemes and that OFFA is seeking to ensure that this process is managed within a timeframe.” Any university with plans to lower their tuition fees must submit plans to do so before the 4th of November deadline.In April of this year, universities set their bursary and fee levels; at this stage, forty-seven universities announced their intention to charge the £9,000 maximum standard fee. However, the government changed the current system in place, with ministers telling universities that if they charged less than £7,500 admission fees, the universities could bid for a portion of 20,000 full-time undergraduate places.Students who applied to UCAS courses that had an October 15th deadline will be given the opportunity to change to a revised package or stay with their current one. All other applicants will be notified directly if their university of choice decides to change fees to allow them to change their UCAS preference before the January 15th deadline.Digital Public Library of America Complete by 2013 The Digital Public Library Of America (DPLA) created by Harvard staff members is in the midst of major developments. The operation is making quick progress and should have a full operational online database set up by April 2013.The DPLA accepted two significant donations from separate organisations in Washington D.C. last week, and has established relationships with similar organisations striving for the same goal.The Sloan Foundation and Arcadia Fund contributed $2.5 million each to the project. The total $5 million will cover the costs of the DPLA’s attempt to collect digitised works from various locations.University Professor Robert C. Darnton has described the DPLA as ‘unstoppable’. As well as long-standing partnerships with the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Institute the DPLA will work with the Europeana Foundation, which works to collect digitised works across Europe.The Executive Director of Europeana Jill Cousins has stated that “by this combined effort on two continents, Europeana and the DPLA hope to promote the creation of a global network with partners from around the world’.