International News in Brief

Degree Concerns for Ukrainian Students

University students in rebel held cities in eastern Ukraine are worried their degrees may prove worthless, as the fallout from the Ukrainian conflict continues. The Ukrainian military has been fighting separatists in the east since last April, with the city of Donetsk currently under rebel control.

As final exams approach, the war has now expanded to the education system, with institutions being made to switch over to the rebel’s self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic. The state-run National University in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk officially closed down, but students continue to attend. It moved its campus 800 miles west, while students remain in the city. Alexander Maznev, deputy rector of the university, who has remained in Donetsk, said that the other one was a “clone” and that it would never be a “real university.”

As the university is no longer recognised by the Ukraine’s education ministry, students are fearful their degrees will be worthless. In an attempt to calm the rising unrest, separatist authorities have said it is the name of the university, not the piece of paper that counts. They are trying to get Russia to recognise degrees from universities they control.

Forensic Science House Opens for Students

Forensic science students at the University of Derby are are now able to practise their skills in a custom built crime scene house, following the completion of the facility. Costing £410,000, the building contains seven replica crime scenes, including a bedroom, bathroom, office, shop, garage, and living room. Each one is fitted with CCTV cameras, which allows tutors to watch as students investigate the crime scenes.

Jon Wright, who runs the university’s BSc course in forensic science with criminology, said that having a realistic commercial establishment, such as a shop, in the house was useful “as a lot of crimes happen on commercial premises.” Wright believes the project is perfect for the nature of the course he teaches, saying that students “won’t just sit in the classroom - there is lots of practical work.”

Dr Ian Turner, the university’s head of forensic science, said that the new facility will allow students to develop skills for a career in forensic science “because they are learning in a real life context, with the same equipment and facilities used by professionals.”

The university is expected to rent out the facility to be used by emergency services, for training purposes.

Unaware Parents are Financing Students’ Smoking Habits

Students at top US universities are buying tobacco and e-cigarettes with “campus cash” debit cards that are commonly prepaid by parents, according to a recent study by the University of Colorado. Using the top 100 universities as ranked by U.S. News and World Report, they found that 11 allow tobacco sales and 13 permit e-cigarette sales. 

Most colleges have a system whereby prepaid cards can be used in on-campus vending areas. Researchers examined online lists of on-and off-campus vendors to discover universities whose policies allow the sale of tobacco and e-cigarettes within the campus debit card network. They followed it up with phone and email enquiries.

Robert P. Dellavalle, senior author of the study, expressed concern that  “parents don’t realise that tobacco may be purchased with some of these college debit cards and universities shouldn’t be taking debit card fees from in-network vendors selling tobacco products to their students.” Earlier research had revealed that 42% of student smokers had used campus debit cards to buy cigarettes.

Lindsay Boyers, the study’s first author, claimed that banning tobacco purchases with cards would help reduce smoking on campus.