Monday, 4 January 2010

Mutallab raises question over student visas

By Martin Ev
UMAR Farouk Abdul Mutallab, who comes from a wealthy family in Nigeria, was already showing signs of extremist views when he was granted a visa to study mechanical engineering at University College London in 2005.
After completing his studies in 2008, he traveled to the Middle East before applying to return to the UK in May for another six-month course. However, officials from the UK Borders Agency refused his request as he was attempting to enroll on a course being offered by an institution on the government’s list of bogus colleges.
Despite the fact his entry was barred, questions still remain over the system, which has seen more than one and a half million visas granted to overseas students in the last eight years.
Last year, a report by the Home Affairs Select Committee criticised the government for failing to deal adequately with the explosion in bogus colleges springing up across the UK. Keith Vaz, chairman of the committee said: “The government must restrict the term college to prevent any premises above a fish and chip shop from being able to claim it is a reputed educational institution.”
It is feared tens of thousands of foreign nationals have gained entry to Britain illegally under the scheme, with many avoiding detection and never leaving.
In March, tighter restrictions were introduced cutting the number of institutions allowed to recruit students from outside the UK. But critics believe the new points based register has done little to close the system’s gaping loopholes.
Around 3,000 educational institutions across the UK have been granted licenses under the points based system but there are only 62 officials employed to vet the colleges and their 13,500 employees.
There is also widespread concern that many legitimate universities and colleges are providing fertile recruiting grounds for radical Islamic preachers and banned groups. Radicalisation among students has been a problem since the 1990s, with many of those involved in terror plots being highly educated graduates.
A recent study by the Centre for Social Cohesion found that a third of Muslim university students believed killing in the name of religion could be justified. The disturbing findings of the survey also found a large proportion were in favour of the introduction of Sharia law in the UK.

Fund is delaying solar expansion, says UI VC

By Kayode Bello
INADEQUATE fund is the cause of delay in expansion of the solar energy electrification to other areas in the University of Ibadan. According to the Vice Chancellor of the premier institution, Prof. Olufemi Bamiro, the university was still challenged in providing adequate power due to the paucity of funds, for now, only the Oduduwa area, university gate, and parts of the central administration are on solar electrification.
Speaking recently with Life Campus in Ibadan, the professor of Mechanical Engineering said the solar energy electrification was a test case. He stressed that it was a journey towards reducing the university’s dependence on consumption of the conventional energy source, which has been from generator and the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN).
“The systems would be improved on over time. Even if we want to cover the entire campus, it would be a bad idea to start at once. Almost every year, the unit cost of solar panel goes down. What we have done is to put the whole of Oduduwa area on solar. We are also doing system study to see how the equipment is performing, and if it makes economic sense,” Bamiro said.
He assured that the project has worked brilliantly, noting that all the streetlights were on solar energy. “I can confidently say we can go to the next phase. We only used the Onosode fund as a test case.”
Several projects worth $1,000,000 were executed in the university by Zain Nigeria, a mobile operator. Already commissioned are the Solar Energy Centre, renovation of Mellanby Hall, construction of a basketball court in the hall of residence, construction of car parks, as well as conveniences and offices.
But the students are eagerly awaiting expansion and extension of the Solar Energy Electrification to other areas of the university, especially the halls of residence.

2nd African Universities Debating Championships ends in Botswana

THE second Pan-African Universities Debating Championships (PAUDC) was held at the University of Botswana from December 12 to 18. It had 414 participants from nine countries, including Nigeria.
The championship, held in the British Parliamentary format, had universities and high schools locked in horns, with Rhodes University emerging as the university champion, defeating University of Botswana, University of Namibia and University of Free State.
Clive Eley, from Rhodes University emerged as the Best Speaker, while Kgosi Daniel Moremong, from Multimedia University and Lusanda Mtshotshisa from University of Fort Hare were announced as Best Adjudicator and Best New Adjudicator respectively.
Some of the motions that were debated include topics on child labour, AIDS, globalization, good governance, international relations, social rights and the environment. The topics were; is child labour justified in developing countries; should all faith based NGOs be forced to distribute condoms; African presidents should be subject to term limits; Iran’s right to develop nuclear weapons; doctors who refuse to perform abortions on moral grounds should be fired; ban banks from using pension funds as collateral for loans; multinational corporations operating in the developing world should be held liable to environmental regulation based on their country of origin; decision to award Barack Hussein Obama the Nobel Peace prize; among others.
At the climax of the event, delegates met to pass a constitution and elect an executive committee, granted hosting rights for PAUDC 2010 to the University of Namibia, while it reviewed bids for PAUDC 2011 from Nigeria and Zimbabwe.
The top 10 world ranking of institutions in debating championship are Sydney, Oxford, Cambridge, Yale, Monash, Queensland, Toronto, Ateneo, Nanyang and Hong Kong.

Call for nominations for young and campus journalists’ award

NOMINATIONS have been invited for the 4th Nigeria Young Journalists Awards 2009 from media organisations and individuals. The award, initiated by Media Career Services, a training and consultancy outfit, is to recognise and encourage young journalists in the country.
A judging board made up of top media professionals will choose winners of the awards, who will get career enhancing prizes. Past winners of the award include Adesina Oyetayo (2005), Segun Adeoye (2007) and Bilewomo Ademilola (2008) of Tell Magazine, who all got the first prize of a laptop computer.
Awards categories for 2009 are: Young Journalist of the Year 2009; Student Journalist of the year; and Mass Communication department training Journal of the Year 2009.
Interested journalists for the first category should have a maximum of three years journalism experience and must not be older than 30 by December 2009. They must have demonstrated high commitment to their work and distinguished themselves among contemporaries.
In addition, they must submit three of their published or broadcast work between January and December 2009. Such entries must be supported with a nomination letter from the journalist’s editor or supervisor and curriculum vitae with other relevant supporting documents.
For the second category, entrants must be a student of a tertiary institution with active participation in campus journalism. He or she must have at least three published or broadcast work in campus or other medium focusing on campus issues between January and December 2009, including a nomination letter by relevant authorities, curriculum vitae and other documents.
For the last category, submitted training newspaper/magazines of Mass Communication departments will be assessed on the basis of content and production quality. A nomination letter by Editorial Advisers will be required
Completed entries should be sent to: The Programme Coordinator, Young Journalist Awards 2009, Media Career Services, International Press Centre, 11, Dideolu Court, Ogba, P.0. Box 15399, Ikeja, Lagos, or through email to All entries must be received on or before January 15,

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