VENEZUELA: Students and staff injured on campus

Four people have been injured on the campus of Universidad de Los Andes (ULA) in western Venezuela during an attack by a group of 30 suspected government supporters.

The Latin America Herald Tribune said the intruders, some of whom were carrying firearms, had burst into a canteen on the campus and attacked students, two of whom were injured. Two members of the academic staff were also reportedly injured.

Witnesses said the attackers were known leaders of President Hugo Chavez's local movements. The attack on the campus appears to be a result of opposition towards the government's new education plans.

Education Minister Hector Navarro defended the new education law and said that 'opposition factions' were trying to use it as an excuse to destabilise the country.

The new law has been criticised by senior members of the academic community who claim it will end the autonomy traditionally enjoyed by universities in Venezuela. Government supporters say it will give everyone equal access to education, regardless of their economic position.

NETHERLANDS: Muslim scholar loses Dutch posts

A Dutch university has dismissed Tariq Ramadan, a well-known Islamic scholar, for hosting a show on Iranian state television. According to Al-Jazeera, Ramadan was fired on 18 August from his positions as a professor at by ERASMUS University and integration adviser at the City of Rotterdam. His programme, Islam & Life, was said to be irreconcilable with his duties in Rotterdam.

Ramadan, a Swiss citizen, told Dutch radio he would appeal the "naive and simplistic" decision. The City of Rotterdam and ERASMUS University said in a joint statement the professor had failed to sufficiently take into account the negative impact his programme would cause throughout Rotterdam and beyond.

Ramadan is known for his reformist opinions and was accused in the Dutch press of allegedly voicing more conservative views for Muslim audiences than he does in the West. He has lectured in France, England and the US, and also has had trouble with the US government.

He had his US visa revoked in 2004 shortly before he was to receive tenure at Notre Dame University in Indiana. He was denied entry to the US in 2006 on the grounds that he had given money to a charity linked to Hamas, which the US considers a terrorist organisation.

SRI LANKA: Top academic receives death threat

Dr Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu , one of Sri Lanka's most eminent academics, has received an anonymous death threat, BBC News said. Saravanamuttu is Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Alternatives and received a letter at his home, making him the latest in a long line of prominent people who have received death threats over recent months.

Saravanamuttu is a well-known critic of government policy. The death threat reportedly refers to information supplied by him to Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the EU's commissioner for external relations. He is accused of contributing to the decision to deprive Sri Lanka of EU benefits in October which will undoubtedly result in increased unemployment.

UK: Universities told to change or perish

A detailed analysis by accountancy firm Grant Thornton has led to claims that university surpluses could be wiped out by 2012, leaving institutions facing financial ruin unless they make radical changes to the way they work.

The report highlights the fact that longstanding financial problems have been compounded by the recession, leaving universities little option but to act now to secure their futures.

According to Times Higher Education, the analysis discusses the concern that some universities do not have the management structures to cope with the financial storm on the horizon. It states that the priority within universities should shift from academic research and teaching, to putting in place a business model to weather the financial storm.

Karel Thomas, Executive Officer of the British Universities Finance Directors' Group, disputes that surpluses will be wiped out by 2012 and that while business methods have a lot to commend them, teaching and research are the business of a university.

* Jonathan Travis is programme officer for the Network for Education and Academic Rights (NEAR).