Sunday, 3 August 2008

University World News 0039 - 3rd August 2008

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

NEW ZEALAND: Women-only scholarships challenged
John Gerritsen
In a case that could have repercussions around the world, a Victoria University of Wellington academic has queried the legality of tertiary education scholarships for women. Institute of Policy Studies senior research fellow and acting deputy director, Dr Paul Callister, created a storm of debate in New Zealand when it emerged he had written to the country's Human Rights Commission about the issue.
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EUROPE: New network of children's universities
Geoff Maslen
More than 100 universities across Europe organise science events for children that offer them their first introduction to what scientific researchers do. But these are mostly one-off occasions whereas now a network of 'children's universities' is being established to create a stable and continual platform for promoting interest in science among the young of the continent.
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FRANCE: First wave of autonomous universities
Jane Marshall
The first universities in France to be granted autonomy under a controversial reform law passed almost a year ago will be able to spend their state-allocated budgets as they choose and recruit their own staff from the start of 2009. Of France's 85 universities, 20 have been granted autonomous status by the government. Between them, the newly autonomous universities cater for 312,000 students, about 20% of the total enrolled in French universities.
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EGYPT: Medical school enrolments to be slashed
Ashraf Khaled
Although he came top of his class in this year's secondary school certificate examinations Hassan Abdel Fatah, 19, is unlikely to achieve his dream of attending medical school. An Egyptian court recently upheld a request from the Doctors' Association, an independent union, that the number of new medical students be slashed because of pressure on standards and an over-supply of doctors. In line with the ruling, the number of new enrolments at medical schools will be cut by 14%, from 7,800 to 6,700.
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ZIMBABWE: Lecturer targeted for EU sanctions
Clemence Manyukwe
A media studies lecturer at the University of Botswana has been slapped with targeted sanctions by the European Union for his role in propping up the government of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. Ceaser Zvayi, a Zimbabwean citizen and former political editor of the government mouthpiece The Herald, is among 37 individuals added to a list of 168 people who face travel restrictions and a freeze on their assets in EU countries.
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EUROPE: Researchers told: be less nationalistic
Alan Osborn
Research in European Union countries is too national in focus to be fully effective, says the European Commission. The commission says this poses a major obstacle to the ambitious Lisbon strategy for giving the EU a global lead in technology by 2010.
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EU: Legal status for major research projects
Keith Nuthall
The European Commission has proposed the creation of a new legally distinct organisation for incorporating major research projects so they could operate without paying sales tax. Under proposals from EU research commissioner Janes Poto_nik, the special bodies - called European Research Infrastructures - would have the authority to conclude agreements with universities and other higher education organisations outside the EU.
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HOLLAND-INDIA: Strengthening education links
Subbiah Arunachalam
The main associations of universities in the Netherlands and India have signed an agreement to strengthen scientific cooperation in education and research. Both countries stand to benefit from the agreement which has been described as a perfect match in more than one sense.
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UK-MALAWI: Project to reduce medical brain drain
Clemence Manyukwe
Scotland's University of Dundee has launched a pilot project aimed at reducing Africa's medical brain drain, through a partnership with the University of Malawi's college of medicine that will see selected final year students undergoing four-month placements in the southern African country.
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CHILE-AUSTRALIA: Postgraduate scholarship opportunities
A US$200 million scholarship scheme will enable up to 500 PhD and masters students from Chile each year to study in Australia over the next five to 10 years. Cooperation between the two countries will involve scholarships and exchanges for PhD and masters students, graduate internships and fellowships, joint research programmes, postdoctoral programmes and English language teacher training.
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TUNISIA: Higher education must 'professionalise'
Tunisian Higher Education Minister Lazhar Bououni has stressed the need to instil an entrepreneurial culture in students and to implement higher education reforms passed in February, reported La Presse of Tunis. The reforms include raising the quality of education, decentralisation and improving management efficiency, as well as strengthening the systems of evaluation and allocating posts.
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UK: New resource for research
A groundbreaking collaboration between the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the British Library and Imperial College London will create a new resource for academic researchers. The council is giving £10 million (US$ 19.8 million) to fund the UK Research Reserve, an agreement between higher education institutions and the British Library for storing low-use highly specialised journals, and making them easily accessible to researchers around the world.
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ANGOLA: Plans to regulate university expansion
Government plans to open public universities in different regions of Angola should resolve a number of issues in these areas, said Joao Saveia, Vice-rector of the Université Technique d'Angola (Utanga), according to the Angola Press Agency of Luanda.
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US: Joint venture to attract foreign students
The British company INTO has formed a partnership with Oregon State University which it says will "enhance" the internationalisation of the university. The joint venture is aimed at doubling foreign student enrolments over the next six years.
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US: End of the science superpowers
Brian Mattmiller
Is the sun beginning to set on America's scientific dominance? Much like the scientific superpowers of France, Germany and Britain in centuries past, the United States has a diminishing lead over other nations in financial investment and scholarly research output in science and engineering, says a group of historians and sociologists led by University of Wisconsin-Madison emeritus history professor J Rogers Hollingsworth.
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GERMANY: Excellence Initiative gets strong backing
Michael Gardner
Three years after its inception, Germany's Science Council or Wissenschaftsrat and the German Research Foundation or Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft have published a white paper on the further development of the Excellence Initiative. The funding scheme has received good marks for results so far and the two institutions strongly favour extending it and increasing the money provided.
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AUSTRALIA-INDIA: Greater collaboration needed
Australia must look to the future and strengthen its education and research ties with India to capitalise on the country's economic boom, the chair of India's Scientific Advisory Council Professor Chintamani Rao told a forum in Melbourne.
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BRUSSELS: Report on reforming Europe's universities Since the introduction of the Shanghai ranking of world universities it has been clear that European institutions are under-performing. A new report by the Brussels-based think tank Bruegel - titled Higher Aspirations: An agenda for reforming European universities and written by senior scholars from Belgium, the US and Spain - recommends gradual raising of spending on higher education by 1% of European Union GDP over the next 10 years to approach American funding levels, increasing university autonomy, fostering greater student and faculty mobility, improving success rates and developing competitive graduate schools.
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AFRICA: Lecturers debate education and development
Sheldon G Weeks
The Southern African Comparative and History of Education Society (Saches) held its 17th annual conference last month on "Education and Regional Development", at Kaya Kwanga on the beach just north of Maputo in Mozambique. Seventy members attended from nine countries in Southern Africa and several from outside the continent - and discussions ranged from pre-school education to the training of graduate students, and from South-South cooperation in education to the "betrayal" of illiterate adults and xenophobia in South Africa.
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US: Randy Pausch delivered 'The Last Lecture'
Philip Fine
Randolph Frederick Pausch: 30 October 1960 - 25 July 2008
The US professor who turned a terminal diagnosis into an online inspiration for millions has succumbed to the disease that had been a catalyst for the now-famous university lecture. Randy Pausch died on 25 July from pancreatic cancer at the age of 47, 10 months after delivering a talk at Carnegie Mellon that would become a populist treatise on positive thinking. His lecture on YouTube alone has been seen 5.3 million times and spawned a best-selling book, called The Last Lecture.
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MALAYSIA: ASEAN quality assurance network to be created
Quality assurance agencies in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have decided to adopt the Kuala Lumpur Declaration which aims to establish an Asean Quality Assurance Network (AQAN), reports The Star. Malaysian Qualifications Agency chief executive officer Datuk Dr Syed Ahmad Hussein said this was decided at the Asean quality assurance agencies' round-table meeting in July. The objectives of AQAN are to share best practices of quality assurance, develop an Asean quality assurance framework, collaborate on capacity building, and facilitate the recognition of qualifications and cross-border mobility.
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THAILAND: Two million students, but quality poor

The number of students in Thailand has topped two million - but the news is not good for educators, who are worried about poor quality, reports the Bangkok Post. The number of students in the country's tertiary system has doubled and the number of courses has increased 10-fold over the last decade.
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IRELAND: Universities warn of severe impact of cuts
University presidents are considering a range of options - including the withdrawal of some third-level courses - amid growing anger about government cutbacks, reports The Irish Times. A special meeting of the seven university presidents heard that the 3% cut in payroll costs demanded by the Minister for Education, Batt O'Keeffe, would inevitably led to dramatic cuts in services for students.
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UK: Government clamps down on bogus colleges

New government moves to clamp down on bogus colleges and "fake" students have drawn praise from university and student organisations, reports The Guardian. However, lecturers have warned the moves could damage their professional relationships with students.
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INDIA: Investment norms in higher education to ease

Private and foreign corporate investment may soon get to flow into Indian higher education with the government considering a move to reform policy that hinders such financing, reports Business Standard. There is also renewed hope for a Bill allowing foreign universities and institutions into India to be tabled in parliament, judging by Human Resources Development Minister Arjun Singh's remarks at a conference of state education ministers last week.
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US: Top schools reject government research restrictions

Caught between the demands of academic freedom and national security in a post-September 11 world, the Bay Area's two major research universities are walking away from lucrative research contracts rather than consenting to intrusive restrictions on their work, reports Mercury News. A new major study of 20 top schools found 180 instances of "troublesome clauses" attached by the federal government to research contracts -up from 138 in 2004.
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US: Lessons from the Obama campaign

Among the most striking phenomena associated with Barack Obama's successful bid for the Democratic nomination has been his ability to attract young people to the political process, writes Richard M Freeland, professor of higher education at Clark University and president emeritus of Northeastern University, in Inside Higher Ed. This resurgence of youthful activism delivers an important message for colleges and universities.
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US: McCain comes out against affirmative action
Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain has come out against affirmative action, and endorsed ballot measures to bar public colleges and universities - and other state agencies - from considering race in admissions or hiring, reports Inside Higher Ed. McCain had previously been among those Republicans who refused to endorse these ballot measures.
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US: Stanford best in class, Florida's the party school

Stanford University has the best classroom experience in American higher education and the University of Florida is the top party school, according to the Princeton Review's college guide, reports Bloomberg. The findings were based on a survey of 120,000 students, according to the Princeton Review whose book, "The Best 368 Colleges", went on sale last week.
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EAST AFRICA: HIV-AIDS study at 18 universities
A study to establish the impact of the HIV-AIDS pandemic on university communities in East Africa is scheduled to start in October, reports The Citizen in Dar es Salaam. Initially, the project will target 18 universities - six each in Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya - according to the officials of the Inter-University Council of East Africa.
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JAPAN: Government penalises three universities
The Education, Science and Technology Ministry has decided to reject applications for research funds from Yokohama City University and two other universities that were found to have engaged in inappropriate actions this year, reports The Yomiuri Shimbun.
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AUSTRALIA: States must "put up or shut up", say universities
Australia's states have been told to "put up or shut up" when it comes to universities, with vice-chancellors warning governments to invest more in the sector or consider ceding power to the Commonwealth. One year after the Howard government pushed for a federal takeover of higher education, the divisive debate over what role the states should play has re-emerged.
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