Monday, 27 October 2008

University World News 0050 - 27th October 2008


NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report


GLOBAL: Tide turning for STEM subjects
Diane Spencer
Countries around the world are trying to prevent a continuing decline in interest among students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics or STEM – the so-called key vulnerable subjects. Professor John Holman, director of STEM subjects at the UK National Science Learning Centre, said Britain was not alone among advanced economies that had experienced shortages of graduates in these areas. While other EU countries, Japan, the US and Scandinavia were also suffering, the picture was different in developing nations.
Full report on the University World News site

AFRICA: Tertiary education key to growth: World Bank
Karen MacGregor
Tertiary enrolments in Sub-Saharan Africa more than tripled between 1991 and 2005, expanding at an annual rate of 8.7% – one of the highest regional growth rates in the world – says a new report by the World Bank. But public funding did not keep up and spending per student plummeted over 25 years from an average of US$6,800 a year to just US$981 in 2005 for 33 countries. “Educational quality and relevance both suffered as a result,” according to Accelerating Catch-up – Tertiary education for growth in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Full report on the University World News site

GERMANY: Education summit a disappointment
Michael Gardner
Seemingly undaunted by the international financial crisis which has also rocked some German banks, the Federal Government went ahead with its Education Summit last Wednesday. But the meeting ended in a row over the 16 state governments’ insistence on getting a greater share of VAT revenue for investment in education.
Full report on the University World News site

RUSSIA: Super league of ‘federal’ universities
Nick Holdsworth
A shake-up of Russia’s university system will see the establishment of a network of new, high-status ‘federal’ institutions under Education Ministry plans being considered by lawmakers. The scheme – part of a wide-ranging set of proposals under a Kremlin plan to improve Russia's socio-economic infrastructure – has passed its first reading and will target resources on specialised research universities and encourage wider lifelong vocational learning.
Full report on the University World News site

BANGLADESH: Responding to global challenges
Mahdin Mahboob
The Asia Regional Higher Education Summit was held in Dhaka earlier this month with a view to expanding innovative approaches to teaching, research, technology transfer and business development in higher education. Attended by senior educationists from across the world, the four-day summit proposed a range of ideas for the development of key sectors and how higher education could play a role in it.
Full report on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Boost for university infrastructure
Geoff Maslen
The nation’s universities have welcomed a decision by the federal government to allocate almost A$700 million (US$469 million) for spending on infrastructure and research facilities. The money has been fast-tracked to next year’s funding round and will be drawn from the $1 billion Higher Education Endowment Fund.
Full report on the University World News site

HUNGARY: Boost R&D to improve economy
Hungary should invest more in research and development to make its economy more competitive and boost growth, according to a new OECD report. The report, Hungary – OECD Review of Innovation Policy, considers the strengths and weaknesses of Hungary's innovation system and recommends steps the government could take to increase the impact of innovation on the country's future prosperity.
Full report on the University World News site

ZAMBIA: Brain drain stemming plan in tatters
Clemence Manyukwe
A plan tabled in Zambia’s parliament in 2007, aimed at curbing the brain drain among science lecturers and researchers, lies in ruins amid ongoing academic disgruntlement. The plan included adjusting salaries regularly, introducing a home-ownership scheme, retention allowances and increased research grants for state institutions. But strikes have dominated Zambia’s academic year and they have included science lecturers.
Full report on the University World News site

ZIMBABWE: Universities still closed as students arrested
Clemence Manyukwe
Four student leaders were arrested last week for leading a protest of nearly 500 students against the collapse of higher education in Zimbabwe. No state universities are operating in the new academic year because of serious problems including a lecturer strike, lack of finance and unavailability of learning materials.
Full report on the University World News site

EGYPT: Anger at revamping of Muslim seminary
Khaled Fouad
Academics at Al Azhar University, the Muslim world’s oldest seat of higher learning, have reacted with anger to a decision by the Egyptian government to recategorise the institution’s colleges. Earlier this month, Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, who doubles as Minister of Al Azhar Affairs, ordered separation of the university’s religious colleges from ones teaching non-religious subjects to create two institutions.
Full report on the University World News site

NIGERIA: Students protest against exorbitant exam fees
Tunde Fatunde
Candidates seeking admission into the current 2008-09 academic session in N igeria are unhappy with high entrance examination fees charged separately by universities and the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, or JAMB. One newspaper analysis calculated that the amount spent by students sitting both sets of examinations was a whopping US$119 million.
Full report on the University World New site

NEWSBRIEFS

EU: New site to attract foreign students
The European Commission has launched a new web portal called Study in Europe to promote universities across the EU to students from other parts of the world. The portal, at www.study-in-europe.org, is part of a campaign to boost the number of students from outside Europe who study in the EU.
Full report on the University World New site

US-INDIA: Collaboration in agricultural education
Subbiah Arunachalam
The US Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES) has awarded four grants totalling about $400,000 to US universities for advancing the US-India Agricultural Knowledge Initiative.
Full report on the University World New site

EU: More funding for Erasmus
The European Parliament last week gave the green light to a second funding round for the EU's Erasmus Mundus Programme which aims to promote Europe as a centre of academic excellence. In backing the estimated budget of €950 million (US$1,227 million) for the 2009-2013 period, the parliament adopted changes to some of the criteria to simplify visa applications for participants from non-EU countries and to ensure a balance in terms of students’ gender and country of origin.
Full report on the University World New site

EUROPE: EUA autumn conference
Hundreds of university leaders, together with politicians and business leaders, attended the European University Association autumn conference over the past three days at Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
Full report on the University World New site

EU: Call for editorial board applications
The European Training Foundation plans to establish a new international board for the next three years and has called for applications from appropriately qualified people. The ETF is a specialised agency of the European Union based in Turin, Italy, and works with transition and developing countries to apply human capital development strategies to socio-economic development.
Full report on the University World New site

SCIENCE SCENE

CANADA: Oldest rocks in the world
Remnants of the Earth's early crust have been found in a belt of ancient bedrock in northern Quebec, along the eastern shore of Hudson Bay. They have been around since roughly 300 million years after the planet was formed 4.6 billion years ago, says Jonathan O'Neil, a doctoral candidate at McGill University and the lead author of a paper published in the journal Science.
Full report on the University World New site

UK: Archaeologists delve into ice age
Remarkable prehistoric paintings hidden away in the caves of northern Spain could be dated accurately for the first time by experts from the University of Bristol. A team from the department of archaeology and anthropology has just returned from an expedition to the Cantabria and Asturias regions of Spain where they removed samples from more than 20 prehistoric painted caves.
Full report on the University World New site

AUSTRALIA: A pill to eliminate obesity – and diabetes
Geoff Maslen
From gelignite to superglue, polyethylene to Teflon coatings, Scotchguard to Silly Putty, the long history of science is littered with chance discoveries that fall under the title of ‘serendipity’. And serendipitous is how Dr Michael Mathai describes his finding that a common blood pressure drug also might also cause weight loss and possibly reduce the chances of many overweight people around the world becoming diabetics.
Full report on the University World New site

HE RESEARCH AND COMMENTARY

CANADA: Momentum report on state of R&D
The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada has published a new report on the state of research and development in the country. The report, Momentum: The 2008 report on university research and knowledge mobilization, shows that universities performed more than a third of Canada’s research and contributed at least $60 billion to the economy in 2007.
More on the University World News site

US: New book on US-China educational exchange
The first issue in a new series of Global Education Research Reports has been published by the Institute of International Education (IIE). US-China Educational Exchange: Perspectives on a growing partnership’s release coincides with the 30th anniversary of the US-China ‘Understanding on the Exchange of Students and Scholars’.
More on the University World News site

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

FRANCE: French do well in French world rankings
Jane Marshall
It should have been an occasion to cheer up the French university community following France’s poor showing in the Shanghai Jiao Tong and Times Higher Education-QS international rankings: the second Professional Ranking of World Universities survey by the grande ├ęcole Mines Paris Tech placed five French institutions in its top 20, including two in the first 10. But commentators have criticised the findings which are based on just one criterion.
Full report on the University World New site

UK: All in ermine and pink
Diane Spencer
University chancellors are a diverse lot and their role is ill-defined. They range across captains of industry, broadcasters, authors, actors and peers of the realm. Universities UK, the voice of the British higher education sector, asked some of them for their tips on how to fulfil their duties. In the resulting booklet, Beyond ceremony, Professor Rick Trainor, president of UUK, calls chancellors the unsung heroes.
Full report on the University World New site

BANGLADESH: Watch for cheating universities
In a move that has its echoes in many other parts of the world, the Bangladesh government was last week planning to issue a public warning to students seeking to enrol in higher education not to take admission tests provided by “dubious branches” of some private universities.
Full report on the University World New site

US: Harvard project to reveal DNA of 10 scientists
A number of top scientists have volunteered to have their DNA made public in order to kick-start a Harvard University project that hopes to eventually have more than 100,000 genetic profiles on the internet, writes Richard Alleyne in The Telegraph. The scientists include Steven Pinker, the prominent Harvard University psychologist and author, Esther Dyson, a trainee astronaut, and Misha Angrist, an assistant professor at Duke University.
More on the University World News site

US: Ex-Mormon calendar-maker has diploma denied
Salt Lake City’s Brigham Young University has denied the diploma of a man who created a calendar featuring shirtless Mormon missionaries and was later excommunicated from the church, reports Associated Press. Chad Hardy, 31, said he would fight the institution’s decision “tooth-and-nail”.
More on the University World News site

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WORLD ROUND-UP

NIGERIA: Four million applicants denied admission
More than four million qualified candidates have failed to secure admission to N igeria’s universities in the last five years, Sunday Punch investigations have revealed. The figure represents 88% of the total number of candidates who sought admission within the period.
More on the University World News site

US: 3,000 professors sign support for Ayers
More than 3,000 educators nationwide have signed a statement supporting William Ayers, the former radical activist and current distinguished professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago who Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain called a “washed-up terrorist” at the third presidential debate, reports CNN.
More on the University World News site

US: Security threat or political threat?
Back in March, when a faculty panel at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln selected William Ayers to be the keynote speaker at a November conference at the College of Education, nobody really noticed, writes Scott Jaschik in Inside Higher Ed. On 17 October the university called off the Ayers appearance, citing security concerns. But the timing of the announcement – shortly after Nebraska’s governor and other politicians and donors demanded that Ayers be kept away – left many dubious. Some faculty leaders say that the incident represents a serious violation of the principles of academic freedom.
More on the University World News site

UK: Reform to degrees
Eighteen universities have agreed to pilot a new Hear (Higher Education Achievement Record) transcript – a ‘report card’ for students – in an attempt to ensure the degree classification system meets modern needs, reports The Independent. This could mean an end to the 200-year-old classification system of firsts, 2:1, third, pass and fail.
More on the University World News site

UK: Is the credit crunch good news for universities?
With a dozen UK universities standing to lose £77 million (US$125 million) in collapsed Icelandic banks, the higher education sector appears, along with everyone else, to be facing an uncertain future, writes Anthea Lipsett in The Guardian. But could the global financial downturn in fact spell good fortune for UK universities?
More on the University World News site

IRAN: Government supporting global Islamic studies
Iran is supporting world academic centres in establishing departments of Islamic studies, the Tehran Times reported. Iran’s Ministry of Science, Research and Technology wants Islamic studies strengthened, an official said, and was looking at proposals including several from universities in Britain, America and Germany.
More on the University World News site


PAKISTAN: Crackdown on postgraduate plagiarism
Pakistan’s Higher Education Commission has asked all universities to provide it with an electronic copy of all theses submitted by postgraduate students, sources in the commission told The Nation. The sources also said the commission had directed universities to warn postgraduate students that plagiarism would result in their degrees being cancelled.
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Ghana: 50 universities needed to cope with demand
The president of Ghana’s Central University College, Professor Victor Patrick Gadzekpo, has estimated that the country needs a minimum of 50 universities – each with an average of 20,000 students – to cope with soaring demand from a growing number of school leavers, reports Public Agenda. Ghana, which has a population of 24.2 million people, currently has six public and 30 private universities.
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NAMIBIA: German universities must return skulls
Namibia has called on Germany to return dozens of skulls stored in universities since the colonial era, reports Deutsche Welle. In a statement last week, Namibia’s government said it wanted Germany “to pay for the repatriation of the remains and all related costs”. The skulls are those of indigenous Ovaherero, also known as Herero, and Nama victims of the uprising of the tribes against German colonial rule between 1904 and 1908.
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SAUDI ARABIA: Supercomputer lures researchers
A new science and technology university in Saudi Arabia will house the world’s sixth largest supercomputer and it is helping lure top researchers to the conservative desert state, reports Reuters. The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) is due to open next year on the Red Sea coast near Jeddah.
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