Monday, 3 November 2008

University World News 0051 - 3rd November 2008

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SPECIAL REPORT: The global crisis and universities

The effect of the world financial upheaval on higher education institutions around the globe varies markedly from one nation to another, depending on the extent that their banks and currencies have been affected by what is taking place in America and Europe.

Universities in countries experiencing an economic downturn, with consumer confidence shattered and unemployment on the rise, are already curtailing their spending and some have begun putting off staff. Even if they face no immediate threat, many institutions that rely for a significant part of their income on student fees – and foreign fees in particular – will be gravely concerned by the problems confronting local students in taking out loans, and the rapid slowing of economies in countries whose students go abroad to study.

For universities that have come to rely on the money paid by Chinese students enrolled offshore, the thought of large numbers staying home is alarming. Our correspondents report:

US: Waiting for the worst
Geoff Maslen
Reports from the US suggest that American universities have yet to feel the full impact of the monetary cyclone that has shattered the financial sector and left the world’s most powerful nation facing a full-scale depression. The air of confidence being displayed on many US campuses, however, may be masking fears that no one person and no institution will be spared.
Full report on the University World News site

CHINA: Fall in student numbers expected
From our own correspondents
Far fewer students from China will go abroad to study next year as a result of the global crisis which is already having an impact on Chinese industries – especially those relying on the export market. UWN China correspondent Michael Delaney reports that the Chinese economy is slowing and companies across the nation have begun laying off workers with the result that many families do not have the money even for living expenses, much less foreign study. Universities heavily reliant on the fees from these students will be in serious trouble.
Full report on the University World News site

UK: Crisis, what crisis?
Diane Spencer
So far, British universities are taking a sanguine approach to the financial crisis. John Denham, the Higher Education Secretary, claimed that no institution was in jeopardy despite 12 English universities having £77 million at stake through the failure of Icelandic banks. Oxford has £30 million, 5% of its overall cash deposits, invested in three of Iceland’s troubled banks and subsidiaries while Cambridge faces losses of £11 million, 3% of its deposits.
Full report on the University World News site

SPAIN: Universities hit by sweeping cuts
Rebecca Warden
Even before the global financial crisis struck, Spain was confronting an economic recession. It was the effects of that downturn that has led to universities in Madrid facing the threat of major cuts that could leave them unable to pay staff wages. Their main funder, the regional government of Madrid, cut its block grant for fixed running costs by 30% late in September without prior notice. Now universities in Valencia are also threatened by similar action.
Full report on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Crisis has already arrived
Geoff Maslen
Universities Down Under had begun reducing their outlays, and their staffing numbers, even before the full effect of the financial turmoil on the global stock markets had been felt. Falling investments, shrinking government grants and growing concern about the overseas student market are increasing pressure on institutions to slash their costs and, in the past month, more than 500 academics and general staff have been laid off or are facing redundancy.
Full report on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Universities taking financial knocks
Karen MacGregor
The international financial crisis is impacting on universities in South Africa in various ways, including lower returns on investments and a weakened currency making imports more expensive. The crisis is exacerbating pre-existing strains on finances while the prospect of cuts to public spending on universities as a result of an economic downturn is of great concern, says the vice-chancellors’ body Higher Education South Africa.
Full report on the University World News site

GREECE: Truth of the myths and the myths of the truth
Makki Marseilles
If there is something positive from the financial meltdown it is the complete and total collapse of several myths: that there is no money for education (or health, the environment, or pensions), and that the neo-liberal market can be self-regulating for the benefit of the consumer – to mention just two.
Full report on the University World News site

FRANCE: No plans to reduce university spending
Jane Marshall
France has no intention at present of cutting its planned funding for higher education and research as a result of the global financial crisis, the Education Ministry says. The sector is the government’s highest priority, and ambitious and costly reforms include renovation and updating of campuses and introducing university autonomy.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: How other countries are faring
The global financial meltdown has not yet hit some countries as much as it has the US where the crisis began. Those nations still faring reasonably well include Russia, Germany, the UK, France, New Zealand, some Asian and African nations, and even America’s next-door neighbour, Canada.
Full report on the University World News site

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

The autumn conference of the European Universities Association at Erasmus University in Rotterdam last week elected a new president, adopted a policy on lifelong learning and discussed a range of other topics. Our European correspondent, Alan Osborn, reports.

EUROPE: Universities embrace lifelong learning
Lifelong learning has never been Europe’s strong suit. Americans have long recognised that learning should not stop with the end of formal academic education but ought to form a significant element of adult life. An estimated 4-5% of over-30s in the US are involved in lifelong learning of some kind whereas the European figure is less than 2%. Is this about to change?
Full report on the University World News site

EUROPE: Widening the reach of universities
Few people are more internationally-minded than the Dutch and few universities outside the major leagues are more global than the Erasmus University of Rotterdam which has 2,400 international students out of 24,000 from more than 100 countries. The university was the host for the EUA autumn conference last week where the chair of its executive board, Jan Willem Oosterwijk, spoke about the challenges of widening higher education, both internationally and across social divisions. There was a strong need for precise focus, he said.
Full report on the University World News site

EUA CHOOSES NEW HEAD
Professor Jean-Marc Rapp, former president of the University of Lausanne and the Swiss Rectors Conference and currently a vice-president of the European Universities Association, is to be the new president of the EUA, delegates decided at their autumn conference.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Training for scholarly integrity
Stuart Heiser
At the first global meeting on graduate education to focus on research ethics, higher education leaders agreed to a set of statements and action items on integrating training in scholarly integrity into graduate education. Representatives from the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, China, Hong Kong and Botswana met in Florence in September to initiate discussion on the need to strengthen scholarly integrity because of the growing globalisation of graduate education and research
Full report on the University World News site

GERMANY: Tuition fees deter students
Michael Gardner
An unpublished survey commissioned by Germany’s Education Ministry has further fuelled the debate on tuition fees. According to the new study, which was leaked to a news agency ahead of an unsuccessful Education Summit last week, far more young people are put off from studying by tuition fees than previously assumed. The Stifterverband, Germany’s donors’ association for science and the humanities, also claims that poor study conditions are acting as a deterrent.
Full report on the University World News site

NEWSBRIEFS

GREECE: Four-university postgraduate programme
Makki Marseilles
A new postgraduate course on European civilisation has been established by four of the oldest and more traditional universities across Europe. The aim is to give students the opportunity to approach the subject from a multicultural standpoint within an overall international cooperation programme.
More on the University World News site

CANADA: New portal to promote education
Canada’s newest web portal offers access to an array of information on study in Canada for international students. It is also the first use of the country’s IMAGINE brand, developed over the past year with a view to positioning Canada as an attractive and “become what you want to be” destination.
More on the University World News site

BUSINESS

LUXEMBOURG: Publishers stopped from copying
Keith Nuthall
A German professor has won a precedent-setting case to prevent European Union publishers from using university-collated compendiums of out-of-copyright materials to produce their own commercial collections of works. A ruling from the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg said publishers could be blocked from selling these books, if they “transfer a substantial part” of the original source to their own publications.
Full report on the University World News site

EUROPE: Business investment healthier but problems remain
Alan Osborn
The European Commission is crowing over the fact that business investment in research and development by companies in the European Union is now rising at a faster rate than in the US, raising hopes that Europe might at last climb up the global technology table. The figures, contained in the EU’s 2008 Industrial R&D Investment Scorecard, are significantly better than those of last year when US spending rose by almost twice as much as that in the EU.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Convention for top business schools
Jane Marshall
Business school heads, managers and students from more than 55 countries gather this week at the Sorbonne in Paris to debate the internationalisation of higher education at the first Eduniversal World Convention. Under examination will be such matters as student mobility, schools’ innovative actions, partnerships and exchanges – and rankings.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Researchers discover bionic nose secrets
Monica Dobie
Engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in the US, have found a way to mass produce smell receptors that may lead the way to the creation of artificial bionic noses that can detect disease.
Full report on the University World News site

FEATURE

US: Universities and the American election
Romulo Pinheiro
Americans will elect a new President this week. For many observers outside North America, it is astonishing to see the prominent role US universities play in the contest for the White House: this year’s four presidential debates, organised by the Commission on Presidential Debates – a non-profit organisation – were all held at local universities.
Full report on the University World News site

HE RESEARCH AND COMMENTARY

UK: How technology will shape learning
Technological innovation, long a hallmark of academic research, may now be changing the very way that universities teach and students learn, argues a white paper by the Economist Intelligence Unit titled The Future of Higher Education: How technology will shape learning. “For academic institutions, charged with equipping graduates to compete in today’s knowledge economy, the possibilities are great. Distance education, sophisticated learning-management systems and the opportunity to collaborate with research partners from around the world are just some of the transformational benefits that universities are embracing,” the report says.

“But significant challenges also loom. For all of its benefits, technology remains a disruptive innovation, and an expensive one. Faculty members used to teaching in one way may be loath to invest the time to learn new methods, and may lack the budget for needed support.”
More on the University World News site

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

GREECE: Oil strike was university’s fuel tank
Makki Marseilles
Oil speculators were delighted when they discovered that instead of drilling for so-called ‘black gold’ in the North Sea, Alaska, Antarctica or some other God-forsaken place, they could get it a lot easier and cheaper a lot closer at home and more specifically from the reservoirs of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki which was using the oil for heating their sprawling premises.
Full report on the University World News site

UK: It’s official: James Bond is sexy
Diane Spencer
An academic has stated what many women would call the bleedin’ obvious: a Leicester University professor has decreed that Daniel Craig, the latest embodiment of James Bond, is more sexually charged than any previous portrayal of the fictional agent. With impeccable (or opportunistic) timing as Quantum of Solace opened last Friday, the researcher announced that the Bond franchise capitalised on the sex appeal of the spy in a way it had never done before.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Defending the shards of amateurism
When CBS Sports began to use Division I college football players’ names this season in its online fantasy game, the National Collegiate Athletic Association was none too pleased, writes David Moltz in Inside Higher Ed. The association stated that this usage violated its rules and threatened its commitment to amateurism but went no further, admitting that its hands may be tied by a federal court decision that upheld the use of names.
More on the University World News site

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WORLD ROUND-UP

ISRAEL: University protest takes to streets
A convoy of vehicles carrying students, university presidents and academics made its way to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv last Monday, blocking the highway intermittently and piling traffic onto the already rush hour-plagued road, reports Ynetnews. The protest against the Finance Ministry’s refusal to hand over funds universities have deemed essential to the upcoming academic year, was the first ever to incorporate students and university leaders. Both groups have warned that studies will not begin on time if talks with the ministry remain deadlocked.
More on the University World News site

ISRAEL: Disaster if universities strike: Minister
Addressing the expected strike at Israel’s universities, Education Minister Yuli Tamir told a Knesset Finance Committee meeting last week that “it will be a disaster if the academic year does not open on schedule,” reports Ynetnews.
More on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Universities seek top-up funding
Universities are pressing Canberra to provide ‘top-up’ funding for teaching to see the sector through next year given that any new funding out of the Bradley Review of higher education will not materialise until 2010, reports The Australian Higher Education. Universities are set to be squeezed next year by a 2.1% indexed rise in their government-operating grants, which lags far behind inflation that is now running at around 5%.
More on the University World News site

US: T Boone Pickens: ‘Honey, I shrunk the charity’
It was a historic pledge. In 2006, oilman T Boone Pickens donated $165 million to Oklahoma State for its sports programme. It was the largest gift of its kind ever to a US university, reports the Wall Street Journal blog. But it came with a catch: the money had to be invested in Pickens’ hedge fund, BP Capital.
More on the University World News site

US: Tuition is up, as is uncertainty
Both tuition and financial aid are up for the current academic year, even as the economic uncertainty leaves many colleges and students with worries about next year’s charges, reports Inside Higher Ed. The average tuition for a private four-year college topped $25,000 for the first time in 2008-9, hitting $25,143, or 5.9% more than last year’s total, according to the latest annual report by the College Board.
More on the University World News site

MALAYSIA: More foreign students to ease money crisis
The Higher Education Ministry has laid out plans to face the financial crisis, including attracting more foreign students and increasing graduate employability, reports The Star. “We are intensifying our efforts to attract foreign students to study here, especially from Africa and the Middle East, since this contributes growth to our economy,” said Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin last week.
More on the University World News site

TUNISIA: Land of female university students
Young women are becoming the majority in university fields that have long been dominated by men, reports Middle East Online. Official university figures, recently released in Tunisia, show that female pre-eminence has become a fact of life in the overwhelming majority of academic branches, including in sciences, medicine, the arts and humanities.
More on the University World News site

UAE: A glimmer of hope amid university gloom
The publication of the THES-QS World University Rankings for 2008 brings unhappy news for aspiring institutions of higher education in many regions, including the Arab world, writes Muhammad Ayish, a professor of communications at the University of Sharjah, in The National. According to the rankings, no Arab university is among the top 400 in the world.
More on the University World News site

AFRICA: Higher education summit stresses partnerships
The major role higher education institutions have to play in Africa’s economic growth was stressed by Rwanda’s Minister of Education, Daphrose Gahakwa, when she closed a three-day Africa Regional Higher Education Summit in Kigali, reports The New Times. The gathering, a follow-up to last year’s Global Higher Education Summit held in Washington DC, was organised by USAID.
More on the University World News site

GHANA: Universities urged to do self-assessment
The Executive Secretary of the National Accreditation Board, Kwame Dattey, has appealed to tertiary institutions in Ghana to establish internal quality assurance units to assess their performance on a regular basis before his outfit comes in, reports Public Agenda.
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UK: Scientist quits the country in stem cell row
A leading British scientist is leaving the country to work in France after claiming that British science gives too much priority to embryo experiments over “more ethical” alternatives, reports The Sunday Times. Colin McGuckin, professor of regenerative medicine at Newcastle University, believes more funding should be given to work with adult stem cells.
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