Monday, 26 January 2009

University World News 0060 - 26th January 2009

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

GLOBAL: Ban sex between lecturers and students?
Paul Rigg
When Professor Istvan Pogany, 57, began a consensual relationship with one of his students at Britain’s University of Warwick, he did what many would consider ‘good practice’ and informed his line manager. But the student, who is in her 30s, then fell pregnant and her subsequent anguished decision to have an abortion led to lurid headlines that raised the question again whether intimate relationships between academics and students should be more strongly discouraged, or even prohibited.

US-INDIA: Boosting private-public partnerships
Geoff Maslen
A high-powered taskforce set up by the US Asia Society to expand interactions between India and the new Obama administration has called for the creation of education partnerships between the two nations to cope with India’s burgeoning higher education and secondary school populations. In a new report*, the taskforce says the training requirements for India’s large population exceed current capacity, “a challenge uniquely suited for linkages with US institutions”.

INDONESIA: Students swindled and stranded
David Jardine
A scandal involving 49 Indonesian students who sought places in Egypt’s prestigious Al-Azhar University has been revealed. Instead of enrolling in the Cairo university, the students ended up in Malaysia where 15 were discovered doing odd jobs to support themselves.

BANGLADESH: Private universities meet demand
Mahdin Mahboob
The system of private universities is a relatively new concept in Bangladesh. Because of the ever-growing demand for education at the university level, and the fact that existing public universities could not meet the need, the government passed the Private Universities Act in 1992. Starting with a handful, the number of private universities has grown rapidly and stands at 54 to date, compared with 21 public universities.

UK: Reskilling and upskilling
Diane Spencer
The higher education sector should play a greater part in the government’s agenda of improving skills of the workforce, says a new report by a parliamentary select committee. MPs looked at the review of leading businessman Lord Leitch, published in 2006, which was based on depressing statistics revealing the level of skills among the UK working population.

GLOBAL: New African research resource
A new online search portal called the HERANA Gateway provides access to the latest research on African higher education. Using Google technology, the Gateway returns focused search results from more than 15 sites worldwide – including University World News and the Centre for Higher Education Transformation in South Africa – making it one of the most
spec ialised resources of its kind.

ZIMBABWE: Universities demand US dollars
Clemence Manyukwe
Lecturers and their universities are demanding payment in foreign currency, with the institutions charging dollar tuition fees of US$700 and $1,500 per semester, as inflation in the crisis-torn southern African country plays havoc with the local currency and the education and health sectors collapse. Students are not sure whether they will get their results after lecturers declined to mark examination scripts, citing poor salaries and working conditions.

NIGERIA: Government in court over ruling councils
Tunde Fatunde
The Academic Staff Union of Universities, the ASUU, has dragged the N igerian government before the Federal High Court, challenging as illegal President Shehu Musa Yar’Adua’s failure to reconstitute the governing councils of federal universities. All councils were dissolved in 2007 and the lack of the decision-making bodies has hampered university operations. The court action has jolted the presidency which claims to champion the rule of law.

UGANDA: Students protest ‘discriminatory’ fees
Kayiira Kizito
Late last year, Kenyan students enrolled at Makerere University, Uganda’s most famous institution, protested against ‘discriminatory’ foreign student fees and other charges. As with many other universities around the world, Makerere charges differential rates for domestic and international students, and those from East Africa pay around 1.5 times the local rate.


PHILIPPINES: Trikes spread telecommunications
Five young Filipino graduates are building the country’s first self-contained and wireless-enabled mobile telecentres using the national mode of transport – the three-wheeled motorcycle called a Trike.

FRANCE: Inter-university information service
Jane Marshall
Nearly 150 librarians from 14 Parisian university libraries have banded together to open Rue des facs, an online documentary information service for students and academics. They can send in questions – in French – and should receive a reply by email within three days.

MALAWI: Plans for a Muslim university
Malawi’s former President, Bakili Muluzi, is planning to open a Muslim university. The institution will join other church-run universities – the Catholic University and Livingstone University (which is run by the Presbyterian Church) – to outnumber Malawi’s two public institutions, the University of Malawi and Mzuzu University.

ZAMBIA: University to charge ‘economic’ fees
The University of Zambia will begin charging ‘economic’ fees this year after submitting its proposals to the government. Vice-chancellor Professor Steven Simukanga said that although the government wanted affordable student fees, this was not possible because government grants were inadequate.


GLOBAL: Science or famine – crisis looms
Science-based solutions will be needed to avoid or at least mitigate a looming world food crisis that threatens to reduce nations to a “survival of the fittest” situation, a new report warns.

AUSTRALIA: Bacterium in fight against dengue fever
The painstaking injection by hand of 10,000 mosquito embryos – one-by-one – has led to a breakthrough in the fight against dengue fever by Australian researchers.

UK: Ancient chemical warfare alleged
Chemical warfare has long been used in human conflict. Now researchers believe they have found the oldest archaeological evidence of the practice – from Roman times.


GREECE: New people – old policies
Makki Marseilles
Forty-two-year-old Aris Spiliotopoulos was appointed Education Secretary in a recent government reshuffle carried out by Premier Kostas Karamanlis to boost the diminishing fortunes of his government. His party is now trailing 3-5 percentage points in the opinion polls behind the Opposition for the first time since 2003.


AFRICA: Research collaborations must be fair and equal
Dr Damtew Teferra
Research collaborations with African institutions must be equal, fair and meaningful. Africa's capacity for research and creating knowledge has always been the most marginalised and least competitive in the world.
Republished from SciDevNet

UK: Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education
A new online, peer-reviewed Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, based at the University of Glamorgan, has been launched aimed at promoting “improved practice by encouraging informed debate into pedagogic and related matters in higher education”.


From Giles Pickford
Reading the ongoing debate about big research versus small universities, I sometimes wonder if the truth is that Gavin Moodie and Simon Marginson are both right, while appearing to be in furious disagreement.

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

NEW ZEALAND: Vodka and exercise – the 60-hour hangover
John Gerritsen
New Zealand researchers have been mixing drinks at the gym in the name of science. Their experiment? To find out just how much impact post-match consumption of alcohol has on recovery from exercise.
UK: Rabbit run
This is a story that will generate shivers of horror or hoots of laughter among the inhabitants of rural Australia who are constantly engaged in a war against these little furry creatures. Rabbit owners in Bristol, south-west England, have been invited by Bristol University to help keep their animals healthy by bringing them for a free health check at the UK's first dedicated rabbit-only clinic.
Full report on the University World News site


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BANGLADESH: Government moves to quell campus violence
The newly installed Sheikh Hasina government has deployed the police to quell campus violence after Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) activists snapped telephone lines of the Chittagong University vice-chancellor’s office and drove out the deputy registrar, according to Thandian News.

CHINA: Boom in exam cheats battling for top jobs
Growing competition for jobs in the Chinese civil service appears to have produced a boom in dishonesty, with about 1,000 cheats caught in the national entrance exams this year, reports Tania Branigan for The Guardian. Hundreds of thousands of unemployed graduates seek safe berths in government offices, but their desperation to succeed has led to the highest level of cheating on record, according to the China Daily newspaper.

US: Scientific climate changing as Obama takes office
The politics of science, which has been storm-tossed for the past eight years, heads for uncharted waters with the inauguration of Barack Obama, writes Dan Vergano for USA Today. The Bush administration has fought a long battle with the nation's scientific community over funding and philosophy, and great divides have formed over such issues as global warming and stem cell research. Scientists are hopeful that Obama, who has called for increased research spending, will bring a new dawn. But how realistic are their hopes? And can the nation afford to make them a reality?

US: Mixing partying and politics
It was primarily a night for celebration, as hundreds of supporters of historically black colleges and universities gathered at the National Postal Museum on the eve of President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration to mark a historic moment, reports Inside Higher Ed. But it would not have been a Washington event if the revellers, as they danced and sipped on champagne, had not taken significant time to engage in the city’s true pastime: politicking. Chief among their wishes, black college leaders urged Obama to prioritise their institutions in his forthcoming economic stimulus package.

US: Fallout from the auto industry collapse
In better times, Detroit’s Big Three automakers signed multi-million dollar corporate training contracts with local community colleges to offer customised programmes for their employees, writes David Moltz in Inside Higher Ed. They offered these same employees and their dependents tuition assistance grants to further their education as they saw fit. And in better times, the state’s budget also supported community colleges at healthy levels. Now, with the auto industry and the state on the critical list, community colleges are being hit hard.

UK: The University of Europe: accessible to all
Universities in Europe are looking to embrace a new form of learning, called open content, which could blow away the division between university students and the rest of the population, writes Mandy Garner in The Guardian. In the UK, the Joint Information Systems Committee (Jisc) and the Higher Education Academy are launching a £5.7 million (US$7.9 million) pilot scheme to investigate the impact of open content and to look at issues of how to contextualise existing online material so anyone can make sense of it. Several European academics are already experimenting and the European Commission has expressed interest.

UK: Dawn of the cyberstudent
In a single week, the Open University records about two million downloads from its presence on iTunes U, a source of higher education podcasts and videos freely available on the web, writes Harriet Swain in The Guardian. About 87% of these downloads are from outside the UK. “I’m betting most of them have been downloaded by US students studying at American universities,” says Peter Scott, director of the Open University Knowledge Media Institute.

UK: Cambridge turns 800
Thousands of people have taken part in global celebrations marking the 800th anniversary of Cambridge University, reports BBC News. A specially-commissioned light show charting the university’s history kicked off the celebrations, which tied in with the start of a new term. Church bell-ringers around the world also simultaneously played a new piece composed for the occasion.

UK: RAE reveals cracks in university structure
The controversy about how research funding will be distributed between universities following the Research Assessment Exercise has exposed a basic problem in the way UK higher education system is organised, argues Luke Georghiou, professor of science and technology policy and management at the University of Manchester’s business school, in The Guardian.

GAZA: Science lab blown to bits
Three young medical students were snapping photographs of a scene of devastation last Monday: five stories of mint-green, concrete rubble that until Israel’s war with Hamas began had been their science lab, reports The New York Times.

ISRAEL: Study on hold as students called up
As Gil Levkovitch stared at a glowing TV screen showing Israeli ground forces moving into the Gaza Strip, he worried that he was going to get the call. At 10pm his phone rang. After a brief conversation, he began to gather his things. At 6am the next morning, he left his home. His studies at Tel Aviv University would be put on hold. He was on his way to fight a war, writes Vadim Lavrusik in the Minnesota Daily.

UK: Gaza protests spread to eight English universities
As student protests over the bombing of Gaza spread to eight universities across England last week, London School of Economics director Sir Howard Davies issued a joint statement with student protesters saying he understood their concerns and backing a fundraising drive for scholarships for Palestinians, reports The Guardian. There has also been student action at Oxford, Warwick, King’s College London, the School of Oriental and African Studies, Birmingham, Ess ex and Suss ex.

UGANDA: Overhaul of Makerere approved
Cabinet has paved the way for the complete overhaul of the administrative, financial and management structures of Makerere University, following the approval of wide-ranging recommendations by a Visitation Committee appointed by President Yoweri Museveni, writes Richard Wanambwa in The Citizen.

SOUTH AFRICA: Brain-gain battle between universities
The University of the Witwatersrand’s illustrious education policy unit is considering relocating lock, stock and barrel to the University of Johannesburg (UJ), reports the Mail & Guardian. UJ has been manoeuvring strongly to win a coveted place among the country’s top five universities, partly by beefing up its research capacity.

ETHIOPIA: Postgraduates to plug academic shortage
The Ministry of Education has started recruiting self-sponsored postgraduate students to work as assistant lecturers in Ethiopia’s 21 public universities, reports Addis Fortune. Public universities, especially those out of the capital, are faced with an acute shortage of academic staff.

MALTA: Record numbers in higher education
The number of 19-year-old students participating in higher education in Malta reached an all-time high last year with more than half furthering their studies, a report has shown, according to the Times of Malta. The proportion of 19-year-olds in post secondary and tertiary education increased from 31% in 1999 to 55% last year.

SINGAPORE: Big boost for research scholars
The government will put aside S$48 million (US$1.5 million) to fund up to 100 research scholars from two local universities to carry out work at the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology, SMART, reports the Straits Times. The fund complements S$1 billion given in 2006 to set up new research centres and fill them with the top global research minds over the next five years.

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