Sunday, 22 March 2009

University World News 0068 - 23rd March 2009

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

GLOBAL: The plus and minus of Commonwealth legacy
John Gerritsen
“Commonwealth history is both a hindrance and a help,” admits Association of Commonwealth Universities General Secretary, Professor John Tarrant. Seated in a hotel lobby in Wellington, New Zealand, the silver-haired head of the world’s oldest inter-university network has now had nearly two years to come to grips with the double-edged nature of the association’s origins.
Full report on the University World News site

AFRICA: Fears for continent’s once-great universities
John Gerritsen
Africa must reconstruct its once-great universities or fall even further behind the rest of the world, Professor John Tarrant has warned. Tarrant cited the plight of Africa’s universities as the most worrying issue in global higher education after the immediate issue of the global recession.
Full report on the University World News site

AFRICA: Call for higher education support fund
Karen MacGregor
Sixteen African ministers attending a preparatory meeting for the Unesco World Conference on Higher Education, to be held in Paris in July, called for improved financing of universities and a support fund to strengthen training and research in key areas. They ministers also want improved governance and quality assurance, and diversification of programmes to enable the sector to meet a wider range of needs, according to a conference report circulated last week.
Full report on the University World News site

VIETNAM: Transforming higher education
Dale Down
Just as Vietnam’s economy has been transforming itself over the last few decades, it is now the turn of the country’s higher education system. The Ministry of Education and Training has announced plans for a new science university to be opened later this year that will be of international standard and will be the benchmark against which all other science universities in the country will be measured.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Switch to online journals under attack
John Richard Schrock
A trend to make printed scientific journals available online worldwide, is under fire. Although President Barack Obama has signed a measure to make the National Institutes of Health Public Access Policy permanent, some US lawmakers have launched legislation to roll back the effort. While advocates assert moving science journals online is tech-savvy, economical and the only proper use of taxpayer-generated research, problems with costs, archiving, copyright, and support of small professional organisations (centred on their journal identity and research collaboration) are causing second thoughts.
Full report on the University World News site

RUSSIA: Education Minister to take top job?
Nick Holdsworth
The head of Russia’s top university may be forced to step down next month when he turns 70 as speculation mounts in the Russian press that his successor could be Education Minister Andrei Fursenko. Victor Sadovnichy, who was elected the rector of Russia’s equivalent of a top Ivy League institution in 1992 and heads the Union of Rectors, is a powerful and influential figure within higher education. He enjoys close relations with top government figures but Russian employment law stipulates that rectors should retire at 65 with a five year optional extension.
Full report on the University World News site

FRANCE: Academic and student anger grows
Jane Marshall
The nation’s universities continued to be disrupted by strikes and protests against proposed teacher training reforms last week while university presidents called for a year’s delay in introducing the changes to allow time for reflection and consultation.
Full report on the University World News site

FRANCE: United in struggle against reforms
Bordeaux 3 On Strike
French universities have faced strikes by academics and students for six weeks and their protests have received wide coverage from French and foreign newspapers. Despite claims by some journalists, very few violent clashes have occurred: this movement is not another example of the recurring cliché of striking workers in France.
Full report on the University World News site

SPAIN: OECD: Could do better
Rebecca Warden
Spanish higher education has come a long way in recent years, making significant progress in areas such as quality assurance and institutional autonomy. But issues such as inefficiency, lack of responsiveness to the needs of society and academic inbreeding still plague the system, according to a recent report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Full report on the University World News site

SUDAN: President’s arrest warrant may affect plans
Wagdy Sawahel
In a bid to promote a knowledge-based economy and enhance Africa’s scientific capabilities, Sudan – the largest country in Africa – is planning to launch several initiatives in science and technology and in higher education. But the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court in The Hague against Sudan’s president could mean these projects may not even begin.
Full report on the University World News site

KENYA: Riot after murder of former student leaders
Clemence Manyukwe
Kenyan students rioted last week, demanding the resignation of the country’s police commissioner following the murder of two former student leaders in a suspected assassination by security agents. Outgoing chairman of Kenyatta University Students’ Association Martin KO Luther told University World News the former students, who were shot dead in their car, had been involved in human rights work.
Full report on the University World News site

NIGERIA: Growing support for retirement at 70
Tunde Fatunde
Vice-President Dr Jonathan Goodluck has lent his voice to growing demand that Ni gerian academics should retire at the age of 70 rather than the current 65 years. Goodluck, formerly a science lecturer at the University of Port Harcourt, has advocated retirement age reform as a way of retaining experienced academics at universities that are facing acute staff shortages.
Full report on the University World News site

EGYPT: Future of teacher colleges uncertain
Ashraf Khaled
Five years after graduating from a teacher training college in Egypt, Fouad Abdel Halim, 27, has lost hope of a career in teaching: “Since my graduation, I have been unable to get a job as a school teacher. I have to make both ends meet by doing casual jobs such as working as a store clerk, a secretary and even a wall-painter,” Halim said. He is one of thousands of graduates from teacher colleges who have failed to find teaching work because their numbers far outstrip demand.
Full report on the University World News site


ANGOLA: Higher education network to cover country
Higher education reorganisation will lead to the creation of new public institutions and by 2012 the network will extend throughout the country, said Adão do Nascimento, Secretary of State for Higher Education.
Full report on the University World News site

TOGO: Problems training urban planners
“While the towns of Africa explode, the African School of Architecture and Town Planning struggles to train the elite battalions supposed to control the metropoles of the continent, between unpaid budgets and student strikes,” begins an article by correspondent Grégoire Allix in the French newspaper Le Monde, which chronicles the challenges faced by the Ecole africaine des métiers de l’architecture et de l’urbanisme (Eamau) in Lomé.
Full report on the University World News site


SOUTH AFRICA-AUSTRALIA: Young lizard ‘transvestites’
Karen MacGregor
Young male Augrabies Flat Lizards in northern South Africa mimic females by delaying the onset of bright colouring, scientists in South Africa and Australia have found. By pretending to be female these ‘transvestites’ not only avoid being attacked by aggressive older male rivals but are also able to court females that share a territorial male’s area.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: New evidence of ice risk
Latest results from an international study of rock and sediment from the Antarctic sea floor show only a small rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations could prompt significant, and potentially dangerous, changes to the West Antarctic ice.
Full report on the University World News site

EUROPE: Research network extended
The European Commission has connected researchers in the South Caucasus nations of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia to Europe’s largest computer network for research and education. The EU-funded initiative links the countries and connects them to the high bandwidth, pan-European GÉANT network which already serves 30 million researchers.
Full report on the University World News site

CANADA: Smallest known North American dinosaur found
Canadian researchers say they have discovered the smallest known North American dinosaur, a carnivore that roamed areas of the continent 75 million years ago and weighed less than most modern-day house cats, reports CNN. Hesperonychus elizabethae, a two-kilogram creature with razor-like claws, ran through the swamps and forests of south-eastern Alberta, Canada, during the late Cretaceous period, the researchers said.
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AUSTRALIA: The global research race
Michael Gallagher
Many countries around the world are pressing ahead with building their research systems, even during the global recession, through economic stimulus measures that include targeted investments in research. They include the US and China, Norway, France and Germany. The economic stimulus measures of different countries are over and above earlier initiatives to strengthen research capability in the light of accelerating international competition. Countries that are not keeping up with research-building, such as Australia, are in a vulnerable position.
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US-EUROPE: The power of partnerships
“Around the world, institutions are facing intensified competition at home and abroad, more insistent public demands for accountability, pressures to both widen access and contribute to economic development through research, stagnating public funding and a growing role of the market. In this environment, ‘going it alone’ may not be useful as a dominant strategy,” argues The Power of Partnerships: A transatlantic dialogue, an essay recently published by the American Council on Education, based on the outcomes of the 11th Transatlantic Dialogue of 28 university leaders from North America and Europe.
More on the University World News site

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

UK: The Obama effect?
Diane Spencer
The Obama magic is spreading to British academe: the US president has now been cited by a Leicester University researcher as “a glorious mascot for biethnic people as highly successful and able individuals, who rise and succeed against many odds”. Postgraduate student Rana Sinha interviewed people from mixed race or ethnic parents in Finland to find out if their backgrounds helped them in their work. Overall, the findings were positive.
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UK: £2,000 rise in fees would not deter students
Raising tuition fees from £3,000 (US$4,350) to £5,000 a year would not put students off higher education, a report for university vice-chancellors has predicted, writes Donald McLeod in The Guardian. Giving the nod to the government to raise fees the report, published by Universities UK, nevertheless warns that students from low-income families would be discouraged if fees rose to £7,000, particularly if they had to take out private loans as well as government student loans.
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UK: Students to lobby MPs over fees
Students are to lobby Parliament in a protest against university top-up fees, reports BBC News. The National Union of Students, joined by former Education Secretary David Blunkett, will ask MPs to support alternative funding. More than 50% of university chiefs want students to pay at least £5,000 (US$7,182) per year or for there to be no upper limit.
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IRELAND: Review of enrolments as courses merge
The numbers of students attending all of the 1,200 courses across higher education in Ireland is to be reviewed, writes John Walshe in the Irish Independent. Education Minister Batt O’Keeffe confirmed the review last week, saying that it was necessary to see where rationalisation can take place.
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US: Big plans for Arizona State collapse
When Michael Crow became president of Arizona State University seven years ago, he promised to make it ‘The New American University’, with 100,000 students by 2020. It would break down the musty old boundaries between disciplines, encourage advanced research and entrepreneurship to drive the new economy, and draw in students from underserved sectors of the state, writes Tamar Lewin in The New York Times. But this year, Crow's plans have crashed into new budget realities.
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US: Enrolments in computing and engineering rise
Some heartening news on the tech front, reports Scientific American: enrolment in undergraduate computer science and engineering programmes is up in the US and Canada for the first time since the dot-com bust.
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SOUTH AFRICA: Too much work for too few engineers
South Africa’s severe shortage of engineering professionals is putting a strain on the country’s infrastructure growth programme, according to research by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) published last week, writes Bheki Mpofu in Business Day. The report supports what similar studies have indicated: the country is facing a chronic shortage of qualified and competent professionals such as engineers following a surge in investment in infrastructure development in recent years.
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AUSTRALIA: Job type, not university, determines pay
Graduates from prestigious universities do not necessarily acquire higher starting salaries, in comparison to graduates from universities of lower rankings, a new study has found, reports Business News. The study in The Australian Economic Review found it is the type of employment obtained that determines labour market outcomes and remuneration.
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ISRAEL: Universities ‘squandering’ funds
Israel’s universities are largely to blame for their dire financial straits, because they pay high salaries and benefits to staff without the approval of the Finance Ministry, according to a report released by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss last week. He recommended forcing universities to comply with regulatory oversight by freezing their funding until they agreed to allow the Finance Ministry to review their books, reports the Jerusalem Post.
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US: Black immigrants access elite colleges
The election of Barack Obama – African American because of his African father, distinguishing him from how the phrase is commonly used – has brought unprecedented attention to the diversity of backgrounds of those covered by the term, writes Scott Jaschik for Inside Higher Ed. Within higher education, one of the more sensitive issues in discussion of admissions and affirmative action in recent years has been the relative success of immigrant black Americans compared with black people who have been in the US for generations.
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US: Slave trade memorial on cards for Brown University
A Brown University commission has asked the school to create a memorial acknowledging its early ties to the slave trade, one that would inspire reconciliation, not resurrect shame, reports the Seattle Times. The 10-member commission has been studying civil rights and slavery memorials from Alabama to France, and said in a new report released last week that the project should be uplifting.
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BANGLADESH: US$81 million to improve higher education
The World Bank last week approved a US$81 million interest-free credit to Bangladesh to improve the quality of teaching and research in higher education, reports China View. The credit from the International Development Association, the World Bank’s concessionary arm, will support Bangladesh’s Higher Education Quality Enhancement Project.
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