Sunday, 3 May 2009

University World News 0074 - 3rd May 2009

Reports from the Frontier: A global view of the key issues confronting higher education
Reports from the Frontier is the first in a planned series of electronic books to be published by University World News. The initial volume comprises eight chapters that range from the impact of the global financial crisis on universities, declining funding, and the Bologna process, to women in higher education, international rankings and e-learning. The 337-page e-book includes an index listing the chapters and article headings, and is available as a special offer to University World News readers. To see the contents page and to order your copy click here.

NEWS: our correspondents worldwide report

GLOBAL: Swine flu spreads alarm in higher education
Geoff Maslen
The Mexican government last week ordered the closure of all universities and schools across the country as fears of a worldwide pandemic caused by the swine flu outbreak spread around the globe. The government's Health Secretariat issued the closure order to apply from last Monday. More than 2.5 million university students and 30 million school students were immediately affected by the first nationwide shutdown of education institutions in Mexico's history.
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EUROPE: Shaping the next decade for Bologna
Full implementation of the Bologna process' objectives at the European, national and institutional levels will require increased momentum and commitment beyond 2010, says a statement released following a meeting last week in Belgium of the 46 education ministers from the European countries involved.
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EU: Rise in higher education and student mobility
Jane Marshall
The proportion of the population in the 27 countries of the European Union completing at least two years of higher education has continued to rise in recent years and is now reaching nearly a third of young people, says a report by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Communities.
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FINLAND: Reforms face constitutional glitch
Ian Dobson
The legislative process to reform Finland's university sector is experiencing a few last-minute hiccups. Aspects of the radical changes intended for university governance might be unconstitutional.
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FRANCE: Striking lecturers "step up the movement"
Jane Marshall
The three-month strike by university lecturers and researchers showed no sign of ending last week, with a national meeting voting to boycott examinations until the government gave in to demands.
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UK: League season arrives with first guide
David Jobbins
British universities are in the middle of the period they publicly treat with dignified disdain but in practice await with anticipation - and a little anxiety. Between April and the dog days of the academic year, three competing university league tables appear in national newspapers, all designed to be a comprehensive guide to applicants for the coming year.
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PAKISTAN: First collegiate college system
Robert J O’Hara
The Lahore University of Management Sciences or LUMS is discussing the establishment of a residential college system for its campus which would be the first collegiate scheme to be introduced in Pakistan.
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GLOBAL: Unesco and partners launch digital library
Jane Marshall
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, the US Library of Congress and 31 other organisations have launched the World Digital Library, a free website in seven languages featuring unique cultural materials from libraries and archives from around the world.
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EGYPT: University in turmoil over exam failures
Ashraf Khaled
Hundreds of students at Helwan University, one of Egypt's 18 public universities, staged protests on the campus south of Cairo after they flunked first-term examinations. The protesters, mostly final year students in the faculties of law and commerce, accused professors of being unfair. The law dean resigned in protest when a university committee amended marks to allow students to pass.
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NIGERIA: Single entrance examination in 2010
Tunde Fatunde
One competitive examination will replace the current two entrance tests for tertiary institutions in Nigeria from next year, Registrar of the Joint Examination Matriculation Board, Professor Dibu Ojerinde, has announced. The news prompted diverse but mostly negative reactions the authorities will consider when fine-tuning the reform.
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EGYPT-TUNISIA: Research accords with France
Jane Marshall
The environment features prominently among areas for joint research and training in partnerships that French institutions have entered with Egyptian and Tunisian universities and research agencies.
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ZIMBABWE: Central bank looted university funds
Zimbabwe's central bank raided the foreign currency accounts of universities to prop up President Robert Mugabe's government during a crippling economic and political crisis that saw inflation reach world record levels. A legislator has taken the looting of funds from the private Africa University to parliament through an upcoming question and answer session. Politicians said three other universities claimed donor money vanished from their accounts.
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ALGERIA: Study abroad cuts to tackle brain drain
Wagdy Sawahel
In an effort to retain bright youngsters and stem a worsening brain drain, Algeria will restrict study abroad scholarships granted to high achievers in baccalaureate examinations. The government is also acting to improve the working conditions of researchers and will double grant funds for university students starting next September.
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AFRICA: Women scientists discuss new network
Members of the International Network of Women Engineers and Scientists (Inwes) met in Abidjan last month to discuss setting up an African regional network.
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NEW ZEALAND: Internet use boosts productivity
Personal use of the internet at work could be good for productivity, new research into the habits and attitudes of workers in New Zealand, Finland, Germany, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden and the United States indicates.
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EUROPE: EU to double IT research funding
The European Commission has committed to a massive increase in funding for high-risk IT research, calling on member nations to follow suit.
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GLOBAL: Cow genome sequenced
Moo. After six years of effort by 300 scientists around the world at a cost of $US53 million, the cow genome has been cracked.
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UK: Unexpected benefits from lice
Parasites such as lice have a role in the conditioning of a 'natural' immune system and reducing the likelihood of immune dysfunctions, a study of mice from a Nottinghamshire forest indicates.
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EUROPE: EUA's priorities for the next decade
Jean-Marc Rapp
In addition to the crucial issues of autonomy and funding, there are five other issues I would like to underline as we look to the future, including the importance of the consolidation and communication of the already significant achievements of the Bologna process. Attention must be paid to following up 'unfinished business' in the implementation of the whole package of reforms, and to ensure that sustainable qualitative change - rather than superficial structural changes only - is embedded in institutional and also subject specific cultures.
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CANADA: Open access - promises and challenges
Leslie Chan
Have you 'googled' yourself lately? Have you wondered why some of your publications did not show up in the search results? Have you ever tried to access one of your own journal articles online, only to be asked to pay US$30 by the publisher? Why are articles by some of your colleagues freely available online in full text even though they were also originally published in commercial journals? Is this permissible? Why is Google Scholar showing that your colleagues' articles are cited more than yours? Why is your institution's library paying millions of dollars each year for journal subscriptions and yet you are still unable to access some of the journals you need for your research?
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JAPAN: Foreign student numbers double in a decade
Over the past decade, the number of foreign students seeking higher education in Japan has more than doubled, reports the Daily Yomiuri. In contrast, the number of Japanese students going abroad for their education is waning. In 2008, 123,829 foreign students were studying at the nation's universities and vocational schools, a 240% increase over the 1998 figure, according to the Japan Student Services Organisation.
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SWEDEN: Overseas students boost university numbers
The number of students enrolled at Swedish universities climbed in 2008 for the first time since the early 2000s, new statistics from the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education (Högskolverket) show, reports The Local. Foreign students account for a large part of the increase.
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US: Professor makes Most Wanted list
Accused murderer George Zinkhan III now is one of America's Most Wanted, reports the Athens Banner-Herald. Authorities don't know where the University of Georgia professor fled after he allegedly shot and killed his wife and two men in Athens last weekend, or even if he still is alive. But the "America's Most Wanted" television show added Zinkhan to a list of fugitives on its website and the programme might produce a segment about the slayings.
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IRELAND: Highest paid academic 'smoked out'
If salary witch-hunts have become the stock-in-trade of Irish journalism, Freedom of Information (FOI) requests are the burning torches, reports the Irish Times. The latest to fall foul of FOI are universities. A request in March smoked out the highest salaries in Irish academia, topped by the EUR409,000 pay packet of University College Dublin's Vice-president of Research, Professor Des Fitzgerald.
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CHINA: Universities to test morals, knowledge
Universities will look beyond a student's academic achievements to include moral and social efforts under new entrance guidelines announced on Monday, writes Liang Qiwen for China Daily. The Ministry of Education said results from the annual national college entrance examination would not be the sole criteria when assessing prospective university students.
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UK: Students fear harsh job market
More than 25% of final-year students at top UK universities plan to stay on for further study as the recession bites, a poll of 16,000 students has found, reports BBC News. The research by High Fliers found 52% thought the prospects for new graduates were very limited and 36% did not expect to get a graduate job this year. Nearly half (48%) feared they may be made redundant within a year of work.
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VIETNAM: Mid-ranking universities are in demand
Statistics released after the last day of registration for university entrance exams showed that more students are aiming for mid-ranking universities rather than vying for limited slots in the most competitive schools, reports VietNamNet.
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PAKISTAN: 1,000 scholarships for Afghan students
Pakistan has offered 1,000 scholarships to Afghan students to study in the country in almost all disciplines, writes Asim Hussain for The Daily Mail. Under the phased programme, as many as 200 Afghan students will join Pakistani universities this year. The first batch of students will be admitted in September at the start of the academic year.
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PAKISTAN: Co-educational institutions threatened
Panic spread through co-educational institutions in Karachi after receiving warnings, believed to be from the Taliban, to close down or face the consequences, reports the Daily Times. Schools, colleges and universities - mostly institutions affiliated to the Cambridge Board that have male and female students studying together without discrimination - have received threatening letters and phone calls from the Taliban.
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SOUTH AFRICA: IP regulations threaten innovation
A growing number of South African academics, activists and bloggers are calling on the Department of Science and Technology to review draft intellectual property regulations governing public research, saying that they are a significant threat to future innovation in the country, writes Alastair Otter for Tectonic, a web site for the open source software community. The regulations, ironically from a department which has long championed free software, would also make it impossible to produce free software as part of any research projects, say opponents of the changes.
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ETHIOPIA: Electronic library system for universities
In an effort to expand the reach of the currently limited reference materials available to Ethiopian university students and academics, the Ministry of Education is finalising preparations to launch a nationwide electronic library system, reports EthioPlanet.
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US: Top institute scolds doctors and medical schools
In a scolding report, America's most influential medical advisory group said doctors should stop taking much of the money, gifts and free drug samples they routinely accept from drug and device companies. The report by the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences, is a stinging indictment of many of the most common means by which drug and device makers endear themselves to doctors, medical schools and hospitals, writes Gardiner Harris for The New York Times.
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US: Dead programmes walking
College leaders are often criticised for not making difficult choices, allowing programmes that are essentially dead to keep breathing for years with the aid of minimal life support, writes Jack Stripling for Inside Higher Ed. But with endowment values tumbling and many state budgets slashed, campuses are now making some of those choices - even if they are still not easy.
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AUSTRALIA: Queensland to open Confucius Institute
Australia's first Confucius Institute to celebrate China as a power in science is to open at the University of Queensland, writes Bernard Lane in The Australian. A controversial exercise in Chinese soft power, the institutes are jointly funded and run by local universities and Hanban, a Chinese government entity. Mostly delivering language and culture programmes, they also involve partnerships with Chinese universities.
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