Sunday, 26 July 2009

University World News 0086 - 26th July 2009

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

IRAQ: US$1 billion to rebuild higher education
Wagdy Sawahel
Iraq has launched a five-year, $1 billion higher education plan to boost the nation's science and technology workforce while promoting knowledge-based sustainable development. The plan was announced yesterday by Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki who is in the US to sign an implementation agreement and establish an American Universities Iraq Consortium.
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US: Threat of swine flu arrives with summer's end
Sarah King Head
For American students returning to their university and college campuses this semester, the prospect of contracting the swine flu H1N1 virus is a real concern - especially for those living in residences. While it is flu season in the southern hemisphere, in the north the virus is expected to become more widespread during autumn and the subsequent winter.
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GLOBAL: International conman dupes academics
Geoff Maslen
Daniel Besser is known in the US and several other countries as a clever conman with no tertiary qualifications but a number of arrest warrants against him. Yet he managed to persuade academics at top universities in Australia, Israel and the US to hire him as head of a scientific research project. Besser used the name Dr Daniel Ben-Avraham to obtain a job coordinating a joint renewable energy research project involving the Australian National University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the University of Houston in Texas.
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FRANCE: Digital leap forward for universities
Jane Marshall
France is launching a -16 million (US$23 million) 'digitised university' programme to install wireless internet connections and develop podcasting for online courses throughout the university system. The initiative is a response to a report last year that said French universities urgently needed to catch up with information and communication technologies if they were to satisfy the higher education demands of the new generation of 'digitally native' students.
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UK: Vocational + higher education = success
Students who combine vocational education with academic studies are nearly as successful at gaining entry to and completing the first year of higher education as those with general academic qualifications, a new study has found. But students with only a vocational education are less likely to get to university than those with A levels and are more likely to drop out after their first year.
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NEW ZEALAND: Research performance moves worry union
John Gerritsen*
The next assessment of research in New Zealand's tertiary education sector is three years away but preparations for the event by some institutions already have the country's university staff union worried.
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AUSTRALIA: International education at crossroads
Despite changes to Australia's immigration rules that have slashed the number of foreign students obtaining permanent residency, enrolments continue to grow. The result is a huge number of former students hoping for a permanent visa just at a time when their chances of getting one have collapsed. A new report says the education export industry has yet to realise how serious the situation is.
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US: Restore academic travel to Cuba
The Association of International Educators, NAFSA, and a diverse group of 17 organisations have called on President Barack Obama to remove current restrictions on academic travel to Cuba. In a letter to the President, the coalition applauds Obama's recent actions with respect to Cuba and asks him to take further steps toward his goal of setting US-Cuban relations on a new path.
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GLOBAL: OECD plan to boost innovation
A major policy initiative has begun at the OECD offering a cross-government approach to help countries capture the economic and social benefits of innovation. The Innovation Strategy is a new project focusing on two strands: education and skills for innovation, and innovation and improvement in education.
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US: Murder? The Cro-Magnon did it
Analysis involving a crossbow, stone spearheads and pig carcasses has shed new light on a 50,000-year-old 'cold case' involving a Neanderthal man who died after suffering a rib injury.
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AUSTRALIA: Did Galileo discover Neptune?
Astronomy may need to credit Galileo Galilei with the discovery of the planet Neptune a full 234 years before the recognised discovery date of 1846, an Australian physicist suggests. Galileo certainly observed Neptune nearly 400 years ago - he recorded it in his notebooks - but apparently thought it was a star, not a planet.
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EGYPT: First nanotechnology centre to boost research
Ashraf Khaled
Egypt recently launched its first nanotechnology centre aimed at boosting the country's technological education and scientific research applications. Tarek Kamel, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, told the opening ceremony at Smart Village near Cairo that the centre was important for science in Egypt and "sends a strong signal about the state's interest in promoting research and development".
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AUSTRALIA: The need for moral wisdom
Steven Schwartz*
The dependence on full-fee international students by Australian universities has made a big difference. Competing for foreign students forced universities to become more student-focused. But, to quote the old stage adage, you ain't seen nothing yet. Following the recommendations of the Bradley review, we are about to enter a whole new era in Australian higher education, an era in which competition will become more intense than ever. Let me explain why.
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US: Video-games: a murderous addiction?
John Richard Schrock*
At age 15, Hughstan Schlicker shot his father in the head, from behind, using a shotgun. The Mesa Arizona teenager was sentenced last week to 20 years for murdering his father, who tried to stop his long hours on the computer. According to press reports, the young Schlicker said he often spent entire days on the computer and could not cope without it. How much time is "too much time" on a computer or hand-held videogame? And can it become an addiction?
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GLOBAL: Bubble trouble in the humanities
Philip Gerrans*
The cause of the meltdown in global financial markets is obvious: leveraged trading in financial instruments that bear no relationship to the things they are supposed to be secured against. When creditors finally ask how much bonds secured by collateralised debt obligations backed by billions of dollars of mortgages are actually worth, the answer is what the buildings can be sold for. In some cases, nothing. In many cases, the buildings are no more than weed-covered lots or graphics in a developer's PowerPoint presentation. Article originally published in the Times Higher Education.
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UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

GERMANY-SLOVAKIA: Energy from beer waste
Leah Germain
Making beer is a hot smelly process, as any home brewer will testify. But what is to be done with the steaming left-over grains from a brew? Turn it into energy and biogas of course, say German and Slovakian researchers.
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CHINA: Some universities 'fudge' student jobs data
Some Chinese universities have inflated graduate employment figures by issuing bogus work contracts as millions struggle to find work amid the downturn, an official newspaper said last Tuesday, reports Reuters. The financial crisis has intensified the problem of graduate unemployment, which stems from rapidly increasing enrolment at Chinese universities, many of which fail to adequately train their graduates.
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RUSSIA: Official's arrest linked to 'raiding' research
A Russian police official conducting research under the auspices of the US George Mason University has been arrested after he reported obtaining evidence incriminating influential figures in Moscow and the far eastern city of Vladivostok, colleagues and local authorities said last week, reports Philip P Pan for The Washington Post.
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US: Black professor's arrest rattles Boston area
In a region where summer preoccupations normally revolve around baseball and the weather, blogs exploded last Wednesday with people eager to weigh in on issues of race, class and police harassment, writes Elizabeth Mehren for the Los Angeles Times. Coffee counters in beach communities from South Boston to Martha's Vineyard buzzed with discussions about Harvard's prominent African American studies professor, Henry Louis Gates Jr, who was arrested after attempting to enter his home.
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US: California university system approves 20% fee hike
The California State University system raised student fees last week by 20% as part of a budget plan that would also shrink enrolment and furlough nearly all employees for two days a month, reports Terence Chea for Associated Press. The board of trustees voted for the hike despite protests from students who marched, chanted and banged drums outside the meeting hall in Long Beach.
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SOUTH AFRICA: First developing country-created Aids vaccine
South Africa is launching clinical trials of the first Aids vaccines created by a developing country, a feat by scientists who forged ahead even when some of their political leaders shocked the world with unscientific pronouncements about the disease, reports Independent Online. Trials to test the safety in humans of the vaccines begin this month on 36 healthy volunteers, said Anthony Mbewu, President of the state-supported Medical Research Council.
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PHILIPPINES: President: Double science and engineering R&D
Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has ordered the Commission on Higher Education, or CHED, to strengthen its scholarship programme to double the country's engineers and scientists involved in research and development, reports PNA.
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MALAYSIA: Qualifications assistance for 52 Islamic countries
Malaysia's qualifications agency has been asked to help universities in 52 Islamic countries to enhance their quality assurance systems, national news agency Bernama reports.
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KOREA: Promoting Korean studies abroad
Korean studies programmes have been growing steadily in number reports The Chosun Ilbo. In 1990 there were only 152 universities in 32 countries offering courses in Korean studies, but by 2006 the number had increased fivefold to 735 universities in 62 countries. This is thanks to the efforts of the Korea Foundation, which has worked to expand the overseas base of Korean studies since its establishment in 1992.
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UK: Mandelson announces 10,000 extra university places
The UK government last week announced an emergency 10,000 extra places at universities this autumn to ease the mounting pressure on the university admissions system - but refused to fully fund the expansion, writes Polly Curtis for The Guardian. The extra students will receive their grants and loans and pay tuition fees, but the universities will get no extra money directly from the government to cover teaching costs.
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INDIA: Delhi may create separate university system
India's national capital New Delhi may soon have a separate university system based on some of the best performing university systems abroad, reports the Press Trust of India. The move is part of a comprehensive plan of the city government to establish a set of discipline-focussed small universities to generate excellence in the field of education and research.
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KUWAIT: Students at discredited universities to be moved
A Ministry of Education committee formed to look into the suspension of the accreditation of a number of Indian and Filipino universities has reportedly issued a preliminary decision to transfer the students at these institutions to other accredited universities abroad, reports the Kuwait Times.
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YEMEN: Licences of new private universities cancelled
The Ministry of Higher Education has cancelled licences for establishing new universities and colleges, due to the large number of schools - 25 private universities and colleges - that are already in operation in the capital Sana'a, according to a report issued by the Ministry of Higher Education, writes Abdul-Aziz Oudah in the Yemen Observer.
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US: Do elite colleges produce best-paid graduates?
Forget US News's academic rankings and Playboy's party-school list, writes Catherine Rampell for The New York Times. For some prospective college freshmen, the important question is: will I make more money if I go to Harvard, or if I go to Harvey Mudd? Last week PayScale, a site that collects data on salaries for different professions, released an updated, gigantic data set on the salaries of graduates from hundreds of universities and colleges, as well as salaries and career choices broken down by department and major.
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US: What counts for tenure
For all the talk about how research universities place an increasing value on teaching, a survey on tenure standards in US political science departments finds not only that research remains dominant, but that poor teaching may be tolerated at doctoral-granting universities, writes Scott Jaschik for Inside Higher Ed. A national survey of department chairs found that superior research compensates for 'mediocre teaching' at 55% of PhD-granting institutions, compared to 34% of masters institutions and 17% of bachelors institutions.
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AUSTRALIA: Hopes for national university shattered
The dream of a national university is over after a proposed merger between Southern Cross and Charles Sturt universities collapsed, writes Heath Gilmore in The Sydney Morning Herald. The national university was promoted as a way to serve regional and rural Australia better and increase participation rates in higher education from these areas, particularly students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
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UAE: Downturn triggers university scramble
Universities have seen a sharp jump in applications as people turn to education to help their careers survive the economic downturn, reports Daniel Bardsley for The National. Although some institutions have reported dips in application numbers, blaming the exodus of expatriates, many undergraduate and especially postgraduate courses have seen increases of up to 20%.
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UGANDA: Sex for marks at universities
The first time Prossie Nakato's (not real name) lecturer at Makerere University in Uganda made a pass at her, she politely declined. But he refused to give up, writes Jenny Vaughan for the Daily Monitor. The 50-year-old lecturer continued to pursue the first year student for weeks. Finally, she relented and almost immediately her grades went up. This scenario is common on university campuses across the country. For years, male lecturers have received s exual favours from students in return for high marks.
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