Monday, 1 February 2010

University World News 0109 - 1st February 2010

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

HAITI: Earthquake shatters already weak university system
Garry Pierre-Pierre in Haiti
Astride Auguste was late for an examination at Port-au-Prince's Quiskeya University on that fateful Tuesday, 12 January, when the earthquake, "the event" as Haitians have come to call it, struck. Auguste, an undergraduate in international affairs and management, was near the campus when she felt the earth shake beneath her. She bounced a few times and eventually regained her composure while a few miles away, many of her fellow students died after most of the buildings collapsed.
Full report on the University World News site:

EUROPE: New commissioner to fight for research area
David Haworth
Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, nominated as the next EU Commissioner for research, science and innovation, has promised the European Parliament to complete a European Research Area where researchers' work can be undertaken in all 27 member states. In a confirmation hearing in Brussels, she also promised to address European society's 'grand challenges' during her five-year mandate.
Full report on the University World News site:

IRELAND: Century-old institution to go
John Walshe
The National University of Ireland is to be dissolved, giving full independence to its four constituent universities. The decision was taken by the government as part of its public sector reform agenda - but has sparked off a strong reaction from opposition parties and across the education spectrum.
Full report on the University World News site:

CANADA: Key bodies axed
Philip Fine
Canada has put itself in a vulnerable position for making informed decisions about its university sector, say key higher education critics after three organisations dedicated to disseminating education analyses were axed.
Full report on the University World News site:

EUROPE: Erasmus Mundus gets good marks
Alan Osborn
The European Commission's Erasmus Mundus programme of 2004-08, designed to promote the EU as a global 'centre of excellence' in learning, has been judged a success though changes in financing may have to be made if it is to continue in its present form.
Full report on the University World News site:

JORDON-FRANCE: Joint nuclear science university
Wagdy Sawahel
In an announcement by the country's Atomic Commission on 19 January, Jordan said it plans to create a Jordanian-French university spec ialising in nuclear sciences and research to develop scientific human resources in Jordan and the Arab world.
Full report on the University World News site:

EGYPT: Campaign to teach medicine in Arabic
Ashraf Khaled
A campaign to replace English with Arabic as the language of instruction for medical studies in Egypt has worried academics, who have warned of the negative impact on medical education. "This move will do more harm than good to medical students and graduates, especially as we in Egypt import science," said Dr Sameh Farid, Dean of the medical school at Cairo University, the country's biggest public university.
Full report on the University World News site:

N IGERIA: Academics and students oppose US terror list
Tunde Fatunde
Academics and students have slammed the US government's inclusion of N igeria on a list of high security risk countries, following last month's failed attempt to blow up a US plane by former London-based N igerian student Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. They are concerned that the US action will undermine academic exchange between the countries.
Full report on the University World News site:

MALAWI: Court backs controversial quotas
A Malawian Court has ruled in favour of reintroducing a controversial higher education admissions system that obliges universities to enroll students according to district quotas rather than straight merit. Disgruntled students have vowed to appeal against the judgment.
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ZAMBIA: Future presidents must have degrees
A committee leading the drafting of a new constitution in Zambia has adopted a clause that requires any future president to have a degree from a reputable university. The move has sparked a raging debate in the media about whether an academic background is critical in conducting affairs of state.
Full report on the University World News site:

ZIMBABWE: Students drop out because of unaffordable fees
Zimbabwe student leaders held a crisis meeting with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai last week after it emerged that 28% of students had dropped out of the country's leading university because of a lack of foreign currency to settle tuition fees.
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CAMEROON: Suspicious students question President's bonus
Jane Marshall
A proposal by President Paul Biya to award nearly three billion FCFA (US$6.4 million) as 'bonuses for excellence' to the best students of Cameroon's seven state universities has divided students and academics and provoked accusations of corruption against university managements, according to a series of reports published in Le Messager of Douala. Meanwhile, says the newspaper, problems such as lack of space to accommodate growing numbers of students continue to afflict the institutions.
Full report on the University World News site:

NEWSBRIEFS

GLOBAL: WTO creates chairs at 14 universities
The World Trade Organization has launched a new programme of support for teaching, research and outreach activities at 14 universities in the developing world. It says the WTO Chairs Programme will assist national academic institutions to "provide students with a deeper understanding of trade policy issues".
Full report on the University World News site:

EUROPE: ERC president resigns
Fotis C Kafatos, President of the European Research Council and chair of its scientific council, has resigned and will step down from 1 March. Kafatos will continue as a member of the council, which will elect a new president and chairman from among its 22 members.
Full report on the University World News site:

EUROPE: EUA promotes full costing
Alan Osborn
Two projects aimed at improving the ability of European universities to meet the challenges posed by the EU's Lisbon Strategy for increasing the union's technical competitiveness are to be launched by the European University Association.
Full report on the University World News site:

BRAZIL: IFC promotes access to higher education
The International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group, is promoting access to higher education in Brazil with a 50 million reais (US$27 million) grant to Anhanguera Educacional Participações, the country's leading private post-secondary institution.
Full report on the University World News site:

SAUDI ARABIA: Observatory on higher education
Wagdy Sawahel
Saudi Arabia now has a national body for higher education that includes student experiences, courses, planning, assessment and evaluation. The Observatory on Higher Education was launched last Tuesday at an international exhibition on higher education in Riyadh.
Full report on the University World News site:

SENEGAL: Student riots cause widespread damage
Rioting students caused damage estimated at more than 13 million FCFA (US$28,000) at Ensa, Senegal's national school of higher agricultural studies in Thiès, reported Le Soleil of Dakar.
Full report on the University World News site:

BURKINA FASO: Four nations set up joint medical masters
A professional masters degree in epidemiological intervention and laboratory management started this month at the University of Ouagadougou, a joint initiative between Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Togo, four countries with high incidences of recurrent epidemics, reported Le Pay of Ouagadougou.
Full report on the University World News site:

ACADEMIC FREEDOM

IRAN: Student activist sentenced
Daniel Sawney and Jonathan Travis*
Majid Tavakoli, an Iranian pro-reform student activist, has been sentenced to eight years in prison for giving a speech at Tehran's Amir Kabir University where he branded President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a 'fascist' and the country's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameini, a 'dictator'. Tavakoli has also been banned from political activity and foreign travel for five years.
More Academic Freedom reports on the University World News site:

SCIENCE SCENE

GLOBAL: From environmental frying pan into the fire
The looming demise of an environmental hazard should be good news. But in the case of the southern hemisphere's ozone hole, it could exacerbate another serious problem.
Full report on the University World News site:

AUSTRALIA: Reverse universe theory challenged
New calculations have challenged established views on an intriguing physics problem: what would happen if you fell through a wormhole into a part of the universe where things happened in reverse? In such a universe, broken eggs would put themselves together again and if you had a beer you would feel drunk beforehand and thirsty afterwards.
Full report on the University World News site:

AFRICA: HIV prevention gel fails huge clinical trial
Following the world's largest international clinic trial into an HIV preventative gel, scientists have concluded it is not effective. The four-year trial was conducted in four African countries, ended in September last year, involved 9,385 women and proved controversial in Zambia.
Full report on the University World News site:

FEATURES

EUROPE: Report advocates better research conditions
Emma Jackson
With a new EU Research Commissioner about to be appointed and lobbying expected to be underway soon over the shape of the eighth EU framework programme on research, the League of European Research Universities has released a major report, Harvesting talent: strengthening research careers in Europe. It outlines the league's position on changes in the European research community it says are necessary to attract the world's most brilliant new researchers into European research posts.
Full report on the University World News site:

SOUTH AFRICA: New directions for higher education
Sharon Dell
One of Dr Blade Nzimande's first moves as South Africa's new Minister of Higher Education and Training was to institute a review of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, a step that heralded his concern with ongoing inequalities in the system and his intention to widen access to higher education for the country's poorest, mainly black students. It was also a sign that he intends to honour the African National Congress' election manifesto commitment to begin the process of providing free undergraduate study to financially needy students.
Full report on the University World News site:

SOUTH AFRICA: Top university tackles transformation
Alison Moodie
The University of Cape Town (UCT), one of South Africa's top institutions, is undertaking an ambitious programme to balance race relations on campus. The university is accelerating its pace of transformation in the light of a government-commissioned probe into racism in higher education. "The report forced universities to think about these issues and to respond, which is what its real benefit has been," said Crain Soudien, chair of the committee that oversaw the investigation and head of the transformation programme at UCT.
Full report on the University World News site:

HE RESEARCH AND COMMENTARY

EUROPE: A chance for European universities
Jan Petter Myklebust
Former Dutch Education Minister and current President of Maastricht University, Jo Ritzen, has placed an extensive book draft on a website for comment. A Chance for European Universities is available for comments until 1 March 2010 and will be published by Amsterdam University Press in May.
Full report on the University World News site:

RUSSIA: Struggling to maintain research output: report
Russia's research output has experienced a "steady decline" over the past decade and the country is now second lowest among the 'BRIC' - Brazil, Russia, India and China - group of nations, according to a report published by Thomson Reuters on Wednesday. The New Geography of Science: Research and collaboration in Russia found that after reaching a peak in 1994 of just over 29,000 papers, output in Russia declined over the next decade to reach a low of 22,000 in 2006.
Full report on the University World News site:

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

NORWAY: Women philosophers aplenty
Jan Petter Myklebust
Among the philosophical canons, few women are represented. An exhibition at the University of Oslo library* is asking why.
Full report on the University World News site:

GREECE: Rescue team saves dummy
Makki Marseilles
It often comes as a pleasant surprise to discover modern universities do not restrict their activities to exclusively academic matters but branch into areas that have deeper and broader social repercussions. One such is the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki that supports a large number of non-academic activities, including one that deals with possible natural and/or man-made disasters with a fully equipped and trained disasters management team.
Full report on the University World News site:

DAVOS: Harvard star-gazer maps out-of-space markets
Some 5,000 light-years from the World Economic Forum and the worst earthly economic crisis since the Great Depression, astronomer Dimitar Sasselov is charting the New Frontier for investment capital over a bespoke iPhone app that connects with a planet called Sheila, writes A Craig Copetas for Bloomberg. "Globalisation is complete," the director of Harvard University's Origins of Life Initiative Project says, tapping his smart phone into the radio-telescope transmissions that on 12 November 2002, led him to discover OGLE-TR-56b, the exosolar world that he unofficially named after his wife.
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GLOBAL: Alien life could already be on Earth
For the past 50 years, scientists have scoured the skies for radio signals from beyond our planet, hoping for some sign of extraterrestrial life. But one physicist says there's no reason alien life couldn't already be lurking among us - or maybe even in us - writes Raphael G Satter for Associated Press.
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WORLD ROUND-UP

GLOBAL: Measuring student learning, globally
Nearly two years after the Bush administration said it would not participate in an international experiment aimed at developing a global assessment of student learning, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development on Wednesday formally announced the launch of the effort - with the full participation of the United States and the Obama administration - reports Doug Lederman for Inside Higher Ed.
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GLOBAL: Universities network in Davos
Davos is one of the world's prime networking venues for economists, bankers and diplomats, writes Oliver Staley for Bloomberg. Yale University sees it as an opportunity to do business, too, entertaining potential donors and recruiting world leaders to teach on campus. Yale isn't the only US university to send a delegation to the Swiss ski resort last week to discuss the environment, technology, communications and the economy. Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Chicago are also sent groups and sponsored events.
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INDIA: Supreme Court delays deemed universities' doom
In an interim order India's Supreme Court last Monday restrained the central government from acting against 'deemed' universities facing de-recognition, reports Sanjay K Singh for The Economic Times. The court asked the government to furnish a clear programme to protect the interests of nearly 200,000 students at 44 universities whose prospects are in limbo following the de-recognition move.
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US: College 'gender gap' favouring women stops growing
More men are attending college and graduating with a bachelor's degree, reversing the tendency of female undergraduates to outnumber men and outperform them academically, according to a new report published last week, writes Eric Gorski for Associated Press. One notable exception is young Hispanic men, especially new immigrants, who are falling further behind Hispanic women.
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UK: Universities not terror cops, says vice-chancellor
Universities should not be forced to act as 'policemen' to prevent students falling under the influence of extremists, according to a leading vice-chancellor. Professor Malcolm Grant, provost of University College London - where the alleged Detriot bomber was educated - insisted that radical speakers had to be allowed to address students in the name of free speech, writes Graeme Paton for The Telegraph.
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UK: Funding chiefs plot £315 million cut
UK university funding chiefs met last week to decide how to implement cuts in campus budgets as they allocate £7.3 billion (US$12 billion) to vice-chancellors for the coming academic year, writes Greg Hurst for The Times. Research funding is likely to be concentrated on departments with higher-quality ratings for their work - largely, but not exclusively, boosting bigger, research-rich universities.
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CHINA: 50 tycoons gave $146.5 million to universities
A ranking of Chinese tycoons' donations to their alma maters has been released, following the controversy over entrepreneur Zhang Lei who gave a record US$8,888,888 to Yale University, China Daily-Asia News reports. The ranking, published by an independent Chinese website, included more than 50 tycoons who donated a total of over one billion yuan (US$146.5 million) to the Chinese universities they attended.
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US: Toppling a bogus diploma empire
It started with spam. On a quiet August day in 2002, a physics professor named George Gollin was working in his office at the University of Illinois when an ad popped up on his computer screen, writes David Wolman for Wired magazine. The product on offer: college degrees. In a nearby computer lab, the ads leaped from one monitor to another, seeming to spread like a contagion. The spam barrage was raging across the Urbana-Champaign campus.
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US: Plagiarism prevention without fear
Could student plagiarism actually be reduced? And could it be reduced not through fear of being caught, but through...education? asks Scott Jaschik in Insider Higher Ed. The evidence in a study released last Monday suggests that the answer to both questions is 'yes' - which could be welcome news to academics who constantly complain about students who either don't know what plagiarism is or don't bother to follow the rules about the integrity of assignments they prepare.
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US: Scrapping admission fees on the rise
Over the last few years, the tiny College of Saint Rose in Albany has seen applications increase at least 25% annually, minority admissions rise and its standing in the US News and World Report rankings climb more than 20 rungs, writes Jacques Steinberg for The New York Times. Its secret? Lifting a page from the marketing playbook of credit card companies.
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TAIWAN: Only 5% of China's students pick Taiwan: poll
One in five Taiwanese students picked China as the number one choice for studying abroad, but only five in every 100 Chinese students chose Taiwan as the top destination, according to a recent survey reported in The China Post.
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