Sunday, 30 May 2010

University World News 0126 - 31st May 2010

SPECIAL REPORT: Universities and global warming

While political issues around climate research rage on, the work of climate
scientists continues to show evidence that supports the need for action on global warming. Yet there are concerns that the global recession and other political factors could lead to cuts in climate change research.

The Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences, for example, has not had its funding renewed, prompting fears of an exodus of climate spec ialists and cutbacks in vital climate science research projects. But not all climate change experts are pessimistic and many institutions are collaborating in research to reduce carbon emissions. One example is the Low Carbon Energy Alliance between MIT, Cambridge and Tsinghua universities.

As major employers and educators, universities are playing their own part in reducing carbon emissions. An increasing number have sustainable development policies ranging from installing solar panels to encouraging staff and students to use public transport.

In the following series of reports, University World News correspondents describe the many ways academics and their institutions are responding to the challenges of climate change, even to the extent of seeing possible opportunities for their countries.

GLOBAL: Universities plan for sustainable energy

David Jobbins University presidents and vice-chancellors from the G8 and G20 countries agreed at a meeting in Vancouver last week on an action plan ahead of next month's summits in Canada. This, the third in a succession of university conferences held since 2008 in the run-up to the economic summits, focused on sustainability in three areas - energy, health and higher education.
Full report on the University World News site:

CHINA: Potential benefits of Arctic melting
Linda Jakobson*
Chinese research remains primarily focused on how the melting Arctic will affect China's continental and oceanic environment and how, in turn, such changes could affect domestic agricultural and economic development. But a small number of researchers are publicly encouraging the government to prepare for the commercial and strategic opportunities a melting Arctic presents.
Full report on the University World News site:

US: Achieving climate neutrality
Sarah King Head
Can higher education in the US realise its commitment to sustainability and climate neutrality? Senior administrators at American universities and colleges believe it can - and even provide a model which inspires other sectors of society to do so as well.
Full report on the University World News site:

ARCTIC: University may join carbon neutral network
Mandy Garner
The University of the Arctic with its key research interest in sustainability is considering joining a UN body promoting carbon neutrality. Several universities and research organisations are already members as universities across the globe attempt to lower their carbon footprint.
Full report on the University World News site:

GLOBAL: Positive signs for carbon reduction
The world's leaders did not deliver an international agreement in Copenhagen and the US is dragging its feet on a climate bill. But there are some positive signs for the future, says US climate guru Lester Brown who says the key driver for this will be genuine competition in developing new energy technology rather than international treaties.
Full report on the University World News site:

EUROPE: Scientists urge action on ocean acidity
The European Science Foundation has highlighted the need for more effort to monitor and attempt to reduce ocean acidity. Oceans have absorbed almost a third of the carbon dioxide emitted from human use of fossil fuels. But the gas turns into carbonic acid, raising the acidity of seawater.
Full report on the University World News site:

AUSTRALIA: Worrying evidence of rapid changes
Tim Thwaites*
A national forum on climate change, organised by Universities Australia in Parliament House in Canberra, heard unequivocal evidence that climate change was occurring across the country, that it was accelerating and that the impact on Australian society and the national economy was already apparent. Speakers, including academics, scientists, social scientists and public servants from universities, research institutes and government agencies, revealed the extent of the challenges facing the nation.

Full report on the University World News site:

CANADA: Climate groups lose funding
Philip Fine
The Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences has not had its funding renewed, prompting fears of an exodus of climate spec ialists and cutbacks in vital climate science research projects. The move follows investment under the previous federal government of more than C$100 million (US$98 million) over 10 years for multi-year projects that range from extreme weather to marine environmental prediction.
Full report on the University World News site:

DENMARK: Medvedev sees Green Lighthouse
Jan PetterMyklebust
Russian President Dmitri Medvedev visited Copenhagen last month to see the first Danish CO2-neutral building known as the Green Lighthouse. University of Copenhagen Rector Ralf Hemmingsen welcomed Medvedev to see the design of the lighthouse which reduces energy consumption by 75%.
Full report on the University World News site:

UK-CHINA: Climate change collaboration
Fudan University in Shanghai has established a Chinese hub of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in what it describes as "a significant and long-lasting partnership" with the University of East Anglia.
Full report on the University World News site:

SPAIN: The most sustainable home
Paul Rigg
Next month, 20 universities from nine countries will compete in Madrid to construct 'the most sustainable house possible' using solar power. Representatives from universities in China, Brazil, US, Finland, Spain and the UK will each build a solar house in the enormous showrooms next to Madrid's Royal Palace and the River Manzanares.
Full report on the University World News site:

SPECIAL REPORT: Rebuilding Haiti's universities

Almost six months have passed since emergency aid was sent to Haiti
following the 12 January earthquake that killed 230,000 people. Among those involved in rebuilding the devastated country, many are looking to its universities. A conference in Montreal last week unveiled an action plan to create a university system that was not functioning properly even before the quake. Philip Fine attended the conference and his two stories follow while Jane Marshall reports from Paris on the French government's plans to also assist with reconstruction.

HAITI: Plan to rebuild universities

Philip Fine The French-speaking university association, Agence universitaire de la Francophonie or AUF, has unveiled an action plan to rebuild Haiti's universities. It will require raising millions of dollars of capital but its wide-ranging initiatives will depend on goodwill and energy from the university sector.
Full report on the University World News site:

HAITI: Sector was a disaster prior to quake
Philip Fine
Before the devastating earthquake struck Haiti on 12 January, the country had no ministry dedicated to higher education, no funding agency for research, around 90% of its university professors did not possess a doctorate and three quarters of its universities operated without government accreditation.
Full report on the University World News site :

HAITI: French working group to organise aid
Jane Marshall
As the Assises on the reconstruction of Haiti's university system were starting in Montreal last week, French Minister for Higher Education and Research Valérie Pécresse announced in Paris the formation of a working group to organise France's contribution to the aid efforts.
Full report on the University World News site:

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

THAILAND: Detained professor starts hunger strike
Yojana Sharma
An assistant professor of history at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University is on a hunger strike after being arrested by Thai authorities and detained without charge following last week's government crackdown on the Red Shirt protesters. Dr Suthachai Yimprasert has been held since 24 May when he received a warrant to report for police for questioning.
Full report on the University World News site:

UK: Coalition cuts university spending
Diane Spencer
Britain's new Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition has slashed £200 million (US$289 million) from spending on higher education, on top of the £1 billion in cuts made by the previous government over the past few months. The increase in student numbers promised by the outgoing Labour government will be halved from 20,000 to 10,000.
Full report on the University World News site:

EU: Call for countries to invest in higher education
The European University Association has called on the continent's governments to commit to major investment in higher education and research, and to renew efforts to reach the Barcelona target of 3% of GDP investment in research and the 2% investment in higher education proposed by the European Commission.
Full report on the University World News site:

UKRAINE: Rector warns of intimidation
The rector of the only Catholic University in the former Soviet Union expressed alarm after a visit by a Ukrainian secret service agent. The agent told him to warn students that if they took part in political protests they could be subject to prosecution.
Full report on the University World News site:

AUSTRALIA-NZ: More academic-student contact needed
Hamish Coates and Ian R Dobson*
Universities should increase student interaction with academics because this is critical for students' retention and graduate prospects, a new survey has found. A report of the survey notes that science students have the highest drop-out rate - a disappointing outcome given the shortage of science graduates in the Australasian workforce.
Full report on the University World News site:

PUERTO RICO: Archbishop calls for police restraint
The archbishop of San Juan, Roberto Gonzalez Nieves, has criticised what he believes was an excessive use of force by police in Puerto Rico against students and workers protesting at a political meeting.
Full report on the University World News site:

GLOBAL: Virtual university to boost Islamic science
Wagdy Sawahel
Two institutions and a prize, all aimed at boosting scientific research in the Muslim world, have been announced by the Organization of the Islamic Conference. The 57 member states agreed to establish the Islamic Virtual University, the Islamic Universities Business Network, and a prize for academic research papers.
Full report on the University World News site:


FINLAND: International staff exchange week
Ian R Dobson*
Academic work and academic staff are quite rightly the focus of journalistic reporting on universities. But this focus sometimes overlooks the important role played by support staff who represent around half of total university employees in most countries. Last week, 17 university administrators from 11 countries came to the University of Helsinki's International Staff Exchange Week to learn how things were done in Finland.
Full report on the University World News site:

ARAB WORLD: Tackling graduate unemployment
Wagdy Sawahel
To develop entrepreneurship and promote technological development in the 22 Arab states as a means of tackling graduate unemployment, the United Arab Emirates organised a science investment forum. The 7th edition of the Investing in Technology Forum was held under the theme Establishing a regional integrated system for innovation last month in Dubai.
Full report on the University World News site:


EUROPE: Promoting a university-business dialogue
Alyshah Hasham
European universities need to forge stronger ties with the private sector but must retain full control over their finances, governance and curriculum, the European Parliament decided last week.
Full report on the University World News site:

UK: Teaching resources available worldwide
Cayley Dobie
An online resource network 'Jorum' is offering professors and educators worldwide access to a growing database of teaching resources posted by fellow educators working in the United Kingdom.
Full report on the University World News site:

EUROPE: New technology for hybrid vehicles
Cayley Dobie
Researchers at Imperial College, University of London, say their latest research project on a new composite material could improve the efficiency of hybrid and electric vehicles by storing and discharging energy within the structure of a car itself.
Full report on the University World News site:


GLOBAL: Islam and higher education
Wagdy Sawahel
The literature on Islam is dominated by political factors in various parts of the world. But higher education, which prepares future leaders following the religious and cultural values of a nation, is embedded in the social, economic and political contexts of that nation. Fatma Nevra Seggie and Reitumetse Obakeng Mabokela have edited a book Islam and Higher Education in Transitional Societies that aims to fill this critical gap.
Full report on the University World News site:

HE Research and Commentary

US: Shaping the higher education cloud
As technologies such as virtualisation and cloud computing assume important places within the information technology landscape, higher education leaders will need to consider which institutional services they wish to leave to consumer choice, which ones they wish to source and administer 'somewhere else', and which services they should operate centrally or locally on campus, write Karla Hignite, Richard N Katz and Ronald Yanosky in an EDUCAUSE white paper titled Shaping the Higher Education Cloud.
More on the University World News site:

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

CHINA: Bogus military school closed
Meng Jing, China Daily
A bugle call rings out at Zhonglian Judicial College at 1:30 pm, two weeks after the head of the privately funded school was arrested. It should be a call for students to gather on the training field after the lunch break but none heed it. Anxious students and worried parents insist on staying in the school, located in Fangshan district, after the institute was announced illegal by the Fangshan commission of education on 10 May.
Full report on the University World News site:

CANADA: Teenager leads barefoot campaign
Thirteen-year-old Bilaal Rajan has people of all ages kicking off their shoes and going barefoot in support of his latest campaign. Next Tuesday is International Children's Day and Rajan is participating in an annual event he launched last year called the Barefoot challenge where he lives life without shoes to raise awareness about child poverty in the developing world.
Full report on the University World News site:

GLOBAL: Divorce looms if wife is unhappier
Look out fellas! If your wife is less happy than you separation and divorce are likely, a team of economists has found. Using data from three different countries, the researchers found that the higher the gap in happiness - even during the first year of marriage - the higher the risk of divorce.
Full report on the University World News site:

US: New novel satirises scientists, universities
"Tech Transfer" is the deceptively mild title of a mordant satire about scientists and universities and how they do business, writes Nicholas Wade for The New York Times. The best scene in this hilarious first novel is a meeting of the trustees of Kershaw University, an elite research university only 200 years younger than Harvard.
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GLOBAL: Higher education sails around the world
Sitting in class while slowly rocking back and forth, Robyn Chazen was amazed when her professor stopped a lecture to let students watch dolphins swimming, writes Ryan Miller for the Daily Bruin. Chazen, a third-year sociology student, was taken aback by this spectacle and knew she had made the right decision to attend the Semester at Sea programme.
More on the University World News site:


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UK: Exams at risk as lecturers refuse to mark papers
University students are facing disruption to exams and graduations this summer as lecturers refuse to mark papers in protest against funding cuts, redundancies and pay freezes, writes Julie Henry for The Telegraph. Staff at one university have already agreed a complete ban on the marking of essays and exams. Tutors at others across the country are considering similar moves.
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WALES: Minister launches stinging attack on universities
Education Minister Leighton Andrews has launched a stinging attack on Welsh universities, which he claims have a "very limited" impact on the nation's economy and reputation, writes Gareth Evans for the Western Mail.
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CANADA: Universities pick 19 good men
When the Canadian government created a $200 million pot to attract up to 20 of the world's best researchers in four target areas, university administrators had no trouble finding 36 stars that they wanted to hire. Diversity was another matter, however, writes Kelli Whitlock Burton for Science Insider.
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ISRAEL: Students and professors march in Jerusalem
Some 800 Hebrew University students and nearly a dozen professors marched from the Mount Scopus campus to Sheikh Jarrah last Wednesday to protest the evictions of Arab families and what they called the neighborhood's 'Jewish settlement', writes Abe Selig for The Jerusalem Post. While protests in the north-east Jerusalem quarter have ballooned over recent months, and Friday afternoon demonstrations there continue to draw large crowds, Wednesday's march was the first 'academic protest' in Sheikh Jarrah.
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VIETNAM: Doctoral training placed under strict scrutiny
After Vietnam's Ministry of Education and Training suspended sub-standard doctoral programmes at 35 universities and institutes, many of them are worrying about challenges they must overcome before a 2012 deadline set by the ministry, reports Saigon Giai Phong.
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INDIA: One website for all higher education information
All higher education institutions in India and authentic information about them will soon become available on an official single web portal, writes K Sandeep Kumar for Hindustan Times. The proposed site - which will carry information on institutions' courses, infrastructure and resources and links to their websites - will act as a single window for all students, Indian and foreign, interested in studying in institutions that are recognised by competent authorities and bodies.
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SRI LANKA: Fresh thinking on universities needed
The debate on private universities in Sri Lanka has begun again, with the same arguments to which we have been listening for nearly three decades, writes Anuruddha Pradeep, a lecturer in political science at Sri Jayawar-denapura University, for The Island. We have become all too familiar with the subject, in fact. At times, people have got so carried away that lives have been lost. With the re-election of the UPFA government, the same battle is being replayed with new generals.
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SAUDIA ARABIA: Plans to overhaul education
Saudi Arabia is undertaking massive initiatives to overhaul its education system, following the announcement of its historic 2010 education budget of SR137 billion (US$36.5 billion) earlier this year, reports Trade Arabia.
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UAE: Students still stuck on remedial treadmill
Government efforts to end the need for remedial English and maths courses for most students entering federal universities have had a minimal effect so far, according to results for the UAE's university entrance examination released yesterday, writes Kathryn Lewis for The National. They show little change from last year's scores.
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US:'s Kindle fails first college test
If Amazon hoped for honest feedback when it started testing the Kindle DX on college campuses last autumn, it certainly got its wish, writes Amy Martinez for the Seattle Times. Students pulled no punches telling the Seattle Internet giant what they thought of its $489 e-reader. If Amazon hoped the Kindle DX would become the next iPhone or iPod on campuses, it failed its first test.
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US: Credit for teaching
At many colleges and universities, the tenure trinity of teaching, research and service is widely viewed (at least by those coming up for tenure) as a myth, writes Scott Jaschik for Inside Higher Ed. A new book (or articles in the right journals) will trump a great teaching idea every time, say many professors. Classroom innovation doesn't get any credit. Last week the American Sociological Association announced a new effort that, organisers hope, could change that.
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US: Hedge fund sees 'Big Short' in education stocks
Steven Eisman, a hedge-fund manager whose bet against the housing market was chronicled in a best- selling book, said he has found the next "big short" - higher education stocks - write Daniel Golden and John Hechinger for Bloomberg Businessweek.
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US: Harvard's paper cuts
The thin, tattered book, an 1899 dissertation on Homer, written in French, is tucked into one of the more than 40 shelves devoted to the epic poet in the stacks of Widener Library. Collecting obscure works like this one has helped Harvard amass the world's largest university library, writes Tracy Jan for The Boston Globe.
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NIGER: Junta wants presidents with degrees
Niger's military rulers have suggested that only those with a university degree should be allowed to run in presidential elections, reports BBC News. Candidates would also have to be under 70 years old.
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ARMENIA: PM omits universities from science speech
In his recent speech at the National Academy of Sciences, Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsian outlined his and his government's vision for the development of science and the role of the academy. Shockingly, he did not pronounce the word 'university,' even once, in his speech, writes Aryana Petrova on the Armenia Higher Education and Sciences blog.
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CHINA: Appeal of Hong Kong universities fades
High-school teenagers and their parents in Beijing are showing less interest in universities in Hong Kong because of the high costs, although the universities will offer some scholarships. "We received 4,000 mainland students applications in 2009 but in the years before, we received more than 10,000 applications," said Laura Lo, Director of Chinese Mainland Affairs at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, write Wang Wen and Wang Wei for China Daily.
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UGANDA: District quota admissions delayed
The admission of 896 students to public universities under the district quota system has been delayed because the admissions board is awaiting a decision on whether to consider new districts, writes Francis Kagolo for New Vision.
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