Sunday, 15 August 2010

University World News 0135 - 15th August 2010

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

GLOBAL: US lead slips in world's top 100 universities
David Jobbins and Karen MacGregor
American universities continued to lead the latest Academic Ranking of World Universities, but US dominance of the global top 100 list compiled by China's Shanghai Jiao Tong University slipped this year, to 54 institutions against 67 in 2009. Harvard clinched the top slot, as it has since the ranking was first published in 2003.
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GLOBAL: Work begins on OECD student assessment
Ian R Dobson*
The Australian Council for Educational Research has been assessing higher education in the country for years, but now it has moved onto the world stage. ACER is leading a feasibility study into the first global assessment of students' knowledge and skills, the OECD's Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes, AHELO.
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TAIWAN: Top students head for China
Yojana Sharma
Taiwan's parliament will again be debating a stalled bill to open its universities to students from mainland China, after months of disruption and filibustering by the Opposition. But already Taiwanese students are going the other way.
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CANADA: Government axes more data collection
Philip Fine
The Canadian government is again under fire, as it appears to be further weakening the ability of policy-makers and lobby groups to assess the country's performance in the higher education sector. Three more key data-collection tools have been cancelled or are being re-examined for their relevance and cost-effectiveness.
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IRELAND: Big investment boost for research
John Walshe
The largest research investment plan in the history of the Republic of Ireland - EUR359 million (US$473 million) - is aimed at transforming the country into 'Europe's innovation hub', according to Brian Cowen, the Irish Prime Minister. His support for the investment is an indication of how seriously the government is hoping the so-called 'smart economy' will drag the country out of its current economic mess.
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RUSSIA: Government seeks academic staff skills boost
Eugene Vorotnikov
The Russian government, unhappy with the current skill levels of university professors and teachers, is planning to improve the proficiency of academics by encouraging their more active engagement in scientific work and research.
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RUSSIA: Freak weather spurs climate research
Nick Holdsworth
Russia's extreme summer weather is prompting the country's top scientists to take climate change more seriously. A record-breaking heat wave, hundreds of forest and peat bog fires, and smoke-induced smog stretching for hundreds of kilometres around Moscow has turned central Russia into a disaster zone in the past few weeks.
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SWEDEN: EU probes 'discriminatory' student selection
Ard Jongsma
Sweden's newly adopted university entrance selection process has come under fire for discriminating against students from other Nordic countries and the European Union. After receiving a complaint, the European Commission has now asked the Swedish government for an explanation.
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EAST AFRICA: Honorary degrees 'abused' - claim
Gilbert Nganga
Universities in two East African countries, Kenya and Tanzania, have come under fire for prolifically awarding honorary degrees - in some cases allegedly for money and in others in return for influence.
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EUROPE: EUA ponders impact of global recession
Emma Jackson
The European University Association is devoting a conference in Italy this September to an exploration of how Europe's 5,000 universities can survive financially in the midst of a global recession and massive public funding cuts across the region.
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EGYPT: Boost to universities' role of serving society
Wagdy Sawahel
Aiming to narrow the gap between science and society through outreach, informal education and capacity building, Egypt has launched a Science and Society initiative.
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INDIA: Higher education opportunities lure back talent
Alya Mishra
More young Indians are giving up fat pay packets in companies abroad to take up teaching in Indian higher education institutions - a trend that could help ease a severe shortage of quality lecturers in the country.
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GREECE: Glory of the Greek language
Makki Marseilles
Greece is not currently popular in European financial circles. But two new books on the Greek language, and the introduction of Ancient Greek as a subject in schools in a pilot project in the UK, indicate that its language and culture are still admired and appreciated around the world.
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ASIA: How Taiwan attracts international students
Peter Chang*
Taiwanese students have strong academic training, while international students bring different learning experiences from their home countries. This has led to increasing measures and incentives to attract students from abroad. Indeed, internationalisation has been recognised as a key element for the development of higher education in Taiwan.
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EUROPE: Outer Space research seeks US partners
Alyshah Hasham
The European Union has called on American universities, research labs and companies to join the competition for EUR99 million (US$130 million) of funding for space research.
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CANADA: Universities receive health research funding
Cayley Dobie
The Canadian government has announced a major $13 million (US$12.5 million) investment in healthcare-related studies in 12 universities across the country.
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PAKISTAN: Women livestock workers learn vet skills
Keith Nuthall
A university in Pakistan has been working with the United Nations Development Programme to spread veterinary skills among thousands of rural women, especially in the Punjab, where women traditionally care for livestock. It is hoped the initiative will boost the rural economy.
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UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

EUROPE: Three-legged dogs needed for robot research
Jane Marshall
European scientists are looking for three-legged dogs to support a European Union-funded project to improve robot design and mobility. The four-year Locomorph - Robust Robot Locomotion and Movements through Morphology and Morphosis - project is based at Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany.
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US: Double helix trouble
Close to 1,000 incoming students have submitted saliva samples to the University of California at Berkeley for genetic testing as part of an unusual educational experience for freshmen, but they won't be getting the results they expected, writes Iza Wojciechowska for Inside Higher Ed. The California Department of Public Health decided on Thursday that the students would not be provided with their individual genetic results.
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ARCTIC: Linguist on mission to save 'fossil language'
Stephen Pax Leonard will soon swap the lawns, libraries and high tables of Cambridge University for three months of darkness, temperatures as low as -40C and hunting seals for food with a spear, writes Mark Brown for The Guardian. But the academic researcher, who left Britain this weekend, has a mission: to take the last chance to document the language and traditions of an entire culture.
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LIBYA: Professor at risk for exposing fake diplomas
Chained to a bed, under the close watch of police, Rasheed Mohamed Omar El-Meheeshy was losing hope, writes Joshua Philipp for The Epoch Times. Outside the hospital room in Libya, a group of angry students and faculty were doing their all to force medical staff into denying treatment for Meheeshy, and to have him returned to prison to die.
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PALESTINE: Authority orders release of academics
The Palestinian Authority on Wednesday ordered the release of seven university lecturers and an administrative worker who were arrested the week before for allegedly being affiliated with Hamas and trying to establish a new university in the West Bank, writes Khaled Abu Toameh for The Jerusalem Post.
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CHINA: New survey to help improve student experience
Imagine a university where student numbers have doubled within five years, writes Mary Hennock for The Chronicle of Higher Education. That is the problem facing Inner Mongolia University of Science and Technology. Located in the bleak industrial city of Baotou, a megacity built on mining, the campus typifies the overstretched state of China's colleges, particularly academically average ones.
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SOUTH KOREA: Universities to set up overseas campuses
Students may in future be able to enrol at a local university in South Korea and study both at home and abroad using its overseas campuses, writes Bae Ji-sook for The Korea Times. This month the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology gave prior notice of a law revision that would enable domestic universities to more easily establish branches abroad.
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US: Criminal minds betray academy's higher principles
As bad behaviour mars the US higher education sector, observers point to the lack of an ethical code for all scholars, writes Jon Marcus for Times Higher Education. A slew of criminal charges, civil lawsuits, expensive legal settlements and other misdeeds by university managers and faculty in the US suggest that the 'higher' in higher education no longer necessarily applies to moral standards.
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SOUTH AFRICA: Cape Town urged to scrap race criteria
A university of Cape Town academic and struggle veteran wants the university to scrap its medical students admission policy, saying it discriminates against white, Indian and coloured (mixed-race) pupils, writes Prega Govender for The Sunday Time.
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CANADA: Gender gap in professor salaries revealed
Male professors at Canadian universities on average earn higher salaries than their female colleagues - with the discrepancy reaching more than $20,000 at some institutions - according to numbers released last week by Statistics Canada, reports Allison Cross for Postmedia News.
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CHILE: Women students now in the majority
Last year was the first time that a majority - 51% - of all higher education students in Chile were women, the Education Ministry has reported, writes Kara Frantzich for the Santiago Times. "This is a global trend," said Jaime Bellolio, an economist at the Jaime Guzmán Foundation. "In developed countries this has happened, and Chile is a little behind."
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US: California, postdoctoral researchers achieve pact
The fighting is over between the University of California and its staff of 6,500 highly educated but low-wage postdoctoral researchers, writes Nanette Asimov for the San Francisco Chronicle.
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US: Mental illness rises on campus, study finds
Severe mental illness is becoming more common on college and university campuses in America, research suggests, reports CBC News. The percentage of students with moderate to severe depression who sought counselling at a US campus increased by 7% from 1998 to 2009, John Guthman, director of student counselling services at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, said on Thursday.
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