Sunday, 5 September 2010

University World News 0138 - 5th September 2010

This week's highlights

In the Commentary section FRANCES WOOLLEY, an economics professor at
Carleton University in Canada, investigates the implications of the US Higher Education Opportunity Act for the textbook market, students, universities and publishers. JAMES DEVANEY, a higher education consultant based in the United Arab Emirates, comments on tighter regulation of international branch campuses in Dubai. In Features, GEOFF MASLEN reports on research that concludes aid agencies will continue to waste money and make avoidable mistakes in disaster situations. KATE ASHCROFT reveals the dilemmas of 'massification' in Ethiopia, and AHMED MOHAMOUD ELNI charts the development of higher education in Somaliland.

OECD higher education conference

OECD: How higher education can help economic recovery
Mary-Louise Kearney and Richard Yelland*
Against the background of the most synchronised recession in developed countries in over half a century, the upcoming conference of the OECD's Institutional Management in Higher Education (IMHE) programme will focus on how the higher education sector - governments, institutions and individuals - can help contribute to sustainable recovery.
Full report on the University World News site:

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

AUSTRALIA: Downturn threatens universities
Geoff Maslen
Frequent warnings over the past three months that Australian universities are facing a collapse in overseas student numbers have had little impact on the nation's political leaders. Caught up in a post-election battle over who will hold the reins of government, neither Prime Minister Julia Gillard nor Opposition Leader Tony Abbott appear concerned by the effects of a potentially disastrous fall in Australia's third largest export industry: selling education to foreigners.
Full report on the University World News site:

SINGAPORE: New Universities Trust to ensure funding
Yojana Sharma
Singapore will set up a national endowment fund known as the Singapore Universities Trust to support higher education institutions through economic downturns, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced during his annual National Day Rally speech this week.
Full report on the University World News site:

VIETNAM: Pledge to strengthen maths after Medal win
Mike Ives
Vietnamese mathematician Ngo Bao Chau was given a hero's welcome in Vietnam this week when he arrived after winning the prestigious Fields Medal, regarded as the 'Nobel' Prize for mathematics. His win has spurred the government to invest in mathematics higher education.
Full report on the University World News site:

INDIA: More autonomy for 'innovation universities'
Alya Mishra
India's Education Minister has held consultations on a special bill to set up 14 world-class research-oriented 'innovation universities', which will attract foreign collaboration. Greater autonomy and flexibility emerged as key themes.
Full report on the University World News site:

GREECE: Higher education access reforms on the cards
Makki Marseilles
Greece is proposing to radically reform access to higher education following this year's school-leaving examinations, which exposed the limitations of the current system and a failure to close an ever-widening gap between the brightest students and those who failed to meet requirements.
Full report on the University World News site:

SOUTH AFRICA: Vice-chancellors, law deans slam bill
Alison Moodie
University vice-chancellors and law deans across South Africa have joined the growing protest against the country's controversial proposed media laws. Higher Education South Africa, the vice-chancellors' association, and the South African Law Deans Association have condemned the planned legislation as placing academic freedom in jeopardy.
Full report on the University World News site:

N IGERIA: Dramatic increase in female undergraduates
Tunde Fatunde
The number of female students in N igeria has risen almost seven-fold since independence in 1960 and women could soon outnumber their male counterparts in the country's universities, according to experts. Recently released statistics show the proportion of female students rose from 7.7% in 1960 to 45% in 2009.
Full report on the University World News site:

KENYA: Pressure to speed up universities bill
Gilbert Nganga
Lecturers and politicians in Kenya have renewed pressure on the government to expedite a pending universities bill, which aims to revolutionise the country's shaky higher education sector. Among other things the bill seeks to bring all universities - public and private - under a common law and repeal the parliamentary acts of seven public universities.
Full report on the University World News site:

AFRICA: Confucius institutes grow Chinese
Munyaradzi Makoni
China is bridging the cultural gap between itself and Southern Africa through Confucius Institutes, the newest teaching Mandarin - simplified traditional Chinese - to students at the University of Cape Town. There are now 25 institutes across Africa, including four in South Africa, where China has become the largest trading partner.
Full report on the University World News site:

SOUTH AFRICA: Row over research into school books
Alison Moodie
With its basic education system in a shambles, the South African government is rolling out easy-to-read workbooks to the poorest schools. But it may be wasting millions of Rand - more rigorous research is needed to test the efficacy of such books before they are handed out to children, according to a new study by researchers at the University of the Witwatersrand and JET Education Services. The study has infuriated the book project leaders.
Full report on the University World News site:

EUROPE: OSCE debates risks for mother tongue tuition
Jana Bacevic
A conference of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe has been warned of the dangers that threaten to compromise the advantages of minority language higher education.
Full report on the University World News site:


SWEDEN: Key universities set foreign fees for 2011
Jan Petter Myklebust
Sweden is for the first time to make international students pay for their tuition, and leading universities have announced the fees they will levy from 2011 on students from outside the European Union and the European Economic Area.
Full report on the University World News site:

ZAMBIA: Higher education gender disparities reduced
Zambia has said it is on the way towards meeting one of the Millennium Development Goals of eliminating gender disparities in education - including in higher education through affirmative action programmes for female students.
Full report on the University World News site:


US: Act brings in much-needed textbook competition
Frances Woolley*
Economics textbooks extol the virtues of competition. However the market for textbooks is anything but competitive. A professor typically requires students to buy a specific textbook. Even if that text is available from sellers such as, students may not discover which books are required until the first day of classes, by which time it is too late to get the best on-line deals. The US Higher Education Opportunity Act is trying to change that.
Full report on the University World News site:

DUBAI: Regulation is not the only challenge
James DeVaney
A call for tighter regulation of international branch campuses in Dubai's free zones hit the headlines last week. In a Dubai School of Government policy brief, Jason Lane of the State University of New York says patchwork regulation has encouraged significant duplication of degree offerings, concern about the quality of some programmes and could damage the emirate's reputation. Should we be surprised?
Full report on the University World News site:


GLOBAL: Disaster lessons unheeded
Geoff Maslen
International aid agencies have failed to learn the lessons of the 2004 tsunami and may be repeating their mistakes in Haiti, and even in Pakistan as that country recovers from the disastrous floods, say researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne. After the world's first thorough investigation into what is needed to rebuild viable communities following a major natural disaster, the researchers concluded that international aid agencies will continue to waste aid money and make avoidable mistakes in new disaster situations.
Full report on the University World News site:

ETHIOPIA: Dilemmas of higher education massification
Kate Ashcroft*
Ethiopia is moving very rapidly from an elite towards a mass public sector higher education system. The considerable challenges raised by 'massification' include teaching quality, funding, the need for a more professionalised leadership, staff shortages and institutional structure and mission. The operation of the Ethiopian system, where innovation is highly centralised, also makes local responsiveness difficult.
Full report on the University World News site:

SOMALILAND: Higher education booms despite challenges
Ahmed Mohamoud Elmi
Struggling to rebuild its infrastructure after years of civil war with Somalia, Somaliland saw its first university inaugurated in 1998 and has been steadily building its higher education system ever since. While significant challenges remain, higher education is booming as each year thousands of school-leavers pin their hopes on the country's universities and colleges.
Full report on the University World News site:


GLOBAL: Marine census publishes latest findings
The latest research from a global effort to document all known ocean life has been made public. The Census of Marine Life project has published an inventory of species distribution and diversity in 25 ocean areas from the Antarctic to tropical seas.
Full report on the University World News site:

AUSTRALIA: Scientists discover new chlorophyll
University of Sydney scientists have discovered the first new chlorophyll in over 60 years. Found by accident, the new pigment has been dubbed 'chlorophyll f' and can utilise lower light energy than any other chlorophyll.
Full report on the University World News site:

SPAIN: More hot days, fewer cold nights
When researchers at the University of Salamanca decided to consider the impact of climate change on mainland Spain they chose to look at it in a different way from many other scientists. Instead of studying average temperatures, they looked for changes in the incidence of two climate extremes - warm days and cold nights.
Full report on the University World News site:


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HONG KONG: Incentives to attract foreign campuses
Hong Kong is offering cheap land and other incentives to attract foreign colleges and universities to its shores and turn the Chinese territory into a global centre for higher education, writes Mary Hennock for the Chronicle of Higher Education.
More on the University World News site:

RUSSIA: Universities riddled by corruption
Paying for good school examination results for entrance into university, and to pass university courses, is a multi-million dollar industry in Russia, according to the Indem think tank in Moscow, reports Galina Materova of Russia Now for The Telegraph.
More on the University World News site:

WALES: 'Cut top university salaries'
Universities in Wales have been urged to "clamp down" on their high earners as spending cuts loom, reports Gareth Evans for the Western Mail. Assembly members have demanded assurances that lower-paid staff will not pay for a slashed budget while several university vice-chancellors' salaries continue to dwarf that of the Prime Minister.
More on the University World News site:

PALESTINE: Moves to expand higher education access
Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister, has said his government wants to expand access to higher education as it enters the second and final year of its plan to prepare Palestinians for independent statehood, writes Matthew Kalman for the Chronicle of Higher Education.
More on the University World News site:

CHINA: Graduates struggle to find work
Even as labour shortages plague manufacturing industries, more than one-quarter of this year's 6.3 million Chinese college graduates are unemployed, according to the Education Ministry, reports Dexter Roberts for Bloomberg Businessweek.
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IRAN: Guard universities against 'plots' - Minister
Minister of Science, Research and Technology Kamran Daneshjoo said the "enemies" of Iran were plotting a cultural invasion of the country's universities, reports Press TV.
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UK: Universities lead the way in start-up companies
Look no further than Britain's universities for business success stories at a time when the wider commercial world is reeling from recession, writes Richard Wachman for The Observer.
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ETHIOPIA: Government scraps distance learning
An Ethiopian government agency has scrapped all distance education programmes provided by both private and public institutions in the country, and private colleges are no longer to offer training in law and teaching fields, reports Addis Fortune.
More on the University World News site:

IRELAND: College offers to disabled, poor rise by 61%
A national effort to increase the number of students from families with no tradition of going to college, or students with a disability, participating in higher education has produced a big jump in college offers in these categories, reports Katherine Donnelly for the Independent.
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INDIA: Elite institutes seek permanent foreign faculty
The Indian Institutes of Technology have asked the government to allow them to hire foreign nationals as permanent faculty, in a radical proposal that if accepted could expose students to globally-renowned professors, writes Charu Sudan Kasturi for the Hindustan Times.
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INDIA: Chinese degrees to take on equal status
A long-awaited pact between China and India is on the verge of being signed, which will see the two countries treat each other's degrees as equivalent, reports the Hindustan Times. The mutual recognition agreement with China will, however, not cover medicine and pharmacy programmes.
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AUSTRALIA: Quality body to monitor academic freedom
A Labour government would extend the powers of the higher education regulator to oversee academic freedom, a move that has been described as "sensible" by University of New South Wales legal expert Professor George Williams, writes Guy Healy for The Australian.
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AUSTRALIA: S ex for pass offered to Chinese students
A Perth lecturer found to have pressured failing Chinese students for s ex is unlikely to be the only academic to exploit the vulnerability of students caught up in Australia's visas-for-degrees trade, writes Bernard Lane for The Australian.
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UK: Foreign students 'cheating on study applications'
Research suggests that foreign students are attempting to bluff their way into British universities by parroting education websites in their application forms, reports Graeme Paton for The Telegraph.
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SCOTLAND: Students' technology needs push up costs
First-year students need �3,500 (US$5,400) of "essential" kit including a laptop and smartphone before embarking on their university career, reports Fiona Macleod for The Scotsman.
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RWANDA: Universities turn towards self-help
Some public universities have resorted to depending on income generating projects and cost cutting techniques following the Rwandan government's decision to scale down funding to institutions of higher learning, reports The New Times.
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