Sunday, 9 January 2011

University World News 0153 - 9th January 2011

SPECIAL REPORT: Challenges in the year ahead

Welcome back to the second decade of the 21st century. As universities in numerous countries around the world open after the New Year break, many face a year of changes and some, as in parts of Europe and the UK, are likely to find 2011 even more conflict-ridden and challenging than ever.

Government-imposed reductions in grants to universities following the global financial crisis will affect thousands of higher education institutions in the western world while many Asian governments are increasing their allocations to universities in the belief this will help boost their already strong economies. In the following series of articles, University World News correspondents report on the prospects for higher education this year in their countries and regions.

EUROPE: Spending cuts hit university budgets

Alan Osborn The familiar challenges of funding and mobility - particularly in research - will dominate the agenda for higher education in Europe in 2011. But this year will probably be much worse as public sector spending cuts bite into higher education budgets across the region.
Full story on University World News site:

AFRICA: Continental university initiatives take shape
Karen MacGregor
After several years in the planning, new continental university initiatives are set to take shape in Africa during 2011. One is the creation of an African higher education 'space' using regional university associations as the building blocks. Another is the Pan-African University and a third is a continental quality rating system.
Full report on the University World News site:

US: Stretching higher education's limits
Sarah King Head
In a world challenged by persistent economic trials and struggling to keep up with a veritable tower of Babel of innovation and change, 2011 looks poised to stretch the limits of US higher education even further. But most pundits are reluctant to spell out doom and gloom, looking instead to hopeful legislative changes designed to ensure future talent continues to be fostered in its great institutions.
Full story on University World News site:

UK: Cuts will bite in a year of transition
Brendan O'Malley
This will be a year of transition as universities prepare for radical changes. Cuts and protests lie in store for universities in England as they prepare for reforms in 2012 that will bring a 40% cut in the universities' teaching budget, permit universities to double or - exceptionally - triple fees and encourage the introduction of flexible degrees and new providers.
Full report on the University World News site:

FRANCE: More universities gain autonomy
Jane Marshall
French higher education starts 2011 with a new team at the head of the university presidents conference and a third wave of newly autonomous universities. Meanwhile, the selective grandes écoles are adopting new rules designed to make entry more accessible to less privileged young people.
Full report on the University World News site:

CANADA: Higher education faces many challenges
Philip Fine
Canada's higher education sector this year will contend with granting councils diminished by their contributions to basic research but offering increased overtures to corporate-sector partnerships. Universities will push for a more flexible research environment to help develop bilateral agreements with university researchers in emerging countries, such as India, Brazil and China, while student debt, already hovering at an average of C$26,000 (US$26,130) per student, is on the rise.
Full report on the University World News site:

SCANDINAVIA: Reforms to university governance
Jan Petter Myklebust
In the year ahead, universities in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland are experiencing extensive reforms, notably in governance which includes changes to their executive boards and their relations with governments.
Full story on University World News site:

AUSTRALIA: Uncertain times ahead for universities
Geoff Maslen
Higher education institutions will be looking forward this year with increasing uncertainty to 2012 when a previously untried system of open enrolments begins. The government will then lift restrictions on enrolment numbers and universities will be able to enrol however many students they believe they can cope with. Not that 2011 doesn't present its own numerous challenges, with declining numbers of full-fee paying foreigners near the top of the list of concerns.
Full story on University World News site:

IRELAND: Expansion plans could see fees return
John Walshe
The Irish government has been warned that it cannot meet its projected expansion in higher education without the re-introduction of tuition fees backed by a new system of loans which would be re-paid by graduates once they start earning.
Full report on the University World News site:

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

QATAR: Excellence quest lures foreign universities
Ashraf Khaled
As Qatar strives to be a hub for academic excellence in the Arab world, Western universities are increasingly showing interest in opening branches in the tiny-but-wealthy Gulf emirate. Six US universities have already established campuses there, and the latest arrival is a French graduate school of management.
Full report on the University World News site:

SWEDEN: Women locked out of research
Jan Petter Myklebust
Sweden's investment in research deemed to be of strategic 'excellence' has favoured male researchers over female researchers by a ratio of nearly 9:1 over the past decade, according to a government report released last month. The authors say a "catastrophic bias" has kept women out of research and has contributed to an attitude that "only men are capable of delivering top-class research results".
Full story on University World News site:

TUNISIA: Graduate joblessness sparks violent protests
Wagdy Sawahel
Jobless university graduate Mohammed Bouazizi, forced to sell fruit and vegetables on the Tunisian streets to make ends meet, last month doused himself in petrol and set himself alight in an attempted suicide. The incident sparked days of violent protest and rioting by mostly unemployed and frustrated young people.
Full report on the University World News site:

GERMANY: Fears for degree muddle
Michael Gardner
The dispute over Germany's retention of its old Diplom degree in the engineering sciences, despite the Bologna process, has been given further impetus by the adoption of new legislation introduced in the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and the announcement by a leading university spec ialising in engineering sciences that it will introduce new Diplom courses this year.
Full report on the University World News site :

ISLAMIC STATES: E-networking among universities
Wagdy Sawahel
Heads of university central libraries have recommended the establishment of a strategic alliance between the central libraries of universities in Islamic countries to help promote scientific research and teaching, and improve computer literacy among students and teachers. The alliance would be created through electronic networking of members of the Federation of the Universities of the Islamic World, FUIW.
Full report on the University World News site:


GLOBAL: New UN platform for biodiversity
The United Nations General Assembly has approved the creation of an Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, or IPBES, aimed at harnessing scientific knowledge in fighting the destruction of the ecosystem.
Full report on the University World News site:

CANADA: Students value internationalisation
Canadian students are convinced of the benefits of studying abroad and of the value of having international students on their campuses. A survey of nearly 3,000 students looked at their attitudes to the internationalisation of Canadian campuses as well as their own opportunities to pursue studies abroad.
Full report on the University World News site:


UKRAINE: Government interference in rector election
Roisin Joyce*
Election of a new rector at Donetsk National University in Ukraine led to allegations of government interference and violence from university staff, according to reports received from the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group. During the election on 10 December, university staff were allegedly told they could vote for their preferred candidate, but that the "last word was with the Ministry".
More Academic Freedom reports on the University World News site:


AUSTRALIA: Van Gogh the collector
Geoff Maslen
Few people know that Vincent van Gogh, one of the founders of modern art, was an avid collector. More than that, Melbourne researcher Dr Vincent Alessi has discovered van Gogh learnt to draw by studying his collection of 19th century English black and white illustrations and that they influenced his own style.
Full story on University World News site:

AFRICA: Leaders trained abroad attract investment
Alison Moodie
African leaders who attend universities abroad attract more sustained foreign investment to their home countries than those locally trained, according to a study of 40 African countries released last month. It found that foreign study had a major impact on economic development.
Full report on the University World News site:


UK: Silence as a battle for survival begins
Philip Garrahan*
A self-inflicted storm is engulfing universities in England in the name of deficit reduction. The British government, launched on the promise of revitalised politics, has put increased tuition fees into the centre of a maelstrom. But the bigger picture is that, with an 80% cut in government funding for teaching, the grant for the majority of courses is being abolished. Many universities face financial instability yet university leaders have put up little public resistance.
Full report on the University World News site:

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

AUSTRALIA: University opens doors to flood victims
Priscilla Crighton*
As flood waters continue to cover a bigger proportion of the state of Queensland than the entire area of France and Germany combined, for John Price and his cattle dog cross Tike, the evacuation centre based at CQUniversity in flood-bound Rockhampton has been a real blessing.
Full report on the University World News site:


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INDIA: New rules open doors to private universities
The University Grants Commission (UGC) plans to recognise private universities set up through Acts of parliament for the first time under new regulations that remove a statutory obstruction to setting up private universities nationally, writes Charu Sudan Kasturi for The Hindustan Times.
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UK: Dumbing down of grades
Degree results obtained by The Sunday Telegraph show six out of 10 students were handed either a first or an upper second in 2010, compared with just one in three graduates in 1970, writes David Barrett for The Telegraph.
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KASHMIR: 'Seditious' literature lecturer freed
Kashmir University lecturer Noor Muhammad Bhat, arrested on charges of sedition on 9 December, was released from police custody on New Year's Day after the Jammu and Kashmir High Court granted Bhat interim bail on a surety bond of 25,000 Rupees (US$551), writes Naseer Ganai for India Today.

More on the University World News site:

IRAN: Overhaul to purge Western influences
Iran is overhauling its education system to rid it of Western influence, the latest attempt by the government to fortify Islamic values and counter the clout of the country's increasingly secularised middle class, writes Thomas Erdbrink for The Washington Post.
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NIGERIA: University leaders drawn from diaspora
Four of the nine vice-chancellors to be appointed to the new universities that will be established this year are expected to come from the Nigerian diaspora, reports Elizabeth Archibong for Next.
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SWEDEN: New fees may weaken universities
From the autumn semester, students from countries outside Europe will have to pay for university education in Sweden, leading to fears of a decrease in foreign students and a drop in the number of courses and programmes, writes Mats Ã-hlén for The Stockholm News.
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INDIA: Higher education IT plan stalls
The digital highway is ready but it is snaking into a black hole in 5,000 colleges in a country that has staked its future on information technology, writes Basant Kumar Mohanty for The Telegraph.
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WALES: Cuts threaten low-demand courses
Financial pressures could see university courses in low demand being discontinued at a time of cuts to higher education, writes Claire Miller for The Western Mail.
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US: Professors accept retirement buyouts
Darrell Fasching planned to keep teaching religious studies at the University of South Florida until he was offered a year's salary of about $90,000 to retire and give up tenure rights earned over almost three decades at the school, write David Mildenberg and Janet Lorin for Bloomberg.
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IRELAND: Rethink of honorary degrees
Universities have been criticised for spending almost £300,000 (US$465,180) on "questionable" honorary degrees that "devalue" the academic achievements of students, writes Elaine Loughlin for The Belfast Telegraph.
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EUROPE: Wave of university mergers
In Finland, the creation of the new Aalto University, the product of a merger of three institutions, is a cornerstone of a new national higher education strategy. It is also part of a wave of university mergers happening across Europe in recent years, driven by concerns over economic competitiveness, research quality, and international reputation, writes Aisha Labi for The Chronicle of Higher Education.
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UK: Applications rise ahead of fee hike
University candidates are racing to submit their applications ahead of the tripling of tuition fees from autumn 2012, writes Jeevan Vasagar for The Guardian. Figures released recently show that applications received before Christmas rose by 2.5% compared with the same period the year before, to reach a record high - with 335,795 candidates chasing places for 2011 entry.
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CANADA: Tribute to historian David F Noble
Critical historian of science and technology David F Noble died suddenly on 27 December within a few days of being admitted to hospital, writes Denis G Rancourt for Pacific Free Press.
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SINGAPORE: Record donation for NTU's medical school
The yet-to-open medical school of Nanyang Technological University has received a record donation of S$400 million (US$309 million), the largest contribution yet made to a tertiary institution here, writes Amelia Tan for The Straits Times.
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UK: Open University offers model for others
Forty years ago this month a radical innovation arrived in higher education. The new Open University (OU) began to admit students who did not have the qualifications to get into other institutions, reports The Economist.
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JORDAN: Headgear ban to curb violence
The widening phenomenon of brawls between members of rival Jordanian tribes on university campuses has prompted one university to take an extreme step: banning of the traditional Jordanian headdress, the shemagh, inside university confines, writes David E Miller for The Media Line.
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