Monday, 20 February 2012

University World News 0209 - 19th February 2012

David Jobbins

Forget the Eurozone crisis and the attractions of the New World. A new ranking of the world’s best cities for students places Europe’s cities firmly ahead of the US for quality of life, affordability and their universities’ academic reputation.
Jan Petter Myklebust

The government of the Czech Republic intends to press ahead with plans to reduce academic control of universities and introduce student fees. But it faces mounting opposition from students, academics and university leaders.
Geoff Maslen

Australian universities and research organisations generated a record A$1.3 billion (US$1.38 billion) from the commerc ialisation of their research activities in 2010. According to a report released by Knowledge Commerc ialisation Australasia, the money came from contracts, consultancies and related agreements.
Ria Nurdiani

Indonesia’s Ministry of Education and Culture has made a bold but controversial decision to boost the number of research papers produced by the country by requiring all university students to publish papers in academic journals as a condition for graduation.
Wagdy Sawahel

The United States Agency for International Development, USAID, is taking a fresh approach to tackling major development challenges, seeking to leverage new trends on campuses in both the US and abroad to improve the efficacy and impact of its programmes and policies.
Jan Petter Myklebust

A Norwegian company, Rekruttering AS, wants to register all Norwegian graduates from the past 15 to 20 years in a commercial databank to be used for recruitment purposes. But student unions and universities are refusing to hand over the information.
Mimi Leung

Blood donation will become part of student and teacher evaluations at Beijing’s universities, according to the Beijing Municipal Health Bureau. Its controversial new scheme is to include blood donation records in assessments to determine academic performance, official Chinese media reported.
Chrissie Long

Costa Rica’s higher education authority is investigating reports that at least 10 students have been working in the homes of university leaders as a condition for their scholarships at the private Universidad Creativa in San José. The students were asked to wash clothes, care for children, prepare dinners and buy food.
David Jobbins

The Commonwealth of Learning, or COL, has appointed its first female president. Asha Kanwar, its current vice-president, will succeed Sir John Daniel when he steps down as president and chief executive officer at the end of May.
Wagdy Sawahel

A regional centre for space science and technology education for Western Asia will be sited at the Royal Jordanian Geographic Centre (RJGC) by April, the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs has announced.
Africa News
Ashraf Khaled

Students from the universities of Cairo, Ain Shams and Helwan marched on the Ministry of Defence in Cairo on Tuesday to protest against continued military rule. Students are at the forefront of the strike that began on 11 February and is aimed at pressuring army generals into a swift transfer of power to civil administration.
Kudzai Mashininga

Zimbabwe has outlined plans for every university lecturer to be in possession of a PHD by 2015, and is reconsidering salary discrepancies between university and college lecturers. And the country’s higher education regulator has cracked down on state-run and foreign universities deemed to be offering sub-standard programmes.
Gilbert Nganga

Kenya plans to start ranking its universities based on their performance and the quality of graduates they are producing, to raise their profile globally. The move, which begins in April, is intended to boost the faltering quality of education in the country.
Francis Kokutse

Ghana’s union of students has promised demonstrations if necessary to reverse the government’s decision to shorten the duration of senior high school from four years to three. The new system is likely to put huge pressure on university admissions this year, as double the usual number of school-leavers vie for limited places.
Yojana Sharma

Overseas non-governmental organisations have been raising the alarm over worker exploitation in factories in China that produce the Apple iPad and other consumer electronic products. A new report by a Hong Kong-based labour organisation has found that many of the exploited are students working as interns as a compulsory part of vocational courses.
Geoff Maslen

The number of students around the globe enrolled in higher education is forecast to more than double to 262 million by 2025, and study abroad numbers could treble. Nearly all the student growth will be in the developing world, with more than half in China and India alone.
Eileen Byrne

The victory last October of the moderate Islamist party Ennahda (‘Renaissance’) in Tunisia's first election since the revolution intensified the controversy that was already brewing over women students opting to wear the niqab, or full face veil, on university campuses.
Kaci Racelma

Significant new reforms are on the horizon for Algeria’s universities. Efforts are being made to ratchet up public funding and raise standards, with the government planning to spend US$1.48 billion on higher education and science over the next five years and to double research spending to 1% of gross domestic product.
World Blog
Curt Rice

Having a more equal balance of male and female staff at the top levels of academia is the right thing to do, but also makes sense if universities want to improve output and the quality of team work. Now is the time to act.
Viv Caruana

Universities talk about internationalisation and diversity, but often students voluntarily self-segregate on campus. Instead, institutions should be looking at how to encourage students to be more resilient and open to change and different ways of thinking.
Phil Baty

Global rankings have become hugely influential. We should be honest about their limitations, and about the needs for constant improvement and to be more transparent. In this spirit Times Higher Education will soon publish its World Reputation Rankings in isolation from the overarching rankings. It is based solely on the subjective judgment of academics and shows the fragility of the global reputations of universities.
Student View
Hannah Blackstock

The number of home student applicants to UK universities has fallen significantly this year, with mature student applications the worst hit. Some university figures are playing down the impact, but it could be just the tip of the iceberg after a decade of changes to university funding.
University World News has a new Facebook group: If you are not a member, do consider joining to see our regular updates, post on our wall and communicate with us and other University World News fans. You can also follow University World News on Twitter @uniworldnews
World Round-up
These are the most uncertain times in living memory for academic publishing. After decades of bumping along with an antique publishing model, researchers have suddenly woken up and found that they are strong. More than 4,700 have signed a pledge not to write, review or edit for Elsevier journals, in a movement The Economist has called the Academic Spring. How did we get here? asks Mike Taylor in The Independent.
Attracting and retaining the world's brightest students is on the mind of every university official. But a new, unprecedented study in the journal Science suggests leaders in higher education face an understated, even more pressing challenge: the retention of professors, reports Science Codex.
It was the best of times; it was the worst of times." The opening line of Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities is perhaps an apt description of the status of innovation in China today. In terms of political stability and research funding, few would argue that China is in "the best of times", free from the upheavals and setbacks that chequered the first 30 years of the modern People's Republic of China, writes Cong Cao for China Daily.
Hundreds of private colleges and universities have opened in China in the past decade in response to soaring demand for higher education. The private institutions offer millions of students a no-frills education and a better shot at a paycheck after graduation as China continues its quest to gain influence in the world economy, writes Sarah Butrymowicz for The Washington Post.
International students will more easily be able to apply for visas following changes announced by the federal immigration and citizenship minister, Chris Bowen. The changes mean that the number of assessment levels across a range of student visa subclasses will be reduced, making the visa application process easier for students from 29 countries, writes Alison McMeekin for The Daily Telegraph.
Australia is running a booming trade surplus on education with the largest net student number among the global education industry's major players, writes Stephen Matchett for The Australian. Dr Daniel Edwards, a senior research fellow at the Australian Council for Educational Research, measured the ratio of international students hosted by 109 countries to their nationals going overseas to study.
A 4% increase in the latest round of offers at Australian universities will place overstretched teaching staff under more strain and lower the quality of education for ballooning student ranks, the higher education union warned last week. Latest figures show that in the wake of the government’s move to uncap places from this year, the number of offers has risen to 220,000, reports The Conversation.
English universities have exceeded their numbers cap by thousands of students this year as applicants flocked to avoid higher tuition fees, and large fines are expected, with London Metropolitan University alone facing a hit of up to £6 million (US$9.4 million), writes John Morgan for Times Higher Education.
It was not a good weekend for international higher education, writes Kevin Kiley for Inside Higher Ed. An audit released by the American state of North Dakota found that poor record-keeping and a lack of oversight at Dickinson State University resulted in hundreds of foreign students – mostly from China – receiving degrees despite not having completed required coursework.
For the 99% of colleges, it was a pretty good fundraising year. For the 1% of super-wealthy elite, it was a much better one that catapulted them even farther ahead of the pack, writes Justin Pope for Associated Press. The latest annual college fundraising figures out last week show donations to colleges and universities rose 8.2% in fiscal 2011, crossing back over the $30 billion mark for just the second time ever.
President Barack Obama's budget for the 2013 fiscal year, released last week, reaffirms his commitment to community colleges and college access, targeting scarce federal resources to job training and student aid programmes, writes Kelly Field for The Chronicle of Higher Education.
All tertiary institutions have been given six months to respond to official proposals that would result in the merger of many smaller colleges and the development of regional clusters of universities or institutes of technology, writes Carl O’Brien for The Irish Times.
Riot police and private security swooped on a residence at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Westville campus in an attempt to quell student protests. The university is also investigating a threat made against the lives of Indian and white students on its Facebook page. A parent who saw the post last Wednesday said she feared for her daughter’s safety, writes Leanne Jansen for Independent Online.
The Ugandan government last week unveiled new legislation that seeks, among other things, to open up top jobs in public universities to competition as part of a wider plan to stop what legislators called a fraudulent recruitment system, writes Yasiin Mugerwa for The Monitor.
The federal government has stopped universities from running national diploma programmes, urging them to adhere strictly to their approved mandates of awarding degrees and higher degrees, write Kunle Awosiyan and Clement Idoko for the Nigerian Tribune.
David Cameron has admitted defeat in his battle to prevent Professor Les Ebdon being appointed director general of the Office for Fair Access (Offa), the universities access body seen by some Conservatives as a threat to excellence in universities, writes Patrick Wintour for the Guardian.
The British Council expects a 35% to 50% increase in the number of Hong Kong students who will be accepted by British universities this year. More than 3,200 students were accepted in 2011, and this year there has been a 37% surge in applications so far, writes Kenneth Foo for The Standard.
The Ariel University Centre of Samaria now qualifies as a university, according to a report prepared by the Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria. But the bid to recognise the centre as a university has prompted hundreds of academics to urge Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar to revoke the process, writes Talila Nesher for Haaretz.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

University World News 0208

This week we launch “Thoughts and experiences of African university leaders”, a series of interviews with higher education leaders across the continent, starting with Cheryl de la Rey, vice-chancellor of the University of Pretoria. The series aims to promote good leadership in universities, especially in Africa, and will publish an article a month over the coming year.
In World Blogs, Daniel Guhr reports on the rise and impacts of fraud on international education, and steps that can be taken to thwart the problem. In Commentary, Brenda Gourley writes about a high-level symposium in Oxford that focused on higher education in emerging countries – and reached remarkable consensus. In the United States, Jamie Merisotis outlines ways to attain the goals of making higher education more affordable and able to produce the highly qualified workers the economy needs, and Eva Egron-Polak argues for quality assurance in international higher education.
In Features Suluck Lamubol reports on Thai government criticism of international and local scholars supporting a campaign to amend the draconian lèse majesté law, which is curtailing academic freedom, and Sarah King Head describes an award-winning American programme that gives graduates an international edge by combining an engineering degree with a foreign language BA and study abroad.

Karen MacGregor Global Editor
SERIES: African university leaders
Karen MacGregor

Cheryl de la Rey, a professor of psychology, notched up several firsts when she became vice-chancellor of South Africa’s large University of Pretoria in 2009 – the first woman, the first black person and the first English-speaker. It seems the university was ripe for change, as she faced no opposition on any of these fronts. De la Rey spoke to University World News for this first in a new series of articles on African university leaders.
Daniel Guhr

Until recently, it has been easy to ignore the impact of fraud on international education given that little systematic data exists on its breadth and pervasiveness. In addition, raising the issue of fraud is hardly a promising way to gain tenure or to impress a lawmaker who is interested in maximising national income from international students. But once comprehensively surveyed, the magnitude and reach of fraud is becoming clear.
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Wagdy Sawahel

Students protested at several universities in Egypt yesterday, and there were reports that an American student had been arrested for allegedly bribing people to join a strike. Student unions at around 20 public and private universities had called for a general strike, prompted by anger at continued military rule and post-football match violence at Port Said stadium in which 74 people were killed, including at least two students.
Ard Jongsma

Hungarian students took to central Deak Ter Square in Budapest on Wednesday to protest against dramatic budget cuts and remarkable new legislation that will severely limit the rights of Hungarian graduates to work abroad.
Mimi Leung

An academic has resigned as dean of the school of communications at Hong Kong’s Baptist University after the institution became embroiled in political controversy over a public opinion survey he conducted in January. The resignation is an indication of the sensitivity of independent public polling in China.
Tunde Fatunde

Students across Nigeria expressed joy on learning that the academic staff union had called off its eight-week nationwide strike. The government has promised to implement a 2009 agreement signed with the union, including finalising the retirement age and reviewing issues related to the academic pension scheme.
Alya Mishra

In a bid to rejuvenate social science research, India has announced several measures targeted at the Indian Council of Social Science Research, or ICSSR. They include establishing a Social Sciences Knowledge and Research Network, a National Social Science Research Innovation Centre and a fellowship scheme to attract young scholars into social sciences.
Michael Gardner

Implementation of the Bologna process is making good progress in Germany, according to a new government report. The transformation of courses into bachelor and masters programmes is said to have been largely completed – with positive impacts including greater mobility, access and graduate employment.
Robert Visscher

From 2013, Dutch students will no longer receive a scholarship during their masters studies. Legislation was recently passed to turn the scholarship into a loan. According to the student union LSVB this is the biggest budget cut ever for Dutch students.
María Elena Hurtado

Warnings that Chilean students applying for university places for the 2012 academic year would steer clear of the 20 universities that were paralysed by five months of massive protests last year, have not been realised.
Wagdy Sawahel

An official report says that a decade of substantial investments in scientific research and higher education in Qatar has yet to meet expectations. Indeed, the nation has gone backwards on some indicators.
Zambia’s new government is crafting a higher education law that will among other things monitor quality. There has been a mushrooming of bogus institutions of higher learning in the Southern African country.
Ameen Amjad Khan

The United States has pledged US$15 million to construct facilities at seven Pakistani universities to offer degrees in education. The initiative is considered a confidence-building measure after a NATO raid mistakenly killed 24 Pakistani soldiers near the Afghan border at Salala last November.
Suluck Lamubol

The Thai government has criticised foreign scholars for supporting a campaign led by Thai academics to amend the country’s controversial lèse majesté law, saying that the international scholars may not understand the unique meaning of the monarchy to Thai society.
Sarah King Head

The University of Rhode Island’s innovative International Engineering Program (IEP) is designed to give graduates a global marketplace edge – adding to a BSc in an engineering discipline a BA in one of four languages: German, French, Spanish or Mandarin. It recently won a Heiskell Award, one of the Institute of International Education’s highest honours.
Brenda Gourley

A high-powered Emerging Markets Symposium at Oxford turned its focus on post-secondary education in these nations crucial to the world’s future. There was remarkable consensus, including weariness with rankings and concerns about standards and the suitability of Western university models. The importance of mobility, innovation and blended learning solutions became clear. It was agreed that there is no room for complacency at any level – anywhere.
Jamie Merisotis

Top education officials have been travelling across America to raise awareness of the need to make higher education more affordable. The economy urgently needs more highly qualified workers. There are many ways to attain these goals, including rewarding universities for students who graduate rather than for those who enrol.
Eva Egron-Polak

Quality assurance in international higher education is more than the end result of a set of narrow statistics. The process encourages universities to question what they are doing in terms of internationalisation, and why.
Humanity faces dire consequences as a result of the first signs of dangerous climate change in the Arctic. Leading international scientists say the Arctic region is fast approaching a series of ‘tipping points’ that could trigger an abrupt domino effect of large-scale climate change across the entire planet.
Trees are dying in the Sahel, a region in Africa south of the Sahara Desert, and human-caused climate change is to blame, according to a study led by a scientist at the University of California, Berkeley.
An expedition to one of the deepest places in the ocean has discovered one of the most enigmatic creatures in the deep sea – a ‘supergiant’ amphipod. Amphipods are a type of crustacean particularly common in the deep sea, and the deeper the sea the greater their numbers.
Scientists have made a new discovery about how old stars called ‘red giants’ rotate, giving an insight into what our Sun will look like in five billion years. The international team of scientists has discovered that red giants have slowed down on the outside while their cores spin at least 10 times faster than their outer layers.
University World News has a new Facebook group: If you are not a member, do consider joining to see our regular updates, post on our wall and communicate with us and other University World News fans. You can also follow University World News on Twitter @uniworldnews
The European ideal of uniting the continent through education appears a waste of time, according to new research into student mobility and common curricula, writes Stephen Matchett for The Australian.
The organisation charged with promoting British education overseas has rounded on the government over its student visa changes, calling for an “urgent review” of the policy to avert damage to the economy and the possible closure of university departments, writes John Morgan for Times Higher Education.
This is the University of Washington’s new maths: 18% of its freshmen come from abroad, most from China. Each pays tuition of $28,059, about three times as much as students from Washington State. And that, according to the dean of admissions, is how low-income Washingtonians – more than a quarter of the class – get a free ride, writes Tamar Lewin for The New York Times.
As an indication that more Indian students are looking at foreign countries like the US for higher education, the Graduate Record Examination, or GRE, witnessed an increase of 43% in students taking the test from India last year, reports the Deccan Chronicle.
An Iranian opposition website reported last week that authorities had banned one of the daughters of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi from her university teaching job, according to Associated Press.
The Barack Obama administration put its stamp last week on a strategy to boost America’s numbers of science and engineering graduates by working harder to retain those already in the college pipeline, writes Paul Basken for The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Stanford University said last week that its latest five-year fundraising drive netted $6.2 billion, one of the largest amounts ever collected in a higher education campaign, writes Terence Chea for Associated Press.
Japan’s universities and research institutes have long had to make do with few philanthropic donations. Strict laws governing university finances, and the lack of a philanthropic tradition, have discouraged the gifts that serve Western institutions so well. But change is coming, writes David Cyranoski for Nature.
BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion co-founder Mike Lazaridis is donating another CAN21million (US$21 million) to his alma mater, the University of Waterloo, showing no signs of tightening his philanthropic purse strings after a year in which he saw his personal fortune dwindle, writes James Bradshaw for The Globe and Mail.
The litany of bad news about the status of black men in higher education in the US is by now familiar. They make up barely 4% of all undergraduate students. They come into college less prepared than their peers for the rigours of college-level academic work. Their completion rates are the lowest of all major racial and ethnic groups in the US, writes Doug Lederman for Inside Higher Ed.
Despite government pressure on universities to diversify their admissions, it has emerged that bright candidates from fee-paying schools were around 25% more likely to get in to Oxford University last year. Black and Asian pupils with decent grades had a significantly lower success rate than their white counterparts, writes Olivia Goldhill for The Telegraph.
Many institutions are “marginalising the mathematical content” of degree courses amid fears that English students are incapable of the most basic sums, writes Graeme Paton for The Telegraph.
Britain’s Liberal Democrats have suffered a defeat at the hands of their Conservative coalition partners after a committee of MPs overruled Vince Cable’s choice of new university access tsar, writes Jessica Shepherd for the Guardian.