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.
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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.

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