Saturday, 3 March 2012

University World News Issue Number 0210


Fees coupled with aid schemes maintain access
David Jobbins
OECD analysts have found the combination of tuition fees and financial support that seems to lead to the best outcomes for universities, students and society. They suggest systems that charge moderate fees supported by means-tested grants and income-contingent repayments successfully promote access, equity and completion for students.

Students in front line of anti-Assad protests
Wagdy Sawahel
Up to a quarter of the fatalities in protests in Syria since they began in March 2011 have been students, according to the Union of Syrian Free Students, USFS. It has launched a campaign of civil disobedience in universities, calling on the country’s 800,000 students to support the anti-government uprising.

Social science and humanities key to Horizon 2020
Jan Petter Myklebust

Europe’s research ministers have voiced concern that social sciences and humanities should be given a more prominent role in Horizon 2020, the next European Union framework programme for 2014-20. The fears already expressed by academics were reflected in discussions between research ministers from European Union member states in Brussels last week.

One in four university courses axed in England
Brendan O’Malley

The number of full-time undergraduate courses on offer at UK universities has fallen by more than a quarter (27%) since 2006, according to a new report published by the University and College Union. Of the four UK countries, England has suffered the greatest reduction in choice at a time when tuition fees are about to rise to as much as £9,000 (US$14,000) a year.

Students ‘flee’ change to four-year degrees
Yojana Sharma
As Hong Kong shifts from a three-year to four-year degree structure and school-leavers enter university a year earlier, students are applying to study abroad in large numbers to escape a squeeze on university places and amid fears over recognition abroad of the new untried school exam.

Painting sold for A$21 million but 100 academics lose jobs
Geoff Maslen
When the University of Sydney, Australia’s oldest and one of the wealthiest, sold a Picasso painting last June for nearly A$21 million (US22 million), few staff would have believed that six months later their jobs would be on the line.


One in five graduates ‘overqualified’ for their job
Jan Petter Myklebust
Europe’s graduates are finding jobs twice as quickly as non-graduates, according to a EURYDICE report presented to EU education ministers this month. But its claim that one in five are "overqualified” for the jobs they take has been challenged by analysts.

Rule changes after diploma scandal
Robert Visscher

Independent investigations into journalism diplomas awarded at Windesheim University of Applied Sciences in The Netherlands have found that one in four students should not actually have been awarded one.

No more university diplomas and certificates
Gilbert Nganga
Kenya plans to bar its universities from offering diplomas and certificates, starving them of a key income stream as it seeks to streamline higher education to boost quality. Universities must now concentrate on their core business – degrees – leaving colleges to handle lower qualifications, in a move that should help government regulate the college subsector.

Academics rally as extremist attacks escalate
Tunde Fatunde
Nigerian academics at home and in the diaspora have strongly condemned recent bombings and destruction by Muslim extremists in the north of the country, with some calling the attacks a “declaration of war”. Scholars have put forward solutions to religious and inter-ethnic conflicts, including calling for a national conference on the crisis.

Backlog of bodies causes problems for university
Michael Gardner
The University of Cologne has faced accusations of management irregularities at its Institute of Anatomy. Apparently, officials lost track of the identities of bodies for dissection courses for medical undergraduates.


IFC – Major investment in private higher education
Karen MacGregor
Reflecting the extraordinary growth of private education worldwide, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) has built an investment portfolio of US$400 million involving 69 projects in 33 countries, many of them in higher education.


Protests erupt against ‘first’ foreign campus

Shuriah Niazi
Often dubbed the first foreign campus in India, the UK’s Leeds Metropolitan University has been established on the outskirts of the central city of Bhopal since 2009 on 15 hectares of lush, sprawling land. But earlier this month the university was rattled by the cries of enthusiastic protestors: “Leeds-Met University, Quit India!”

Debate over promise of three new campuses for Ontario

Grace Karram
Debates about the need for more university charters in Ontario were heard this month at a symposium hosted by the University of Toronto. It followed the latest throne speech in which the provincial government promised to create 60,000 new spaces for students by building three new undergraduate campuses.

Students fight to block NYU’s bold plans

Eileen Travers
Just when the world thought the Occupy Wall Street movement would fade into the shadows of the New York Stock Exchange, a robust rally organised by its Occupy Student Debt Campaign herded groups of students and non-students alike to protest on Tuesday against a $6 billion New York University expansion project.



Developing critical thinking skills through English

Geoff Hall
Chinese students are stereotypically thought to be reluctant to question authority, but this is not the case for English students studying at theUniversity of Nottingham Ningbo. They are taught to question and challenge existing ideas. These critical skills will be vital in an increasingly interconnected world.



The complexities of 21st century brain ‘exchange’

Philip G Altbach
Despite the rise of the BRICs, large numbers of international students are choosing not to return home after completing their studies. Research suggests that this could be for a number of reasons, among them the fact that salaries and facilities in developed countries continue to outpace those at home, and developed countries are keen to maintain their advantage.

Universities to be tested to distraction

Diane Ravitch
US schools policy has been all about accountability and measurement. This has led to demoralisation among teachers and a narrowing of what education means. Now higher education is about to be subjected to the same experience.

Students must be critical in more ways than one
Adam Peck
Students today are exposed to more information than ever before, but they appear less able to express their opinions. Universities need to ensure that they teach students the critical thinking skills they need for the future, and demonstrate to students that they are the product they are paying to produce.



Waist size linked to obesity and premature death

For the first time, researchers have demonstrated that the effect of obesity on the risk of premature death is seriously underestimated unless a person’s hip circumference is taken into account. An international team of researchers investigated the relationship between waist and hip circumference in a 20-year study of almost 8,000 Mauritians.


Sunshine may help prevent allergies and eczema
Increased exposure to sunlight may reduce the risk of both food allergies and eczema in children, according to a new scientific study. Children living in areas with lower levels of sunlight were at greater risk of developing food allergies and the skin condition eczema, compared with those in areas with higher UV.


Drinking black tea may lower blood pressure
In a world first, scientists at the University of Western Australia and Unilever, the multi-national consumer goods company, discovered that drinking three cups of black tea a day lowered systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

Concrete corrosion sensors to spot danger signs

Scientists at Queen’s University in Belfast have made a major breakthrough in developing sensors that dramatically improve the ability to spot early warning signs of corrosion in concrete. Scientists say they will make monitoring the safety of structures such as bridges and vital coastal defences much more effective.


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