Saturday, 21 April 2012

University World News issue 0217

European ministers come under pressure to expand student mobility funding

In a scoop this week, Brendan O’Malley and Jan Petter Myklebust unpack a new report by the Bologna Follow-Up Group warning that Europe risks missing its goal of at least 20% of graduates studying abroad, with only four countries exceeding 5% in inward student mobility and outward mobility averaging less than 2%. See the Features section. In World Blog, Curt Rice explains why scientific publishing is unfair and in need of reform.
In Commentary, Madeleine F Green says universities need to be clear and honest about their internationalisation activities and why they are doing them, and Philip G Altbach and Jamil Salmi argue that international advisory groups, which are becoming popular among world-class universities, can add value and prestige.
N Jayaram, in the latest in a series of articles from the new book Paying the Professoriate, writes that improved pay scales and quality measures in India have made professors middle-class – but part-time and private sector academics have not benefited.
Also in India Alya Mishra looks at reforms in the state of Karnataka aimed at strengthening university autonomy, quality and research, that could provide a model for other parts of the country. And Tunde Fatunde reports on an international conference in Nigeria that investigated the under-studied 17-centuries-long trans-Sarahan slave trade.
Karen MacGregor – Global Editor

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

EU and World Bank push for research revolution
Brendan O'Malley
Three significant blows were struck this week for the international cause of achieving open access to scientific research – by the European Commission, the World Bank and the Wellcome Trust.

Community colleges deny access to 400,000 students
Alison Moodie
Community colleges across America are denying access to hundreds of thousands of students, threatening the nation’s economic future, according to the first report from the Center for the Future of Higher Education, the research arm of a new faculty coalition.

Austerity-era budget winners and losers revealed
David Jobbins
A study of the impact of austerity-driven policies on universities in 13 countries across Europe shows a divergence between clear winners and losers, with southern European countries generally but not exclusively faring worst. Finland is leading the pack of countries expanding university education budgets while the most savage impacts are being felt in Italy and Portugal.

Increase intake to meet higher education demand – UGC
Alya Mishra
With India facing major challenges in setting up new universities from scratch, existing universities may have to increase student intakes to meet growing demand for higher education and the urgent need for more skilled human resources. Some universities may have to double student enrolment in the next five years.

Students may join political parties, but not on campus
Honey Singh Virdee and Yojana Sharma
Bills to amend longstanding laws banning students from joining political parties were tabled in Malaysia’s parliament last week, with student groups and opposition parties saying that restrictive university laws should be repealed, not amended.

Ministry reins in false claims by private institutions
Adele Yung
Singapore’s Council for Private Education last week published new ground rules on responsible and truthful advertising by private education institutions, to rein in misleading or false claims and provide better protection for students turning to the growing private higher education sector.

Science and innovation could cut youth unemployment

High levels of youth unemployment across Africa could be reduced if innovation and entrepreneurship were included in university curricula, participants in a major all-Africa conference on science, technology and innovation heard in Kenya this month.

Two countries may share the world’s biggest telescope
Geoff Maslen
The battle between South Africa and Australia to win a US$2.1 billion prize – the giant Square Kilometre Array radio telescope – may be resolved by splitting its operations between the two countries. According to a report in Nature last week, the SKA management board is seeking to determine whether the telescope could be divided between the two proposed sites.

New president sacks police chief over academic freedom

Malawi’s new President Joyce Banda has sacked the police chief who was at the centre of academic freedom protests last year. And she has instituted an inquest into the death of a student leader who was critical of the government of the late president, Bingu wa Mutharika.

Sociologist Manuel Castells wins 2012 Holberg Prize

Spanish sociologist Manuel Castells has won this year’s Holberg International Memorial Prize – the ‘Nobel prize’ for the arts and humanities, social sciences, law and theology. A professor at the University of Southern California and other top institutions around the world, Castells earned the award for four decades of compelling analyses of power.

Teenagers flown in to advise on higher education 
Paul Rigg
The private for-profit IE University in Spain has turned to 16- to 18-year-olds from 11 countries for advice on the future of higher education. The teenagers – from countries as diverse as America, Colombia, Germany, India, Peru, Romania, Slovenia, South Africa, Turkey, Wales and Zimbabwe – flew to Madrid to give their views.

Government to fund new centre for Jewish studies
Michael Gardner
Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research, or BMBF, is to provide funding for a new Jewish studies centre in Berlin. Several institutions in the Berlin area are supporting the centre, which launched last autumn.


Brendan O’Malley and Jan Petter Myklebust
Ministers from 47 European countries will be warned that they risk missing their target of at least 20% of graduates studying or training abroad, when they assess progress towards the Bologna goals in Bucharest later this month. They will be asked to sign a pledge to expand mobility funding and enable portability of grants, loans and scholarships provided by European Higher Education Area countries.

State university reform could improve quality, autonomy
Alya Mishra
By separating the academic and administrative functions of the university from its affiliated colleges, the state of Karnataka in southern India has attempted to give two of its oldest universities a new lease on life, with emphasis on autonomy, research and minimal political interference in university governance.

Scholars focus on the Arab trans-Saharan slave trade
Tunde Fatunde
Scholars from universities in and outside Africa gathered in the Nigerian city of Calabar recently to examine the role of Arab merchants in the trans-Saharan slave trade, which lasted for 17 centuries. For various reasons, the trans-Saharan slave trade – unlike trans-Atlantic slavery – is under-studied.


Curt Rice
Does science publishing need reforming? Although journals aim to publish the best quality research, the processes of selecting which research gets reviewed – and who does the reviewing – are not transparent and could mean that research by groups such as women gets overlooked.


Madeleine F Green
Universities need to be honest about internationalisation activities and why they are doing them. Unless institutions make the effort to be clear about the drivers and to measure the impacts of internationalisation, they will be deluded or uninformed about their success.

International advisors – An asset or an added expense?
Philip G Altbach and Jamil Salmi
International advisory groups are becoming increasingly popular with world-class universities. But do they add anything of value? Having the perspectives of outside experts can bring useful insights and the experience of top academics, industry spec ialists and others can add prestige.

Good news for permanent academics in public institutions
N Jayaram
India has introduced new pay scales and quality measures in higher education to retain the best staff, and professors are now happily middle-class. But these do not apply to private institutions or part-time staff and there are still problems recruiting enough academics to teach in public institutions.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

University World News Issue 0216

Wanted: Blue skies thinking on universities, strong leaders and salary reform
In World Blog, Serhiy Kvit describes an unprecedented move by the prime minister of Ukraine to involve academics in drafting a new higher education law.
In Commentary, Anne Corbett and Sacha Garben argue that it is time for blue skies thinking about the future of higher education in Europe, and Elaine El-Khawas finds that more effective leaders can make a major difference to universities. Also, Gregory Androushchak and Maria Yudkevich call for academic salary reform for post-Soviet universities, the latest in a series of articles from the new book Paying the Professoriate.
In Features, Francis Yu reports on the connection of Cambodia’s top universities to a high-speed pan-Asian research network. Chrissie Long writes about 50 students from Equatorial Guinea who recently flew to the Caribbean’s Dominican Republic on scholarships aimed at developing their West African country – and at connecting Dominicans with their African roots – and Kaci Racelma describes the implementation of Bologna-style degree reform in another West African nation, Niger.
In Student View Abdimalik Buul writes about Somali students in the US who have been raising funds to fight famine, linking up with students in Mogadishu for a research project and helping first generation Somalis in America access higher education.
Karen MacGregor – Global Editor

Universities to be given control over A-levels
Brendan O'Malley
Michael Gove, the education secretary, is to hand universities the leading role in the design and development of A-level qualifications in a major rolling back of government control over the key qualifications driving university admissions.

Professors oppose reform of university president elections
Han-Suk KimNearly 9,000 professors from state-funded universities cast a no-confidence vote against South Korea’s Education Minister Lee Ju-Ho last week, in a protest against attempts to force universities to reform how their leaders are selected – or face the risk of cuts to government subsidies.

Universities face huge ‘haircut’ losses to reserves
Makki MarseillesUniversities and technological institutions in Greece face a huge reduction in their reserves despite the 53.4% write-down in the value of government bonds that reduces the country’s debt by €100 billion (US$133 billion).

Political deadlock on tuition fees causes chaos
Michael GardnerPublic universities are unable to charge tuition fees this summer semester as a result of the Austrian government’s failure to come up with a new framework for fees in time. Earlier regulations were declared unconstitutional and moves by institutions to reintroduce fees on their own have been sharply criticised by students.

New website allows university indicator comparisons
Geoff MaslenFor the first time, students can compare Australia’s 39 public universities on the basis of their courses, student satisfaction levels, the qualifications of academics, staff-student ratios, drop-out rates and graduate employment. Although criticised for including information of doubtful validity, the MyUniversity website is probably unique in providing so many comparative details of each university’s operations.

Abuse of student internships ‘not fully revealed’
Mimi LeungStudents and academics from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong researching the working conditions of student interns at factories in China have said that an officially agreed investigation into working conditions at Foxconn factories, which produce Apple iPads, did not provide a “full picture” of the extent of abuse of the internship system.

EU and Med states to deepen academic cooperation
Wagdy SawahelEuropean Union and southern Mediterranean partner countries plan to establish a mechanism to enhance collaboration and the responses of universities and research centres to socio-economic needs.

Richard Descoings, higher education innovator, dies
Jane MarshallRichard Descoings, the innovative and charismatic head of the French Institute of Political Studies, died on Tuesday in New York where he was due to attend a United Nations conference for university leaders.

USAID funding and building boosts teachers’ education
Wagdy SawahelAfghanistan’s Ministry of Higher Education opened a new faculty of education at Herat University last week. It is one of six new education faculty buildings being funded by the United States Agency for International Development and was constructed by the US military.


Francis YuResearchers in Cambodia’s leading universities are to be connected to a pan-Asian research and education network via a high-speed link, improving access to regional and international data, helping to boost research quality and facilitating international research collaboration.

African students help connect Dominicans to their roots
Chrissie Long Fifty students from Equatorial Guinea – a tiny Spanish-speaking country in West Central Africa – climbed off a plane on the lively Caribbean island Dominican Republic in mid-February, destined for a long-standing agricultural university.

New degree system drives rising enrolment and quality
Kaci RacelmaWest African countries are continuing to implement the bachelor-master-doctorate system, or LMD – with Niger being one of the latest. Now the system is standard for West Africa’s largest country, which has a population of 15 million people and is mostly Saharan desert.

World Blog

Serhiy Kvit

In an unprecedented move earlier this year the Ukrainian prime minister called for a review of draft laws deciding the future of higher education. Academics and interested groups have been given the opportunity to shape the proposed legislation. Could this mark a dramatic change in how universities are run?


Anne Corbett and Sacha Garben
The 2012 Bologna ministerial conference takes place in Bucharest later this month. It is time to reframe the debate and look long-term at ways of addressing those who lose out in the process. It is time for blue skies thinking about the future of higher education in Europe.

Can new university leadership make a difference? 
Elaine El-KhawasDo rectors appointed from outside make more effective leaders of universities? Or is this only a structural change – rearranging the furniture? Research suggests that stronger university leaders can make a difference.


Gregory Androushchak and Maria Yudkevich
Post-Soviet universities pay faculty mainly for teaching and do not incentivise research. Many staff moonlight to boost their wages and universities are losing out on future staff who are being siphoned off by industry. Raising wages could boost quality and retain staff.

Student View

Abdimalik Buul
Somali students in the US are joining together to help first-generation Somalis get into higher education, and are linking up with fellow students in Mogadishu in a research project to promote positive change.

Science Scene

Plants do communicate – Even talk to each other

When South African botanist Lyall Watson claimed in his 1973 bestseller Supernature that plants had emotions and that these could register on a lie detector, scientists scoffed and branded it hippie nonsense. But new research has revealed that plants appear to react to sounds and may even make clicking noises to communicate with each other.

Discovery shakes beliefs on Earth chemistry to the core
For the last 100 years, scientists have assumed that the Earth has the same chemical make-up as the sun. But now scientists at the Australian National University have challenged the belief. Ian Campbell and Hugh O’Neill said their research had reshaped scientists understanding of the Earth’s chemistry – “right to the core”.

Mountaintop blasts for giant Magellan telescope
Last month, astronomers began to blast 8,500 cubic metres of rock from a mountaintop in the Chilean Andes to create a base for the Giant Magellan Telescope – the world’s largest once completed towards the end of the decade. The telescope will be located at the US Carnegie Institution’s Las Campanas Observatory – one of the world’s premier astronomical sites, known for its pristine conditions and clear, dark skies.

Secrets of Permian vegetation in Inner Mongolia
Chinese and American scientists have uncovered a forest buried under volcanic ash in Inner Mongolia during the Permian period, some 300 million years ago. The researchers say permian flora are important because they represent a time of oscillating climatic changes that might serve as an analogue for modern vegetation control.

Monday, 9 April 2012

University World News - Issue 0215

Knowledge economies need academics but don't pay them well

Among our highlights this week, in Commentary, Philip Altbach and Iván Pacheco use a global comparison to argue that academics are inadequately paid compared to other key professionals driving the knowledge economy. Claudia Reyes and Pedro Rosso argue that classifying and comparing types of university is crucial to raising standards. In Features, Jan Petter Myklebust reports on why top Swedish universities are continuing to expand despite the economic downturn. Wagdy Sawahel reveals that newest country South Sudan’s attempts to build a new higher education system are hamstrung by political problems. In World Blog, Tony Chan says European universities are too inward-looking – the big changes in higher education are happening elsewhere.
Brendan O'Malley – Acting Global Editor



Academies reject EU research pledge on social sciences

Jan Petter Myklebust

The European Alliance for the Social Sciences and Humanities rebuts the European Commission's view that their field is adequately covered in the Horizon 2020 research agenda and calls for an added programme to be established.

Top university slashes spending by A$40 million
Geoff Maslen
Another prominent university has warned that it will have to cut jobs following a sharp fall in income. The Australian National University announced plans to slash expenditure this year by A$40 million, including a $25 million cut in staffing costs. The global financial crisis, sharp falls in enrolments by foreign students, wage rises and higher costs are causing universities across Australia to find savings in their budgets.

Court rules on university leadership jobs for retirees
Ameen Amjad Khan
A Supreme Court ruling has given encouragement to academic staff pushing for an end to the appointment of post-retirement age professors as university heads. They believe it could pave the way for merit-based appointments.

US graduate growth is too slow, says report
David Jobbins
The rate of increase in the numbers of US graduates is too small, a report by the Lumina Foundation warns. It suggests that the US must do significantly more to build on the modest gains in higher education attainment to keep up with its global competitors.

Languages and humanities axed due to cuts
Robert Visscher
Nationally, 30 small courses in the humanities will disappear in their current form, including the only Portuguese programme in the country, because of budget cuts and government requests for profiling. All universities have been hit by cuts in government funding and as a result several have cancelled small and expensive courses in the humanities.

More countries are turning to tuition fees
Martin Whittaker
As nation states contribute less and less to higher education amid the fallout from the Eurozone crisis, Europe’s universities are anxiously seeking new, sustainable forms of funding. And increasingly they are looking with interest at England as a model, where the burden of paying for higher education has passed from state to student.

EU and South Korea deepen research cooperation
David Howarth
The European Union and South Korea have agreed a range of initiatives to strengthen research cooperation. South Koreans have also been invited to apply for European research funding under the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme for research.

A$220 million synchrotron rescued from closure
Geoff Maslen
After nearly five years of operation at a cost of at least A$600 million (US$620 million), the Australian synchrotron faced being shut down as money was about to run out. But an announcement on Wednesday by the federal and Victorian governments of a $95 million injection means the nation’s prized scientific asset will be able to continue.

Three universities in row over donor ‘veto’ 
Erin Millar
Three major universities are facing censure over collaborations with a private think-tank established by Blackberry co-founder Jim Balsillie. The Canadian Association of University Teachers alleges that the universities compromised academic integrity by signing contracts that gave Balsillie influence over hiring decisions, academic programmes and curriculum.

Mubarak-era campus election rules divide students
Ashraf Khaled
Thousands of students at Egypt’s universities have staged protests against a decision by the Ministry of Higher Education to hold student union elections under regulations dating from the era of toppled president Hosni Mubarak.

Civil society demands inquest into student’s death

Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika has come under renewed pressure to reform the higher education sector, with a petition calling on him to set up an investigation into the death of a student activist and to scrap draconian legislation trampling on academic freedom.

Islamic states plan research and education network
Wagdy Sawahel
A pan-Islamic research and education network spanning the 57 countries of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to enhance collaboration among research and education communities is being planned, alongside a range of ambitious ICT projects approved at the International Telecommunication Union's Connect Arab Summit.

Students say funding priority is better teaching 
Michael Gardner

The German students' union has criticised efforts to improve higher education funding, saying they contribute too little towards improving teaching and focus too much on a research elite.

Philip Altbach and Iván Pacheco

There have been few global comparisons of academic salaries around the world. New research paints a picture of a profession that, in many countries, is not valued as key to the knowledge economy.

Classifying university types is key to success
Claudia Reyes and Pedro Rosso
A reclassification of Chile's universities highlights the importance of proper classification of universities to ensure coherence between mission, human and financial resources and the will to achieve the highest possible quality standards.

Years of neglect put global ranking out of reach
Pramod Bhatta
Rampant political interference, dismal government spending and failure to reform mean Nepalese universities cannot begin to make themselves world class. They must first concentrate on becoming functioning institutions.
Jan Petter Myklebust
Three years after the global credit crunch led to economic downturn, and widespread austerity budgets, cutbacks in resources and staff at many universities, some have been able to swim against the tide and actually expand.

Higher education reform plans for a new nation
Wagdy Sawahel
Academics and policy-makers have produced a vision for higher education in South Sudan, which achieved independence from Sudan last July to become Africa’s newest state. Problems facing universities have been identified, reform initiatives launched and possible ways to upgrade universities recommended.
World Blog

Tony Chan
The recent European University Association annual conference was greatly concerned with Europe's economic crisis, but much of what will affect it in the future is happening outside the continent. It should pay more attention.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

University World News Issue 0214 - 25th March 2012

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report 
Universities and students face grim financial future 

Geoff Maslen
University affordability for students in 40 countries around the world may have reached its peak. Across countries in the OECD, government support for higher education barely kept up with inflation last year while the outlook for 2012 looks bleak “given the debt crisis in the Eurozone”, according to a report released last week.

Western troop withdrawals a ‘challenge’ for universities 

Yojana Sharma
The withdrawal of US and other NATO troops from Afghanistan by 2014 poses a challenge for the country’s universities, which are responsible for turning out local professionals able to take over non-military tasks, a top Afghan higher education ministry official has said.

UK government challenged over Erasmus funding rise 

David Jobbins
A House of Lords committee has urged the UK government to think again over its reluctance to support a European Commission proposal for a 70% hike in funding for the new Erasmus for All programme, which will support student mobility beyond Europe's borders.
Spate of donations to UK universities from philanthropists 

Mimi Leung
A £20 million (US$32 million) donation to King's College London by a Hong Kong businessman, announced last week, is the latest in a spate of contributions by Hong Kong philanthropists to UK universities. The donation from Dickson Poon is the biggest from an individual in King's College history and the largest to any single law faculty in Europe.

Universities demand a more active accreditation role

 Michael Gardner
The Rectors’ Conference in Germany has called for reform of the country’s accreditation system to give higher education institutions a more active role.

Students face fee rises despite court victory 

Lee Adendorff
The threat of increased fees for Italian students looks set to become a reality. As universities wrestle with shrinking state funding, budget shortfalls and the prospect of court action, the government headed by Mario Monti is seeking a reform package aimed at liberalising the economy and jump-starting growth.
Minister wants to lure students from southern Europe

 Jan Petter Myklebust
Norway's minister for higher education and research has called for more university collaboration with southern Europe, to help countries hit hardest by the economic crisis – and to lure talent.

Loan forgiveness plan fails to win over students 

María Elena Hurtado
Measures to ease the debt burden of Chilean students in response to violent protests last year have failed to satisfy students and opposition politicians. Critics say new laws that forgive student debt and reduce interest on government-supported loans do not address fundamental problems.

Danes and Swedes lead bid for food research 

Jan Petter Myklebust
Danish and Swedish universities are in the running to become world centres for food innovation when the first round of Horizon 2020 research programmes is announced.

SERIES: African university leaders
Managing a university on the rise – Nairobi 

Gilbert Nganga
When it comes to publicity, Professor George Magoha is shy. The vice-chancellor of the University of Nairobi rarely grants an interview or calls a press conference. He believes being too public a leader could be a blunder for Kenya’s premier university. Magoha spoke to University World News for this second in a series of articles on African university leaders.

Absence of Arab rankings creates obstacles, says study 

Brendan O’Malley
The Arab world urgently needs a ranking and classification system for its universities, a pilot study covering seven countries concludes.
Transparency key for more women university leaders 

Yojana Sharma
Women have now caught up with – and in some subjects surpassed – men in university enrolments. Yet the number of women heads of universities remains small globally. Overcoming this equity hurdle will require institutional changes, including greater transparency in the way leaders are selected, a conference in London heard.

Higher education bills in limbo after election shock 

Alya Mishra and Yojana Sharma
Higher education reform in India, including a proposed bill to allow in foreign universities, has hit another snag after the party leading central government performed below expectations in elections in three out of five states – reducing its room for manoeuvre in pushing key bills through parliament.

Facebook enables the dead to ‘live on’ – for others 

Geoff Maslen
Dr Patrick Stokes is a researcher and philosopher at Deakin University in Melbourne. He found it a little weird when ‘friends’ he knew had died started contacting him via their Facebook pages.

Gaming in the American university ranking system 

William Patrick Leonard
The main international university ranking systems focus narrowly on top institutions and use independent third parties for their metrics. How can people find out more about other American institutions, and can they trust national ranking statistics if they are self-reported?

Emerging countries need world-class universities 

Simon Marginson
Policy experts tend to advise developing countries not to focus on creating world-class universities. But universities that do not develop their global science capacity will find themselves in a position of continuing dependence. The ambition for world-class universities is not a superficial or elitist whim. It is an entirely valid aspiration.

International rankings: A poisoned choice 

Kevin Downing
International rankings raise a huge amount of debate, but undoubtedly have a major impact on everything from university reputation to the ability to hire top academics. Each of the main ranking systems measures different things, so institutions can select the one that most clearly matches their aims and status.
Universities must encourage the philanthropic spirit 

Daniel McDiarmid
The huge donation from Dickson Poon to King's College London shows that fundraising efforts, even in harsh economic times, pay off. But many institutions in countries around the world are still slow to invest in fundraising, not just in terms of staffing but also in terms of university leaders' time and energy.

Predicting clinically significant prostate cancer
Current evidence suggests that screening men for prostate cancer is a double-edged sword, say Dr Carvell T Nguyen and Dr Michael W Kattan, both working in urological institutes in Cleveland, Ohio, in the US. They say the ethical and economic implications of over-diagnosis and over-treatment of clinically insignificant prostate cancer are profound.

Diverse bacteria may aid honey bee survival
Recent challenges to honey bee health, including dramatic colony losses attributable to Colony Collapse Disorder, have devastated honey bee stocks worldwide. But an agent causing the losses has yet to be identified and new ideas about the decline in colonies are still emerging.

Mountains on a plate form the Andes
Curving down the western coast of South America is the world's longest mountain chain – and one of its greatest puzzles. The Andes run for about 7,000 kilometres with the highest peak, Mount Aconcagua in Argentina, rising nearly 7,000 metres above sea level.