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.

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