Tuesday, 29 May 2012

University World News Issue 0223

Academic freedom spat in Canada, student unrest in Pakistan, inequity in Iraq

In World Blog, Serhiy Kvit describes the funding of state universities in Ukraine as illogical and unfair, and says his university – which lost funding following a spat with government – lodged an unprecedented appeal against the system.
In Commentary, David A Welch argues that the Canadian Association of University Teachers has gone too far in accusing the governance structure of the Balsillie School of International Affairs of undermining academic freedom. Stephen Carson and Jan Philipp Schmidt probe the growing phenomenon of ‘massive open online courses’, which are opening up higher education to vast numbers of people, and Keith Herrmann looks at Uganda’s success in attracting international students.
In Features, Ameen Amjad Khan describes the rise of lawlessness on campuses in Pakistan, fuelled by the politicisation of student organisations, and Wagdy Sawahel reports on allegations of sectarian discrimination against Sunni academics and students in Iraq. Suvendrini Kakuchi writes that a growing number of Japanese students are volunteering in developing countries, especially in Asia and Africa, seeking experience and opportunities to make the world a better place.
Karen MacGregor – Global Editor

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

Rise of the Asian giants in research and developmen
Geoff Maslen

The growing role of knowledge-intensive innovation and production in the economy and the importance placed on research in university rankings were powering the worldwide growth of scientific output, a conference in Melbourne heard on Tuesday. Simon Marginson said 48 countries were publishing more than 1,000 journal papers in science in 2009, compared to 38 nations in 1995 – a 26% increase.

Growth in foreign degrees – But are they worth it?
Yojana Sharma

Overseas universities queuing to set up affiliated degree programmes, joint degrees and foreign branch campuses in Asia need to do their sums carefully and understand the job market in those countries, or they will fail.

Global UN higher education sustainability initiative
Wagdy Sawahel

Academic leaders and institutions around the world have been called on by United Nations agencies to commit to developing sustainable practices in higher education and to help build more sustainable societies, by signing a declaration ahead of the global Rio+20 conference.

Residency rights vote for international PhD students
Jan Petter Myklebust
The Swedish parliament is to vote imminently on a plan that will make it easier for doctoral students from outside Europe to settle in Sweden after graduation, by offering permanent residence permits.

Student work-abroad programme rife with abuse 
Alison Moodie
Allegations have emerged of abusive practices by employers connected to a summer work travel programme that attracts more than 100,000 foreign students to the United States each year, leading the State Department to announce major reforms.

South Africa, Australia to share huge radio telescope
Karen MacGregor
There were mixed feelings in South Africa at the news that the country would share with Australia the world’s largest radio telescope, the US$2 billion Square Kilometre Array. There was delight at the boost that SKA would give to African science, tinged with disappointment because South Africa had been the front-runner to win the bid.

Opinions differ on research and innovation future 
Michael Gardner
The results of the latest federal research report suggest that research and innovation in Germany are expanding. But industry is less optimistic and has again warned of a serious shortage of skilled and spec ialist labour in mathematics, informatics, natural sciences and technology.

New bill on innovation universities goes to parliament
Alya Mishra
The Indian government has introduced a bill into parliament to establish universities focused on innovation and research. The aim is to attract foreign and local private investment to boost the country’s research capacity.

New call to end ‘education apartheid’
Wagdy Sawahel
An Iranian group active in defending the rights of students to attend higher education institutions has said Iran is pursuing a second cultural revolution by practising ‘educational apartheid’, as instances of students being barred from universities and other discriminatory measures have increased.

Demand from industry leads to big S&T investment
Jonathan Dyson
Responding to increasing demand from industry and perpetually low rankings among Latin American countries, Peru is investing more than US$136 million in science and technology. Prime Minister Oscar Valdéz also recently announced that 1,000 new S&T postgraduate fellowships would be made available by 2016, as well as 1,500 scholarships for Peruvian students at foreign universities.

Hopeful outlook for research under new government
Mamadou Mika Lom
Research has always been the poor relation in Senegalese universities, public and private alike, but faces better prospects under a new government following the presidential election of 25 March.

Science deal with India opens developing country links
Nébil Zaghdoud
Tunisia is taking its first steps towards boosting scientific links with other developing countries following the 2011 revolution that overthrew a government perceived to be more concerned with politics than science.


Universities reel under rising student lawlessness
Ameen Amjad Khan
There was a day of lawlessness on 16 May at Lahore’s Punjab University, as members of a student organisation linked to an Islamist political party attacked the vice-chancellor’s office, broke windows, smashed furniture and roamed around campus beating up professors.

Claims of sectarian discrimination in academia surface
Wagdy Sawahel
The Sunni academic community in Iraq faces discrimination by the Shiite-led government, according to allegations published on a website endorsed by Ghent University in Belgium.

More mobile students look to Asia and developing world
Suvendrini Kakuchi
In March this year the International Cooperation University Student Association at Rikkyo University in Tokyo completed its fourth charity campaign, providing books to schools in poverty-stricken villages in Nepal as part of the Hope project organised by the students.


An illogical way of funding universities
Serhiy Kvit
The basic funding of state universities in Ukraine is at the total discretion of the minister of education. A leading university has lodged an appeal against this system. A change in the arbitrary nature of funding could boost quality and serve the public and national interests.


Who will guard the academic freedom guardians?
David A Welch

The Canadian Association of University Teachers has gone too far in attacking the Balsillie School of International Affairs' governance structure. The association's guiding principles protect academics from being forced to act in favour of corporate interests, but in this case there is no danger that academic freedom is under threat.

Online higher education for the masses
Stephen Carson and Jan Philipp Schmidt

Though a relatively new phenomenon, ‘massive open online courses’ – MOOCs – are transforming the higher education experience and opening learning up to a vast number of people. Universities are beginning to take note of the huge opportunities they offer.

Moving beyond price to recruit international students
Keith Herrmann

Uganda has had some success in attracting international students. In part this is because it has kept costs for students low. But is this policy sustainable?


Publisher promises more open access science journals

London-based academic publisher Versita plans to publish 100 ‘emerging science’ journals this year as part of its open access programme. Jacek Ciesielski, founder and chief executive of the company, said the focus would be on “young and rapidly developing fields of science” that have not yet been covered by existing journals.

Bee research might lead to artificial vision

An international research breakthrough with bees offers the possibility that machines might soon be able to see almost as well as humans. The French and Australian research shows that honeybees use multiple rules to solve complex visual problems.

Carnivorous plant fed by ants, which also benefit

An international team of biologists has found that a carnivorous pitcher plant growing in Borneo’s peat-swamp forests benefits considerably from the presence of a species of ant called Camponotus schmitzi, which benefits in turn.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

University World News Issue 0222

On university rankings, oil tankers, icebergs and excellence initiatives

In Commentary, Daniel Lincoln argues that Times Higher Education’s plan to rank up-and-coming universities highlights the inconsequential nature of most global ranking systems. Martin Ince writes that excellence schemes boost university ranking positions to a point, but are more likely to reinforce existing positions.
Benjamin Ginsberg warns that the erosion of tenure in America and Canada is undermining academic freedom, and in World Blog Stephen Toope describes a recent mission to Brazil that was the largest ever undertaken by Canadian university presidents – and during which 75 new partnerships were announced.
Yojana Sharma and Hana Kamaruddin wrap up coverage of the inaugural AsiaEngage university-industry-community regional conference held in Malaysia earlier this month.
In Features, Alya Mishra writes that the focus of Indian institutes of technology will remain national despite IIT-Bombay’s participation in the winning international bid to set up a Centre for Urban Science and Progress in New York. And Geoff Maslen finds out, from a new Australian study, why small, developed nations produce high-impact research.
Karen MacGregor – Global Editor


EU ministers raise benchmark on graduate jobs

Marguerite-Jeanne Deschamps
The European Union’s Council of Ministers has approved a new employability benchmark of 82% of EU graduates being employed within three years of leaving education and training by 2020. This is a significant step up from the 76.5% benchmark in 2010.

Boosting science, maths and engineering graduates
Geoff Maslen
Australia’s Chief Scientist Professor Ian Chubb has won a grant of US$54 million from Prime Minister Julia Gillard to recommend ways of boosting the number of students in universities and schools taking science and mathematics subjects.

New minister for higher education and research
Jane Marshall
France’s new President François Hollande has appointed Geneviève Fioraso, a spec ialist in the economics of research and innovation, as the new minister for higher education and research.

Education minister faces copycat allegations

Germany’s federal Education Minister Annette Schavan faces allegations that part of her doctoral thesis may have been plagiarised. Schavan denies the claims made earlier this month but the University of Düsseldorf, which awarded her doctorate, is having her thesis reviewed.

Criticism greets new higher education minister
Ashraf Khaled

Within days of being named as Egypt's new higher education minister – the fifth in 15 months – Mohamed al-Nashar had been slammed by academics for both his political past and his present views.

Regulators argue for compromise on raw data
Jan Petter Myklebust

Key European Union regulators and their counterparts from the UK, France and The Netherlands have called for greater transparency over access to clinical trials data.

South Africa and EU sign joint education declaration
Ard Jongsma

South Africa and the European Union signed a Joint Declaration on Cooperation in Education and Training on Thursday, the formal endorsement of years of intensifying collaboration between the two partners.

Lecturers angry over proposed salary reforms
Gilbert Nganga

Kenya is pushing to change the way universities are funded and how lecturers are paid, in reforms that have angered lecturers. The Universities Bill wants state subsidies to public universities to be based on the courses they offer rather than on student numbers, and proposes that lecturers be paid according to the courses they teach rather than job grades.

AsiaEngage conference

The “Regional Conference on Higher Education-Industry-Community Engagement in Asia” was held in Malaysia from 7-9 May. It was the inaugural event of AsiaEngage, a network of universities aimed at strengthening civic engagement. University World News was there.

AsiaEngage – Forging university-community partnerships
Yojana Sharma

As top representatives of the main partners of a new Asian network stood with their hands on a darkened glass ball, the word AsiaEngage lit up in red and blue and swirled around the sphere. It represented the birth of the new AsiaEngage umbrella organisation for community-engaged universities.

How to be a world-class, community-engaged university
Yojana Sharma

The AsiaEngage network was launched this month with a secretariat at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, or UKM. University World News spoke to Vice-chancellor Sharifah Hapsah Syed Hasan Shahabudin on what it means to be part of the network and how UKM incorporates community engagement without jeopardising its aspirations of becoming a world-class university.

ASEAN joins global family of engaged universities
Yojana Sharma

With the official launch on 7 May of AsiaEngage, a new regional umbrella organisation to promote higher education-community engagement, the international Talloires Network of engaged universities is strengthening its regional activities.

Universities need to serve regional economy, society
Yojana Sharma

Many large universities conduct research and teaching as if they are isolated from the society and region around them. But even the desire to become world-class can be achieved by better serving their locality, a conference on higher education-industry-community engagement in Asia heard.

University’s key role in disaster preparedness and response
Yojana Sharma

University researchers and scientists are increasingly playing a role in disaster research, analysis and data collection. But the University of the Philippines has gone much further, taking on a central role in planning and response in Asia’s most disaster-prone country.

More students receive course credits for volunteering
Hana Kamaruddin

Students in some Asian countries – such as Japan, Indonesia and South Korea – now earn credit hours for voluntary work, an incentive that builds volunteering into the university assessment system and promotes community work as an integral part of higher education.

Sustaining university-community projects a challenge
Hana Kamaruddin

Sustaining university-industry-community initiatives beyond the first flush of enthusiasm is a core challenge for all partners involved, according to delegates at a key Asian higher education conference.

Universities in sustainability projects with industry
Hana Kamaruddin

Asian universities are engaged in ground-breaking projects to counter waste, boost the use of alternative fuels and reduce emission of greenhouse gases.

Alya Mishra

The Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, is part of a winning bid to set up a Centre for Urban Science and Progress in New York. While this furthers IIT-Bombay’s global footprint, its focus and that of other technical institutes in India remains national.

Scandinavian countries top the world in research
Geoff Maslen

The world’s smaller developed nations, particularly in Scandinavia, have high levels of R&D support and this goes hand-in-hand with international collaboration and results in high-impact research results, according to a new study.

World Blog

Stephen Toope

The largest-ever international mission of Canadian university presidents – to Brazil – saw the announcement of 75 new university partnerships and scholarship programmes, and talks around an innovation agenda. Canada is also opening its doors to 12,000 Brazilian students. The stage has been set for further collaboration in the future.


Daniel Lincoln

Times Higher Education has plans to publish a list of the top global 100 universities under 50 years old. The plans highlight the problems of world ranking systems since most don't compare like with like and context, such as funding cuts, is not taken into account. Higher education is in the midst of huge change and rankings are fast becoming inconsequential.

Excellence schemes help top universities get better
Martin Ince

Research suggests that excellence schemes boost universities’ ranking positions, but only so far. They are more likely to reinforce universities’ existing positions in a competitive market than to seriously challenge American and British domination of the ranking system.

Weakening tenure is an attack on academic freedom
Benjamin Ginsberg

Tenure guarantees academic freedom in the United States and Canada. The shift to more contingent staff will mean that few academics will risk losing their jobs by speaking out about intellectual ideas that challenge orthodoxy or vested interests.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

University World News - Issue 0220

QA in Sweden scores low marks; some international students face prejudice

In Commentary, Carlos Felipe Escobar Roa writes that in reforming higher education, stakeholders around the world need to rise above narrow interests, listen to one another and share ideas. Phil Baty says complaints that rankings favour old universities has prompted Times Higher Education to publish a new league of the world’s top 100 institutions under 50 years old. Lorraine Brown and Gurhan Aktas describe a study of Turkish exchange students that revealed the need for support to counter possible prejudice and for links between tourism bodies and universities.
In Features, Jan Petter Myklebust says Sweden’s new quality assurance system has been rated ‘unsatisfactory’ by European experts, and Michael Gardner looks at new laws in Germany that will improve prospects for foreign academics and students – though many students report discrimination. Also, Brendan O’Malley outlines a new report that shows knowledge exchange embedded within the higher education sector as a strategic, integrated activity driven in part by the research impact agenda.
We report on the QS-MAPLE conference for university leaders in the Middle East and Africa, held in Durban last week, and in World Blog William Patrick Leonard argues that a disconnect in the US between student fees and the value of qualifications could be resolved by including parents, students and employers as voting members of university boards.
Karen MacGregor – Global Editor


Aleppo students killed, injured in campus attacks

Wagdy Sawahel
Syrian forces targeted student dormitories during an anti-government protest at Aleppo University early on Thursday, firing teargas and bullets into the crowd. Four students were killed in the attack, 28 people were injured and around 200 students were reportedly arrested.

Students embroiled in bloody week of protests
Wagdy Sawahel
Egypt’s authorities detained 300 people, hundreds were wounded and a soldier died on Friday during bloody clashes between security forces and protestors – including student movements from several universities.

Conglomerate’s lawsuit sends a chill through academia
Mimi Leung
Almost 500 academics in Taiwan have signed a statement in support of environmental engineering professor Tsuang Ben-jei, after one of the country’s largest conglomerates filed a libel lawsuit saying Tsuang’s research had damaged its reputation. The move has had a chilling effect on researchers.

Vice-chancellor pulls back from slashing jobs
Geoff Maslen
Australian National University Vice-chancellor Professor Ian Young has backed away from imposing an A$40 million cut in spending this year, including $25 million in salary savings that would have cost an estimated 150 jobs.

Universities dubious about increased science funding
John Gerritsen
University leaders and staff in New Zealand are sceptical of government plans to focus their institutions more on STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and maths.

Roadmap for world-class teaching universities launched
Wagdy Sawahel
A strategy for setting up world-class teaching universities, with an outline for evaluating teaching and learning quality, was formulated at an international conference on higher education held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, last month.

Plagiarism crisis taints incoming legislators
Han-Suk Kim
Students and professors at South Korea’s Kookmin University, the centre of a plagiarism scandal involving two recently elected legislators, have joined opposition politicians in demanding that the lawmakers give up their seats after being found to have copied material for their doctoral dissertations.

Online bank to check plagiarism may not be enough
Alya MishraIn an effort to control increasing cases of plagiarism and low quality research, the All India Council for Technical Education, AICTE, is to launch Project Factory – an online repository aimed at capturing abstracts of all postgraduate projects.

New university colleges increase admissions capacity
Gilbert NgangaKenya will admit 7,000 extra students to its universities in the next academic year, making use of additional capacity in the form of new colleges. This brings to 41,000 the number of students who will join universities in the coming academic year, up from 34,000 admitted last year – a 20% jump.

QS MapleThe second QS-MAPLE – Middle East and Africa Professional Leaders in Education – conference was held in Durban on South Africa’s east coast from 3-4 May, hosted by the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The theme was “Meeting the Global Challenges in Higher Education” and the event attracted 140 participants from 40 countries. University World News journalists were there.

The shape of higher education to come
Karen MacGregorMore and more countries are striving to secure a bigger share of the international student market. But while the market is attractive and growing, it is also “very competitive, highly risk-prone and not the only growth area in higher education – far from it”, said Richard Yelland, head of the policy advice and administrative division of the OECD.

Increasing requests for joint and double degrees
Sharon DellIncreased requests for joint and double degree programmes are encouraging South African universities to address policy vacuums and join the growing number of institutions around the world offering such degrees – as a way to deepen international partnerships, attract top international students and better prepare students for a globalised future.

PhDs for Africa – The SANTRUST fast-track approach
Wanda HennigGovernments have grasped the fact that innovation and economic growth will be generated from growing global networks of researchers, students and institutions. It is an accepted fact that nations are increasingly dependent on higher education to produce the highly skilled labour their economies need. In Africa, however, there are significant challenges.

University’s caregiver certificate spreads across Africa
Wanda Hennig
A South African university’s collaborative certificate in community-based work with vulnerable children and youth has mushroomed following the success of a pilot study, and is currently being implemented in 10 Sub-Saharan countries through the work of the African Centre for Childhood.
Jan Petter MyklebustMore than one in five of 189 study programmes evaluated by the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education have been graded 'unsatisfactory'. And to the embarrassment of the Swedish government, the system of quality assurance itself has been rated unsatisfactory by a panel of European experts.

Foreign students and academics win better deal
Michael GardnerNew legislation adopted by the German parliament is set to improve prospects for foreign students and academics, just as the results of a new survey show that many international students are put off staying on in Germany due to discrimination.

Six-fold return for economy on university innovation
Brendan O’MalleyEvery pound invested in higher education innovation funding adds at least £6 (US$9.70) in knowledge exchange income to the economy, according to a new report sponsored by the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

World Blog

Open up the higher education governance process
William Patrick LeonardUniversity boards appear to be ignoring the fundamental importance of exchanging value added for tuition charged. Including parent, student and employer representatives – and giving them voting rights – could focus governing bodies’ minds more.


Bringing together the voices for university reform
Carlos Felipe Escobar RoaMany higher education stakeholders around the world agree on the need for reform. But they do not listen to one another's perspectives enough or share ideas about the way forward. Ultimately, the mission of universities is human development, equality and quality of life.

New ranking to select future Harvards and Cambridges
Phil BatyInternational university rankings are criticised for their focus on established elite institutions. Now Times Higher Education is preparing to publish the world’s top 100 institutions under 50 years old and showcase the universities to watch in the future.

The cultural and tourism benefits of student exchange
Lorraine Brown and Gurhan AktasLittle research has been conducted into the growing international exchange student market – particularly on Muslim exchange students. A study of Turkish students revealed the needs for more support to counter possible prejudice and for more links between tourism bodies and universities.