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.

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