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.

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