Monday, 18 June 2012

University World News Issue 0226

Higher education and the UN Conference on Sustainable Development

This week we publish a Special Report on universities and the UN Conference on Sustainable Development – Rio+20 – including an article by world-leading sustainability scientist Walter Leal Filho, who argues that the time for talking about action plans on sustainable development has passed. Now is the time to ensure they are enforced.
In World Blog, William Patrick Leonard writes that higher education institutions in America should better prepare for inevitable swings in the economic cycle. In Commentary Dlawer Ala'Aldeen, a former higher education minister in the Kurdistan regional government in Iraq, writes that Kurdistan has made huge leaps in reforming its higher education system and improving quality.
John Akec argues that private universities in South Sudan should not be closed, as this will not improve quality but will deny access to many people seeking a second chance at education. And Grace Karram reveals a paradox in the OECD’s just-published Economic Survey of Canada, which finds post-secondary education strong but innovation weak.
In Features, Mimi Leung and Yojana Sharma write that China will allow changes in residency rules for the ferociously competitive university entrance examination, the gaokao. And Geoff Maslen reports on the growing numbers of students enrolling for online learning and the doubling of student numbers at Open Universities Australia in the past four years.
Karen MacGregor – Global Editor


International student growth rate to decline, report warns 
Brendan O’Malley
The UK is expected to increase its intake of overseas students by 30,000 in the next decade, outpacing the United States, its greatest competitor. But a significant slowdown in the rate of growth means UK universities and policy-makers should rethink their strategies, a new report warns.

Decision looms on West Bank university status
Helena Flusfeder

The University Centre of Samaria in Ariel took a step closer to gaining full status as an Israeli university – the first in the occupied West Bank – by approving the appointment of a future president last week.

Asian languages for students challenges English dominance 
Yojana Sharma

While universities in China have been rushing headlong into teaching in English, Yunnan province in the south-west has announced an ambitious initiative to train students to become proficient in regional languages, in preparation for the Association of South East Asian Nations economic community to be set up by 2015.

Benchmarking tool helps university reform 
Wagdy Sawahel

A screening card for measuring how effectively universities are governed has been endorsed by the World Bank as a means of encouraging institutional reform in the Middle East and North Africa after trials at 41 universities in four countries.

New minister shelves tuition fees and reforms plan 
Jan Petter Myklebust

University reforms in the Czech Republic, including proposals to introduce tuition fees and reduce student influence over decision-making, have been shelved. Instead, new Education Minister, Petr Fiala, says he will negotiate with university representatives over alternatives.

Research delegation strengthens links with Malaysia

A delegation of research leaders from an Australian network known as the Innovative Research Universities began a week-long visit to Malaysia on Monday aimed at forging new research collaborations and strengthening existing links.


The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, known as Rio+20, kicks off in Rio de Janeiro next week. University World News takes a look at ways in which universities around the world are involved in sustainable development and environmental debates, research and projects, and their role in Rio+20.

Future challenges for sustainable development 
Walter Leal Filho

Universities have been integral to debates about sustainable development and many action plans have been created at the international level. But implementation has been a problem, so a certain amount of scepticism has set in. This needs to be tackled, and attempts made to take action on a local and regional basis.

New universities partnership on environment launched 
Yojana Sharma

A new Global Universities Partnership on Environment and Sustainability was officially launched by the United Nations Environment Programme and participating universities this month, in advance of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development – Rio+20 – in Rio de Janeiro on 20 June.

Social scientists push for new UN structure at Rio+20 
Jan Petter Myklebust

The Rio+20 conference will be presented with a demand by leading social scientists from around the world for a new organisation aimed at better integrating sustainable development into United Nations structures, in a move as radical as the international governance reforms that followed World War II.

Universities key to Rio+20 despite strike 
Stephen Eisenhammer

Universities are playing a key role in every part of the upcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20. But with widespread strikes at a number of public universities across the country, some feel an important opportunity is being missed.

University networks tackle sustainable development 
Yojana Sharma
Universities in Asia-Pacific nations have been linking together to collaborate on sustainable development research and projects, and are considered to be more networked than in other world regions in tackling climate change and other environmental issues.

Sustainability at the heart of management education
Wanda Hennig

The demands of the 21st century global economy have spurred the integration of new ideas into the education process at management schools. To this end, and against a backdrop of the Occupy Wall Street movement, a rapidly rising number of universities are walking the talk, adding responsible management to the core curriculum and offering degrees in sustainability and sustainability management.

Sustainable development becoming a university buzzword 
Alya Mishra

Sustainable development is becoming a buzzword in higher education in India, with institutions offering degree programmes and opting for green campuses. But the movement is limited to a handful of enthusiasts and experts say capacity building is needed, along with a deeper understanding of the concept, if higher education is to make a difference.

New approach to science and science funding needed
Michael Gardner

Germany has played a pioneering role in promoting renewable energy and campaigning for green policies internationally. But scientists at a conference in Lower Saxony earlier this year called for a much wider approach given the obvious lack of progress regarding sustainability since the 1992 Rio summit.

New regional research centre to tackle climate change 
Moses Magadza

The recently established Namibia-based Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Use is working with higher education institutions across the region to develop new postgraduate courses on climate change.


University entrance examination rules to be relaxed 
Mimi Leung and Yojana Sharma

China’s Ministry of Education has said it is willing to allow changes in residency rules for the country’s ferociously competitive university entrance examination known as the gaokao. But it has not outlined a timetable for change.

Virtual world expands as universities go online 
Geoff Maslen

A vast and ever-increasing number of the world’s students are studying for degrees without ever setting foot on a campus. Open Universities Australia, the 20-year-old antipodean pioneer of online learning, is a prime example – it has experienced an unprecedented doubling in enrolments over the past four years.

World Blog

Institutional leaders must prepare for the worst 
William Patrick Leonard

Higher education institutions in the United States have had to make swingeing cuts due to the economic crisis. But financial crises are inevitable so why are institutions not better prepared, since they have contingency plans for other, more unlikely emergencies?


Dlawer Ala'Aldeen

Kurdistan in Iraq has implemented a series of reforms aimed at improving the quality of higher education in the region. Despite some opposition from political groupings and vested interests, the determination of reformers has resulted in significant progress.

Closing private universities will not work 
John Akec
Private universities give many South Sudanese a second chance. Closing them will not improve the quality of education, but will restrict access. The government needs to learn from the mistakes other countries have made and focus on quantity as well as quality.

Post-secondary education strong, innovation weak – OECD
Grace Karram
The OECD’s Economic Survey of Canada 2012 was released on 13 June, assessing the nation’s macro-economic trends and making recommendations for the future. The paradox revealed by the report lies in the striking difference between the country’s (weak) innovation and (strong) post-secondary education sectors.

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