Sunday, 15 July 2012

University World News - Issue No 0230

Action, not words, needed to tackle biases against women’s academic careers

In World Blog, Curt Rice argues that waiting for the increased number of women graduates to convert into more women in top posts will not work, and in Features David Jobbins reports on a pledge by Europe’s leading research universities to overcome the discrimination that prevents female academics from playing a full role in European research.
Helena Flusfeder describes a move by Israel’s Council for
Higher Education to sidestep a political controversy over granting a West Bank centre university status, and in Nigeria Tunde Fatunde writes that recent attacks on churches on and near universities in northern Nigeria could drive an exodus southwards of students and academics.
In a Commentary section focused on the Americas, John Aubrey Douglass finds that for-profit universities and colleges in the United States have done well out of the Great Recession because they plug gaps other institutions cannot fill.
Ernesto Schiefelbein suggests that offering public school students remedial classes could reduce the possibility of student protests in Chile, and Angel Calderon reports that proposed reforms aimed at improving teaching standards in Guatemala are being opposed by students.
Karen MacGregor – Global Editor


Four out of 10 graduates from China and India by 2020
David Jobbins
Four out of every 10 university graduates will come from just two countries – China and India – by 2020, according to a report from the OECD. China alone will account for 29% of graduates aged 25-34, with the United States and Europe stagnating at just over a quarter.

Diversify expansion to avoid ‘carbon copy’ graduates 
Adele Yung
Singapore’s university sector no longer needs to catch up with the rest of the world and should not slavishly follow Western models, simply expanding to produce more “carbon copy” graduates, according to a high-level international panel advising the government on its strategic higher education policies.

Controversial higher education bill clears parliament 
Ria Nurdiani
Indonesia’s House of Representatives finally endorsed a controversial higher education bill on Friday, amid criticism of the way important issues such as foreign universities and student access have been handled in the legislation.

Policy paper urges better deal for disabled students 
MJ Deschamps
A European Commission policy paper has encouraged European Union member states to work harder at helping disabled students to gain university places and good degrees, with data showing that their life chances improve considerably with higher education.

Student applications fall by 10% following fee hikes
Brendan O’Malley
Demand for places at higher education institutions in England has fallen by 10%, according to UCAS, the body that manages applications to courses. The new figures offer insight into the impact on applications of the decision to allow universities to triple tuition fees from 2012-13.

Higher education exchange programme launched 
Ameen Amjad Khan
The Jeddah-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation has announced a higher education exchange programme that will facilitate scholarships, faculty exchanges, collaboration on distance learning methods and research projects among its 57 member countries.

Publishers say new bill will hamper textbook supply 
MJ Deschamps
Canadian publishers say recently passed copyright reform is stripping away some of their financial incentive to provide books to the country’s universities and colleges.

First doctoral training centre to be set up in UAE 
Wagdy Sawahel
The University of Wollongong in Dubai has joined with the National Research Foundation in the United Arab Emirates to set up the country’s first doctoral training centre.

Study by undergraduates identifies crocodile genes
How many undergraduate students does it take to publish original research in an academic journal? Exactly 100 in the case of faculty of veterinary science students at the University of Sydney, whose study on saltwater crocodile genetics was published in the Australian Journal of Zoology last week.

Terrorist attacks in Kenya impeding scientific research 
Linda Bach
Terrorist attacks and kidnapping of foreigners could cause a serious blow to Kenyan marine research, forcing scientists to cancel projects in fear for their lives, according to participants at the 12th International Coral Reef Symposium held in Cairns, Australia, from 9-13 July.

Top university bans open-air rallies ahead of poll 
Francis Kokutse
In a move to control unruly student participation in politics, the authorities at the University of Ghana have banned all open-air political rallies, congresses and conventions ahead of a December general election. Student leadership is closely aligned to political parties in Ghana.


Universities pledge to take action on gender equality 
David Jobbins
Top universities have committed to leading a drive to secure greater equality for female academics and researchers across Europe. A League of European Research Universities report sets out actions that it says will overcome discrimination against women that prevents them from playing a full part in Europe’s research effort.

New moves in West Bank centre’s university status bid 
Helena Flusfeder
The Israeli Council for Higher Education’s planning and budgeting committee has proposed a new category of funding in addition to the existing ones of colleges and universities – that of a ‘university centre’ – in an apparent attempt to sidestep a political storm over granting a West Bank centre university status.

Academics and students live in fear of terror attacks 
Tunde Fatunde
Repeated attacks on churches on and off university campuses in northern Nigeria, by the Islamic fundamentalist sect Boko Haram, have sparked fear among students and lecturers, especially those who are Christians.


A slow thaw for women in leadership 
Curt Rice
Many people think that increased numbers of female graduates will translate eventually into more women at the top of their professions, but analysis suggests any increase will be very slow. It’s not enough just to wait.


The rise of the for-profit tertiary sector 
John Aubrey Douglass
For-profit institutions have grown in the Great Recession, to some extent because of cuts in the public sector that have meant it is unable to fulfil demand. For-profits need greater regulation to ensure quality, but demand for them is likely to continue to rise.

Closing the education inequality gap to stop unrest 
Ernesto Schiefelbein
Closing the gap between those with and without access to a good school education, through offering remedial classes at university, could reduce social inequality and high student drop-out rates in Chile and prevent the kind of demonstrations seen in the country in 2011.

Stormy times ahead for teacher education reforms 
Angel Calderon
Guatemala's education reforms aim to raise teaching standards, but students fear they will make it more financially difficult to study and could put some off the profession. However, if Guatemala is to improve its standing in the region and develop sustainably, it needs to improve the quality of teaching.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Unversity World News - Issue No. 0229

All of Europe’s education support efforts to merge into one holistic bundle

In Features, Ard Jongsma interviews Jordi Curell, head of higher education in the European Commission’s education and training directorate, and reports that proposals to bundle all European education and training support efforts into one interconnected programme are entering a decisive stage.
Alya Mishra writes that new anti-discrimination regulations for universities in India may not be enough, given the covert nature of discrimination and the hierarchical structure of society, and journalists across all continents report on the growing switch to teaching in English among many universities in non-English countries.
In Commentary, Way Kuo contends that Hong Kong higher education needs to embrace other cultures and make the most of its geographical position if it is to attract more international students. Devi D Tewari looks at whether the American or European model of PhD examination best suits developing countries, and Philip G Altbach writes that Slovenian higher education has the potential to be world class – though there are challenges.
Finally, in World Blog, Serhiy Kvit argues that Ukraine's integration into the European Higher Education Area would raise standards and improve its university system.
Karen MacGregor – Global Editor

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

EC launches dialogue with southern neighbours

Ard Jongsma

The European Commission has launched a platform for higher education policy dialogue with countries in the south Mediterranean area, convening 80 high-level officials including ministers, the commissioner and director-generals in Brussels to discuss developments in higher education in North Africa and the near Middle East – and the European response to it.

New regulation to focus on students’ academic rights 
Alya Mishra

Aiming to improve the quality of education across all colleges and universities, India will soon come up with a regulation that will inform students about their academic rights and entitlements – including on programmes operated by foreign universities. The academic community has welcomed the announcement.

Greater access, more equal higher education are key
Alison Moodie

The United States is at risk of losing its competitive advantage in the global marketplace unless it ensures greater and more equal access to higher education, according to a survey released by the OECD.

Election pledge – ‘Abolish top university’
Han-Suk Kim
In an astonishing attack on higher education elitism, South Korea’s main opposition party has said it could dismantle the country’s most prestigious university – Seoul National University – if it comes to power in upcoming presidential elections.

More university places, better quality needed – Report
Wagdy Sawahel
The six Gulf Cooperation Council states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates must urgently develop and implement higher education policies aimed at expanding student enrolments and strengthening quality, a new report says.

Pakistan and India offer scholarship olive branch
Ameen Amjad Khan
Pakistan and India are increasingly using higher education as a foreign policy instrument, in particular to improve relations with post-Taliban Afghanistan. Pakistan announced a package of 600 fully funded scholarships for students from Afghanistan – on the same day that an Afghan minister visiting Delhi pledged to increase education links with India.

Experiment identifies possible long-sought Higgs boson
Geoff Maslen
Physicists around the world excitedly greeted the news on Wednesday that a new particle has been detected consistent with the elusive Higgs boson, the long sought-after particle believed responsible for all forces in the universe.

Blow to anti-counterfeiting trade agreement
Geoff Maslen
Rejection by the European parliament on Wednesday night of an international treaty that attempted to strengthen the enforcement of intellectual property rights could impact on the debate in other countries, according to Professor Christoph Antons, a chief investigator with the Australian Research Council.

New president delivers inaugural speech at alma mater
Ashraf Khaled
Shortly after being sworn in as Egypt’s first freely-elected civilian president, Mohamed Mursi was driven by motorcade to Cairo University, the country’s oldest secular higher education institution. Minutes later, the engineering professor showed up in the auditorium where US President Barack Obama delivered his landmark address in 2009.

Lecturer strike closes top university indefinitely
The University of Zambia has been closed indefinitely by a lecturer strike for better pay and working conditions. The academics have resolved to withhold examination results from students pending a favourable outcome for their demands.

University administrators join nationwide strike
Francis Kokutse
University administrators in Ghana have joined the latest wave of nationwide strike action that has swept the country over the past few months. Students have reacted with anger, saying that admission to universities and academic work is being affected.

Local v-c appointed – after foreigner declines
Guillaume Gorges
The University of Mauritius has finally appointed a local academic, Professor Ramesh Rughooputh, as vice-chancellor – following the abrupt resignation of his foreign predecessor, and after another foreign academic declined the post.


Ard Jongsma
Proposals to bundle all European education and training support programmes into one huge, interconnected programme for 2014-20 are entering a decisive stage, as European ministers have accepted the majority of the European Commission’s outline and the European parliament is set to discuss further details.

Are anti-discrimination laws for universities enough?
Alya Mishra
Despite affirmative action laws, cases of discrimination against disadvantaged groups at India’s elite institutions continue to surface, leading to new anti-discrimination regulations for universities. But this may not be enough, given the covert nature of discrimination and the hierarchical structure of Indian society.

English use in teaching spreads in universities worldwide
Andrew Green, Wang Fangqing, Paul Cochrane, Jonathan Dyson and Carmen Paun
The Politecnico di Milano, one of Italy's most prestigious universities, will teach and assess most of its degree and all of its postgraduate courses entirely in English from 2014. While the move proved controversial in Italy, it is far from unusual – universities worldwide have been switching wholly or partly to teaching in English for a number of reasons.


Serhiy Kvit
Ukraine's higher education system needs reform and its integration into the European Higher Education Area would aid this, boost standards and the quality of what universities offer, and counter corruption.


The challenge of internationalisation in Hong Kong
Way Kuo
Hong Kong and its universities need to internationalise more. But to do so they have to consider what they can offer the rest of the world. International students will not study in Hong Kong just because universities operate in English.

PhDs – What model works for developing countries?
Devi D Tewari
The United States PhD model is the gold standard, but the European model is less expensive and could be a more realistic initial goal for developing countries wishing to raise standards.

The challenge of reaching for world-class status
Philip G Altbach
Slovenia has the potential for academic excellence, but it faces challenges, including selecting fields and disciplines its universities can excel in and negotiating the line between serving national and international interests. If successful, however, it could serve as a model for small countries and for universities with a European style of governance and administration.


Plaque found on two million-year-old teeth
A deadly mistake made two million years ago by two of humankind’s earliest ancestors has provided the first evidence of what food they ate – from an analysis of the plaque on their teeth. The find is unprecedented in the human record outside of fossils just a few thousand years old.

Using the cane toad’s poison against itself
An effective new weapon in the fight against the spread of cane toads has been developed by researchers at the University of Sydney and the University of Queensland. Cane toads now number more than 200 million and are spreading across the continent by an average of 40 kilometres a year, with devastating impacts on native species.

Helping Asian students understand regional accents
Researchers at the University of Nottingham have developed a computer program that helps Asian students improve their understanding of accented English speech in noisy environments.

Student use of stimulants for cognitive enhancement
Pharmacological cognitive enhancement is a topic of increasing public awareness, according to German researchers. In the scientific literature on student use of drugs or caffeine as a study aid, there are high prevalence rates with caffeinated substances but remarkably lower rates for illicit or prescription stimulants such as amphetamines or methylphenidate.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

University World News - Issue No 0228


Power of global rankings must be challenged with audits, critique, contest

In this week’s World Blog, Richard Holmes asks whether international rankings have been given too much power and suggests that it is time they were audited. In Commentary, Elisabeth Gareis writes that universities need to do more to foster better relationships between home and overseas students.
In a new book on the future of South Africa’s youth, Helene Perold argues that efforts to provide education and training opportunities should be viewed from a youth perspective, and in Canada Aaron H Doering describes the concept of ‘adventure learning’, a form of hybrid education that is changing the online teaching and learning experience.
In Features, Yojana Sharma investigates the debate over reforms to university entrance exams in several Asian countries, including China’s high-stakes entrance test, the gaokao. Erin Millar reports on the continuing dispute in Quebec over tuition fee hikes as an August back-to-study deadline looms, bringing the threat of renewed student protests.
Sharon Dell looks at the planned expansion into four new African countries of South Africa’s private post-school education giant, Educor, and Mamadou Mika Lom warns of a looming staff crisis at Senegal’s top university as more than half of its academics retire in the next three years.

Karen MacGregor – Global Editor


Wagdy Sawahel
Mohamed Morsi has become the fifth president of Egypt after winning 51.7% of votes in a run-off election, making him the first university professor to rule a country in the Arab world. His election is of considerable significance to higher education.

Universities observe ‘black day’ following funding cut 
Ameen Amjad Khan
Monday 25 June was observed as a ‘black day’ by universities across Pakistan, to register protest against low funding for the higher education sector. University budgets have been slashed since the country’s democratic government came to power in 2008.

Higher education institutions face tighter controls 
María Elena Hurtado
Chile’s higher education sector is facing stiffer regulations after financial irregularities were discovered at Universidad del Mar, one of the country’s largest private universities. The problems – which led students to take over the university’s 15 buildings, go on hunger strikes and stage mass demonstrations – have also brought Chile’s accreditation system under scrutiny.

International moves to help upgrade university sector 
Yojana Sharma
The United Kingdom has said it will help Burma improve its higher education sector, according to an announcement on Monday pledging support to education in Burma at both the school and post-school levels. Other countries have also offered assistance.

Bold study-abroad and teaching in English initiatives 
Wagdy Sawahel
In an effort to train a highly skilled scientific workforce needed for economic development, war-torn Afghanistan has doubled its budget for overseas scholarships and will teach science courses in English instead of the two branches of Persian – Iranian Farsi and Afghan Dari – used in many universities.

University entrance exam system costly, needs reform 
Hiep Pham
Vietnamese school-leavers will sit national university entrance examinations that start on 4 July and last for almost a week, as they compete for places at some 58 universities and colleges, amid ongoing discussion that the exam system needs reform.
* See also Yojana Sharma’s article in Features.

Groups unite to demand private medical college closure 
Dinesh de Alwis
Doctors, lecturers, students, trade unions and other groups in Sri Lanka have called on the government to close down the country’s first private medical university and to stop the establishment of other private medical institutions – a move that could have implications for international providers planning to set up branch campuses.

Translation tool could help foreign students 
Michael Gardner
A new computer system that automatically transcribes lectures and translates them into English is being tested in Germany. It could benefit foreign students who have difficulty following lectures and other students who have struggled to take notes, as the scripts are stored in ‘clouds’ and can be called up when needed.

Francophone university agency opens bureau in Morocco
Jane Marshall
The Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie last week inaugurated its new Maghreb regional bureau in Rabat. As well as serving Morocco, the bureau will represent the French-language university agency in Algeria and Tunisia, serving nearly 100 higher education and research institutions.

Pan-African University starts recruiting students 
Gilbert Nganga
The Pan African-University has started recruiting its first batch of postgraduate students, who are expected to start class in July – the strongest signal yet that the international institution is taking off after years of planning and sometimes fraught negotiations.

College students to receive loans as state ups spending 
Gilbert Nganga
Kenya has set aside at least 100 million shillings (US$2 million) in the coming year for loans to students in middle-level colleges as the country seeks to absorb more students into the post-secondary school system. Universities have also received a funding boost.

Professor will not appeal sentence for ‘spying’ 
Jan Petter Myklebust
Timo Kivimäki, the Finnish professor of international politics at the University of Copenhagen who in May received a five-month prison sentence for espionage, will not appeal against the sentence due to the high costs involved, according to the university’s newsletter.


Yojana Sharma
For millions of young people in China it has been a make-or-break month. Results of the national college entrance exam, the gaokao, are now being released and the scramble for the best university places has begun – and in many cases, for any place at all.

Deadline looms as Quebec student boycott continues 
Erin Millar
The months-long dispute in Quebec that began over tuition fee hikes shows no sign of abating as a 15 August back-to-study deadline legislated by the provincial government looms, ensuring a late summertime showdown between students and government. “If a solution isn’t reached over the summer, there will be more strike activity and confrontation,” one student group warned.

South African private education giant expands into Africa 
Sharon Dell
Private education giant Educor is set to become the first South African institution to set up branch campuses outside the country as it expands its operations into four new African countries under its well-known Intec and Damelin brands.

Problem of ageing academics threatens top university 
Mamadou Mika Lom
A new salary deal has slightly slowed the brain drain from Senegal’s premier Université Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar. But it confronts a new threat in the form of ageing academics. With 80,000 students, it faces losing up to 70% of academics by 2015 as a result of large-scale retirements.


Richard Holmes
International rankings are being used to determine international higher education partnerships and even immigration policy. There is a danger that particular rankings are becoming too powerful. There needs to be both an auditing of the rankings and a willingness to consider a broader range of rankings.


Elisabeth Gareis

Universities and students need to do more to build better relationships between home and overseas students, including creating the right infrastructure for such relationships to flourish. But more research is needed into what works best.

Viewing post-school education from a youth perspective 
Helene Perold

In January 2012 South Africa was shocked to hear of the death of a mother at the gates of the University of Johannesburg. Gloria Sekwena had returned from her job in the United Kingdom to make sure that her school-leaving son, Kgotsisile, would find a place at the university.

Adventure learning – Changing the education experience 
Aaron H Doering

Adventure learning could help change the face of online learning. It not only takes into consideration content, content delivery and learning outcomes, but also learner experience. It aims to truly engage learners in content and facilitate transformative, deep learning through a thoughtful combination of pedagogy, technology and real-world interaction.