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.

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