Monday, 6 August 2012

University World News - Issue No 0233

MOOCs and problems with export model call branch campuses into question

In World Blog, Rahul Choudaha ponders whether Massive Open Online Courses make starting up new branch campuses seem outdated. In Commentary, Christian Leder writes that new institutions have emerged in Switzerland that are tied closely to industry, enabling a flow of ideas between the two sectors.
Research by Peter Bodycott and Ada Lai reveals that Chinese parents play a major role in decisions about whether and where their children study abroad – though teenagers are beginning to have their voices heard – and Julius Kravjar describes a nationwide anti-plagiarism programme that is helping Slovakia to beat academic cheats.
Alya Mishra interviews Indian theoretical physicist Ashoke Sen, one of nine winners of the new Yuri Milner Fundamental Physics Prize, and in Features, Dinesh De Alwis reports on the entrance exam fiasco in Sri Lanka that has denied thousands of students university places.
Also in Features, Geoff Maslen describes a new report that finds some universities considering transforming the branch campus model into fully-fledged multinational institutions, and looks at a speech by David Finegold presenting contrasting descriptions of how China and India are expanding higher education.
In Myanmar, Naw Say Phaw Waa writes that moves to restore Yangon University to its former glory have captured the public imagination, and Tunde Fatunde covers the 13th World Congress of the International Federation of French Teachers in Durban, where participants found that the future of the language could lie in Africa.
Karen MacGregor – Global Editor

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

One in five universities to close or merge – Minister
Eugene Vorotnikov

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a reorganisation of state universities that will lead to some closures. One in five universities could be shut down or forced to merge over the next two or three years.

New minister may tone down higher education reforms
Makki Marseilles
Greece’s Education Minister Konstantinos Arvanitopoulos has indicated that the new coalition government is willing to negotiate a compromise on controversial higher education reforms inherited from the two previous administrations.

Brazil tops 2012 Latin America rankings 
María Elena Hurtado

Sixty-five out of the 250 universities in the 2012 QS ranking on Latin America published late last month are Brazilian, with the University of São Paulo taking the top spot. Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Chile and Argentina make up 80% of the universities from the 19-country ranking.

China and Australia to support African universities
Wagdy Sawahel

Two countries recently pledged further support for African universities and students. The China-Africa strategic partnership has strengthened its focus on higher education, and the Australia-Africa Universities Network seeks to build collaboration with African institutions.

Academics, students protest against ‘patriotic’ studies
Yojana Sharma

Professors and students joined a major Hong Kong rally last Sunday against the imposition of ‘national education’ about China in secondary schools, saying it could have a detrimental impact on the entire education system including universities, if allowed to take hold.

Foreign students and staff get more work opportunities
Michael Gardner
A new law giving foreign academics and students more job-seeking opportunities has come into effect in Germany, as the share of foreign students enrolled at German higher education institutions rose again last year.

Government scraps student bursaries in favour of loans

Zambia’s government has decided to scrap its national bursary scheme and replace it with student loans, following controversies including allegations of corruption that have dogged the bursary initiative for years.

Association of African Universities loses new leader
Maina Waruru
The struggling Association of African Universities, the umbrella body for higher education institutions across the continent, has lost another secretary general prematurely.


The rise of the multinational university
Geoff Maslen
More than 200 degree-granting international branch campuses of universities are now located in foreign countries. But a new report says some universities are considering transforming the branch campus model into fully fledged multinational universities “by slicing up the global value chain in ways akin to multinational corporations”.

How will ‘whirlwind’ forces affect higher education?
Wagdy Sawahel
Technology experts believe market factors will push universities to expand online courses, create hybrid learning spaces, and move towards lifelong learning models and different credential structures by 2020, according to a new report. “But they disagree about how these whirlwind forces will influence education, for the better or the worse.”

Exam fiasco denies thousands university places
Dinesh De AlwisThey had a dream. They had a target. They had a future. But their dreams have been shattered and the future is uncertain for thousands of Sri Lankan students who have failed to gain admission to state universities because of a mess-up in the calculation of the results of entrance exams held last year.

Restoring Yangon University to its former glory
Naw Say Phaw Waa
The campus of Yangon University, formerly Rangoon University, in the centre of the city, is semi-abandoned. Tall grass surrounds the old convocation hall still used by a number of universities for delivering degrees. But other structures, particularly the old student buildings, are in a dilapidated state.

China and India’s rapidly expanding higher education
Geoff Maslen
China and India together represent more than 35% of the global workforce and both are seeking a transition from a low-skill equilibrium to high-skill ecosystems – although India will continue to have large numbers of lower-skilled jobs – according to David Finegold of Rutgers University. He described the implications of their growth and rapidly expanding higher education systems for America, Europe and Australia.

The expansion of the French language lies in Africa
Tunde Fatunde

More than 800 delegates from educational institutions including universities in 150 countries attended the 13th World Congress of the International Federation of French Teachers held in South Africa recently. The major concern was how to protect French from contending languages in a fierce global world – and the future could lie in Africa.


Indian scientist scoops US$3 million physics award
Alya Mishra

Theoretical physicist Ashoke Sen, a string theorist at India’s Harish-Chandra Research Institute, is one of nine winners of the first Yuri Milner Fundamental Physics Prize. At US$3 million, the award is worth nearly three times more than a Nobel and is the most lucrative academic prize in the world.


Could MOOCs lead to the decline of branch campuses?
Rahul Choudaha

Massive Open Online Courses – MOOCs – offer a low risk, low cost way of reaching international students. Will they replace branch campuses? Established branch campuses are unlikely to die out any time soon, but newer versions may need to take developments in internationalisation into account.


Who determines what should be taught?
Christian Leder

New higher education institutions in Switzerland are closer to industry than traditional universities, and a new development in which external actors are brought onto the boards of institutions could bring them more benefits, boosting professional development, shaping better educational opportunities for students and furthering research on current issues.

The role of Chinese parents in study-abroad decisions
Peter Bodycott and Ada Lai

Universities that host Chinese students studying abroad need to pay more attention to the factors that influence their choices to study overseas – primarily their families. Little is known about how contemporary families in China make such decisions.

A national system to prevent plagiarism is working
Julius Kravjar

A national system for countering plagiarism has been initiated in Slovakia, and findings after two years show it has reduced copying and increased the quality of dissertations and theses.


Human behaviour emerged earlier than believed
Recent archaeological discoveries have revealed that pigment use, beads, engravings and sophisticated stone and bone tools were already present in Southern Africa 75,000 years ago. But many of these artefacts had disappeared by 60,000 years ago, suggesting that modern behaviour appeared in the past and was lost before becoming firmly established.

Whale shark survival threatened by over-fishing
Researchers at Shandong University in Weihai and Murdoch University in Western Australia have found distressing trends in the catching and trading of threatened whale sharks around the Chinese coast. Results indicate that whale sharks are increasingly being targeted because of high demand for large shark fins and a rising appetite for shark meat in general.

Call for big investment in marine research

Seas and oceans cover more than 70% of the Earth’s surface, host the majority of its biomass and contribute significantly to all global cycles of matter and energy. All life on Earth most likely originated from microbes in the sea, says a report by the European Science Foundation’s Marine Board.

UV radiation causing rising deaths in marine life

Ultraviolet radiation has caused a steep increase in deaths among marine animals and plants, according to an international team of marine scientists. The team found the marine life most affected by ultraviolet B radiation were protists such as algae, corals, crustaceans, and fish larvae and eggs, thereby affecting marine ecosystems from the bottom to the top of the food web.

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