It is not often that anyone can claim to be part of a revolution, especially in publishing, but the 21 founder members of University World News can make that assertion: University World News is the first global online weekly publication for higher education and a year on, we have made remarkable progress.
Our launch edition of 15 October 2007 had 13 news stories, two features and two off-beat stories in the Uni-Lateral slot. Recent editions have included more than 20 news stories, features and commentaries from our writers and contributors across the world, plus we have added fortnightly business, science scene and academic freedom sections.
The idea of producing an online newspaper arose after a group of journalists specialising in higher education realised there was a gap in an increasingly internationalised higher education world not filled by niche publications such as Britain's Times Higher Education or America's Chronicle of Higher Education. The former, with its new magazine format, had cut its global coverage while the latter was also largely focused on home territory.
So, with more optimism than cash, we formed a limited company based in London. Our website operates from Cape Town, our globe-trotting chairman is based in Denmark, and 16 journalist shareholders live as far apart as Wellington, Athens, Montreal and Barcelona. They work under the watchful eyes of our editors based in Melbourne and Durban.
Such was the initial success of the global edition of University World News that the Ford Foundation agreed to fund a fortnightly Africa edition of the paper which was launched in March. The Centre for Higher Education Transformation in South Africa is supporting the production of four special Africa editions over two years: the first focused on differentiation, the second on racism in South African universities.
University World News now has almost 13,000 registered readers with 120,000 visitors viewing the site's home pages during the last year. About 40,000 website visitors view more than 450,000 web pages on average each month. More than 3,000 academics receive the African editions in countries across the continent.
As we arrive at our first anniversary edition, the 49th, we can look back on some 750 news stories and features relating to events in more than 30 countries, confirming University World News' role as a genuinely global newspaper. We have placed great emphasis on international dimensions and developments in higher education and have published special reports on a range of topics, enabling comparisons to be made between countries.
Geoff Maslen, co-editor based in Melbourne, said: "The major policy decisions made by governments in those countries have been covered by our writers, who have also reported on individual academics and institutions, on students, on research and discoveries, and on the oddities of life in the various groves of academe."
The paper will shortly take on a new look with a redesign of the website by our designer Dane Wilson. This will make navigation clearer and result in a site we hope will be more attractive to readers and advertisers. Please continue to watch this space!
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