European and Asian researchers have linked more than 40,000 computers across 45 countries to speed studies into developing an anti-viral drug that could defeat bird flu.
For an island of less than a million people Cyprus is well served with universities. It has nine of them, to be precise.
The academic world is becoming a smaller place, with ever increasing numbers of students studying overseas and staff collaborating across continents. OECD official Andreas Schleicher talks to Brendan O'Malley about why some countries have turned higher education into a leading export industry and others struggle to compete.
Having a high level of education seems to delay the onset of dementia – but once cognitive decline begins, the descent is more precipitous, according to US News and World Report.
Today's students do not want to "go down in history as the first generation of modern Europe that can expect to 'benefit' from fewer opportunities than the previous one," Bert Vandenkendelaere, chair of the European Students' Union, told the OECD higher education conference in Paris. Threatened by significant age wage gaps, high dropout rates, rampant graduate unemployment and limited support in starting a home or family, students fear their future may be bleaker than that of their parents.
Innovative solutions are required to mitigate the budget cuts brought on by the current financial crisis, but innovation is not always synonymous with hi-tech, speakers told the OECD's 2010 higher education conference in Paris last month. The need to redress the bias of research to the detriment of teaching was a recurring theme, as was a call for greater social responsibility in producing well-informed, responsible citizens.
Shrinking state budgets and financial shortfalls linked to the global recession are forcing universities to devise new means of raising revenue, notably through increased interaction with the private sector, according to participants at last month's OECD higher education conference in Paris.
When you meet California State University Chancellor Charles B Reed for the first time, you think you've met him before. It takes a few minutes to realise that Reed bears a striking resemblance to English actor Bob Hoskins. He has the same round appearance, direct gaze and pugilistic stance, as if he's ready to do battle. And it has been a battle over the past two years, as Reed has slashed costs at the university and deflected criticism and outcry as he tried to absorb a US$600 million blow in the form of state budget cuts.
A senior manager with the London-based strategy and insight consultancy SHM has suggested that universities and other higher education institutions be run like supermarkets. Paul Gillooly presented this provocative idea to an incredulous group of government officials and university leaders at the OECD's Institutional Management in Higher Education general conference in Paris in September.
Universities in Iceland and Ireland expanded dramatically during the 1990s boom, in part to promote regional development and absorb more students. But when the economic bubble burst, experts recommended a reduction in the overall number of institutions through painful mergers, as Denmark had already done.
"I'm not saying things were better under the Soviet Union, but there is definitely a problem with access to higher education in Russia," Tatiana Gounko, assistant professor at the University of Victoria in Canada, said at the OECD's Institutional Management in Higher Education conference held in Paris in September.
Small island states, which are increasingly vulnerable to global problems, need to have their universities play a stronger role in national development. "A small island nation has limited tools for driving its own development," said Janyne Hodder, former president of the College of the Bahamas and an administrative board member of the International Association of Universities, at the OECD's 2010 higher education conference, Higher Education in a World Changed Utterly: Doing more with less.
Israel may have transformed itself over the past decade into one of the world's vibrant economies, but innovation training is nonetheless sorely lacking in the nation's universities, according to Dr Milly Perry, director of the research authority at the Open University of Israel and CEO of OPMOP Ltd Technology Transfer Company.
Private spending on university education in Japan is high at 67.5%, according to a recent report released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development on public education investment in 28 member states. The OECD's Education at a Glance 2010 report indicated that the average for all nations was 30.9%, illustrating that in Japan private spending on higher education plays a vital role in supplementing low public funding.
As universities face increasing budget cuts and see their ivory-tower image attacked, many now espouse increased involvement in community and global issues. But although this 'social engagement' drive has numerous supporters, others wonder at the cost and the long-term impact on universities, especially in the area of research.
Against the background of the most synchronised recession in developed countries in over half a century, the OECD's Institutional Management in Higher Education 2010 general conference focused on how the higher education sector - governments, institutions and individuals - can help contribute to sustainable recovery. Capitalising on the OECD's respected evidence base and drawing on analyses and opinions from some of the world's leading experts, the conference tried to identify ways to achieve higher quality outcomes at a time of increased demand and fewer resources, and examined innovative approaches to meeting the challenges of equity and efficiency.
Never before have universities faced such remarkable challenges to their fundamental values, said Professor Malcolm Grant, President and Provost of University College London, at the OECD higher education conference last month. During this time of austerity universities must continue to hold true to their values and take a long-term view, positioning themselves for 10 years' time "against the short-term turbulence of immediate change".
The mood at the 2010 OECD higher education conference was more self-critical than complaining, according to Richard Yelland, head of the education management and infrastructure division in the organisation's education directorate. "Notwithstanding their good intentions, institutions and systems are not fulfilling their social responsibilities - to nurture research which will address pressing global issues, and equitable access to teaching which is relevant to the labour market and to society," he told University World News.
Many of the solutions proposed by participants in the OECD's Institutional Management in Higher Education conference were short term, palliative measures when the deepest crisis in higher education funding since the Second World War means the sector is in need of a kind of Marshall Plan to save it.
A dearth in leadership in higher education in South Africa – and the world – can be attributed to gendered institutional cultures that “prevent us from seeing the leadership potential that exists in half the population, our women”. So said Dr Mamphela Ramphele, author, business women, former vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Town and an ex-managing director of the World Bank at an “Institutional cultures and higher education leadership: Where are the women?” conference held in Cape Town. Although more than half of university students and staff in South Africa are women, only three of 23 universities are led by women who comprise just 17% of deputy vice-chancellors and 21% of deans.
The Catholic Church of Nigeria and the National Universities Commission are at loggerheads over the legal and academic status of seminaries and institutions affiliated to Nigerian universities. The disagreements have led to both sides placing advertisements in newspapers over the past two years, to try to win over public sympathy for their differing interpretations of the law and historical events on complex issues. These include affiliation approvals, quality assurance and the level of government intervention in courses offered by the country’s 93 public and private universities.
I read Andy Schmulow's article, Ban contacts with University of the Free State. As a South African living in Canada, I was moved to write and thank him for taking a firm and principled stance on this issue. After following the story for the past few weeks, I have found that his analysis does not stray from the matter and he also proposes concrete measures to address the obvious shortcomings at UFS.
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University signed a six-year research enabling agreement with the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) company for continued research on the nuclear fuel to be used in the first demonstration pebble bed modular reactor, reports The Herald. The PBMR is an advanced new generation nuclear reactor design using helium gas heated to nominally 900°C in the reactor core to drive a turbine, which then generates electricity. Heat generated by a PBMR can also be used to desalinate seawater and produce hydrogen from water.
Kidist Zeleke used to think that her degree in mathematics wouldn't get her very far in life, writes Megan Lindow in The Chronicle of Higher Education. She spent her time at Haramaya University, in Ethiopia, memorising proofs and theorems, with little understanding of how such abstract concepts could be put to use in the broader world. "In our country, if you do math or physics, the only chance you have is to be a teacher, and it's a very low-paid job," she says with a shrug. "We only know mathematics on paper." And so it might have been for Zeleke, had she not been selected to participate in a new programme for bright young mathematicians drawn from across the continent.
When Rosemary Visser heard that the University of Pretoria would be offering Spanish from March this year, she signed up immediately to secure one of the 40 available places, writes Cornia Pretorius in the Mail & Guardian. As the personal assistant of A-rated scientist Professor Mike Wingfield, director of the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute, Visser has often been lost in translation. Wingfield’s work reaches across the world and Visser often has to field inquiries in Spanish, in particular from South American countries such as Argentina, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia.