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AUSTRALIA: Not keeping up on research investment
Australia's Group of Eight, a coalition of leading research-intensive universities, has just published a report, The International Tendency to Concentrate Research Capability, outlining strategies being adopted by a range of countries to focus their investment in areas of research excellence. It argues that while comparable countries have been intensifying investment in top research universities as a means of raising their competitiveness in the global knowledge economy, Australia has failed to take the necessary steps. While the available (lagged) measures of performance indicate that the country can punch above its weight, "we are not keeping up with the capacity improvements being made elsewhere".
US: Exploring undergraduate research participation
The extent and potential consequences of undergraduate research participation among students at the University of California, Berkeley, is explored in a paper by Dr Elizabeth Berkes, a research associate at the university's Center for Studies in Higher Education. She notes that although Berkeley "has increased efforts to involve undergraduates in scientific research, data does not exist regarding the number of students active in research projects". The paper "offers a useful survey of the quantity and quality of undergraduate research".
AUSTRALIA: Postgraduate students prefer to stay home
Work in 1997 on Australian research postgraduate student mobility indicated that most students chose to remain at their current institution for a research degree rather than move elsewhere, and that they were unlikely to seek widely for information. In the latest edition of the Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, Margaret Kiley and Andy Austin write that a new study aimed at determining, seven years later, whether there had been changes showed that student mobility was "virtually the same", with 61% of student respondents saying they were remaining at the same university to undertake a research masters or doctorate, 18% moving to a different university in the same state, and only 12% moving to a different university in a different state on completing their previous degree.
US: Sloan survey shows online learning up 12%
The just-published 2008 Sloan Survey of Online Learning has revealed that enrolment rose by more than 12% over a year and that nearly four million students were studying at least one online course by late 2007. Staying the Course: Online education in the United States, 2008 surveyed more than 2,500 colleges and universities nationwide, is the sixth annual report on the state of online learning in American higher education, and was a collaborative effort between the Babson Survey Research Group, the College Board and the Sloan Consortium.
AUSTRALIA: Internet changes rules for researchers
With social scientists increasingly using the internet for research and observation, new methodological guidelines need to be developed, argues Emma Beddows in the latest edition of the International Journal of Emerging Technologies and Society. Beddows, of Swinburne University of Technology, examines issues and concerns associated with internet-based research and calls for renewed university guidelines to tackle them.
US: Academic Integrity in the 21st Century
In a new report Academic Integrity in the 21st Century: A teaching and learning imperative, Tricia Bertam Gallant, academic integrity coordinator for the University of California in San Diego "considers the issue of academic misconduct in the context of the complex forces currently straining the teaching and learning environment". It is the latest monograph of the Jossey-Bass series ASHE Higher Education Report, which provides analysis of tough higher education problems based on research of literature and institutional experiences.
GLOBAL: Is internationalisation on the right track?
"As we progress into the 21st century, the international dimension of higher education is becoming increasingly important and at the same time, more and more complex. There are new actors, new rationales, new programmes, new regulations, and the new context of globalisation," writes respected internationalisation scholar Professor Jane Knight in the latest edition of the Canadian journal Academic Matters, titled The Global University.
GLOBAL: International graduate student challenges
Globalisation has embraced the university, as it has other sectors. Many academics appreciate the benefits that cross-cultural exchange allows as the ivory tower turns global. Knowledge now belongs to a worldwide arena in which we are all connected, writes Dr Fengying Xu in the latest edition of the Canadian journal Academic Matters. But "there are enormous challenges for teaching, studying and research inside this globally-interdependent context".
UK: How technology will shape learning
Technological innovation, long a hallmark of academic research, may now be changing the very way that universities teach and students learn, argues a white paper by the Economist Intelligence Unit titled The Future of Higher Education: How technology will shape learning. "For academic institutions, charged with equipping graduates to compete in today's knowledge economy, the possibilities are great. Distance education, sophisticated learning-management systems and the opportunity to collaborate with research partners from around the world are just some of the transformational benefits that universities are embracing," the report says.

"But significant challenges also loom. For all of its benefits, technology remains a disruptive innovation, and an expensive one. Faculty members used to teaching in one way may be loath to invest the time to learn new methods, and may lack the budget for needed support."
CANADA: Momentum report on state of R&D
The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada has published a new report on the state of research and development in the country. The report, Momentum: The 2008 report on university research and knowledge mobilization, shows that universities performed more than a third of Canada's research and contributed at least $60 billion to the economy in 2007.
US: New book on US-China educational exchange
The first issue in a new series of Global Education Research Reports has been published by the Institute of International Education (IIE). US-China Educational Exchange: Perspectives on a growing partnership's release coincides with the 30th anniversary of the US-China 'Understanding on the Exchange of Students and Scholars'.
Methodology, meaning and usefulness of rankings
Globalisation, assisted by deregulation, has created demand for international rankings. The demand originates from a range of stakeholders: students, employers, supranational institutions, scholars, funding agencies and governments. In addition, there is public interest in rankings for their own sake, whether it be the world's most liveable city or an international ranking of the quality of financial newspapers. At the same time as this expansion in demand, developments in technology, most noticeably the world wide web, have facilitated the supply of information to meet demand.

US: Generational gains stall, says new ACE report
The tradition of young adults in the United States achieving higher levels of education than previous generations "appears to have stalled", a new report by the American Council on Education concludes. Minorities in Higher Education 2008 Twenty-third Status Report also found that "for far too many people of colour, the percentage of young adults with some type of postsecondary degree compared with older adults has actually fallen".
US: States must harness research of all institutions
Applied research and development activities at regional colleges and universities bolster their primary educational mission as well as contributing to local and state-wide economic growth, writes Daniel Hurley, director of state relations and policy analysis for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. In a Higher Education Policy Brief, Tapping State College Research and Development Capacity in Support of State Economic Development, he advocates that the research and innovation capacity of all public colleges and universities be harnessed as states boost efforts to fund and stimulate research as part of an integrated economic development strategy.
US: Too many rungs on the ladder?
An aging professoriate, a swelling corps of part-time and non-tenure-line academics, and students qualifying and entering academia later in life are believed to be fuelling a dearth of young permanent faculty who have the time and opportunity to rise into higher education leadership positions, according to a new Issue Brief by the American College of Education's Center for Policy Analysis, Too Many Rungs on the Ladder? Faculty demographics and the future leadership of higher education. Among other things the study finds that only 3% of academics at four-year institutions aged 34 years or younger are working in tenure-track positions and the proportion only rises to 15% among faculty aged 35 to 44 years - and the figures for women and people of colour are even worse.
US: When criminals control the Ministry of Education
The connection between education and personal economic advantage drives a global market for higher education. But much of the world cannot create additional university capacity at a rate to match this demand. Diploma mills, businesses that sell bogus degrees to customers in search of easy credentials, comprise the dark response to these market forces. The recent demise of a sophisticated American diploma mill provides some insight into these abominations.
US: Degree mills
Degree mills are the theme of the latest edition of International Higher Education, the journal of the Boston College Center for International Higher Education, which also features articles on academic career structures, internationalisation, cross-border higher education, GATS and tertiary education developments in China, India, Malaysia and Afghanistan. Later this year, at the initiative of the Graduate School of Education at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, International Higher Education will be translated and published in Chinese.
AUSTRALIA: Plagiarism among foreign students
Plagiarism is an issue facing many universities. It is of particular concern in Australia, given the large number of overseas students studying in the country or offshore on Australian programmes such as in China and India, writes Helen Song-Turner of the School of Business, University of Ballarat, in the latest issue of Australian Universities Review. Students from various countries were interviewed to identify their views on plagiarism in a study that unearthed several reasons why students tend to plagiarise, including challenges of language, skill and respect for 'the foreign expert'. What emerges, Song-Turner reveals, "is a complex and at times confusing web of perceptions and attitudes towards plagiarism. These pose a significant set of challenges for foreign universities developing and delivering programmes in a range of markets, particularly in locations such as Australia, where the importance and value of attracting, supporting - and, indeed, understanding - foreign students, has tended to underpin many university marketing efforts". Hers and other articles, including a critique on university rankings, are available on the Australian Universities Review site.
US: Affirmative action in law school admissions
The Supreme Court has held repeatedly that race-based preferences in public university admissions are constitutional. But debates over the wisdom of affirmative action continue, write Jesse Rothstein of Princeton University and Albert H Yoon of the University of Toronto, in the abstract of an article titled Affirmative Action in Law School Admissions: What do racial preferences do? published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. "Opponents of these policies argue that preferences are detrimental to minority students - that by placing these students in environments that are too competitive, affirmative action hurts their academic and career outcomes," they write. The article examines the "mismatch" hypothesis in the context of law school admissions - and finds its flawed.
US: New Stanford study of dual-career academic couples
Dual-career issues are growing in importance in higher education in America. More than 70% of faculty are in dual-career relationships, and more than a third are partnered with another academic, according to a study just published by Stanford University's Clayman Institute for Gender Research. The publication, Dual-Career Academic Couples: What universities need to know, is based on a survey of full-time tenured and tenure-track academics at 13 leading US universities, as well as interviews with administrators at 18 universities. The lead author is Londa Schiebinger, director of the Clayman Institute and Professor of the History of Science. The report is freely available.
CHINA: Major higher education transformation underway
As eyes turn to China and the Olympic Games, a recent study by Canada's Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) has found that major transformation of higher education in the emerging power could impact on the global economy and global education structure. The policy brief Higher Educational Transformation in China and its Global Implications highlights recent statistics showing that the number of undergraduate and graduate students in China has increased by about 30% a year since 1999, as well as earlier studies estimating that in two years there will be many more PhD engineers and scientists in China than in the US and 90% of all PhD physical scientists and engineers in the world will be Asians living in Asia, most of them Chinese.
BRUSSELS: Report on reforming Europe's universities
Since the introduction of the Shanghai ranking of world universities it has been clear that European institutions are under-performing. A new report by the Brussels-based think tank Bruegel - titled Higher Aspirations: An agenda for reforming European universities and written by senior scholars from Belgium, the US and Spain - recommends gradual raising of spending on higher education by 1% of European Union GDP over the next 10 years to approach American funding levels, increasing university autonomy, fostering greater student and faculty mobility, improving success rates and developing competitive graduate schools.
US: New digest of sustainability in higher education
The new and freely-available annual digest of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, or AASHE, documents growth in campus sustainability efforts across the US and Canada. The 230-page report features more than 800 examples of higher education institutions working towards greater sustainability, and covers education, research, campus operations, administration and finance. According to an AASHE statement: "The Digest offers ample evidence of a broadening and deepening of campus sustainability efforts, with more institutions of all types getting involved and campuses undertaking more significant measures than ever before to improve their sustainability performance."
US: Exploring academic salaries globally
A small number of studies have attempted to compare faculty salaries internationally, but only a few have cast a wide geographic net and included countries of varied levels of national and economic development, write Iván Pacheco and Laura E Rumbley in the latest edition of International Higher Education. In 2007 the Boston College Center for International Higher Education launched an exploratory project attempting to do just that - collecting and comparing salary data (in World Bank PPP dollars) from 15 countries and one territory, including Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the UK, US and Palestine. The study found that overall average monthly salaries ranged from $1,182 in China to $6,038 in Canada. These findings produced an international average of $4,856 per month.
AUSTRALIA: New QA approaches for new learning forms?
So my title is: New Approaches to Quality and Standards for New Forms and Modes of Learning? There is a question mark at the end of the title. Whether new forms and modes of learning actually require new approaches to quality and standards is a basic question. Some would argue that quality is quality and standards are standards; so that if you assure quality and measure standards properly, new modes and forms of learning should not require new approaches.