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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.
AUSTRALIA: Who is accountable for what?
The university today is far different from that of the early 1990s and the work of academics has changed considerably, driven by the efficiency and accountability agenda. Often the cry for efficiency and accountability has been used as a mechanism for control, cost reductions and to drive policy agendas. In broad terms, management practices in tertiary education have shifted from a collegial to a corporate or commercial paradigm. A by-product has been a shift in power from academia to the hierarchy, with a managerial emphasis on deploying staff to meet strategic goals and cost effectiveness. In Australian Universities Review, John Kenny discusses the state of tertiary education in Australia, linked to an account of experiences at the University of Tasmania, to consider the cumulative effects of changes and to question whether the prevailing management is the most appropriate way forward.
CANADA: Universities in a climate of change
Although we are not experiencing intense hurricanes or brush fires, as a northern country, Canada is more sensitive to climate change than its southern neighbours. The 2.5 degrees centigrade increase in Canada's average temperature over the last 50 years has had major impacts: from diminishing ice caps to shrinking lakes to a forestry industry decimated by pine beetle infestation. According to climate scientist James Hansen, of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, we only have 10 years or approximately 3,000 days before our ability to affect climate change becomes irreversible. In this context, urgent action is critical and everyone must contribute, especially universities, argue architect Brian Wakelin and environmental scientist Kathy Wardle in the latest edition of Academic Matters.
AUSTRALIA: Sustainability bandwagon is unsustainable
I am not averse to following fashions, writes Thomas Barlow in Australasian Science, and he continues: In the 1970s I had my yo-yos and wore corduroy; in the 1980s I kept time with a Swatch Watch and solved the Rubik's Cube; in the 1990s I walked around in Camper shoes and read a Michael Crichton novel; and today I own an iPod and have a pair of glasses with no rims. I am no Diogenes. Far be it from me to deride faddist behaviour, being as susceptible to social trends as the next person, but I feel compelled to voice misgivings about the current national obsession with `sustainability'.
UK: Standards in decline at many universities
Academic standards are in decline in many British universities, comments Professor Geoffrey Alderman, professor of politics and contemporary history at the University of Buckingham, in The Times. Students who would once have been failed their degrees pass, and students who would once have been awarded respectable lower seconds are now awarded upper seconds and even firsts. He blames an "insidious managerial culture obsessed with league tables and newspaper rankings", under-funding, and too much emphasis on public image and 'customer satisfaction'.
US: New SAT test not much better than old one
In 2005 the College Board unveiled the most dramatic changes in years in the SAT, reports Scott Jaschik in Inside Higher Ed. The dreaded analogies were removed. Mathematics questions were updated. A writing section was added, resulting in the test getting longer. Last week the College Board released 'validity studies' in which, for the first time, results on the new SAT were correlated with first-year grades earned by students who enrolled at four-year colleges. College Board leaders hailed the results as great news. "But the reports themselves suggested that the SAT's strengths and weaknesses were not much different from before the big changes," Jaschik writes. The validity studies are available on the College Board website.
US: New study on research-related ITs
A new EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research study, by Dr Marc C Sheehan, explores higher education's involvement in five areas of research-related information technologies - high-performance computing resources, cyber-infrastructure applications and tools, data storage and management resources, advanced network infrastructure resources, and resources for collaboration within virtual communities. The report, titled Higher Education IT and Cyber-infrastructure: Integrating technologies for scholarship, is publicly available.
US: Asian American higher education success a 'myth'
When 'too good to be true' fails to be either good or true, long term repercussions can be devastating and pervasive, writes the College Board about a new report that challenges long-held beliefs about Asian American and Pacific Islander students' academic success. Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders - Facts, not Fiction: Setting the record straight, published in collaboration with the National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education, details "why false assumptions can lead to misinformed policy and practice that can be harmful to Asian American and Pacific Islander students".
US: Navigating conflict between science and policymakers
Drawing on his experience as a biologist, president emeritus of Stanford University and former editor-in-chief of Science magazine, Donald Kennedy probes conflict between the conduct of science and influences of (a security-focussed, neo-conservative) government, in a paper published by the Center for Studies in Higher Education at the University of California, Berkeley. In "Science and its discontents: An evolutionary tale", Kennedy discusses three current conflicts: new security and secrecy regimes that seek control of science; religiously derived moral viewpoints that aim to limit scientific research; and the shaping and censoring of scientific findings for political gain. The full paper is available on the CSHE website.
SOUTH AFRICA: Context counts in Chinese higher education
A recent trip to China, to learn about Chinese higher education institutions and explore the potential for research collaborations and partnerships, suggested important lessons for South Africa's higher education system. The most striking feature of China's universities is how they are structured to meet the needs of their context. Of course, they do borrow from the comparative experiences of other countries. But unlike higher education leaders and policy wonks in South Africa, who slavishly follow the latest reforms in the US and the UK, Chinese higher education authorities adapt other experiences to their own context, writes Professor Adam Habib, a deputy vice-chancellor of the University of Johannesburg, in Business Day.
UK: Graduate trainee schemes in higher education
While the leadership and management of higher education institutions have become a subject for increased research and discussion, it is a concern that most of the sector has made little progress in ensuring its ability to recruit and develop the next generation of senior managers and leaders.
How many commercial organisations would opt to meet their challenges without a well-structured, well-publicised recruitment programme, hoping instead to fill vacancies at all levels from whatever pool of applicants is available?
KENYA: World class research needed
Every poor country wants a national airline, writes Professor Mammo Muchie in Business Daily Africa, but rarely do powerful people ruling these countries think of establishing world-class research universities.
US: Professionalise or perish
Universities must radically improve the quality of their teaching, otherwise academia will be increasingly controlled by bureaucrats, warns a leading Californian professor. In a paper, No college student left behind? prepared for the Center for Studies in Higher Education, Steven Brint, professor of sociology at the University of California Riverside, argues that institutions are being challenged by the "accountability movement" which grew out of the 2006 Spellings Commission. US Education Secretary Margaret Spellings' report on the future of higher education was highly critical of the performance of America's colleges and universities.
PAKISTAN: Death of academia
Academia in Pakistan is dead. We may have more colleges and universities today, and still more are in the pipeline, and they may throw out bigger numbers of graduates, but none of this gives us the essence of higher education, or what it means, says Dr Rasul Baksh Rais in the Daily Times.
AUSTRALIA: Internationalising the curriculum
Curriculum internationalisation is a strategy adopted by many universities as they prepare their graduates for employment in the global economy, write Glenda Crosling, Ron Edwards and Bill Schroder in the Journal of higher education policy and management. In a case study of organisational change involved in attempts by Monash University to implement curriculum internationalisation in six disciplines in the Faculty of Business and Economics - which encompasses five Australian and two offshore campuses and three families of degrees - they found that while the multi-campus structure presents an opportunity, a challenge is the number and geographic dispersion of lecturers along with differing academic cultures. "We identify significant staff and faculty issues requiring consideration in the change that accompanies curriculum development, such as the powerful effect of the traditional notion of academic autonomy, and the need for continued resources to support the changes".
EUROPE: Report on creativity in higher education
Contemporary society is characterised by rapid change in all spheres of life, and creativity has been identified as a key factor in tackling challenges caused by change as well as a driving force towards knowledge creation and socio-economic advances. Scholars have been studying change in recent years, yet little attention has been paid in Europe to how creativity and innovation can be enhanced within and by academe. A 2006-07 report from European University Association, Creativity in higher education, aims to contribute to the development of the European knowledge society by identifying good practices and providing universities and their major external stakeholders with recommendations on how to foster creativity.
CHINA: Private universities enrol millions
As China has moved rapidly to mass higher education since its groundbreaking 1999 decision on expansion, private universities have come to account for 6.6% of student enrolments, or about 1.34 million of the 20.2 million students enrolled in formal higher education in 2006, write Professor Ruth Hayhoe of the University of Toronto and Professor Jing Lin of the University of Maryland in the spring edition of International Higher Education, the journal of the Boston College Centre for International Higher Education. Major public universities have also contributed, not only by expanding their regular enrolments but also by setting up second-tier colleges - income-generating extensions that benefit from the university's self-accrediting status and its qualified faculty. These effective private institutions have enrolments of 1.47 million students, around 7.3% of the total.
US: Higher education containment survey published
US universities and colleges "are witnessing measurable success in identifying and implementing cost containment strategies in order to reduce operating costs," reports a study by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, or AASCU, and SunGard Higher Education. Institutions rank cost containment among their top priorities, according to the survey of 114 universities and colleges. It identifies eight avenues of cost containment and reports that institutions mostly rely on three distinct areas - facilities and infrastructure (87%), business services and processes (83%) and academic programming (82%).
US: New report on race-based gaps in graduation rates
While access to higher education by students from minority groups in America has improved over the years, not enough is being done by many institutions to ensure success once they arrive on campus, says a new report by the independent think-tank Education Sector. This has resulted in graduation rates for black students that are significantly lower than for whites. At many institutions "the success of undergraduates, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, is not the priority it should be," according to Graduation rate watch: Making minority student success a priority. But the story is very different at many colleges and universities who have put support systems in place, and who have been able to raise graduation rates for black students - in some cases higher than those of white students. One example is Florida State University, where the Center for Academic Retention and Enhancement has helped to achieve a graduation rate that is slightly higher for black than for white students.
CANADA: An academic abroad, in Korea
The global scope of scientific discovery suggests that academic life is the same the world over, writes York University associate professor Thomas R Klassen in the latest edition of the Canadian journal Academic Matters. In an age when university faculty regularly communicate and collaborate with colleagues in other countries, publish in the same journals and might teach exchange students from any number of continents, it is easy to believe that universities are uniform in all developed nations. However, a year spent on research leave at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, shattered this notion.
AUSTRALIA: Science's hard sell
Recent studies have raised concerns over public science illiteracy in the shadow of the upcoming US elections in November. When the American government flexes political muscle, the world is often squeezed into economic and social reform. And if the US and the global public are not more scientifically aware in this, the Age of Science, how can they apply pressure on aspiring or reigning governments to make policy based on sound scientific thinking? The solution may seem simple. Scientists should sell science. Yet how can scientists better convince the public of science's value? A critical limiting factor is language. Most scientists are unable to broker knowledge in a clear, understandable fashion to the person on the street. A major reason for this stems from science education itself. But there is a deeper force driving it. Because of research-geared specialisation and an ever-expanding body of knowledge, scientific disciplines are becoming almost submerged in their own rising tide of jargon-rich information.
US: American Higher Education Transformed, 1940-2005
It has been a memorable and often tumultuous half-century for American higher education, writes Johns Hopkins University Press about its new offering American Higher Education Transformed, 1940-2005: Documenting the National Discourse, by Professors Wilson Smith and Thomas Bender. This sequel to Richard Hofstadter and Wilson Smith's classic anthology American Higher Education: A Documentary History presents, in a 544-page volume, 172 key edited documents that record the transformation of higher education over 60 years.
AUSTRALIA: Social inclusion for higher education
Although there are many university researchers and research units around the world that investigate social inclusion, it has not until now been a subject of university action. This is because social inclusion concentrates on or at least starts with the most marginalised from society: the abused, homeless, people engaged in the criminal justice system, the unemployed and those with an addiction, disability or poor health. These people are likely to have had little formal schooling as well as poor literacy, numeracy and study skills, and thus most are poorly prepared for higher education.