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World Round-up
CANADA
CANADA: Online Facebook 'scapegoat' hailed
Applause and cheers greeted first-year Ryerson student Chris Avenir last week as he stepped out of the engineering building. He had just contested an academic misconduct charge and possible expulsion for his participation in a Facebook study group. But Avenir, 18, who helped to run the chemistry group, will have to wait a week before he finds out if he has a reason to celebrate, reports The Star. The faculty appeal committee has five working days to decide what the penalty should be – from failing the assignment or the course, to being expelled from the university.
CANADA
CANADA: Debate on sanctions for internet antics
Students who behave badly online are at the centre of an emerging debate on Canadian campuses as some consider whether to revamp their codes of conduct to impose academic sanctions for internet antics, reports the National Post. Several universities, including Ryerson University in Toronto, Bishop's University in Sherbrooke and Trent University in Peterborough, have looked at rewriting their codes of conduct to discipline students for activities on social networking sites such as Facebook.
MALAYSIA
MALAYSIA: Foreign student numbers soar
The number of foreign students in peninsular Malaysia has risen more than 30%, which augurs well for the country’s aim of becoming a regional hub of educational excellence, reports The Star. A total of 65,000 foreign students enrolled in international schools and both private and public institutions of higher education last year, compared with 48,000 in 2006.
KENYA
KENYA: Varsity charters to be revoked, warns minister
The government might be forced to revoke the charters of certain public and private universities that do not conform to required academic standards, reports The Daily Nation. Minister for Education, Professor Sam Ongeri, warned that undercover inspectors would be dispatched to institutions to establish their level of conformity with standards.
RWANDA
Rwanda: Students criticise loan scheme procedure
The procedure to identify needy students to benefit from the government's loan scheme for higher education has come under criticism from students, reports The New Times. Some unsuccessful loan applicants have complained that the Students Financing Agency for Rwanda’s selection process is inefficient and has excluded genuinely poor students.
INDIA
INDIA: Research in universities on a decline
Research work in universities show a declining trend although there is an overall increase in such activities, especially by scientific research institutes, reports The Hindu. Minister of State for Human Resources Development D Purandeswari said there was an increase in research activities in the country as research workers have risen from 17,898 in 2004-05 to 18,730 in 2005-06. But the number of PhDs from universities are a matter of concern and efforts are on to strengthen linkages between universities and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research.
PAKISTAN
PAKISTAN: Commission to set up research network
The Higher Education Commission is to establish a high-speed National Research and Research Education Network (NREN) for universities and other academic sectors, reports The Post. An HEC spokesman said NREN would provide students, faculty members and researchers with a fully integrated communication infrastructure using advanced information and communication technology which will encourage collaborative research, knowledge resources sharing and distance learning.
UNITED KINGDOM
UK: Cautious welcome to university expansion
The government's plan to create 20 new higher education centres has received a cautious welcome from students and lecturers, reports Anthea Lipsett in the Education Guardian. The universities secretary, John Denham, has invited towns and cities to bid for new university campuses and centres of higher education, after launching a debate over the future of the sector. Students and academics have cautiously welcomed the scheme, A new university challenge.
NEW ZEALAND
NEW ZEALAND: Top brains warn of research 'catastrophe'
New Zealand's lack of funding for basic research is a "slow-burning catastrophe" that is contributing to the brain drain, a group of the country's top thinkers has warned, reports the New Zealand Herald. In an open letter to Science Minister Pete Hodgson, 460 of New Zealand's leading scientists and academics urged government to treble the Marsden Fund, New Zealand's core basic research fund.
JAPAN
JAPAN: Over-enrolling universities to lose fees
To discourage the over-enrolment of students by national universities, the Education, Science and Technology Ministry will start forfeiting some of the additional tuition fees generated by the practice, reports The Yomiuri Shimbun. Increasing numbers of national universities have been accepting new students beyond the limits of their quotas, causing concern that this is having an adverse effect on the quality of education, officials said.
SOUTH KOREA
SOUTH KOREA: University cuts weak research profs
Six professors at Korea’s Advanced Institute of Science and Technology have failed to have their jobs renewed because of poor research performance, reports The Korea Times – the first terminations for this reason in a university system where a professorship has been considered a job for life. The institute will offer a one-year grace period to the academics so that they can find other jobs.
INDIA
INDIA: Foreign distance education might be regulated
The government is considering a proposal to set up an independent statutory body to regulate distance and online education and entry of foreign distance education providers, reports The Economic Times. The proposal is at an advanced stage of consideration, according to the Minister of State for Human Resource Development, D Purandeshwari.
UNITED STATES
US: From Bay area to Red Sea
Two prominent California universities have announced lucrative five-year contracts to recruit faculty for and undertake collaborative research with an as-yet unopened Saudi Arabian university. The University of California at Berkeley is set to receive $28 million and Stanford University $25 million under the five-year agreements with King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, a graduate research university on the Red Sea expected to open in 2009 with a multi-billion dollar endowment, writes Insider Higher Ed.
NIGERIA
Nigeria: Pay striking lecturers – and face sanctions
The federal government has warned that it will deal with vice-chancellors who decide to pay salaries of members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) who are on strike, reports This Day. Minister of Education Dr Aja Nwachukwu said it was embarrassing that members of the ASUU were bent on continuing with their strike despite ongoing negotiations with the government.
UNITED KINGDOM
UK: Wales hit by graduate brain drain
Wales is experiencing an alarming brain drain, with more than half of its graduates leaving to work elsewhere, a new report has revealed. According to the Western Mail, Wales retains fewer of its first degree graduates than any other UK nation, posing huge problems for employers in areas including maths and marketing.
AUSTRALIA
AUSTRALIA: PM says university crisis is Howard's legacy
Universities are in crisis after the Howard years and their finances need to be boosted to ensure a productive future, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has said, reports The Age. And Education Minister Julia Gillard, while not directly saying that universities would be given more public money, promised that universities can "look forward to a productive conversation with the Government about overcoming the financial burden" they have been under.
AUSTRALIA
AUSTRALIA: Sex work helps pay for university
Hundreds of university students in Victoria have turned to prostitution to pay their way through higher education, The Sunday Age reports. Up to 40% of female sex workers in Melbourne's brothels are attending the city's eight universities and other colleges. Many of the women cite the costs of course fees, increased rent and a rise in the general cost of living for their decision to join the ‘oldest profession’.
EGYPT
EGYPT: 2,500 students protest Islamist military trial
More than 2,500 students, mostly followers of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, demonstrated at two universities in Egypt on 24 February – the latest in months of protests against the government's campaign to try 40 of the group's leaders and financiers in front of a military court on charges of money laundering and terrorism – reports the International Herald Tribune.
VENEZUELA
VENEZUELA: New system for student admissions
A new university admissions system will be implemented that takes into account socio- economic status and residency as well as merit, Venezuela’s Higher Education Minister Luis Acuna has said, reports Bloomberg. The new system is designed to improve access to higher education – but some professors fear it is a political move to control universities.
UGANDA
UGANDA: All university staff to lose permanent jobs
The Ministry of Education has started drafting a policy document to phase out permanent jobs at all public universities to improve staff performance and efficiency, reports The Monitor. All employees, including academics, would instead be hired on temporary basis, according to Minister for Higher Education Gabriel Opio.
SOUTH AFRICA
SOUTH AFRICA: Racist university video sparks outrage
A video of white South African university students feeding black campus cleaners soup they had urinated in has caused outrage in a country scarred by decades of apartheid, reports Michael Georgy for Reuters. University classes were cancelled and staff and students protested last Wednesday, demanding action against the four men.
KENYA
Kenya: Queries over UK ‘top university’ degrees
Parents, guardians and self-sponsored students in Kenya could be losing millions of shillings in fees and other charges in the belief that they will get certificates from two famous UK universities – Cambridge and Oxford – through the Digital Advisory Learning Centre. The centre, which has eight campuses across the country with a high concentration in Nairobi, claims to offer diploma and degree certification from the two universities but the reality is different, report Business Daily.
UNITED KINGDOM
UK: Disadvantaged students ‘catch up’ at university
Students with lower A-level grades from some of the country's poorest performing schools do just as well as high flyers from the independent or selective sector in their degrees, according to ground-breaking new research, writes Richard Garner in The Independent. The findings have been seized on as vindication by campaigners who argue that universities should embrace positive discrimination to help candidates from struggling comprehensives.
CANADA
CANADA: Campus text message alerts for crises
On the sprawling University of British Columbia campus in Vancouver, students are offered a chance to win a free iPod if they sign up for a new text-messaging emergency alert system the school bought in the aftermath of deadly shootings on North American campuses, writes Janice Tibbetts in The Province. North American universities and colleges, in the wake of the mass murder last spring at Virginia Tech, have been scrambling en masse to beef up their emergency planning, buying the text-messaging technology, outdoor speaker systems and electronic billboards so they can to notify students of an immediate danger.
CANADA
CANADA: Graduate scholarship targets superstars
The Harper government is putting its imprint on higher education, pulling the plug on a foundation closely associated with former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and establishing a new, marquee graduate scholarship programme aimed at attracting young academic superstars to Canadian campuses. Elizabeth Church reports in the Globe and Mail that the new graduate programme, named after former Governor General Georges Vanier, will give 500 PhD students from Canada and abroad $50,000 annually for up to three years.