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World Round-up
GHANA: Call for quality assurance in African HE
Professor Akilagpa Sawyerr, Secretary-General of the Association of African Universities, has called on higher education stakeholders to work seriously to ensure adequate quality assurance in higher education, reports Modern Ghana. With the establishment of more universities in Africa it was imperative to work seriously on quality assurance systems so that higher learning progressed, he said at a three-day validating meeting to discuss a strategies for executing African Rating Mechanisms for Higher Education and for moving the African Union higher education programme forward.
SOUTH AFRICA: Fee hike versus affordability tension
Fee increases and the lack of student funding at tertiary institutions are placing severe strain on disadvantaged students and the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, according to South Africa’s Minister of Education Naledi Pandor, reports Independent Online. "There is a tension between the legitimate belief that charging higher fees is a reasonable way of raising university income and the certain knowledge that charging fees will deter qualified students from disadvantaged backgrounds from going to university," she said.
UK: Farewell to women's studies
Women's studies, which came to prominence in the wake of the 1960s feminist movement, is to vanish from British universities as an undergraduate degree this summer, writes Nina Lakhani in the Sunday Independent. Dwindling interest in the subject means that the final 12 students will graduate with a BA in women's studies from London's Metropolitan University in July.
US: The ‘double hit’ on women’s salaries
Surveys abound showing that women in academe (and the rest of society) earn less than men. Likewise, theories abound for why this is the case, so many years after it ceased to be acceptable for deans (or other bosses) to automatically assume a woman could make do with less, writes Inside Higher Ed. A scholar at the University of Iowa, who has been mining national data, told the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association that the results indicate – even using the most sophisticated possible approach to take into consideration non-sexist reasons for pay differentials – that the pay gap remains, based on gender. While this cannot be definitively tied to s exism, there are not a lot of likely alternative explanations – and the study suggests that the salary gaps may be here to stay.
US: Online celebration of historically black colleges
The first digital collection of documents and materials chronicling the founding of America's historically black tertiary institutions is available online at contentdm.auctr.edu. "A digital collection celebrating the founding of the historically black college and university" includes more than 1,000 scanned photographs, manuscripts, letters and publications from 10 institutions, reports BlackNews.com. The project, funded by The Andrew W Mellon Foundation, represents the first collaborative effort by libraries at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to make a historical collection digitally available.
MALAYSIA: Market needs to dictate, says HE minister
Concerned about the large number of jobless graduates, Malaysia’s new Higher Education Ministry may limit the number of students enrolled in courses that do not fit market needs at public higher education institutions, reports The Star. Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said it would be necessary to ensure that courses offered were what the country needed, and it might be necessary to reduce the student numbers on “non-relevant courses”.
RUSSIA: Banned university stages blog protests
Protests were expected when last month authorities shut down St Petersburg's European University, one of the city's most respected higher education institutions. But the revolt unleashed by the closure may have exceeded authorities' worst expectations, reports RadioFreeEurope and RadioLiberty. Defiant students and professors have launched an all-out campaign to save the university using internet forums, blogs and videos to coordinate their efforts.
US: Population shift sends universities scrambling
Colleges and universities are anxiously taking steps to address a projected drop in the number of high school graduates in much of the nation starting next year and a dramatic change in the racial and ethnic makeup of the student population, a phenomenon expected to transform the country's higher education landscape, educators and analysts told The Washington Post.
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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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.
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: 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: 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: 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: 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.
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: 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.
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: 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: 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’.