01 July 2016 Register to receive our free newsletter by email each week
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World Round-up
Study claims humans killed mammoths, not climate change
Two recent studies into ancient animal extinction appear to diametrically contradict each other, after a new university study claimed it was humans, and not climate change, that caused the demise of mammoths, sabre-tooth tigers and other ancient species, reports RT.
Mass extinctions speed up evolution – Study
A computer science team at the University of Texas at Austin has found that robots evolve more quickly and efficiently after a virtual mass extinction modelled after real-life disasters such as the one that killed off the dinosaurs. Beyond its implications for artificial intelligence, the research supports the idea that mass extinctions actually speed up evolution by unleashing new creativity in adaptations, reports UT News.
Liberal academics fear growing censorship
The plight of China’s universities remains a far cry from the excesses of the Mao era. But the clampdown under Xi Jinping still represents a disheartening turn for those who had hoped a period of greater relaxation was on the horizon, writes Tom Phillips for the Guardian.
Top universities reserve places for rich foreign students
Leading universities set aside hundreds of exclusive clearing places for overseas students who can boost their coffers with fees of up to Ł20,000 (US$31,200) a year, writes Eleanor Harding for The Daily Mail.
President orders universities to take rankings seriously
President Pranab Mukherjee last week pulled up the country’s universities for their failure in making it to the list of the world’s top 200 higher education institutions, saying it was due to their “casual approach” towards international rankings, reports the Deccan Herald.
Huge gifts make rich universities richer
The richest universities keep getting richer, thanks in part to increasingly enormous gifts. According to data from US News & World Report, the average college endowment was US$355 million at the end of the fiscal year 2013. Some institutions, however, have much, much more, writes Emily Stewart for TheStreet.
Summit highlights universities’ impact on cities
The role of universities in driving economic growth is widely known and was canvassed at the recent African Universities summit. But something very valuable, yet often overlooked, is the pivotal role they play at the core of the economic infrastructure and activity of Africa’s cities and towns, writes Samantha Spooner for Mail & Guardian.
Plan to reduce vice-chancellors’ tenure finds resistance
An amendment in university rules through an ordinance is on the cards for decreasing the tenure of vice-chancellors of public sector universities from four years to two years while several prominent personalities from the country’s higher education circles have vowed to move court against the “planned move”, writes Hassaan Ahmed for Pakistan Today.
Fixer Christopher Pyne hires own education fixer
Education Minister Christopher Pyne has hired a “fixer” to talk to crossbench senators as the government prepares to bring its higher education reforms back before parliament, reports The Australian.
Winds of change sweep universities and student life
Once, university students were the driving force behind social change, and universities were the epicentre of democracy movements but these days students are more concerned about their so-called "specs" – or specifications, like qualifications and certificates deemed desirable by potential employers – than social issues, writes Choi He-suk for The Korea Herald/ANN.
Probe into 'cash mountain' in colleges
The Dáil's spending watchdog is to investigate an "anomalous" €160 million (US$178 million) cash mountain in Irish universities which is growing by €30 million a year, write Daniel McConnell and Katherine Donnelly for the Irish Independent.
Concern over drop in number of academics
One of Poland’s university associations is reporting that the number of academics at the country’s higher education institutions is in decline. This has been accompanied by falling student numbers at higher education institutions. Funding problems are being blamed for the drop, writes Jaroslaw Adamowski for Chemistry World.
Deans defend enrolling students with scant maths
Top educators have defended Australian universities' move away from requiring mathematics as a prerequisite for science, engineering and commerce degrees in which mathematical knowledge plays a key part, writes Tim Dodd for Australian Financial Review.
Universities struggling against US in Nobel quest
New analysis shows that US institutions are far outstripping their UK rivals in the number of Nobel Prizes received, despite the UK producing the second highest number of Nobel Laureates since the millennium, writes Keir Baker for Varsity.
Smartphones and internet aid student exam cheating
The internet and smartphones have made it easier for students to cheat in exams, a new report into academic misconduct at the University of Sydney has found, writes Cassandra Bedwell for ABC News.
Government seeks ways to widen student funding net
The Department of Higher Education and Training is looking at ways in which it can provide funding to students who come from families that earn too much to qualify for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme but not enough to finance tertiary studies, writes Bekezela Phakathi for BDLive.
University of Illinois to fire chancellor, rejects bonus
University of Illinois trustees plan to begin the process of firing Chancellor Phyllis Wise rather than accept her resignation and pay her a US$400,000 bonus she had negotiated. President Timothy Killeen instead plans to assign her to an advisory position reporting directly to him, writes David Mercer for Associated Press.
Elite universities outperformed on graduate earnings
There is no earnings advantage to attending a ‘sandstone university’ compared with less prestigious institutions, a major economic study has found. The latest Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey found graduates from the elite Group of Eight universities earn no more on average than those who attended regional universities and less than those attending other universities, writes Matthew Knott for The Sydney Morning Herald.
Home Office confirms move to crack down on visa fraud
International students in the UK will be banned from working while they are studying and will be forced to leave when their degree finishes in an attempt to crack down on visa fraud, the Home Office has confirmed, writes Lucy Sherriff for Huffington Post.
Ministry reverses foreign collaboration permissions order
Higher education institutions will not need cabinet nod for collaboration with foreign institutions, an order from the cabinet secretariat said. The latest order communicated to the Human Resource Development Ministry is the reversal of an earlier order from the cabinet secretariat which said every memorandum of understanding with a foreign institution would need to pass through the cabinet, writes Brajesh Kumar for Hindustan Times.
Universities barred from offering extra benefits
Universities are not allowed to lure students with unreasonable perks such as excessive scholarships or placement promises, the ministry of education announced recently in a notice regulating university recruitment, writes Zhao Xinying for China Daily.
Universities adopting 'flipped classroom' learning
Introducing free online courses, converting facilities to suit ‘flipped classroom’ learning, and exploring new pedagogies that leverage on mobile technology. These are some of the initiatives that Singapore universities are working on, as institutions around the world find new ways to accommodate students' changing learning habits, writes Calvin Yang for The Straits Times.
Chinese seek US college admission at any price
Jessica Zhang, a 21-year-old Chinese student from Jiangsu Province, says her English wasn't strong enough to fill in her US college admission form. So her parents paid three consultants US$4,500 to fill out the application, write her personal essay and compose teacher recommendation letters. She says she's unaware that her application could be considered fraudulent and even get her expelled, write Shen Lu and Katie Hunt for CNN.
Ashamed by president’s support for security bills
More than 70 professors and other faculty members at Kyoto’s Doshisha University say they are “ashamed” by comments from their president, Koji Murata, in support of a set of security bills at a Diet committee hearing last week, writes Tomohiro Osaki for The Japan Times.
Universities told to cap PhDs and check plagiarism
Universities may attract penalties, including a freeze of grants, if its teachers are found to be guiding more than eight PhD students at any given point in time as part of a drive to plug lacunae in research. The University Grants Commission will also ask all universities to use anti-plagiarism software to ensure that thesis papers reflect genuine research, writes Basant Kumar Mohanty for The Telegraph India.