ISSN 1756-297XIssue No: 0103 29 November 2009
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In this week's Features section, our correspondent considers US plans to increase the number of American students studying in China.

As Saudi Arabia moves to set up a coeducational university, Iran is segregating the s exes at its institutions. See the story in our News section.

An ultra-light electric car developed by Germany’s Institut für Werkstofftechnik und Kunststoffverarbeitung. Major auto manufacturers are teaming up with university researchers to use nanotechnology to improve their operation – see this week’s Business section. Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Rama.


University World News was the official media partner to the Unesco World Conference on higher education, held in Paris from 5-8 July.

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

IRAN: Gender segregation in universities
Wagdy Sawahel
While Iran is moving from co-education to segregation of the s exes in universities, Saudi Arabia is taking the other road by opening its first co-educational university, the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Copenhagen dispute over IP
Leah Germain
Proposals from China and India for the Copenhagen climate change conference that patent protection should be weakened for green inventions have generated significant concerns in universities, colleges and research centres.
Full report on the University World News site

EUROPE: Universities still lack full autonomy
Alan Osborn
European universities have less ability to manage their own affairs than is generally realised and less than is desirable, according to a new survey by the European University Association. The report covers 33 countries and finds that genuine autonomy is lacking in several critical sectors, above all in that of finance.
Full report on the University World News site

ISRAEL: Low in rankings but fourth in science
Helena Flusfeder
While Israel’s universities are relatively low in world rankings, the country currently ranks fourth in the world in terms of scientific activity after Switzerland, Sweden and Denmark, according to data compiled by the Council for Higher Education, based on a National Science Foundation report of 2008 and released at a recent conference at Bar-Ilan University.
Full report on the University World News site

INDONESIA: Military seeks help from top universities
David Jardine
In an attempt to boost their professionalism, Indonesia’s sometime notorious armed forces – the TNI – have agreed to cooperate with the Ministry of National Education. The ministry will direct TNI to top state universities that it hopes will aid the military in achieving its aims.
Full report on the University World News site

NEW ZEALAND: More competition in education
John Gerritsen
New Zealand’s universities would get more freedom but face increased competition from foreign institutions if the government takes up the controversial recommendations of a taskforce charged with finding ways to improve the country’s economy. In higher education, the taskforce report suggested an end to interest-free student loans, greater competition, but also greater autonomy and less bureaucracy. It also questioned the level of government subsidy provided to tertiary students, suggesting some students’ study was of little value to them or the nation.
Full report on the University World News site

UK: New additions to Commonwealth scholarships
Diane Spencer
The Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan is marking its 50th anniversary this academic year by increasing the number of countries that host students from member states. More than 26,000 students from all Commonwealth countries have held awards since the scheme’s inception 1959 and most have studied in the UK. Now, more British students will have the chance to take courses in other countries.
Full report on the University World News site

CHECHNYA: Gender imbalance in studying abroad
David Jobbins
Chechnya has emerged from two civil wars with almost-total destruction of its infrastructure and massive displacement of its people. A programme to prepare Chechen students for a university degree by sending them abroad has resulted in a heavy imbalance in favour of males.
Full report on the University World News site

UKRAINE: Radical new PhD programme
Mychailo Wynnyckyj
It is a little more than a year since the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy officially opened Ukraine’s first doctoral school, offering the country’s first three western-style PhD programmes – in mass communications, finance and public health administration. Now, students of these pioneering programmes have been joined by more doctoral candidates following two newly-launched courses in philosophy of literature and biology and biodiversity.
Full report on the University World News site

FINLAND: Give with one hand; take with the other
Ian R Dobson*
Changes in the way government provides funds to Finnish universities from 2010 are causing them a few unnecessary headaches. Universities will become responsible for monitoring their own cash flow and will be responsible for paying their own VAT, workers’ compensation insurance and the ‘unemployment tax surcharge’ that is levied on all employers. Naturally the universities expected to be compensated for all the expenses previously handled centrally in government ministries. But life was not meant to be easy!
Full report on the University World News site


EUROPE: Brussels’ outsourcing policies criticised
Alan Osborn
The European Court of Auditors has slammed the Brussels EU Commission for shortcomings in the management of a number of EU-funded programmes that were farmed out to private contractors from 2003 mainly because of staff shortages. The commission did not properly think through its plan to externalise the management of some EU-funded programmes in the areas of research, education, innovation, transport and health to special agencies, said the court.
Full report on the University World News site


EUROPE: Nanotechnology to improve electronic cars
Keith Nuthall
A €44 million (US$66 million) European research collaboration between universities, auto manufacturers and research institutes plans to develop tiny components to help electric vehicles improve their performance so they can better compete with models powered with liquid fuels. Vehicle manufacturers such as Fiat and Audi will work with the Vienna University of Technology, the BRNO University of Technology and others to complete the E3CAR or Energy efficient electrical car project.
Full report on the University World News site

EUROPE: EC – Have your say on nanotechnology
Alan Osborn
Feel strongly about nanotechnology as a force for either good or bad? The European Commission is offering anyone interested in nanosciences and nanotechnologies research to register their views on the code of conduct adopted in February 2008 and the formal recommendation drawn up by EU ministers in September that year.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: MBA still in demand despite recession
Leah Germain
International MBA organisations have released two surveys predicting a future for MBA graduates that is surprisingly optimistic, despite last year’s global economic collapse. The UK-based Association of MBAs and QS have produced individual reports highlighting the stability an MBA degree offers employees during times of market instability.
Full report on the University World News

EUROPE: Less hi-tech, more style please
Alan Osborn
A top official at the European Commission has signalled an important change in the EU’s attitude towards innovation that will highlight the role of creativity and design. The new approach could see a shift away from support for high-tech companies and towards new ‘creative clusters’ of design firms, business support services and progressive regions.
Full report on the University World News


US-CHINA: Global engagement and study abroad
Alan Ruby*
In his town hall meeting for Future Chinese Leaders in Shanghai last month, President Barack Obama announced a goal of 100,000 US students studying abroad in China. This is a significant increase on the 13,000 young Americans who did their “study abroad” stint in China in 2007-08.
Full report on the University World News site

UK: Unintended consequences of tuition fees
Lawrence Lockhart*
Britain introduced university tuition fees in 2006 and capped them initially at £3,000 (US$5,000) with student loans at a zero real rate of interest, repayable after graduation at 9% of income over £15,000, but cancelled if unpaid after 25 years. The package seemed enlightened but the system is regressive, it imposes intolerable financial burdens on most young graduates and it could break down, leaving mountains of debt for taxpayers to redeem.
Full report on the University World News site


US: The Business of Higher Education
In a recently published book, The Business of Higher Education, editors John C Knapp and David J Siegel pull together 35 essays by 44 contributors from academia and business into three volumes investigating the costs and benefits to public and private universiteis when they employ business models to improve cost-efficiency, marketing, hiring practices and customer service.
More on the University World News site

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

GLOBAL: Six days and five nights non-stop lecturing
Justyna Luty-Urbanek*
Between 9 and 14 December, Errol Tapiwa Muzawazi, a 25-year-old law student, will try to set a new world record by delivering a lecture on democracy – for 130 hours. The attempt will take place at the Jagiellonian University in Kracow in Poland but anyone can witness it by visiting during the lecture.
Full report on the University World News site

US: African rodent captures eye of science
A resilient rodent from Africa has begun charming scientists around the world, reports redOrbit. Resistant to cancer and aging better than Sean Connery, the remarkable (if somewhat unattractive) naked mole rat is proving to be a biological wonder and a new source of scientific inquiry.
More on the University World News site


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UK: Climate scientist steps down
The British scientist at the heart of a scandal over climate change research temporarily stepped down on Tuesday as director of a prominent research group amid an internal probe that follows the release of hacked emails involving him and other scientists, write Keith Johnson, Jeffrey Ball and Gautam Naik for The Wall Street Journal. The UK’s University of East Anglia said Professor Phil Jones had decided to step down as director of the Climatic Research Unit.
More on the University World News site

INDIA: Report charts higher education future
With more than 400 universities and over 20,000 colleges, student enrolment in India crossed 12.9 million in 2007-08, clocking a compounded annual growth rate of 6.2% since 1985-86, reports The Times of India. Participation of the private sector has increased, with about 63% of higher education institutions in the country being private unaided institutions – a big leap, considering that in 2001 the share of unaided private institutions was 42.6%.
More on the University World News site

UK: Falling behind in qualification race
The UK is being overtaken in the international race for a well-qualified workforce, a report from a lecturers’ union has said, reports BBC News. The University and College Union says that in terms of the proportion of young people in education, the UK is slipping into the “relegation zone”. It points to figures from the OECD that show the UK has been overtaken by countries such as Hungary and Portugal.
More on the University World News site

UK: Top scientists being lost to brain drain
Britain has lost its ability to attract the best scientists and its universities must pay academics more to reverse the ‘brain drain’, according to research by economists, writes Jon Swaine for The Telegraph. Twice as many physicists from a sample of the world’s elite left Britain after completing their first degree than 25 other leading scientific countries, the study found.
More on the University World News site

KOREA: Higher education going global
In a global age, Korean universities are naturally focusing on globalisation, writes Oh Se-jung, a professor of physics at Seoul National University, for the JoongAng Daily. Most universities say internationalisation is part of their central goal for development and that they are establishing international departments. Some select students who are fluent in foreign languages. They are also putting added effort into attracting foreign professors and students, and increasing the number of classes taught in English.
More on the University World News site

AZERBAIJAN: More support for students abroad
Azerbaijan’s Education Ministry is planning to increase funds for students who study abroad by 30%. In parallel, the number of foreign students studying in Azerbaijan has increased thanks to programs such as oil studies, reports Armenia: Higher Education Services.
More on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: National research network lights up
Despite concerns that the 1 December deadline would be too ambitious, the work on the R365 million (US$50 million) national backbone network of the South African National Research Network (Sanren) has been completed, reports IT Web. Just a day before the deadline the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) announced the fibre backbone of the project that will link South Africa and international research and educational institutions is up and running.
More on the University World News site

US: Standing up to threats
Academics’ commitment to free expression should not be put on hold because of the threat of violence, according to a joint statement issued last Monday by a coalition of academic and civil liberties groups, writes Scott Jaschik for Inside Higher Ed. The statement organised by the American Association of University Professors and National Coalition Against Censorship says “a number of recent incidents suggest that our long-standing commitment to the free exchange of ideas is in peril of falling victim to a spreading fear of violence”.
More on the University World News site

US: Best and brightest take a community college detour
Kira Cassels applied to 11 colleges and got in to every one, writes Daniel de Vise for the Washington Post. Over two arduous weeks last spring, she sat with her parents and weighed the costs and benefits of each programme until the list was narrowed to one: an honours track at the local community college. Cassels is one of a growing number of recession-wary high school graduates who are passing over top-drawer universities to become honour students on selective two-year programmes at community colleges, which allow students to complete half of their college education for about $8,000 then transfer to a prestigious four-year institution.
More on the University World News site

CHILE: Record number sit university entrance exam
Chile’s once-a-year university entrance examination determines future professional options for hundreds of thousands of students. More than 280,000 students signed up to take the Prueba de Selección Universitaria (PSU) test last week, which according to the Education Ministry is the largest number ever, writes Pamela Morales for The Santiago Times.
More on the University World News site

UK: Oxford and Cambridge pushed to recruit more widely
Alumni from the universities of Oxford and Cambridge still dominate Britain’s cultural and political establishments, making up more than 80% of the judiciary, nearly half of top journalists and 34% of senior government ministers, writes Ben Quinn for the Christian Science Monitor. The pre-eminence of ‘Oxbridge’ graduates is widely accepted. But the thorny issue of the disproportionate representation on campus of students from advantaged backgrounds has again been stirring, prompting calls to ensure that Britain’s leading universities reach out to a far broader range of top-notch students.
More on the University World News site

CHINA: University applications fall in Beijing
The number of Beijing students to take university entrance exams next June is expected to drop by 10,000 from last year, setting a record low for applications in the capital city, local media said on Wednesday, China Daily reports. According to a pre-application survey among high schools in Beijing, each district will contribute about 1,000 fewer students than last year, totalling 10,000.
More on the University World News site

AFGHANISTAN-CHINA: Afghan students study in China
Thirteen Afghani students are being funded to study for two years at Taiyuan University of Technology (TUT) in Northwest China's Shanxi province, Brendan Worrell reports for China Daily. The students, the first on a programme set up by Afghanistan’s Kabul University and the TUT, are funded by the Chinese Ministry of Education and Culture’s Hanban office. They receive free tuition, board and food, plus a monthly stipend while they study for a bachelor degree in Chinese.
More on the University World News site

TAIWAN: 60% white collar veto of Chinese degrees
Over 60% of salaried people in Taiwan expressed opposition to the Ministry of Education's plan to recognise the academic credentials issued by Chinese universities and colleges, according to findings of a survey conducted by the 1111 Job Bank, reports China Post.
More on the University World News site
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