ISSN 1756-297XIssue No: 0114 07 March 2010
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Student protesters plan to disrupt a meeting of European education ministers in Vienna this week. See our reports in the news and feature sections.
Australian Education Minister Julia Gillard, who has said universities will be required to publish more information. See our report in the news section.
Two former partners are now vying with each other to produce their own university rankings. See our report in the news section.


University World News was the official media partner to the Unesco World Conference on higher education, held in Paris from 5-8 July 2009.


NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

MALAYSIA: Terror-accused students remain in detention
Tunde Fatunde
The Geneva-based World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) has protested to the Malaysian government over the arrest in January of 50 people at the International Islamic University near the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur. They are believed to include at least two students from Nigeria and others from Ghana, Kenya, Syria and the Sudan. Although 38 of those arrested were later released, 12 remain in custody and were accused of having links with Al-Qaeda. Two of the Nigerian students are likely to be deported - another incident involving students and religious extremism that is causing the Nigerian authorities concern.
Full report on the University World News site

CHINA: Lax rules aid academic misconduct
The perception of academic autonomy and freedom in China has been distorted with many cases of misconduct reported, writes Xinglong Cao in our Features section this week. Cao is an assistant associate professor in the school of law at the City College of Zhejiang University in Hangzhou. He says misuses of academic powers for illegitimate benefits such as money, honour and even s ex have occurred yet only a small fraction has ever been officially verified or action taken.
Full report in Features on the University World News site

GLOBAL: First shots fired in ranking war
David Jobbins
The parting of the ways between Times Higher Education and QS, its international league table number-cruncher for the past seven years, was bound to cause ripples when it was announced late last year. The two former partners are now vying with each other to capture hearts and minds for their diverging methodologies as they gear up for the 2010 rankings cycle.
Full report on the University World News site

RANKINGS 2: North America leaves Europe and Asia behind
Rebecca Warden
North American academics are far more willing to share information and publish it online than their European equivalents. This is one of the factors contributing to the continuing dominance of North American universities in the latest edition of the Web Ranking of World Universities published by the Spanish National Research Council's Cybermetrics Lab.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Increase access and affordability: task force
American Vice President Joe Biden released the annual report of the White House Task Force on the Middle Class last month. The report said that among the most effective means of helping American families secure economic stability was increasing access and affordability to higher education.
Full report on the University World News site

CHINA-US: PhD students stay on
Sarah King Head
More than nine in every 10 students from China who gained a doctorate in the United States in 2002 were still in the country in 2007, the highest percentage from any foreign nation. This compares with 62% of all foreign-born PhD recipients for that year, says a new report.
Full report on the University World News site

EUROPE: Student protests at Bologna’s 10th year
Students in countries across Europe are continuing their protests against implementation of the Bologna process as the programme reaches its 10th anniversary. But students and student representatives across the continent claim they are also trying to make the process work by providing their views on how education can better meet students’ needs. A special report on Bologna by our Greece correspondent Makki Marseilles is also published this week in the Features section.
Full report on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Universities told to reveal all
Geoff Maslen
Universities across Australia will be required to reveal more details than ever before about the way they operate. For the first time, information about each institution, its courses, student to staff ratios, graduate outcomes, fee levels and quality of teaching will be available on a government ‘My University’ website. The website will be operational by 2012 when the government will also remove limits on the number of government-funded places universities can offer – a move expected to create a highly competitive market for top students.
Full report on the University World News site
See also AUSTRALIA: Demystifying the university by Professor Marcia Devlin in the Features section

EUROPE: Give doctorates a wider role
Alan Osborn
It is time doctorates were seen as a qualification for all kinds of jobs in the modern world and not just as a ticket for an academic career, says the League of European Research Universities. A new league paper says the doctorate has evolved into a qualification for people who are “highly creative, critical, autonomous, intellectual risk-takers who push the boundaries of knowledge and innovation whatever their employment destination may be”.
Full report on the University World News site

RUSSIA: Student enrolments plummet
Eugene Vorotnikov*
Russian higher education is experiencing a demographic crisis that could see the number of students fall from the current 7.5 million to four million over the next few years. A report released by Minister of Education Andrei Fursenko says the problem is not only in the quantity but also in the quality of students.
Full report on the University World News site

FINLAND: Strike one and you’re out
Ian R Dobson*
Less than three months after Finland’s new Universities Act came into force, impasses between universities and unions are heading towards strike action. Three unions represent all levels of university staff. If it goes ahead, the strike will be the first in the sector since 1986, at which time about half of support staff withdrew their labour.
Full report on the University World News site


EUROPE: Call to back e-library
Keith Nuthall
Member states of the European Union have been attacked by their parliamentary representatives for lukewarm support of the 'Europeana’ online library, museum and archive.
Full report on the University World News site

GULF STATES-EU: Bi-regional partnerships network
Wagdy Sawahel
The six-member Gulf Cooperation Council, with Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and the 22 member states of the European Union will establish a science and technology international cooperation network to promote bi-regional partnerships.
Full report on the University World News site

NORWAY: Basic physics evaluated
Jan Petter Myklebust
An international panel of distinguished physicists has examined 48 research groups involved with basic physics at Norwegian universities and research institutions. Five have been graded as excellent and some are world-leading. The panel believes Norway is now in a financial position to contribute more actively to the global long-term strategic development of basic physics with up to 160 new physicist positions created at a cost of NOK120 million (US$20.3 million).
Full report on the University World News site

DENMARK: Long-time universities’ minister loses job
In a major reshuffle of government ministerial posts last week, former Science Minister Helge Sander lost his job which included responsibility for the country’s universities. The University of Copenhagen's University Post reported that Sander had been replaced by Charlotte Sahl-Madsen, a Conservative Party member who chairs the board of a corporate-sponsored innovation fund within industrial company Danfoss.
Full report on the University World News site

SWEDEN: Lund to employ up to 400 new researchers
Jan Petter Myklebust
Lund University in the south of Sweden will use a huge accumulated surplus to employ up to 400 new researchers and teachers this year. The surplus amounted to SEK451 million (US$63 million) at the end of 2009 and it will be spent on expanding staff, recruiting 1,000 additional students, renovating buildings and investing in research infrastructure.
Full report on the University World News site


Australia: Keeping your cool pays off
Leah Germain
New research by the Melbourne Business School will provide members of the global business community with the resources they need to move up the corporate ladder and acquire positions of leadership. Researchers have coined the phrase Psychological Flexibility or PF to describe the ability to “divorce yourself from your emotions” as a key business tactic.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Innovative website helps with study abroad
Leah Germain
An internet-based service informing students how best to live and study abroad has released a ‘10 Step Guide’ of advice, which universities could offer their foreign scholars. The founders of Boston-based were inspired by the study abroad experience of childhood friends who realised the benefits of travelling and learning abroad while completing their university degree.
Full report on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Higher education service goes global
Leah Germain
An Australian service helping students prepare for joining higher education is expanding worldwide. Western Australia-based Navitas says launches in the US this year are the shape of things to come.
Full report on the University World News site


CHINA: Lax rules aid academic misconduct
Xinglong Cao*
In the 12 months to June last year, allegations of scientific misconduct by a research group at Zhejiang University and led by an “academician” of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, triggered broad discussion in China, a discussion that can still be traced on the internet today, more than a year later.
Full report on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: De-mystifying the university
Marcia Devlin*
Following on from the positive response of the Australian public to the federal government’s My School web site, the My University web site was inevitable. Parents are delighted with the accessibility of the information, the simplicity of the data and the ease with which comparisons can be made through the My School site. A My University site will likewise help de-mystify university for those with little familiarity with the sector and this could contribute to encouraging those who might be put off by ‘the unknown’ to re-look at university as an option.
Full report on the University World News site

GREECE: Bologna under attack
Makki Marseilles
Education Ministers from 46 countries in Europe will meet in Vienna this week to mark the 10th anniversary of the Bologna Agreement, which proposed a European Higher Education Area where students and graduates could move freely between countries using prior qualifications in one country as acceptable entry requirements for further study in another.
Full report on the University World News site


AUSTRALIA: Academics and the media
Graeme Orr*
Surprisingly little has been written about academia’s relationship with the media in Australia. The exception has been recent interest in defining and naming ‘public intellectuals’ – people who can move easily between topics, drawing on a variety of philosophical positions or contextual understandings. Public intellectuals are exalted, but rare, birds. But they are just the tip of the iceberg. Academics can move between three models of media engagement.
More on the University World News site
Paper in the journal Australian Universities’ Review

GLOBAL: Higher education budgets and the recession
John Aubrey Douglass
In the midst of the global recession, how have national governments around the world viewed the role of higher education in their evolving strategies for economic recovery? Demand for higher education generally goes up during economic downturns. Which nations have proactively protected funding for universities and colleges to help maintain access, to help retrain workers and to mitigate unemployment rates? And which nations have simply made large funding cuts for higher education in light of the severe downturn in tax revenues?
More on the University World News site
Paper from the Center for Studies in Higher Education, Berkeley

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

CANADA: Invasion of the campus bunnies
Cayley Dobie
The problems being caused by Thumper and his friends at the University of Victoria in British Columbia may soon abate if administrators can just cut through some red tape. In trying to deal with up to 1,500 rabbits on campus, they recently suffered a setback in attempts to lower the population. The problem has spawned a plethora of forms related to the ethical treatment of animals.
Full report on the University World News site


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CHILE: Six university officials killed in quake crash
Six Chilean university administrators on a disaster surveillance mission were killed last Monday after their twin-engine aircraft crashed in a wooded area north of Concepción, the city near the epicentre of the devastating 27 February earthquake, according to university and news reports, writes Marion Lloyd for The Chronicle of Higher Education.
More on the University World News site

GLOBAL: North America’s postgraduate appeal wanes
Europe is winning the battle to be the most popular region for postgraduate study, writes Michael Prest for The Independent. According to preliminary 2009 statistics compiled by QS, the private provider of higher education information services, North America has continued to slide in the esteem of prospective postgraduates. There has also been a noticeable increase in proportions studying international relations, communications and law, mainly at the expense of finance, accounting, management and economics subjects.
More on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Scientists take steps to defend climate work
For months, climate scientists have taken a vicious beating in the media and on the internet, accused of hiding data, covering up errors and suppressing alternate views, writes John M Broder for The New York Times. Their response until now has been largely to assert the legitimacy of the vast body of climate science and to mock their critics as cranks and know-nothings. But the volume of criticism and the depth of doubt have only grown, and many scientists now realise they are facing a crisis of public confidence and have to fight back.
More on the University World News site

PALESTINE: Syndicate announces class suspension
The Syndicate of Palestinian Universities Union announced the suspension of classes in West Bank institutions last Monday, because of what it called a lack of response to employees’ demands by the Palestinian Council for Higher Education, reports Ma’an news agency. The strike was the third in a week, following two student-led strikes over a Palestinian Authority Ministry of Education decision to convert most of its tuition grants into loans.
More on the University World News site

US: Students march against funding cuts and fee hikes
In an unprecedented day of national protest across all sectors of education, the epicentre proved to be Berkeley – where the seeds of student activism were sown more than 40 years ago, writes Jack Stripling for Inside Higher Ed. With the smell of burning sage and the occasional hint of weed in the air, an impassioned throng of students from the University of California’s Berkeley campus marched to protest budget cuts and tuition hikes they say are crippling one of the nation’s premier public institutions.
More on the University World News site

US: Taxes support for-profit firms acquiring colleges
America’s ITT Educational Services Inc paid US$20.8 million for debt-ridden Daniel Webster College last June, writes Daniel Golden for Bloomberg. In return, the company obtained an academic credential that may generate a taxpayer-funded bonanza worth as much as $1 billion.
More on the University World News site

US: Layoffs without ‘financial exigency’
One of the ultimate protections of being a tenured faculty member in the US has been being immune from layoff in all but the most extraordinary circumstances, writes Scott Jaschik for Inside Higher Ed. Under policies issued by the American Association of University Professors and largely accepted by higher education leaders, only institutions that declare ‘financial exigency’ – a state so dire that it “threatens the survival of the institution as a whole” – can eliminate the jobs of tenured academics.
More on the University World News site

US: Business the top college major for women
Business is the number one college major for women and men in America, according to a recent analysis by the AAUW (formerly the American Association of University Women) of the Department of Education’s Condition of Education 2009 report, writes Ruchika Tulshyan for Forbes. Business degrees now comprise 18% of all degrees awarded to women, nearly twice as high as the second most popular major, health professions and clinical sciences.
More on the University World News site

CHINA: Anger over college entrance bonus point abuses
An ongoing public survey has shown that almost 80% of Chinese want the abolition of a bonus points policy for some candidates taking the annual National College Entrance Examination, or NCEE, the official Xinhua news agency reports. The controversial policy allows candidates to receive additional points if they are from an ethnic minority or are outstanding students academically or athletically.
More on the University World News site

KENYA: Thousands to miss places in universities
About 60,000 candidates who have qualified for public universities in Kenya will fail to gain admission, reports The Nation. This is despite the fact that the Joint Admissions Board, or JAB, has increased the number of students joining the universities by nearly half.
More on the University World News site

WALES: Minister launches review of universities
Education Minister Leighton Andrews last week announced plans to review how Welsh universities are run, writes Gareth Evans for the Western Mail. At a higher education conference in Cardiff, Andrews said governing bodies had a responsibility to deliver value when spending £400 million (US$603 million) a year of public money.
More on the University World News site

UK: Fund degrees with business tax – lecturer union
Tuition fees should be abolished in the UK and a new business education tax introduced to fund universities, the University and College Union has urged, reports BBC News. It says corporation tax should be raised to the G7 average – 32.87% – with the extra cash ring-fenced to higher education.
More on the University World News site

NIGERIA: UK calls for investment in higher education
Nigeria’s government has been called on to invest significantly in higher education to cater for an increasing number of applicants who are denied access annually, reports This Day. Country Director of the British Council, David Higgs, said most Nigerians attend foreign universities because they cannot secure a place in a local university.
More on the University World News site

VIETNAM: Parliament uncovers problems in universities
Numerous problems have been uncovered by a national assembly standing committee during working sessions with 40 universities, reports VietNamNet. The problems were found in procedures to establish schools, open new study branches, decide the number of students to be enrolled and, especially, in network development.
More on the University World News site
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