ISSN 1756-297XIssue No: 0115 14 March 2010
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Einstein's doctoral thesis of 1905. In his Annus Mirabilis he also wrote four great papers and gave the world Special Relativity and E=mc squared. See our features section for a rummage through the academic attic.
A block of flats after the Chilean earthquake of 27th February. Scientists are mapping the movements using GPS. See our Science Scene story. Photo: Agência Brasil - Wikimedia.
Mère-enfant is the name of a new e-learning progamme linking France with seventeen African and Asian countries. See our feature.


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


SPECIAL REPORT: Bologna’s 10th anniversary


Several conferences were held last week in Budapest and Vienna to mark the 10th anniversary of the launch of the Bologna process. In the following special commentaries, University World News correspondents report on the outcomes of the conferences, including the launch of the Trends 2010 report from the European University Association, the Budapest-Vienna declaration from the Ministerial conference, the Eurodoc survey, and the student summits and Vienna protests by student groups from across Europe.

GERMANY: Bologna architecture in place
Michael Gardner
Considerable progress has been made in developing the Bologna process, according to a new report released by the European University Association during Bologna’s 10th anniversary events in Vienna. The report, Trends 2010, was released to coincide with the launch of the European Higher Education Area. It highlights Bologna’s clear achievements regarding such aspects as new degree structures and credit transfer but also calls for greater efforts to enhance mobility and more funding for implementation.
Full report on the University World News site

EUROPE: A decade of reform
The Trends 2010 report by the European University Association reviews implementation of the Bologna process and its impact over the past 10 years on higher education across 46 countries in Europe, in the context of broader reform processes affecting European higher education.
Full report on the University World News site

EUROPE: The Eurydice report
Since the beginning of the Bologna process, higher education systems in the European Higher Education Area have grown significantly, says a report prepared for the Vienna conference and published by the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency, Eurydice, last week.
Full report on the University World News site

MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE: Recognising the social dimension
Karl-Heinz Kloppisch Jr and Tino Brömme*
An extraordinary Ministerial Anniversary Conference was co-hosted by Hungary and Austria last week in Budapest and Vienna to assess the achievements of the Bologna process and its contribution to enhancing the quality and the diversification of higher education in Europe. Ministers in charge of higher education in Austria and Hungary invited their colleagues participating in the Bologna process from the other 44 countries, and the newly-accepted Kazakhstan, to assess the progress made towards the achievements of this unique partnership.
Full report on the University World News site

POLICY FORUM: Other side of Bologna
Karl-Heinz Kloppisch Jr*
The second Bologna policy forum took place late on Friday at the venue of the ministerial conference in the patriarchal Hofburg of Vienna. Taking a stand for better global cooperation in higher education, the forum was described as a great success by representatives from the more than 60 nations that attended.
Full report on the University World News site

EURODOC: Doctoral candidates meet in Vienna
Karl-Heinz Kloppisch Jr*
The young European researchers of today long for an active role in the reform process of the higher education and research area in Europe, now rather than complain afterwards, said Zaza Nadja Lee Hansen, a board member of Eurodoc, the international umbrella organisation of associations of doctoral students and post-docs in Europe. Hansen underlined this while summarising the ambitious programme at the annual EURODOC 2010 conference.
Full report on the University World News site

BOLOGNA STUDENTS: Urgent need for reform
Joseph Walters*
As Education Ministers celebrated the 10th Anniversary of Bologna in Budapest and Vienna this week, the European Student Union criticised the shortcomings and “superficial implementation” of the process. The union, which represents 11 million members, held a European Student Summit alongside the celebratory Ministerial Conference in Vienna from 7-12 March. Some 130 delegates from 30 European countries took part in workshops while discussing the successes and failures of Bologna.
Full report on the University World News site

STUDENT PROTESTS: No time for celebration
Joseph Walters*
Limited participation and the social dimension in higher education policy are dominating the agendas of European student unions. Such issues compelled thousands of students to follow their education ministers across the continent last week to campaign against the Bologna anniversary celebrations in Vienna.
Full report on the University World News site



NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

UK: Buffer body should clarify international role
David Jobbins
An independent review of the funding body for universities and other higher education institutions in England has concluded it is a high-performing organisation that has the confidence of the sector and government. While most areas of operations of the Higher Education Funding Council for England were found to be meeting or exceeding requirements, some improvements were needed and its international strategy required clarification.
Full report on the University World News site

DENMARK: Scientists not “sacked”, says vice-dean
On 14 February, University World News published a report titled DENMARK: Sackings create confusion and anger. The article stated that more than 80 scientific staff in the departments of geology and biology at Copenhagen University had been sacked in January “with immediate effect”. The story was based on reports in a university newspaper Universitetsavisen of 28 January that we subsequently learned has no official status. Professor Katherine Richardson, Vice Dean for Public Outreach, has pointed out that some details in our story were wrong. She says the number of staff immediately affected was 14, none were “sacked with immediate effect” and all have at least six months’ salary and the right to work in that period. Her explanation of the circumstances is on our website.
Full report on the University World News site

POLAND: Universities least popular with Europeans
Eugene Vorotnikov
Poland ranks first in Europe in terms of access to higher education but Polish universitie are among the least popular with foreign students, says a study carried out by analysts with the Lisbon Council for Economic Competitiveness and Social Renewal, a Brussels-based think tank.
Full report on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Higher education: world's most effective?
Australia’s higher education sector has the potential to be the most diverse and therefore among the most effective in the world, according to leading international expert Professor Frans Van Vught. In an address last week to the LH Martin Institute’s executive seminar series at the University of Melbourne, Van Vught praised new policy initiatives being introduced to the sector.
Full report on the University World News site

CANADA: Multi-million dollar postdoctoral scheme
Philip Fine
In its annual budget this month, the Canadian government announced the creation of 140 well-paid postdoctoral fellowships, offering some acknowledgment to a group in higher education whose salaries are generally low and whose positions in their university are often nebulous.
Full report on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Free university for the poor proposed
Sharon Dell
Free higher education for poor South African students and the scrapping of race in favour of class as a mechanism to identify those in need of financial assistance could be on the cards if recent media reports based on a leaked version of a ministerial review of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, NSFAS, are to be believed.
Full report on the University World News site

EGYPT: More funding to raise quality
Ashraf Khaled
Egypt’s higher education budget has been increasing by 10% a year to reach LE11 billion (US$2 billion), Minister of Higher Education Hani Helal told a seminar recently. “But it is still limited compared to the growing numbers attending universities every year,” Helal said, adding that shortage of money remained the “key challenge” to improving quality in universities.
Full report on the University World News site

ZIMBABWE: Pay hike ends lecturer strike
From a special correspondent
Lecturers in Zimbabwe have been awarded salary hikes, prompting them to return to work more than a month after engaging in a wider civil servant strike that is still raging. Top-paid academics will earn US$800 a month – up from $290. Only lecturers have been awarded a pay rise so far, out of a striking civil servant pool that includes health workers and teachers, who continue to take home less than $200 a month.
Full report on the University World News site

ZAMBIA: New institution to tackle medical brain drain
Zambia’s government is planning to open a new higher learning institution for training doctors as part of efforts to fight the brain drain. Deputy Minister of Health Dr Solomon Musonda told parliament that intakes of health professionals – doctors, nurses and others – at four other institutions would also be doubled this year in a country said to have 27,000 health workers instead of a required 56,000.
Full report on the University World News site


AUSTRALIA: Mathematics in crisis
It has been described as “the handmaiden of the sciences”, but the state of mathematical sciences in Australia has deteriorated to a dangerous level. A report released last week says universities should provide additional mathematics-enabling courses and improve co-operation between education and mathematics faculties.
Full report on the University World News site

KENYA: University projects stalled, some for 20 years
Dave Daido
A public university in Kenya requires at least 2.1 billion shillings (US$27.4 million) to complete stalled projects – some of them started nearly 20 years ago. The parliamentary investment committee, or PIC, established that Egerton University’s projects had ground to a halt due to lack of funds.
Full report on the University World News site

DR CONGO: Minister’s plans to improve higher education
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s Minister for Higher Education, Léonard Mashako Mamba, is introducing legislation with the aim of boosting the country’s higher education system and enabling universities to meet the challenges of globalisation, reported Le Potentiel of Kinshasa.
Full report on the University World News site

SWAZILAND: Students regroup after long boycott
Munyaradzi Makoni
Higher education students in Swaziland have resumed classes after weeks of boycotts – but unhappiness with the government’s handling of their grievances has prompted the national students’ union to call for a mass meeting in April to regroup and decide a course of action.
Full report on the University World News site

SENEGAL: School risks closure over fee-paying courses
Jane Marshall
Amadou Tidiane Bâ, Minister for Higher Education, Universities, Regional University Centres and Scientific Research, has threatened to close the Ecole Polytechnique de Thiès if lecturers continue to ignore a government order banning them from teaching fee-paying courses during the day, according to press reports.
Full report on the University World News site

WEST AFRICA: Universities debate keeping campus peace
Jane Marshall
Governments and university communities must take measures to prevent recurrent violent incidents breaking out on campuses, representatives of higher education institutions concluded at an international conference on keeping the peace in West African universities.
Full report on the University World News site


US: Chilean earthquake attracts scientific interest
Last month’s massive earthquake in Chile may have been the fifth-largest since instruments were available to measure such events, but it could well become the most important large quake thanks to the information scientists are gaining from it.
Full report on the University World News site

GERMANY: Mapping the world by smell
Humans have long admired the humble ant for its organisational abilities and strength. Now researchers have found another reason to respect the insect – some of them can smell ‘in stereo’ and use the ability to find their way home.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Chilling evidence of super ice age
Scientists have found evidence that sea ice reached the equator during a super ice age more than 700 million years ago.
Full report on the University World News site

NAMIBIA: Rice research blossoms into national venture
Moses Magadza
What began as a small-scale experiment by a University of Namibia associate professor to grow rice in areas where it had not previously been possible, has metamorphosed into a thriving rice-growing venture that has been declared a national project by the government.
Full report on the University World News site


THE NETHERLANDS: Four km of “hidden” dissertations
Jos Damen
The library at Leiden University has many “hidden” treasures and among the pearls is the collection of an estimated 400,000 uncatalogued dissertations or theses dating from 1580 to 1990 that are kept in the library stacks. They occupy four kilometres of shelf space and include Albert Einstein’s 1905 dissertation.
Full report on the University World News site

FRANCE-AFRICA: Medical e-learning network launched
Fabienne Guimont*
A vast e-learning programme based on the establishment of a North-South network of inter-university diplomas has begun operating, with the first batch of students successfully completing an online course in obstetrics ultrasound in Dakar, Senegal – 6,000 kilometres from Brest in France where the project originated.
Full report on the University World News site


NORTH AMERICA: Univeristies in perpetual funding crisis
David Trick*
Universities, it seems, are in a perpetual state of funding crisis. Costs grow more quickly than ordinary inflation every year. Prospective students and their parents demand that universities expand to meet the growing number of applicants. Governments demand that universities produce more research to drive the transition to a knowledge-based economy. The gap between mission and funding seems ever-larger. Mission and Money: Understanding the university steps back from the question of whether university funding is adequate to ask a different question: How does the task of earning revenue shape universities’ behaviour?
Full article on the University World News site
Article from the journal Academic Matters

US: An open future for higher education
Patrick McAndrew, Eileen Scanlon and Doug Clow
Education, and in particular higher education, has seen rapid change as learning institutions have had to adapt to the opportunities provided by the internet to move more of their teaching online and to become more flexible in how they operate. It might be tempting to think that such a period of change would lead to consolidation and agreement about approaches and models of operation that suit the 21st century. New technologies continue to appear, however, and changes in attitude indicated by the integration of online activities and social approaches within our lives are accelerating. How should institutions react to these changes?
More on the University World News site
Article from EDUCAUSE Quarterly

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

ICELAND: Bank collapse benefits foreign students
Foreign students and their visiting families no longer need to brace themselves before ordering a pizza. Just about any foreign currency is worth twice as much in the Icelandic krona as it was in August, according to an article in the International Education Magazine for Nordic Students.
Full report on the University World News site


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JAPAN: Three countries develop academic credit system
Japan has decided to draw up a new framework in conjunction with China and South Korea to allow universities in all three countries to integrate methods to evaluate students’ academic achievements and certify academic credits, reports The Yomiuri Shimbun. The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry hopes the collaboration will encourage more students to study abroad.
More on the University World News site

CHINA: Fake papers are rife at universities
Strong demand for ghost-written academic papers in the lead-up to university graduation and revelations that people pay to have scholarly articles published are worrying critics who fear the billion-yuan industry is making it harder than ever to evaluate graduates’ abilities, reports China Daily/Asia News Network.
More on the University World News site

CHINA: Top scientist plans new autonomous university
A Chinese scientist is planning to establish the mainland’s first university outside the grip of government bureaucracy, the official Xinhua news agency reports. Zhu Qingshi, a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences who served as president of the prestigious University of Science and Technology of China for 10 years, believes heavy red tape in higher education is mainly responsible for China’s lack of world-renowned scientists.
More on the University World News site

INDIA: Five higher education bills before cabinet
Education was set to dominate Thursday’s meeting of the Indian cabinet, which was due to look at five Bills – four new and one amendment Bill – from the Human Resource Development Ministry, all related to higher education. All the new Bills are part of Minister Kapil Sibal’s plan to revamp higher education, writes Akshaya Mukul in The Times of India.
More on the University World News site

MALAYSIA: Pay and promotions for professors to improve
The Prime Minister’s call to raise the salaries and expedite the promotions of top performers in the public sector has been well received by the Higher Education Ministry, with the salary scheme for professors to be revised, Richard Lim reports for The Star. Professors will be able to enjoy promotions up to the highest grade without holding administrative posts at public universities.
More on the University World News site

VIETNAM: Minister orders greater university transparency
All universities in Vietnam must publish their financial accounts and information about educational standards on their websites by 15 April, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education and Training Nguyen Thien Nhan told a conference in Hanoi this month, reports Saigon Giai Phong. He also said tertiary education would be further decentralised as part of government’s action plan to renovate higher education management 2010-12.
More on the University World News site

UK: Why university standards have fallen
The new ‘manifesto’– Talent, Opportunity, Prosperity – published by the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) deals with a number of core issues in the current debate about the future shape and direction of higher education in the UK, comments Geoffrey Alderman, professor of politics and contemporary history at the University of Buckingham, in The Guardian.
More on the University World News site

US: Continental perspectives
College presidents were urged last Tuesday to consider why most Americans think of North America as a geographic entity and not much more, writes Scott Jaschik for Inside Higher Ed. The failure of American academics to embrace a common agenda for cooperation of colleges and universities in Canada, Mexico and the US may be preventing those countries’ higher education systems from realising some of the gains European universities are experiencing through the ‘Bologna process’, said several experts at the annual meeting of the American Council on Education, held in Phoenix.
More on the University World News site

US: Express lane to a BA
What was a year ago an emerging idea about how to reduce college costs and better serve students has begun to take hold at colleges across the United States, as more institutions introduce three-year bachelor’s degrees, writes Jennifer Epstein for Inside Higher Ed.
More on the University World News site

US: Huge rise in students predicted in California
California's public colleges and universities must prepare to serve 387,000 more undergraduates by 2019 than in 2008 – a 16% increase – and they will need an additional $1.5 billion in enrolment funding for the task, according to a report released last week by the California Postsecondary Education Commission, writes Carla Rivera for The Los Angeles Times.
More on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Students sing ‘kill the (white) farmer’
African National Congress Youth League leader Julius Malema is facing a barrage of complaints to the police and chapter nine institutions over his latest racial outburst, after he led students at the University of Johannesburg in singing ‘kill the boer’, writes Natasha Marrian for the Mail & Guardian. ‘Boer’ refers to white farmers. Malema also sang the song the previous week at birthday celebrations held in a province where six farmers had been murdered in the past month.
More on the University World News site

ISRAEL: Einstein’s relativity manuscript goes on display
The original manuscript of Albert Einstein’s groundbreaking theory of relativity, which helps explain everything from black holes to the Big Bang, went on display last weekend in its entirety for the first time, writes Karoun Demirjian for Associated Press.
More on the University World News site
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