ISSN 1756-297XIssue No: 0116 21 March 2010
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Resesarch: a physicist in his element. See our feature on research in Australian universities. Photo: Maximilian Brice - CERN
University of Latvia, the alma mater of many of Latvia's leaders. See our news story on massive reform in that country.
Bernard Madoff. Apparently, MBA students are not too concerned about ethics. See our Business section story.


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: Universities and the global crisis

“Because higher education has emerged in most nation-states as a key and widely recognised driver for economic development and socio-economic mobility….many governments are protecting their higher education sectors from large cuts this fiscal year,” writes John Aubrey Douglass, a senior research fellow with the US Center for Studies in Higher Education, in Higher Education Budgets and the Global Recession

“The role of higher education as a mitigation and salve in what appears to be the end of the recession led Moody’s to predict that public universities internationally will fare rather well in their revenue streams when compared to many other economic sectors,” Douglass says. “They predicted universities would be able to increase enrolments during the recession, receive strong financial support from their governments and offer long-term potential for increasing revenue diversity.”

The extent to which this prediction is accurate forms the basis of the following special reports. Most are from University World News correspondents while others are drawn from the essay Douglass prepared for the CSHE publication.

US: Decline of a once-great system
Sarah King Head
It may be that higher education is in greater demand during economic downturns but – after years of insidious cutbacks – American public institutions are struggling to maintain their traditionally high standards. Indeed, the great recession seems poised to wreak lasting damage on one of the most successful models of higher education in the world.
Full report on the University World News site

UK: Across-the-board cuts as crisis bites
Alan Osborn
After surviving the financial crisis for two years, Britain’s higher education sector has now succumbed and is bracing for perhaps the most severe round of retrenchments in Europe. The severity of the cuts was brought home when grants for specific universities in 2010-11 were spelled out by the government’s university funding agency, the Higher Education Funding Council for England.
Full report on the University World News site

IRELAND: Situation worsens for universities
John Walshe
The perfect higher education storm is developing in Ireland – a burgeoning population has forced enrolment projections upwards, a recession is driving more school leavers and adults into college and, at the same time, forcing cuts in budgets and staffing levels, as well as a political decision not to re-introduce tuition fees during the lifetime of the present government. Clearly, something has to give.
Full report on the University World News site

GREECE: Lecturers face savage salary cuts
Makki Marseilles
Greece is in the midst of a financial maelstrom but so far education has escaped the worst effects. Higher education institutions, however, have been called on to cut their operating expenses by 10% while lecturers and staff, who are civil servants, face substantial wage and salary cuts in an industry that absorbs just under 3% of GNP, the lowest in the EU.
Full report on the University World News site

GERMANY: Mixed impact of crisis
Michael Gardner
The world economic crisis has had a mixed impact on higher education in Germany – so far. While the massive drops in tax revenue mean less money is generally available for public funding, universities are benefiting from an economic stimulus package focusing on improvements in infrastructure.
Full report on the University World News site

EUROPE: Universities hit variably by downturn
Alan Osborn
The global financial crisis has hit spending on higher education in all European countries, though some more than others. The subject has been a major concern of the European University Association, the main voice of the higher education community in Europe with more than 800 members in 46 countries.
Full report on the University World News site

SCANDINAVIA: Reforms continue despite crisis
Jan Petter Myklebust
The effect of the economic crisis on Scandinavian universities has been limited to problems of high inflation in Iceland and redundancies in universities in Denmark and Finland. Yet all countries continued with extensive university reforms.
Full report on the University World News site

FINLAND: Universities strike it hard
Ian R Dobson*
This year will be a momentous one for Finnish universities because it is the first year of a new Universities Act. The act is ushering in the most radical change for several decades via new governance models and by freeing up universities to seek private funding. The economy suffered setbacks during 2009 and, although there was widespread confidence that the worst was over, three months into the New Year things are not looking so rosy, with strikes affecting universities on and off campus.
Full report on the University World News site

CANADA: Still feeling pain from the crash
Philip Fine
It has been a common sight in Canada to have a university president offering sober pronouncements to staff and students, warning of difficult times ahead. While this country has weathered the economic crisis better than most, its universities are still feeling the fallout from last year’s downturn in the markets and a general decrease in public funding.
Full report on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Government intervenes to avert catastrophe
Geoff Maslen
As the world recession hit the Antipodes during 2008, Australian universities began to see the beginning of a catastrophic decline in their investments and endowments. By the year’s end, already cash-strapped institutions faced a calamitous A$800 million loss (US$570 million at the time), more than twice the previous forecast. Government intervention, however, prevented a catastrophe occurring.
Full report on the University World News site

The following reports are edited extracts from Higher education budgets and the global recession, a paper prepared by John Aubrey Douglass for the Center for Studies in Higher Education at the University of California, Berkeley. We are grateful for permission to republish these commentaries.

FRANCE: No plans for budget cuts
In the midst of the reforms initiated by President Nicolas Sarkozy and continued debate over the role of the state in French society, higher education funding is increasing, with no immediate plans for budget cuts this fiscal year, but rather for actual increases in investment and greater autonomy.
Full report on the University World News site

PORTUGAL: More money for research
As with other parts of southern Europe, Portugal has experienced one of the steepest declines in economic activity, burdened also with a relatively high level of national debt. The previous years had already been tough on university operating funds from the state, starting with the fiscal crisis in 2002 and large cuts in overall public funding of higher education in the years leading up to the current Great Recession.
Full report on the University World News site

CHINA: No special allocation for universities
With more than 27 million students, China’s current higher education system is the largest in the world. Some 24% of all 18 to 22-year-olds are now in a tertiary institution and hundreds of new universities have been established over the past decade.
Full report on the University World News site

SOUTH KOREA: Increase for higher education
South Korea, Asia’s fourth-largest economy, grew in every quarter of 2009 after shrinking 5.1% in the final three months of 2008. The country currently has an unemployment rate of approximately 3.5%. It is in this context that the national government continues its investment in higher education, where access rates are already among the highest in the world.
Full report on the University World News site

JAPAN: Subsidies down but reforms continue
It appears likely that the economic downturn, and Japan’s long-term economic problems, may accelerate higher education reforms but not reshape them in any significant way. Prior to the Great Recession, Japan was already in the process of significant reform of its higher education system, conditioned by a long-term decline in population and the prevalence of a large number of public and private institutions.
Full report on the University World News site

TAIWAN: Higher education – a protected sector
The impact of the great recession has not been as severe in Taiwan, and seemingly throughout Asia, as it is in the US and other nations. Higher education in Taiwan appears to be a protected sector, viewed broadly as a component to both short-term mitigation of the economic crisis and for long-term competitiveness – although conditioned by a population whose younger age cohort is shrinking, like Japan’s.
Full report on the University World News site

SOUTH AMERICA: Brazil not hit as hard as most
Brazil has not been hit as hard as most countries by the current recession. In fact, Brazil’s GDP is estimated to have grown a modest 1% in the depth of the great recession. As a result, in 2009-10 the federal system of universities and technical colleges suffered no significant budget cuts but rather an actual growth in expenditures.
Full report on the University World News site



NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

SOUTH AFRICA: Top UK astronomer cleared
Karen MacGregor
The Royal Society of South Africa has called for a public enquiry into disciplinary action taken against top UK astronomer Professor Phil Charles, who has been cleared of unspecified charges laid against him by the National Research Foundation, or NRF. The society also warned against scientific facilities becoming subject to “totalitarian control”.
Full report on the University World News site

LATVIA: Massive higher education reform
Eugene Vorotnikov
The Latvian government is proposing massive reform of the national system of higher education, with the closure of some of the country’s universities and research institutes and a merging of others.
Full report on the University World News site

SWEDEN: Search for the foreign fee
Jan Petter Myklebust
The Swedish government plans to introduce tuition fees for students from countries outside the European Economic Area from autumn next year. At the Swedish Institute in Stockholm, Niklas Tranæus is project coordinator for a marketing project called Study Destination Sweden, a partnership between the institute and 29 higher education institutions in Sweden, that aims to increase the nation’s visibility as a study destination.
Full report on the University World News site

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: A knowledge-based economy?
Wagdy Sawahel
The United Arab Emirates’ cabinet plans to turn the UAE into a knowledge-based and highly productive economy, according to a plan outlined in UAE Vision 2021.
Full report on the University World News site


DENMARK: Students should pay tax to study
Jan Petter Myklebust
Danish students in future will have to pay an extra tax to help balance university budgets, says Professor Lauritz B Holm-Nielsen, Rector of the Aarhus University, the second largest in Denmark. Writing in the Danish newspaper Politiken, Holm-Nielsen argued that universities were not in a position where they could avoid discussion of this issue as well as tuition fees.
Full report on the University World News site

FINLAND: Strike that! Unions call off strikes
Ian R Dobson
University staff were to take their first strike action since 1986 but the stop-work scheduled for last Thursday was called off. It had been planned because universities were looking to reduce staff conditions relating to sick and annual leave.
Full report on the University World News site


UK: Ethics not first concern for prospective MBAs
Leah Germain
MBA students are not too concerned about focusing their studies on business ethics despite the catastrophic effects of dishonesty in last year’s global recession, according to a survey by education marketing spec ialists, UK-based CarringtonCrisp. The study found that fewer than 5% of MBA students considered ethics an integral part of their education.
Full report on the University World News site

EUROPE: Partnership for biomass technologies
Leah Germain
The European Commission has launched a new ‘EuroBioRef’ research partnership with 81 universities, research institutes and industry leaders to create new sustainable uses for biomass as an energy source, notably through new “bio-refineries”.
Full report on the University World News site

UK: Interaction between universities and businesses
Leah Germain
An organisation that aims to create synergy between higher education institutions and businesses has released the final report in a series of three that addresses the importance of companies using universities to aid Britain’s fragile economic recovery.
Full report on the University World News site


AUSTRALIA: Concentration on research and selectivity
Michael Gallagher*
Around the world there is a growing concentration of investment in world-class universities and centres of research excellence, including in China, Finland, France, Germany, India, Japan, Korea, Russia, Singapore, Spain and Vietnam. Why are they doing this? And why aren’t we doing this in Australia?
Full report on the University World News site


AFRICA: Networks needed to improve higher education
Mammo Muchie
Higher education and research in Africa have largely been neglected, both internally and externally, since the 1980s. If Africa is to join the global knowledge community as an equal partner, it must revolutionise its research, education and training systems. This does not simply mean pumping money into individual institutions. This can help raise the profile of single universities or research institutes but will do little to improve the system as a whole. Rather, the key is to foster and sustain a network that circulates knowledge and encourages the creative learner, researcher and knowledge producer.
Full article on the University World News site

INDIA: Foreign universities – a reality check
Rahul Choudaha*
With the recent approval of the foreign universities bill by the cabinet, many people interested in Indian higher education are riding a wave of optimism and expecting that there will be a number of highly reputed institutions like Harvard and Yale establishing campuses in India. On the other hand, some people believe this will open the floodgates for poor quality institutions to enter India and take unfair advantage of students. Both these views are extremes and require a dose of reality.
Full article on the University World News site

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

GREECE: Academics denied access to e-libraries
Makki Marseilles
Greek academics were temporarily denied access to the world’s electronic academic libraries and it took the resignation of a university rector and a strongly-worded statement by the Federation of University Teachers’ Associations to avert the danger of a more permanent exclusion.
Full report on the University World News site


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CHINA: Autonomy on way for universities
China will revamp its higher education system to ease the grip of red tape, granting colleges more autonomy, education authorities said last week. But, Xin Dingding reports for The China Daily, university leaders are worried that once they are stripped of their administrative titles they could face new problems.
More on the University World News site

CHINA: First open-access journal in Citation Index
Nano Research, an English-language journal jointly published by Springer and Tsinghua University Press, is now listed in the Thomson Reuters’ Science Citation Index-Expanded (SCI-E), reports PhysOrg. The journal, founded in July 2008, is part of Springer’s Chinese Library of Science, a collection comprising more than 90 journals. Its open access publishing model allows readers to download full articles for free via the online platform SpringerLink.
More on the University World News site

US: Revamped aid bill on track
The endgames of massive pieces of legislation like the current health care/student loan bill are a politics junkie’s dream – and many a policy wonk’s nightmare – writes Doug Lederman for Inside Higher Ed. The kinds of compromises that are typically required to win last-minute votes, meet budget requirements and get a measure over the finish line often necessitate decisions that leave nobody, even those making the choices to get the deal done, entirely satisfied.
More on the University World News site

CANADA: Student arrested over false terror scare
Officials at the Universite du Quebec a Montreal refused to disclose whether the school had notified police of a report of a possible suicide-bomber before security guards zeroed in on a public servant and part-time MBA student of Arab origin, writes Jan Ravensbergen for the Montreal Gazette. Computer spec ialist Slimane Zahaf was briefly but violently arrested on Tuesday afternoon, pinned to the ground and suffered an injury to his lower back – on the mistaken impression he was an explosives-carrying terrorist.
More on the University World News site

UAE: Foreign universities put profit before students
Foreign universities are setting up in the United Arab Emirates “for profit” at the expense of students’ education, the chancellor of Abu Dhabi University said last Monday amid growing concerns over standards, writes Shakir Husain for Maktoob News. Nabil Ibrahim described the quality of foreign universities operating in the Gulf state as “very low” and urged that all educational institutions should be brought under a single regulator.
More on the University World News site

CZECH: Students march against university reform
About 70 students joined a march through the centre of Prague on 15 March to protest against planned reform of the Czech university system that they say would introduce market approach to education, reports the Prague Monitor. The protesting students each wore a label with a barcode to emphasise the threat of students becoming mere products. They chanted the slogan “education is not for sale”.
More on the University World News site

UK: French flood UK universities for better deal
UK universities are facing a Gallic invasion as French students abandon their own institutions for degrees in Britain, write Liz Lightfoot and Gillian Passmore for The Times. More than 13,000 full-time students from France – enough to fill an entire university – have enrolled on British courses. They now make up the largest group of overseas students after the Chinese, with 3,194 freshers accepted on undergraduate courses last September.
More on the University World News site

UK: New website for wannabe students
Many bright young people in Britain do not go to university because they do not realise that higher education is an option or they are deterred by the cost, writes Lucy Hodges for The Independent. This group of people will benefit from a new website,, that has been spearheaded by the shadow higher education spokesman David Willetts and bankrolled by Microsoft and philanthropist and software engineer Steve Edwards. For the first time data on employment, careers and salaries are brought together in one place to help students to make the right choice of institution and subjects for them.
More on the University World News site

CANADA: Ontario latest to plan online university
Learning about Socrates through Facebook forums and chatting with a professor through Skype is the reality for students as e-learning claims a more dominant role in higher education, writes Ciara Byrne for The Canadian Press. Ontario is the latest jurisdiction to jump in with plans to launch the province’s first fully online university, prompting educators to urge students to weigh options carefully before turning their computer into a classroom.
More on the University World News site

US: Three suspected suicides cast pall over Cornell
All weekend, Cornell University’s residential advisers knocked on dorm rooms to inquire how students were coping, writes Trip Gabriel for The New York Times. The university is on high alert about the mental health of its students after the apparent suicides of three of them in less than a month in the deep gorges rending the campus.
More on the University World News site

US: The prof stuff
Like many online services Rate My Professors, the engrossing professor-ranking site, seems at first to be a companion to offline life, writes Virginia Heffernan for The New York Times magazine. Real-life students take real-life classes and hand down judgments of real-life professors in a virtual forum.
More on the University World News site

TURKEY: New universities coming soon
Seven new state universities are to be established in the cities of Ýstanbul, Ankara, Ýzmir, Bursa, Konya, Kayseri and Erzurum once the relevant legislation is approved, Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Çiçek announced on Monday, reports Today’s Zaman.
More on the University World News site

TAIWAN-CHINA: Two universities to set up joint labs
Taiwan’s National Tsing Hua University and China’s Tsinghua University are planning to establish joint laboratories on both campuses to enhance cooperation between them, an NTHU official said last week, reports Focus Taiwan.
More on the University World News site
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