ISSN 1756-297XIssue No: 0117 28 March 2010
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New Columbia graduates holding aloft symbols of their subjects. See our news item on US student loan reform. (Photo: Columbia News)
Wine testing, late 13th century style. Australian scientists now detect wine fraud by weighing atomic nuclei. See our Science Scene article (Photo: British Library)


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: Going global


This year’s Going Global conference in London last week was the fourth major international education conference organised by the British Council. The event attracted 1,200 delegates from 75 countries, the largest number yet. Academics, administrators and decision-makers from across further and higher education sectors gathered at the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre to listen and respond to 200 speakers in 40 sessions and 60 poster presentations.

In a two-part series this week and next, our correspondents report on some of the most news-worthy aspects and we also publish addresses given by some keynote speakers in our Features section.

GLOBAL: Meeting education’s challenges
Diane Spencer
The main theme of the Going Global conference had world potential with its aim of “making education meet the challenge”. As countries face the worst recession in decades, are they becoming more isolationist? If so, what are the implications for international education?
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Three nations tops in collaboration
Yojana Sharma
Germany, Australia and Britain have topped a new global index on the internationalisation of higher education and the openness of their institutions to foreign collaboration, with China and Malaysia not far behind. India and Brazil still prohibit foreign universities operating on their soil and were lower down on the British Council-sponsored ranking index.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Detecting application fraud
Brendan O’Malley
Some of the world’s most sophisticated mechanisms for tackling fraud in admissions applications have been developed by West African countries Nigeria and Ghana, the Going Global conference held by the British Council in London last week was told.
Full report on the University World News site

UK: Foreigners are not “cash cows”
Yojana Sharma
As universities in Britain brace themselves for huge public spending cuts, institutions have been warned against trying to plug the hole in their budgets by treating foreign students as “cash cows”. British Council Chief Executive, Martin Davidson, told the council’s international conference Going Global in London last Thursday that it would be counterproductive and potentially self-defeating.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Elephants and tins of paint
Diane Spencer
The old adage of ‘the elephant in the parlour’ was rehearsed again by Dave Burnapp, a senior lecturer in the business school of Northampton University. Burnapp has examined the strategic implications of international collaboration in higher education as part of a research project. He wanted to find more about that “embarrassing thing there that everyone ignores”.
Full report on the University World News site



NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

RUSSIA: Plans to close 30% of universities
Eugene Vorotnikov
Nearly 30% of leading Russian universities could be forced to close and merge with other institutions this year because of a shortage of students and the implementation of a state plan to consolidate the higher education sector.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Student loan reform will improve funding
Sarah King Head
While the passage in the House of Representatives of the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act last week will fundamentally reshape the US healthcare system, it will also improve the way students fund their post-secondary education.
Full report on the University World News site

EU: Call to maintain 3% research target
Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, European Union commissioner for research, innovation and science, believes the bloc’s target of spending 3% of GDP on research and development must be maintained if Europe is to put itself firmly on the road to economic recovery.
Full report on the University World News site

ISRAEL: Excellence centres to woo back academics
Helena Flusfeder
In an attempt to stop the brain drain of Israel’s leading scientists who have left the country to conduct research abroad, the government recently approved the creation of 30 academic excellence centres.
Full report on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Minister charts new tertiary directions
Munyaradzi Makoni and Karen MacGregor
Following two decades of tumultuous change, universities in South Africa were warned of much more to come when Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blaze Nzimande, delivered his budget vote in parliament on Thursday. Universities will receive R17.5 billion (US$2.4 billion) this year – the lion’s share of a R32 billion post-school budget.
Full report on the University World News site

NZ: University sets big fund-raising goal
John Gerritsen
Massey University has launched a campaign to raise NZ$100 million for an endowment fund, making it the third New Zealand university in as many years to turn to the public for extra funding.
Full report on the University World News site

KENYA: Academics attack finance plans
Dave Daido
The University Academic Staff Union has lashed out at a proposal to merge ‘regular’ and ‘parallel’ degree programmes offered at Kenya’s public universities, and accused the World Bank of “sabotage”. Unifying separate courses for state-sponsored and self-sponsored students, and charging students uniform fees, were among sweeping changes to university financing recommended in an expert report published last month.
Full report on the University World News site

BENIN: Five-month strike – now a pay rise
Tunde Fatunde
Teachers in Benin’s three state universities have suspended industrial action that lasted for five months. They resolved to return to work this month following a formal commitment made by President Boni Yayi to grant them a 50% pay rise and other financial benefits. If the package is implemented it will have far-reaching positive consequences for teaching and research in state tertiary institutions.
Full report on the University World News site

UGANDA: Kenyan students shot dead
Dave Daido
A security guard at Makerere University in Uganda’s capital Kampala allegedly shot and killed two Kenyan students this month, sparking riots on the campus. The two Kenyans, first-year law student Brian Livasia Amuoga and third-year commerce student Ignatius Nyongesa, were killed at a hostel while campaigning for student elections.
Full report on the University World News site

CORRECTION: Eurobioref research partnership
A report in our business section in last week's edition EUROPE: Partnership for biomass technologies described the launch by the European Commission of a EuroBioRef research project. Franck Dumeignil, coordinator of the project, has pointed out what he says is "a slight confusion" in the article: Mr Dumeignil says EuroBioRef is one specific project, as BIOCORE and SUPRABIO are. The EuroBioref Subvention is EUR23 million for a total cost of EUR38 millions and it comprises 28 partners. A press release from the French CNRS group describing the project can be read here.


GERMANY: Rectors welcome funding pledge
Michael Gardner
Germany’s higher education heads have welcomed a pledge by federal and state education ministers to provide an additional €800 million for new study places. The ministers said the grant was justified because institutions had overshot targets originally set by governments.
Full report on the University World News site

MAGHREB: New regional and US science partnerships
Wagdy Sawahel
North African countries are planning to boost higher education and scientific capacity by establishing a University of the Maghreb and an Academy of Sciences of the Maghreb as well as forging partnerships with the United States.
Full report on the University World News site


LEBANON: Attacked for working with Israelis
Daniel Sawney and Jonathan Travis*
A professor at the American University of Beirut has been criticised for writing a book in collaboration with two academics from Tel Aviv University, the Los Angeles Times reports. Lebanese law prohibits its nationals from having any contact with Israelis.
More Academic Freedom reports on the University World News site


US: Tests not affected by heavy drinking
A big night on the booze does not damage students’ performance in tests the next day, new research shows.
Full report on the University World News site

UK: Galactic growth spurt observed
A massive galaxy produced suns at the prodigious rate of 250 a year in what scientists are describing as a teenage growth spurt in the early years of the universe.
Full report on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Testing wine with radiation
There are recognised steps to identifying fine wine – swirling the drink in a glass, sniffing it and, finally, tasting it. Now Australian scientists have added another – bung it in a mass spectrometer and test it for an uncommon carbon isotope.
Full report on the University World News site


GLOBAL: Research: A force for globalisation
In a keynote speech to the Going Global conference in London last week, Professor Simon Marginson* said higher education and research were the central drivers of globalisation while research universities were among the most globally connected and driven of all sectors of society. At the same time, global connections, the global flow of ideas, global comparisons and rankings, and global people mobility were the most powerful single drivers of change in higher education.
Full report on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: First step towards free tuition
Sharon Dell
It has been called a “monumental disappointment” by South Africa’s official opposition. But student groups have predictably welcomed a review of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, which represents a “first step” towards realising the ruling African National Party’s plan to progressively introduce free higher education for poor undergraduates.
Full report on the University World News site

NZ: Making friends, creating jobs, building a nation
Mike Moore*
Education as a service industry with paying students is now around New Zealand’s sixth biggest earner of overseas funds. A great export winner.
Full report on the University World News site

AFRICA: Science “rises” to meet continental needs
Munyaradzi Makoni
Science and education development can only flourish in Africa through support for home-grown institutions. The Regional Initiative in Science and Education, or RISE, has been striving to achieve this for the past 18 months through university-based networks that train science and engineering academics for African universities.
Full report on the University World News site


SOUTH AFRICA: Free higher education – why not?
Dr Saleem Badat, Vice-chancellor of Rhodes University, writes that he supports the ideal of free higher education and believes it’s possible in South Africa. However, it would require fundamental re-thinking of and changes in social goals, priorities and policies – without this, the call for free higher education cannot be supported. For example, unless government made up the massive tuition fee shortfall that universities would experience, they would collapse.
Full report on the University World News site

CANADA: The scholarship of teaching and learning
Gary Poole
The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) has established a presence in Canada. Some institutions provide structural and moral support for such scholarship, while other campuses have a long way to go before SoTL can become the positive force it promises to be. An article from the journal Academic Matters examines examples of successful support for SoTL in Canada, and how this support could be more widespread.
Full article on the University World News site

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

RUSSIA: Maths genius may take $1 million prize
Nick Holdsworth
Reports that a reclusive Russian mathematical genius, Grigory Perelman, had refused a $1 million prize for solving the apparently intractable Poincare Theorem may have been premature.
Full report on the University World News site

CANADA: Pundit attacks VP over cancelled speech
Leah Germain
A controversial American right-wing political pundit, Ann Coulter, said she would file a human rights complaint after a 1,500-strong protest at the University of Ottawa forced her to cancel a lecture scheduled for that evening. Coulter said the university’s vice-president François Houle was partly to blame.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Cloudy weather ‘increases university appeal’
Students who attend university open days when the weather is cloudy have an increased likelihood of applying there, reports BBC News. The research published by the Royal Economic Society found that an increase in cloud cover could be linked to a 9% rise in enrolment. The author, Uri Simonsohn, said students seemed to associate cloudy days with study and homework.
More on the University World News site

US: Last Supper helpings have grown, study finds
The Christian faith holds several acts of ‘super-sizing’ to be miracles accomplished by Jesus Christ – a handful of fish and loaves of bread expanded to feed thousands; a wedding feast running low on wine suddenly awash in the stuff, writes Melissa Healy for the Los Angeles Times. In a bid to uncover the roots of super-sized American fare, a pair of sibling scholars has turned to an unusual source: 52 artists’ renderings of the New Testament’s Last Supper.
More on the University World News site


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CHINA: Google exit could hit academics and students
Businesses and universities could be substantially affected by the departure of Google, writes Lara Farrar for CNN. Most of the country’s nearly 400 million internet users might not be affected by the closure, but academics, university students and other researchers rely heavily on Google’s search services to access information not available through Chinese engines like, the country’s most popular search portal.
More on the University World News site

INDIA: Plans to put degrees online, ease verification
India’s government has appointed a task force to create a national database of academic qualifications to ensure confidentiality, authenticity, online verification and easy retrieval of degrees, write Ravi Krishnan, Pallavi Singh and Sapna Agarwal for and The Wall Street Journal.
More on the University World News site

INDIA: Education financial corporation planned
India's Human Resource Development Ministry proposes to set up an education financial corporation to provide soft, long-term loans for developing educational infrastructure, reports The Hindu. The corporation will also help students get loans for pursuing higher education, but this will be through refinance by banks.
More on the University World News site

US: Student loan bill scorecard
Books will probably be written about the legislation Congress is poised to enact to transform the federal student loan programmes. But while the historians do their work, Doug Lederman of Inside Higher Ed looks at which institutions, people and other players will be helped, hurt and otherwise affected by the measure – and how it positions them for the future.
More on the University World News site

CANADA: Only native-run university thrown lifeline
Canada’s only aboriginal-run university has been thrown a lifeline by the Saskatchewan government just one week before its money was set to run out, writes Elizabeth Church for The Globe and Mail. The province has reached an agreement that will restore $5.2 million (US$5.1 million) in funding for the troubled First Nations University of Canada, and is pledging to pressure the federal government to follow its lead.
More on the University World News site

UK: 20,000 new university places pledged
UK Chancellor Alistair Darling has pledged to create 20,000 new university places to cope with the surge in demand. The one-off £270 million (US$402 million) funding for 2010-11 will support subjects including science, technology and maths in universities in England from September.
More on the University World News site

UK: Government to invest £30 million in Semantic Web
The British government will invest £30 million (US$45 million) in a research centre to further develop Tim Berners-Lee’s Semantic Web, writes Joab Jackson for IDG News Service. The Institute for Web Science will be run by Berners-Lee, who formulated the basic protocols for the web, along with University of Southampton artificial intelligence professor Nigel Shadbolt.
More on the University World News site

UK: Huge pay rises for university heads in recession
University bosses were given pay rises of up to 28% last year, writes Lucy Ballinger for the Daily Mail. The hikes came at the peak of the recession, and there have been further increases this year.
More on the University World News site

US: Bias a persistent hurdle for women in sciences
A report on the underrepresentation of women in science and maths by the American Association of University Women, released last Monday, found that although women have made gains, stereotypes and cultural biases still impede their success, writes Tamar Lewin for The New York Times.
More on the University World News site

CHINA: Professor sacked for academic plagiarism
A 45-year-old professor at the prestigious Xi’an Jiaotong University in Northwest China’s Shaanxi province was sacked last Sunday after six of his colleagues repeatedly posted letters to the university and on the internet exposing his academic scandals, according to China Daily-Asia News Network.
More on the University World News site

POLAND: Wiki-plagiarism endemic in universities
Polish university students are using Wikipedia and ‘crib sheet’ websites as the main source for their research, a new survey has revealed, reports Polskie Radio. Last year, 54% of state-run university students and 72% of private school students dug deep into Wikipedia while writing their bachelor or masters degree theses, a survey conducted by Professor Mariusz Jedrzejko of Warsaw University of Life Sciences revealed.
More on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Running battles close university
South Africa’s Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande, will commission an independent investigation into problems at Durban University of Technology following running battles between students and police that have forced the institution to close until next term, writes Latoya Newman for The Mercury.
More on the University World News site

US: Cornell builds bridge fences to deter suicides
Cornell University last week erected temporary fencing along three university-owned bridges that cross the deep gorges on its campus, where three students have jumped to their deaths in recent weeks, writes Lisa W Foderaro for The New York Times. University officials are also in talks with the City of Ithaca to get permission to put up similar fencing along three other city-owned bridges on campus, said spokesman Simeon F Moss.
More on the University World News site

CHINA: Universities join in water saving campaign
More than 100 universities in 23 Chinese cities have joined in an annual water saving campaign called “saving a barrel of water”, which was kicked off at the Capital Normal University in Beijing last week, the official Xinhua news agency reports.
More on the University World News site
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