ISSN 1756-297XIssue No: 0012  21 January 2008
HE Events Diary

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Beach NL1
Fancy a tutorial by the beach? You can in Second Life, the focus of this week's special report on University World News. Pictured are the avatars of MSc students in a tutorial at the University of Edinburgh’s Second Life island.

Suharto NL2
The former president of Indonesia is dying. University World News considers Suharto's often fraught relationship with the nation's universities and students.


SPECIAL REPORT: Higher education’s second life

More than 150 higher education institutions around the world are said to have active projects in Second Life – the virtual world created by Linden Lab’s Philip Rosedale in 2003 but which only hit headlines around the globe in 2006 and early 2007.

The Horizon Report: 2007 Edition described Second Life and similar programmes as emerging technologies “likely to have a large impact on teaching, learning or creative expression within higher education”. The report, released a year ago by the New Media Consortium and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, forecast the wide use of virtual worlds in higher education by 2010.

But critics are sceptical of many of the claims made for SL as “the internet of the future”. The following reports review the situation.

US: A disruptive technology arrives
Keith Nuthall
Every decade or so along comes a technology that is so new, comprehensive, interesting and damned useful, that it changes the way that we learn, have fun and do business. Think commercial air travel, the mobile phone and the internet. These were all what management experts like to call ‘disruptive technologies’ because they forced established educational and commercial institutions to change how they operated. Now another of these technologies-come-zeitgeists could be on the way – virtual worlds such as Second Life, Whyville and ActiveWorlds. The most popular of these is Second Life. In a recent speech, celebrated hi-tech guru Mitch Kapor, who founded Lotus 1-2-3, said: “Second Life is a disruptive technology on the level of the personal computer or the internet.”
Full story on the University World News site

UK: Brave new unreal world
Diane Spencer
Gilly Salmon, professor of eLearning and learning technologies at Leicester University, has bought an island for $3,000. A mere snip, you might say, but it is not even real. She acquired it from Second Life, Linden Lab's web-based virtual world, to identify the educational benefits, or otherwise, of cyber learning.
Full story on the University World News site

US: Teleporting to virtual universities
Belinda Blessed – UWN virtual reporter
Visiting virtual universities on Second Life is easy: using the system's search and teleport function, avatars are whisked to set spots within a computerised simulation of the various campuses. These vary widely in style, but reflect the images developers want to project about their universities: gardens and buildings are in perfect shape – there is no litter or weeds in Second Life, unless they have been deliberately created to fit a mood.
Full story on the University World News site

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

ISRAEL: Agreement ends 79-day senior lecturer strike
Helena Flusfeder
After an unprecedented 79-day strike and just before the ‘loss’ of an entire semester, senior lecturers at Israeli universities reached an 11th-hour agreement with Treasury officials and will be awarded a 24% pay hike to make up for salary erosion. Economists have estimated that the strike, which affected 4,500 academics working at seven universities and many more students, could have cost the economy up to six billion shekels (US$1.5 billion).
Full story on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA-US: Ultra-resolution broadband link opened
Geoff Maslen
A global collaboration laboratory between the universities of California San Diego and Melbourne was launched last Wednesday with the opening of a super broadband network between the two nations. Scientists and engineers who demonstrated the new technology, 250 times faster than a standard broadband connection in Australia, said it had the potential to transform interactions between researchers on each side of the world.
Full story on the University World News site

SPAIN: Spicy new way to enter university
Paul Rigg
For years, students in Spain have complained about the lack of a web portal where they can find key 'inside' information about a particular university. Now an enterprising trio of journalism students from the Universidad Autónomo de Barcelona have stepped in to fill the gap. At the same time they have satisfied another student demand for good tips: where in the country they can find the best patatas bravas (a delicious tapas of freshly deep-fried chunks of potato, served with a spicy tomato sauce).
Full story on the University World News site

ARGENTINA: New law guarantees free access
Jason Mitchell
A priority of Argentina's new government will be to introduce a law for higher education that guarantees free access to the state university system. This follows the election of Cristina Kirchner, who became the country's first elected female president on 10 December. But not all university rectors are happy about the prospect.
Full story on the University World News site

FRANCE: Plan to halve student failure rate
Jane Marshall
Reform of the licence, France's three-year bachelor's degree equivalent, will start next September as part of an effort by Valérie Pécresse, Minister for Higher Education and Research, to halve the high failure rate of first-year university students. The new degree will be less narrowly focused, more progressive and geared to professional needs, and will provide extra help for students in difficulty.
Full story on the University World News site

INDIA: New universities to follow US model
Suchitra Behal
In a move to allay growing disenchantment with India's inflexible and old-fashioned higher education system, the government proposes to open 16 new universities, based on American models. The new universities, to be set up over the next five years, will have six-year integrated courses with a two-year postgraduate and four-year doctoral programme.
Full story on the University World News site

UK: International recruitment now big business
Tony Tysome
Measuring international students' expectations, motivations and satisfaction levels has become big business in Britain, as concern grows among recruiters over increasing competition from around the globe. Two pioneering initiatives have been launched in Britain that between them will canvass the opinions of over 100,000 students a year on what universities in the UK have to offer and how good they are at delivering the kind of education and service today's students want.
Full story on the University World News website

GERMANY: New reforms producing tunnel-vision academics
Mike Gardner
A leading German sociologist has denounced present university reforms as fostering a culture opposed to academic freedom. Professor Heinz Steinert of Frankfurt University warns that the effects of the Bologna process, coupled with insufficient staff numbers, could breed a new generation of academics interested solely in personal achievement.
Full story on the University World News site


INDONESIA: Students and the rise and fall of Suharto
Eric Beerkens*
In a hospital in Jakarta, the former president of the Republic of Indonesia is dying. Suharto’s 32 year reign over the archipelago brought development at a high cost and for most his name is inextricably connected with corruption, collusion and nepotism. Students and academics have played a major role throughout the modern history of Indonesia, especially in the Suharto era, but many courageous men and women gave their lives in the struggle for change and freedom.
Full story on the University World News site


AUSTRALIA: ‘Ten Pound Pom’s Daughter’ becomes Education Minister
Geoff Maslen
When Julia Gillard became the most powerful woman in Australian history last November, London’s Daily Telegraph dubbed her the Ten Pound Pom’s Daughter. And that is exactly what she is, having arrived in Australia as a four-year-old with Welsh parents who had migrated under a scheme that cost sought-after British immigrants only £10 a person. It was 1965 and Tom and Olivia Gillard could never have believed their youngest child would one day be elected Australia’s deputy prime minister – and education minister. "If anybody had suggested to my parents when we migrated that something like this was possible, they would have taken their temperature and said they needed to go to bed," Gillard told a Brisbane newspaper after the November election.
Full story on the University World News site

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

UK: Lingua franca can cause confusion
Diane Spencer
What happens when a colleague turns to you in a meeting and says in a strong Cockney accent: "We'll have a second bite at the cherry"? As a native English speaker, you might not know what that means. If English is your second or third language, you probably will not have a clue. A new research paper looks at English as the lingua franca in the globalised business world.
Full story on the University World News site

GERMANY: Scholar discovers identity of ‘Mona Lisa’
The mystery over the identity of the woman behind Leonardo da Vinci's ‘Mona Lisa’ painting has been solved once and for all, according to German academics at Heidelberg University. Discovery Channel reports that manuscript expert Armin Schlechter uncovered conclusive evidence that she is Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo, in notes written in October 1503 in the margin of a book found two years ago in the university’s library collection.
More on the University World News site


US: Globalisation and forces for change in HE
In some ways, globalisation works against the desire to create a worldwide academic community based on cooperation and a shared vision of academic development, writes Professor Philip G Altbach, director of the Center for International Higher Education at Boston College, in the latest issue of International Higher Education. “The globalisation of science and scholarship, ease of communication, and the circulation of the best academic talent worldwide have not led to equality in higher education. Indeed, both within national academic systems and globally, inequalities are greater than ever,” he concludes.
More on the University World News site

US: New NAFSA report on ‘Strengthening study abroad’
The growth of study abroad, an integral part of any campus internationalisation effort, brings with it new challenges for higher education leaders, administrators and professionals. Late last year the Association of International Educators convened a task force comprised of 12 university and college heads and senior administrators, who compiled a report outlining 14 criteria for effective institutional management of study abroad, titled Strengthening Study Abroad: Recommendations for Effective Institutional Management.
More on the University World News site


CHINA: Peking University has richest alumni
Peking University, one of the two most prestigious higher education institutions in China, has more wealthy alumni than any other university in the country, reports China Daily. It leads a new ranking of universities by the number of alumni appearing on Rupert Hoogewerf's influential China Rich List from 2003 to 2007.
More on the University World News site

KENYA: Violence halts science research in East Africa
Violence that continues to rock Kenya following the disputed December election has dented scientific development in the country, which serves as a hub for many international research institutions, and the East African region, reports SciDevNet. Logistical management of scientific projects has been affected in Burundi, parts of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, southern Sudan and Uganda.
More on the University World News site

US: More than 1,100 colleges join global warming initiative
As part of a national effort to promote environmental activism on campus, professors at more than 1,100 colleges have agreed to discuss issues relating to global warming in their classes on 31 January or take part in panels running throughout the day, reports Inside Higher Ed. At most participating campuses, pledges were made by many professors – in some cases 50 or more – who are planning to modify lectures, create shorter presentations or attend the panel discussions.
More on the University World News site

ITALY: Pope cancels university speech after protests
Pope Benedict has cancelled his visit to Rome's secular La Sapienza university following a protest letter signed by 67 of 4,500 professors and complaints by thousands of students that he devalues science, reports USA Today. The Vatican said the pope's views were distorted and taken out of historic context, and that his speech would be sent to the university even though the pontiff will not deliver it.
More on the University World News site

UK: Google ‘white bread for the mind’
Google is “white bread for the mind” and the internet is producing a generation of students who survive on a diet of unreliable information, a professor of media studies has claimed, reports The Times. In her inaugural lecture at the University of Brighton, Tara Brabazon urged teachers at all levels of the education system to equip students with the skills they need to interpret and sift through information gleaned from the internet.
More on the University World News site

MALAYSIA: Two ‘autonomous’ universities by year end
At least two ‘apex’ universities – institutions that will enjoy more autonomy than public universities – are expected to be named before the end of the year, reports New Straits Times. The move is aimed at enabling local universities to act faster on opportunities brought about by changes in the academic, economic and social fields.
More on the University World News site

UGANDA: Makerere mature student scheme suspended
Makerere University has suspended an assistant academic registrar and a secretary, and closed its mature student entry scheme, after an investigation discovered that it had been abused. More than 130 former students have had their degrees cancelled, reports New Vision.
More on the University World News site
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