ISSN 1756-297XIssue No: 0131 4 July 2010
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Professor Erika von Mutius
Professor Erika von Mutius is the thousandth top researcher to receive a grant from the European Research Council.
Puffinus tenuirostris
Mark Carey, a researcher at La Trobe University, has been completing his Phd with studies into aspects of the life of the Puffinus tenuirostris.
From Ivory Towers to solar-powered houses. Not just mere models but fully functional (real) houses.


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: Accused Nigerian students deported
Tunde Fatunde
The Malaysian government has deported two Nigerian postgraduate students who were among 10 people from various countries detained in January for alleged links with the terrorist organisation Al-Qaeda. The Nigerians had been studying at the International Islamic University near the capital Kuala Lumpur.
Full report on the University World News site

INDIA: New performance and promotion system
Suchitra Behal
Career advancement prospects in Indian universities became more difficult last week with the University Grants Commission adopting a performance-based points system. From now on, lecturers will be graded annually on their performance and will be eligible for promotions based on their teaching, research and publication quality – not on seniority.
Full report on the University World News site

INDIA: Single entry test proposed
Alya Mishra
With millions of school leavers sitting multiple examinations in their final year of school, India’s Education Ministry is proposing a single national entrance test for universities and professional institutions. The aim is to reduce student stress and also introduce greater flexibility in a system that currently makes it difficult for students to switch between courses once they have made a choice in high school.
Full report on the University World News site

AFRICA: New institute to boost university governance
Jane Marshall
A new institute to strengthen the governance and management of African universities has been officially inaugurated in Yaoundé, Cameroon. The Pan-African Institute of University Governance aims to improve and modernise practices for the competent running of higher education institutions throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.
Full report on the University World News site

NORWAY: Top bureaucrat claimed false degrees
Jan Petter Myklebust
A high-ranking official at the Norwegian Regulation Authority for Health Personnel has quit following allegations she used fake degrees 15 years ago to be appointed. Liv Løberg, whose husband is the security chief in Norway’s parliament, was responsible for authorising the qualifications each year of hundreds of health professionals, including many foreign citizens.
Full report on the University World News site

FINLAND: New era of private benefactors
Ian R Dobson*
A new universities act has transformed institutions from branches of government into independent legal entities. Universities now face fewer restrictions in raising revenue via private donations and bequests.
Full report on the University World News site

AFRICA: Pan-African University close to starting
Gilbert Nganga
Kenya has been selected as the East African host of the planned Pan-African University, a spec ialised institution comprising a network of universities that is being created to help supply the continent’s high-level human capital. This ends a five-month stalemate between countries in the region that had been squabbling over who the host would be.
Full report on the University World News site

EGYPT: University cooperation to ease Nile Basin row
Wagdy Sawahel
Egypt plans to promote higher education cooperation with seven upstream Nile Basin states in a diplomatic move to strengthen strategic, economic and cultural relations. The aim is to ease tension sparked by a new pact calling for equitable water use, which Egypt perceives as being against its interests.
Full report on the University World News site

AFRICA: International research initiatives launched
Wagdy Sawahel
A number of international initiatives were launched in Africa recently to develop research and innovation across the continent, and to transform new ideas generated by higher education and research into improved products, processes and businesses. The projects include a technology development and transfer network, a continental research framework programme and a science-to-business challenge.
Full report on the University World News site

AFRICA: New inventions and discoveries observatory
Wagdy Sawahel
An Online Observatory for African Inventions and Discoveries has been launched, aimed at encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship to help meet the continent’s development challenges.
Full report on the University World News site


CHINA: Future of rapid urbanisation
From critiques of the Shanghai World Expo logo and the expo’s unsustainable aftermath, to how changing ideologies and economic regimes are positively transforming urban spaces, a Global Cities Research Institute at RMIT University in Melbourne is shining a spotlight on the impact of rapid urbanisation in China.
Full report on the University World News site

UK: Open University hits 20 million iTunes U downloads
The Open University set a world record last week when it became the first university to achieve 20 million downloaded tracks on iTunes U, a dedicated area within the iTunes Store.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: OECD launches innovation strategy
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Developments has presented its innovation strategy, focusing on human capital and education. The initiative was launched at a ministerial council meeting in May following a three-year multidisciplinary, multi-stakeholder effort, the organisation announced.
Full report on the University World News site

EUROPE: Research grants top 1,000
Michael Gardner
Professor Erika von Mutius is the thousandth top researcher to receive a grant from the European Research Council. Von Mutius is exploring new ways to tackle asthma and allergies. To mark the awarding of the grant, a ceremony attended by leading figures from the political and research scene was held in Munich late last month.
Full report on the University World News site


IRAN: Prominent scholar released on bail
Roisin Joyce
Emadeddin Baghi, Iranian scholar, journalist and human rights activist, was released on bail on 23 June. According to reports from Amnesty International he was released from Tehran’s Evin prison on bail of US$200,000 after 180 days in prison.
Full report on the University World News site

More academic freedom reports on the University World News site
CHINA: Publisher scraps Tiananmen Square memoir
IRAN: Two UK students in detention in Iran
ANGOLA: Professor on trial in Cabinda
TURKEY: Education trade unionists on trial
RWANDA: American academic released


AUSTRALIA: Mutton birds or puffins
Geoff Maslen
Giant tiger snakes as long as a man’s arm and with heads the size of his closed fist live on Great Dog Island. So it is always with some trepidation that La Trobe University researcher Mark Carey pushes his arm down the burrows where the mutton birds nest – in case a tiger is there as well. “I have a fear of snakes,” Carey says. “And if students are with me on the island, the one rule is that the ‘s’ word is not to be spoken unless there’s one of them about…”
Full report on the University World News site

UK: Huge prehistoric ‘accessories’ attracted mates
Fins, crests and sails – various species of dinosaur displayed intriguing accessories. Now research suggests many of these adaptations grew extra large in order to attract mates.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Communicating science to the public
A US initiative has tried to find ways to improve communication between scientists and the public, especially about issues that worry people deeply. The American Academy of Arts and Sciences project considered how scientists engage with the public and how their mutual understanding could be improved.
Full report on the University World News site


GLOBAL: Ivory towers to solar-powered houses
Paul Rigg
The adrenalin buzz among the professors and university students is palpable during the construction of futuristic structures that run exclusively on energy generated by the sun. But these are not mere models; they are real houses that can run everything from washing machines to air conditioning systems, all from solar power.
Full report on University World News Website

KYRGYZSTAN: University politicisation to continue
Yojana Sharma
The national referendum held in Kyrgyzstan last weekend in the wake of major unrest in mid-June will not halt the politicisation of universities, said a Kyrgyz opposition politician in exile who is familiar with the country’s universities.
Full report on University World News Website

KENYA: Cashing in on foreign language learning
Gilbert Nganga
Kenya’s universities are rolling out foreign language programmes as nations and investors, especially from Asia, increasingly turn to the East African country for resources to boost their industrial growth. In the past month Kenya’s biggest universities – Nairobi and Kenyatta – have announced new courses in Korean and Chinese respectively. They both host branches of China’s Confucius Institute.
Full report on the University World News site

AFRICA: Does Africa really need new idealism?
Linda Nordling
Perhaps it is a fear that aid from the financially tumultuous North might be squeezed. Perhaps it is a growing frustration at rich countries’ failure to keep their promises to the world’s poor. Whatever the cause, a wave of idealism is sweeping through the innovation policy debate, accompanied by that idealist writ – the manifesto.
Full report on University World News Website


GLOBAL: Student disengagement: global comparisons
Jim Côté
A common reaction to reports of student disengagement is that we all should get used to widespread disengagement because nothing better should be expected from a mass university system. A variety of excuses are made for students who are ‘too busy’ to put full effort into their studies. One way to approach this ‘inevitability question’ is to ask whether the levels of student disengagement observed in Canada and the US are also found in massified systems in other countries.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Bibliometrics, rankings and transparency
Kristopher Olds*
Why do we care so much about the actual and potential uses of bibliometrics (“the generic term for data about publications”, according to the OECD) and world university ranking methodologies, but care so little about the private sector firms, and their inter-firm relations, that drive the bibliometrics and global rankings agenda forward?
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Science metrics
The value of scientific output is often measured, to rank one nation against another, allocate funds between universities, or even grant or deny tenure. Scientometricians have devised a multitude of ‘metrics’ to help in these rankings. Do they work? Are they fair? Are they over-used? Nature investigated this key higher education issue in a series of articles published in its June edition.
More on the University World News site

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

UK: Bees stick to working hours
Bees are often admired by humans for what appears to be a strong work ethic – working throughout the day to gather pollen. But what happens when the insects have the opportunity to work around the clock? Will they do so?
Full report on the University World News site


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GLOBAL: New ranking of Ibero-American universities
The SCImago Research Group has just published a new ranking of Ibero-American universities, based on their research productivity, writes Simon Schwartzman for the Inside Higher Ed blog The World View. Of the 10 more productive research institutions, five are Spanish, four Brazilian and one Mexican. The indicators are based on scientific publications.
More on the University World News site

US: Politics embroil gulf research grants
University professors in the gulf region responded with delight to BP’s pledge to put up $500 million for academic research into the Gulf of Mexico’s ecology over the next 10 years, writes Julie Cart for the Los Angeles Times. With no significant federal grants on the horizon and an urgency to begin work, some of the academics had taken to using their own credit cards in hopes they would soon be reimbursed.
More on the University World News site

US: Questioning foreign medical schools
Just as Congress ratchets up its scrutiny of for-profit higher education as a whole, the body’s investigative arm is calling on the US Department of Education to begin examining some of the same issues of value and quality at foreign medical schools where Americans use federal student loans, writes Jennifer Epstein for Inside Higher Ed. The largest of such schools are for-profit institutions.
More on the University World News site

US: For-profit colleges: educators or predators?
When Yasmine Issa found herself, at 24, unemployed and a recently divorced mother of twins, she turned to the Sanford-Brown Institute, a for-profit college in White Plains, New York, that offered an ultrasound sonography programme and promised her job-placement opportunities, writes Elizabeth Dias for Time. But a completed programme and $15,000 in federal loans later, Issa missed the catch: the programme was not accredited. “I was somebody no one wanted to hire,” she says.
More on the University World News site

PAKISTAN: Court orders action against fake degree MPs
Pakistan’s increasingly assertive Supreme Court has ordered election authorities to take action against legislators found to have forged higher education qualifications in order to contest the 2008 general elections, writes Zeeshan Haider for Reuters. And the Higher Education Commission has asked universities to verify the degrees of their academic and administrative staff, creating tension, reports the Daily Times.
More on the University World News site

TURKEY: Science needs more autonomy, report says
Turkey has not achieved the status of a “scientific society” and science in the country requires more independence from politics to achieve that goal, according to a new report based on extensive interviews with scientists, reports Hürriyet Daily News.
More on the University World News site

WALES: University numbers to be reduced
A plan to close smaller Welsh universities has been broadly welcomed by education professionals, reports BBC News. Education Minister Leighton Andrews has indicated that smaller bodies will be forced into mergers, meaning a reduced number of higher education institutions.
More on the University World News site

UK: University admission points system to be reviewed
The UK’s university admissions system is to be overhauled amid fears that the practice of scoring applicants’ qualifications has become outdated, and is being wrongly used by employers to recruit graduates, writes Polly Curtis for the Guardian.
More on the University World News site

AFRICA: Research project takes genetics to roots
A US$37 million international collaboration by major research bodies in the United States, Britain and Africa wants to take the fruits of the genetic revolution to a continent it has largely bypassed until now, writes Kate Kelland for Reuters. The project, named Human Heredity and Health in Africa or H3Africa, will use genetic techniques developed in the West to explore the roots of human life among populations that carry the world’s oldest and most diverse sets of genes.
More on the University World News site

HONG KONG: China scholarship centre’s big ambitions
A university library in Hong Kong is aiming to open up new fields of research on China by building the world’s most comprehensive repository of statistical information on the country, better than anything available on the mainland, writes Mary Hennock for The Chronicle of Higher Education. The ambition is huge: to put details about life in China dating back to 1949 into a digital format that permits swift comparisons and reaches down to the country’s smallest towns and villages.
More on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Push for degree-level colleges
The heads of technical and further education (TAFE) colleges in Australia are proposing a new type of higher education institution between universities and colleges, writes Andrew Trounson for The Australian. The TAFE Directors Australia initiative is part of a push to win funding for degrees in a post-2012 uncapped student numbers system.
More on the University World News site

THE NETHERLANDS: No university anti-spy measures
Universities of technology in the Netherlands are not taking additional anti-espionage measures, against the advice of the General Intelligence and Security Service, or AIVD, reports Radio Netherlands. Universities see combating espionage as a matter for the government.
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