ISSN 1756-297XIssue No: 0141 26 September 2010
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6th Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning

Online Educa Berlin

HE Events Diary

Higher Education Marketing

Peter Wells of Unesco-CEPES compares education to Lady Gaga. See our News section.

The new Oxford University Press Chinese Dictionary is finally complete. See our Features section.

Women are finally taking their rightful place in Education. See our Commentary section.

European Commissioner Neelie Kroes has unveiled a Digital Agenda for Europe that includes high-speed broadband for all. See the News section.


University World News was a media partner to the OECD's Institutional Management in Higher Education conference in Paris in September 2010. The newspaper was also media partner to the Unesco World Conference on Higher Education in July 2009.


This week’s highlights

This week’s edition of University World News publishes a special report on exporting online education, edited by PHILIP FINE, and JOHN WALSHE reports from a European Universities Association conference in Bologna on diversifying university income streams. In the Commentary section RICHARD HOLMES probes a flawed indicator in the Times Higher Education world university rankings, and in Features DAVID JOBBINS reports on first official history of the British intelligence service MI6.

SPECIAL REPORT: Exporting online education

Online education. It can bring high profits or require large subsidies. It can educate those in far-flung regions, give hope to working-class ambitions and act as a development tool. On the other hand, it can feel isolating, cheapen a university’s name and over-commodify a professor’s role. It can be run by faceless corporations or be part of an integrated plan for a country’s growing needs. There are lots of stories to be told.

In this special report, ALYA MISHRA in India shows how online education is being used to shore up domestic shortfalls in bricks-and-mortar universities, with entrepreneurs eyeing the export market. SARAH KING HEAD looks at the high profits of US online education providers, who seem to be straining the student loan system, and how universities are lining up to court the for-profits. Profit margins are lower in Africa, writes SHARON DELL, with one South African university cornering the market at a loss, to try and bring more higher education to the continent. EILEEN TRAVERS’ article details a Mexican programme that brings online courses to ex-pats in an effort to build its roster of well-trained professionals.

Bringing this all together is DAVID JOBBINS’ exclusive interview with online and distance education pioneer Sir John Daniel, who heads up the Commonwealth of Learning, looking among other things at changing attitudes toward the sector and the good it can offer developing countries. Next week JOHN RICHARD SCHROCK reports that some US universities have begun to reject online courses on transcripts of student applicants.

Philip Fine
Editor of the Special Report on exporting online education

INDIA: Local need feeds online education investment
Alya Mishra
While Western countries look at exporting education online, India is using that platform to fill a shortage of bricks-and-mortar universities. Keen to increase the enrolment of 18-to-30 year olds from a dismal 12.4% to an ambitious 30%, India is investing heavily in information technology believing it will encourage online education and increase student numbers.
Full report on the University World News site

US: High profits mean online providers here to stay
Sarah King Head
A cancellation of a large online project between the California community college system and Kaplan University reflects a dilemma faced by higher education in the US: many contact universities rely on for-profit online providers to train the masses.
Full report on the University World News site

AFRICA: Going where for-profits dare not tread
Sharon Dell
Exporting online higher education to the African continent is not for the faint of heart. It’s a complicated and costly affair, which means that for-profit operators have tended shy away from it. One university seems to have cornered the African market in providing distance and online post-school education, with the help of some political goodwill at the highest levels of government. The huge University of South Africa, Unisa, has brought a developmental vision to Sub-Saharan Africa, embracing the continent and earning a solid reputation in the process.
Full report on the University World News site

MEXICO: Country targets ex-pats with online degrees
Eileen Travers
Among the more than two million students starting post-secondary classes in Mexico this semester, an additional 1,000 Mexican citizens logged on from abroad, as the country has expanded an innovative online programme to reach those outside its borders.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Q&A with on-line pioneer John Daniel
David Jobbins
Sir John Daniel has been at the leading edge of the open and distance learning (ODL) movement through his roles as Vice-chancellor of the UK’s Open University, Assistant Director General of UNESCO and, currently, President of the Commonwealth of Learning in Vancouver, Canada, an organisation that has set the standard for ODL in developing countries. Among the many projects it supports is Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa, TESSA, whose open educational materials were used by 300,000 African teachers last year.
Full report on the University World News site

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

PAKISTAN: Universities boycott prompts funds offer
Ameen Amjad Khan
A countrywide academic boycott staged across all public sector universities in Pakistan last week due to anger at the government’s refusal to provide already-allocated funds to the country’s 72 universities, led to a government climb-down for fear the protests might lead to violent clashes.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Postgraduate quality principles adopted
Geoff Maslen
Assessment of quality in postgraduate education is critical to the success of masters and doctoral students, and to the future of global research within and outside academe, according to a set of principles adopted at an international conference of higher education leaders from 17 countries held in Brisbane this month.
Full report on the University World News site

INDIA: Anti-corruption rules for private institutions
Alya Mishra
In a bid to encourage transparency and stamp out corruption and fraud in universities, India’s education ministry is preparing guidelines that will for the first time force private higher education institutions to make their accounts public. The ministry had received numerous complaints from parents and students that private providers were engaging in malpractices and fleecing students.
Full report on the University World News site

GULF STATES: Renewable energy centre unveiled
Wagdy Sawahel
The Gulf Cooperation Council, GCC, is to establish a Centre of Excellence in Renewable Energy Research in the oil rich Gulf region with a presence in each of its six states – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Full report on the University World News site

IRELAND: Probe into university payments embarrassing
John Walshe
Unauthorised payments of allowances, bonuses and enhanced pensions for some university staff over several years have been revealed in a report from Ireland’s public spending watchdog, the Comptroller and Auditor General. It has caused deep embarrassment to university leaders who tried to explain the expenditure when they appeared before a parliamentary committee on public spending earlier this month.
Full report on the University World News site

POLAND: Habilitation degree process to be speeded up
Jaroslaw Adamowski
Poland’s Ministry of Science and Higher Education has announced plans to accelerate the process of ‘habilitation’ – the final stage before a faculty post in a university. The proposal is part of a reform package developed by the ministry, aimed at boosting the competitiveness of universities and encouraging young researchers to pursue academic careers.
Full report on the University World News site

UK: Economy needs more graduates, says think tank
David Jobbins
A report by a leading UK think tank calls on the coalition government to increase rather than to restrict the production of university graduates to meet long-term economic needs. The Work Foundation accepts that the only way to finance continued growth in graduate supply is to increase tuition fees – but in a way that safeguards and maximises access to higher education.
Full report on the University World News site

FRANCE: ‘Digital university’ makes progress
Jane Marshall
The French government is striving to close the digital gap in higher education. A year after the launch of a EUR17 million (US$22 million) programme to develop the ‘digitised university’, the number of wireless terminals in institutions has doubled, 30,000 hours of courses are available on podcast and 95% of students have access to a ‘digital working environment’, said Valérie Pécresse, Minister of Higher Education and Research.
Full report on the University World News site

EUROPE: EU plans for high-speed internet revealed
David Haworth
Opportunities for research funding into the next generation of digital technologies were unveiled last week with the European Commission’s long awaited report on next generation networks, which set out the European Union’s plans for implementing the next generation of high-speed internet connections.
Full report on the University World News site

European Universities Association conference

Less state money means more regulation, was the view expressed by many delegates at a recent European Universities Association conference in Bologna on diversifying income streams. They heard several examples of how universities are successfully tapping other sources of revenue but were also cautioned about the potential pitfalls of cosying up too close to the private sector.

EUROPE: Less government money but more regulation
John Walshe
Universities across Europe face a future of reduced state funding with a greater degree of government regulation, a European Universities Association conference on its European Universities Diversifying Income Stream (EUDIS) project, heard.
Full report on the University World News site

EUROPE: Universities warned of funding risk to mission
John Walshe
Too great a hunger for external funds may distract universities from their mission and focus, the European Universities Association conference in Bologna was warned. Over-dependence on the private sector can also result in too much application-focussed research at the cost of fundamental and curiosity-driven research.
Full report on the University World News site


EUROPE: Professors to select new scientific council
Cayley Dobie
Six European professors have been appointed to the European Research Council’s identification committee charged with finding new members for its scientific council.
Full report on the University World News site

DENMARK: Interest in Brazilian studies up
Jan Petter Myklebust
A Danish university department spec ialising in Brazilian studies has doubled its student numbers since 2009.
Full report on the University World News site


GLOBAL: Rankings undermined by flawed indicator
Richard Holmes*
Times Higher Education said that their new-style ranking would have a few surprises. They were certainly right. There have been so many academic eyebrows rising into the stratosphere that airlines will have to impose flight restrictions.
Full report on the University World News site


UK: Belfast historian sheds light on secret service
David Jobbins
The international headlines marking the first official history of the British intelligence service MI6 focussed on a James Bond world of matchbox cameras, spooks’ semen used as invisible ink, the assassination of Rasputin and false horse p enises.
Full report on the University World News site

GERMANY: Lagging behind in OECD statistics
Michael Gardner
The latest report on education issued by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development emphasises that education pays its way. But while this is clearly borne out by income levels and employment prospects for academically qualified graduates in Germany, the country continues to lag behind in terms of key OECD criteria.
Full report on the University World News site


UKRAINE: Arrest of historian for research activities
Roisin Joyce*
Historian Ruslan Zabiliy has been arrested by the Ukrainian security service, the SBU, allegedly on the basis of his research into the Ukrainian Insurgent Army and Ukraine’s independence movement in the 1940s and 1950s, the Kyiv Post reported on 17 September.
More Academic Freedom reports on the University World News site


EUROPE: EU seeks role in nanobiotechnology
Alan Osborn
Seven European research centres have formed a consortium to launch nanobiotechnology on a European scale backed by funding from the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme on research. The grouping, EuroNanoBio, claims it is defining the key features of a potential European future nano-biotechnology industry, which uses tiny microbiological particles to make products and components.
Full report on the University World News site

UK: Fines cost companies dearly in reputational loss
Cayley Dobie
Research from Britain’s Oxford University has offered warnings to companies that being fined by a government regulator may cost them far more than the amount of the financial penalty.
Full report on the University World News site


DENMARK: Academic helps musicians fight injuries
Jan Petter Myklebust
A Danish academic is working to help musicians overcome musculoskeletal problems. Helene Martina Paarup at the University of Southern Denmark is concerned that professional musicians report having musculoskeletal problems two to three times more frequently that in the general workforce.
Full report on the University World News site


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AUSTRALIA: Uneven punishment for plagiarism: report
An estimated 10,000 students a year are subjected to disciplinary action across Australia’s universities, most of them for plagiarism allegations, reports Andrew Trounson for The Australian.
More on the University World News site

ZIMBABWE: Two students killed by security guards
Two students from Bindura University are said to have died after being assaulted by security guards determined to stop those who had not paid their tuition fees from attending a graduation ceremony, reports Lance Guma for SW Radio Africa News.
More on the University World News site

DUBAI: Universities withstand financial crisis
When Michigan State University shut down its undergraduate programme in Dubai in July, citing among other things the departure of overseas workers and their families in the wake of the financial crisis, it was feared that other colleges and universities would also suffer, writes Vir Singh for The New York Times. This has not happened.
More on the University World News site

MALAYSIA: Johns Hopkins to set up teaching hospital
The renowned US teaching and research medical institution Johns Hopkins University will be setting up a school and hospital in Malaysia, writes Wong Chun Wai for The Star. It will be Malaysia’s first private teaching hospital with research facilities.
More on the University World News site

INDIA: World’s largest university to open in Europe
The Indira Gandhi National Open University, the largest in the world, will open study centres in six European nations, including Germany and France, to offer personalised courses, reports Sify Finance.
More on the University World News site

US: Study shows value of university degree is growing
Despite rising tuition and student loan debt levels, the long-term payoff from earning a college degree is growing, writes Tamar Lewin for The New York Times. According to a report by the College Board, workers with a college degree earned much more and were much less likely to be unemployed than those with only a high school diploma
More on the University World News site

CANADA: Parents struggle with soaring university bills
Almost two-thirds of Canadian parents say they cannot afford the soaring costs of sending their children to university, a poll by BMO Financial Group found, while a separate survey said students are graduating with double the debt of 20 years ago, reports Sharon Singleton for the QMI Agency.
More on the University World News site

US: For-profit school stocks jump
Shares of education companies got a big boost last Thursday on hopes for a change in tough new regulations that schools have said would hurt their business, reports Bloomberg Business Week.
More on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Graduate community service possible
The South African government will look at introducing compulsory community service for university graduates, Minister of Higher Education and Training Dr Blade Nzimande said at the ruling African National Congress’ national general council on Thursdays, writes Stuart Graham for News24.
More on the University World News site

VIETNAM: Can universities produce another Asian tiger?
Vietnam is building up its universities in an effort to join economic tigers Taiwan and South Korea, reports the Christian Science Monitor.
More on the University World News site

UK: Students prepare to earn and learn
With rising inflation and tuition fees likely to go up, a university place now involves working as well as studying, writes Karen Dugdale for The Observer. Of the 443,000 students starting university in the coming weeks, around two-thirds will be funding their studies through part-time work.
More on the University World News site

UK: Oxford’s status under threat from cuts, VC warns
Professor Andrew Hamilton, Oxford University’s vice-chancellor, says the university will increasingly have to rely on philanthropy owing to imminent government cuts to higher education, reports Jessica Shepherd for The Guardian.
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SCOTLAND: Vice-chancellor proposes graduate tax
A leading academic has said that students should start contributing towards the cost of their degrees to help Scottish universities cope with a looming public spending crisis, reports Simon Johnson for The Telegraph.
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UAE: Expert urges standardisation of higher education
An expert in professional education has urged Arab colleges and universities to standardise their programmes, reports Al Bawaba News.
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UGANDA: Questions over honorary professorships
The National Council for Higher Education has questioned Makerere University's recent award of honorary professorships to some leading Ugandans, reports Conan Businge and John Eremu for The New Vision.
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