ISSN 1756-297XIssue No: 0144 24 October 2010
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6th Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning

Online Educa Berlin

HE Events Diary

Higher Education Marketing

The Millennium Development Goals are a challenge for all universities to achieve gender parity by 2015. See our Newsbriefs section.

The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan is renowned for its untouched mountainous beauty, but it could soon become known as the higher education hub of Asia.

Beating the body language barrier could be the key to improve international negotiations. See our Business section.


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

This week’s highlights

In Commentary, LUCY JAMES argues that universities must support students to challenge extreme Islamist ideologies on campus in order to protect freedom of speech; WIN MIN says if the Burmese election on November is rigged, there will be no protests this time because the student movement has been elaborately silenced; and JOEL DUFFY says cash-strapped universities should not be using public money to pay private lobbyists to put their case to government. In Features, KENCHO WANGDI, tracks the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan’s attempts to become a higher education hub. And in Business, GEOFF MASLEN reports on the pitfalls for negotiators of misunderstanding cultural differences in body language.

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

UK: Massive cuts raise spectre of student outflux
Diane Spencer and Brendan O’Malley
The coalition government is cutting the higher education budget by 40%. The budget will be reduced from £7.1 billion to £4.2 billion (US$11.2 billion to US$6.6 billion) by 2014-15. The scale of the cuts, and the possibility of tuition fees being driven up to compensate if the fee cap for UK students is raised, have left some European university leaders rubbing their hands with glee at the heightened prospect of enticing UK students abroad.
Full report on the University World News site

GREECE: Reforms may usher in privatisation
Makki Marseilles
Universities are facing radical reforms with the emphasis on attracting private funds and reducing the state’s financial commitment to higher education in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the liberation of the country from the Ottoman Empire in 1821.
Full report on the University World News site

EUROPE: Universities agree PhD reform principles
Brendan O’Malley and Cayley Dobie
Higher education institutions must develop a critical mass and diversity of research to offer high-quality doctoral education. University structures dedicated to doctoral education should be developing ways that strengthen the research environment rather than simply creating more taught courses for doctoral candidates, the European Association of Universities (EUA) warned this week.
Full report on the University World News site

LATIN AMERICA: Micro-loans widen students’ options
Eileen Travers
Students in Latin America and the Middle East discovered a new way to help pay tuition fees last month, as an innovative micro-loan organisation launched a one-year pilot programme in Bolivia, Lebanon, and Paraguay to make it easier for them to pursue a university education.
Full report on the University World News site

EUROPE: EU patent plan could boost research
Jan Petter Myklebust
The EU presidency is seeking to resolve the sensitive question of what languages should be used to write European patents, which could have a knock-on effect of encouraging more research innovation in European universities.
Full report on the University World News site

ZIMBABWE: Premier vows to tackle student concerns
Kudzai Mashininga
Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has asked for a grace period to address student grievances, in a move that ended a countrywide class boycott following protests that saw eight student union members arrested last week.
Full report on the University World News site

IRELAND: Universities woo maths students
John Walshe
Irish universities have bowed to political and business pressures and agreed to give additional ‘weighting’ to higher level mathematics in the secondary schools’ Leaving Certificate examination – but they are not convinced it will do much to boost the numbers taking maths at the higher level.
Full report on University World News site

VIETNAM-AFRICA: Promoting research, consultancy links
Mike Ives
As China builds on five decades of humanitarian projects in Africa, Vietnam is following suit by promoting new research and consulting partnerships with African allies. Officials recently announced that they were sending educational, medical and agricultural consultants to Africa and encouraging African students and researchers to visit Vietnam.
Full report on the University World News site

INDIA: History research shines in bleak humanities landscape
Alya Mishra
Universities in India have been unable to produce high quality research in the arts, humanities and social sciences, according to the 'Arts and Humanities Research Mapping, India’ report. However some world class research is being carried out in autonomous research centres, often funded by philanthropic bodies and India has pockets of research strength such as in history where “the exploration of new fields of research and of new historical sources”, have bourne fruit.
Full report on the University World News site

FRANCE: HEC Paris ties knot with Asian arts museum
Jane Marshall
Two prestigious French institutions have formed an unusual partnership to promote understanding of Asia. Leading business school HEC Paris and the Guimet Museum of Asian Arts have signed a three-year agreement, under which museum experts will teach courses centred on the museum’s collections.
Full report on the University World News site


AFRICA: Most countries miss gender in universities MDG
Most African nations are likely to miss the Millennium Development Goal of achieving gender parity in tertiary education by 2015, a new report has said. But it noted that in three of nine African countries reviewed, more women now access university education than their male counterparts.
Full report on University World News site

EU: Commission pushes for more translators
MJ Deschamps
The European Commission is encouraging universities to join its European Masters in Translation (EMT) university network as part of its new aim to encourage more European universities to offer high-quality courses for students who want to work as translators. The move is in response to a growing shortage of properly qualified translators in the job market.
Full report on the University World News site




BHUTAN: Future higher education hub of Asia?
Kencho Wangdi
The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan is renowned for its untouched mountainous beauty. It is also known for its political innovation: its tobacco sales ban and its use of ‘gross national happiness country’ as a yardstick for development, for example. But could it soon become known as a higher education hub of Asia?
Full report on the University World News site


GLOBAL: Islamist extremism must be challenged
The propagation of extreme Islamist ideologies at universities can push students towards terrorism and have a damaging effect on cohesion on campuses, so universities must support students who challenge them, says LUCY JAMES, author of a new study on the threat of radicalisation.
Full report on the University World News site

BURMA Elections: The students have been silenced
The 1988 student protests in Rangoon led to a mass uprising and the emergence of Aung San Suu Kyi as Opposition leader. Burmese students also initiated the 2007 demonstrations — and monks took their place when they were arrested. But, former student activist Win Min argues, the military will take any measures necessary to avoid losing the election on 7 November.
Full report on the University World News site

CANADA: Keep public funds away from the lobbyists
Joel Duff*
Evidence of public college and university administrations using taxpayers’ money to hire private lobbyists surfaced earlier this month in Canada’s largest province, Ontario. The controversy fuelled a heated debate that began weeks before when similar evidence implicated public hospitals, leading the Ontario government to pledge to legislate a ban on public institutions hiring private lobbyists.
Full report on the University World News site


AUSTRALIA: Saving cancer patients from starvation
Geoff Maslen
It is like watching someone starve to death: sometimes slowly, sometimes so quickly as to be shocking in its suddenness but always dreadfully painful to the sufferers and their relatives. Half the people dying with cancer lose weight and their muscles waste away until a significant proportion of their body mass has gone. This is the impact of a condition called cancer cachexia, from the Greek meaning ‘bad condition’.
Full report on the University World News site

SWEDEN: A richer, greener, smaller alpine world
Alpine plant life is proliferating, biodiversity is on the rise and the mountain world appears more productive and inviting than ever, says Swedish biologist Leif Kullman in a paper published in A Journal of the Human Environment*.
Full report on the University World News site

GERMANY: A solution to the kilogram headache
The kilogram is a massive headache for scientists, writes Geoff Brumfiel in a news item in the latest issue of It is officially defined as the mass of a 122-year-old cylinder of platinum and iridium, kept at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in Paris. But the cylinder's mass seems to be changing as it ages, prompting several groups of scientists to seek a replacement.
Full report on the University World News site


GLOBAL: Beat the body language barrier
Geoff Maslen
Clear cultural differences have been detected between the body language used by Western and Asian negotiators. Understanding them will prevent negotiators from inadvertently sending the wrong signals to their opponents, according to research by Wendi L Adair, an associate professor of organisational behaviour at the University of Waterloo in Canada.
Full report on the University World News site


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NEW ZEALAND: Plan to raise entrance bar
New proposals have been made to lift the bar for university entrance as universities clamp down on domestic enrolments, with government funding caps keeping growth down, writes Antonio Bradley for The Dominion Post.
More on the University World News site

UAE: Academic City turns down 25 universities
Dubai International Academic City has turned down 25 applications from international universities to set up their branch campuses in the Tecom Investment’s Education Cluster because they failed to meet best practices and international standards, reports Muaz Shabandri for Khaleej Times.
More on the University World News site

INDIA: LSE to help set up top universities
The London School of Economics will collaborate with the Reliance Foundation, run by the promoters of India’s largest corporate house, in setting up world-class universities in the South Asian nation, reports the Economic Times.
More on the University World News site

CANADA: Panel says name and shame fakers
A blue-ribbon panel says Canadian academics found to have faked data, plagiarised and engaged in serious misconduct should be named publicly, reports Margaret Munro for Postmedia News. In a report slated for release last week, the panel said action was needed to fill serious gaps in how Canada dealt with misconduct involving research and studies paid for by taxpayers.
More on the University World News site

US: Universities pursue ties with schools in Mexico
The leaders of the nation’s most prestigious universities are reaching out to their counterparts in Mexico, saying more partnerships between the two countries could help with some of the border's most intractable problems, reports Jeannie Kever for The Houston Chronicle.
More on the University World News site

NORTH AMERICA: Big drop in maths skills of students
The mathematics skills of students entering Canadian and North American universities have declined sharply in recent years, with many students unable to do basic arithmetic. Educators are divided on how much it matters, writes Anne Kershaw for University Affairs.
More on the University World News site

MALAYSIA: Foreign intake to be hiked
The Higher Education Ministry is confident that the targeted increased intake of foreign students will help spur the economy, reports The Star. Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said the ministry is targeting an intake of 150,000 foreign students into Malaysia’s public and private higher learning institutions by 2015.
More on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: High drop-out rates cost $1.4 billion
Student attrition in Australia’s universities comes at a cost of more than $1.4 billion (US$1.36 billion) a year, or an average of $36 million (US$35.2 million) an institution. A new study of 12 universities found attrition rates ranged from a low of 9.7% to a high of 24.2%, with an average of 17%, reports The Australian.
More on the University World News site

BRAZIL: Affirmative action on the rise
Affirmative action programmes have spread rapidly across Brazil’s higher education institutions. Afro-Brazilians seeking a university education now have access to opportunities that were unreachable just decades ago, writes Amy Erica Smith for Americas Quarterly. A recent study by the Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro found that 70% of Brazil’s public universities – both federal and state – have adopted some form of affirmative action.
More on the University World News site

US: Blacks, Hispanics trail in higher education
Higher education attainment rates for college-aged African-Americans and Hispanics have dropped across the board, according to a report, Minorities in higher education 2010, from the American Council on Education, a nonprofit that represents college leaders, writes Skyler McKinley for Youth Today.
More on the University World News site

UK: Supermarket to pay student fees
A supermarket chain says it will pay for students’ university fees if they enrol in a degree course it is sponsoring, heralding a new era of commerc ialisation in England's university system, writes Jessica Shepherd for The Guardian.
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INDIA: New red tape upsets universities
A newly formed association of universities has criticised several proposed laws to reform higher education, saying they would ‘over-regulate’ the sector and undermine the autonomy of institutes, reports The Telegraph. Among the bills the Indian Council of Universities (ICU) has opposed is the educational tribunals bill, which seeks to set up spec ialised tribunals to adjudicate disputes in higher educational institutions.
More on the University World News site

SOUTH KOREA: Too many graduates for too few jobs
Well-educated graduates are struggling to find decent jobs amid concerns of a mismatch between industry and academia, reports Korea’s JoongAng Daily. According to an OECD report this month, Korea has one of the lowest employment rates for college-educated people out of its 33 member countries, with only 77.1% of college graduates in 2008 gaining employment.
More on the University World News site

INDIA: Move to improve staff training
With the aim of improving professionalism in the management of universities and colleges, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has issued guidelines on “training and development of academic administrators in higher education”, reports The Times of India. It is argued that quality of education has taken a toll as teachers, besides performing primary task of teaching and research, are also discharging duties as deans, proctors, provosts, exam controllers, principals, department heads.
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SRI LANKA: 15 private universities on the way
Providing educational opportunities to all students is behind a move to set up 15 private universities in Sri Lanka, reports Hiran H Senewiratne for The Island, with 20% of seats of each university having to accommodate Sri Lankan students on a scholarship basis.
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INDIA: Minister defends ban on Mistry novel
Chief minister Ashokrao Chavan last week justified the Mumbai University’s decision to withdraw Rohinton Mistry’s novel Such a long journey on the grounds that it contained “very bad language”, reports Prafulla Marpakwar for The Times of India.
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