ISSN 1756-297XIssue No: 0015  10 February 2008
HE Events Diary

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First Nations peoples have left their mark across North America. In this week's special report on indigenous people and higher education, our correspondents report on education issues facing the native peoples of the USA and Canada.

Aboriginal parents rate education highly, but many remain alienated from Australia's education system. See the article in this week's special report.

In times past, Maori maraes were the scene of traditional learning. Now New Zealand's native people are benefitting from their own tertiary education institutions. Our feature article explores their growth and their future.


SPECIAL REPORT: Indigenous education

The challenges facing the world's indigenous people are daunting and ever-present. They range from achieving land rights and self-determination for their communities to tackling widespread poverty, alcohol and drug abuse, and – perhaps most important – low educational outcomes.

Almost everywhere in the world where countries have been colonised by invaders, indigenous people continue to suffer educational and economic deprivation. Proportionally far fewer indigenous students complete secondary school compared with those in dominant race groups and far fewer go on to higher education.

Governments and higher education institutions try to improve the situation, recognising that education is often the foundation for social and economic gains. But there are no easy answers to overcoming sometimes centuries of neglect. Our correspondents report.

WORLD: Indigenous peoples seek their own answers
John Gerritsen*
When the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium or Winhec meets, it brings together cultures as diverse as the First Nations of North America, Australia's Aborigines, New Zealand’s Maori and Norway's Sami. But among that rich diversity of tradition, language and culture, Winhec's members find they are talking the same language and facing the same challenges, says its director Turoa Royal.
Full report on the University World News site

MEXICO: Empowering indigenous people through HE
Matthew T Wooten*
During 2006, I worked with indigenous community leaders in Oaxaca, Mexico, to help establish one of the country’s first indigenous universities: the Centro de Estudios Ayuuk- Universidad Indígena Intercultural Ayuuk (CEA-UIIA). Seeking to provide the youth of their communities with avenues of higher education within their own region, the Mixe (or Ayuuk) people saw the need for a university to address local challenges.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Combining modern education and native culture
Arlene Cherwin
Tribal colleges offer post-secondary education to Native Americans and Alaskan Natives while preserving their culture. The college courses are taught by indigenous teachers and are core-culture based, infusing the cultural perspectives and values of a particular tribe throughout the curriculum and daily student life. As well, the colleges sponsor outreach programmes on reservations to serve the entire tribal population.
Full report on the University World News site

PERU: Indigenous peoples’ HE needs neglected
Paul H Dillon
Although indigenous people make up at least 40% of Peru’s population, their inclusion in higher education has never been an ex plicit national policy. Even intercultural bilingual education in primary and secondary schools has received little governmental support.
Full report on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Low education achievement for First People
Geoff Maslen
Although both traditional and urban Aboriginal parents rate education highly, many remain alienated from a system that has failed to accept their cultural heritage as the basis of their social life and individual identity. Accordingly, education is often irrelevant to the needs of Aboriginal people and, in some cases, has been actually harmful.
Full report on the University World News site

CANADA: First Nations university prompts difficult question
Philip Fine
Does Canada actually need an indigenous university? That was the controversial question put to two aboriginal academics by University World News. Controversial because Canada, unlike the indigenous populations of other countries, founded its own indigenous peoples’ institution more than 30 years ago. What started out as a college in Saskatchewan in 1976 became the First Nations University of Canada five years ago – but subsequently began losing much of its reputation while also experiencing dwindling enrolments and a desperate search for funds.
Full report on the University World News site

NEW ZEALAND: Universities bypassed in enrolment boom
John Gerritsen
New Zealand's indigenous people, the Maori, are participating in tertiary education at unprecedented levels, enrolling in their tens of thousands at the nation's tertiary institutions. But it is a boom that has largely bypassed the nation's eight universities.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Indigenous knowledge: resiliently local in character
A new book, Indigenous Knowledge and Education, published by Harvard Education Press will be of interest to all those who follow the relationship between higher education and indigenous communities around the world. The book notes that indigenous knowledge is resiliently local in character and thus poses a distinct contrast to the international, more impersonal system of knowledge prevalent in Western educational institutions.
More on the University World News site

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

IRAQ: Urgent action to save universities
Universities in Iraq have suffered from being cut off for two decades from progress in educational curricula, resources, teaching methods, modern technology and research, according to a report released last week. The report says the current situation in Iraq requires a comprehensive review to develop curricula, scientific spec ialisations and degree programmes. These should be brought in line with those of the world’s leading higher education institutions, as well as corresponding to Iraq’s developmental requirements.
Full report on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Student protests turn violent
Karen MacGregor
Violent student protests disrupted campuses in South Africa last week with hundreds of students at the Durban University of Technology clashing with police during a march against escalating tuition costs and exclusions of poor students who cannot pay fees. Institutions around the country are negotiating with students to try to resolve these and other problems that disrupt learning at the start of each academic year. But other universities have also experienced protests and students are anticipating more turmoil this month.
Full report on the University World News site

ZIMBABWE: Universities close ahead of elections
Fearing unrest among students, the Zimbabwean government has reportedly ordered public higher education institutions to remain closed until after national elections on 29 March. In late January students marched in Bulawayo, protesting against plummeting educational standards among other things, and the higher education minister announced that students at all universities must learn Chinese language and history – a policy aimed at supporting the ‘Look East’ policy adopted after sanctions were imposed by western countries.
Full report on the University World News site

EUROPE: Doctoral education gets long-awaited council
Alan Osborn
The European University Association has announced the launch of the first organisation to develop and promote doctoral education and research training across Europe. The EUA Council for Doctoral Education (EUA-CDE) has been a long-sought goal of European universities wanting “a more structured approach to promote cooperation and exchange of good practice between doctoral schools and programmes,” according to EUA president, Professor Georg Winckler.
Full report on the University World News site
See also the profile of Professor Winckler in our People section


NEW ZEALAND: Maori institutions enjoy better times
John Gerritsen*
At the turn of this century, New Zealand's three public wanangas – indigenous tertiary institutions – had just a few thousand students between them and there was little to suggest they would be other than minor players in the country's tertiary education sector, offering courses in Maori language and knowledge. Yet within three years, the numbers studying in those institutions had shot up to nearly 40,000, many of them non-Maoris, and Maori tertiary education participation had risen higher than that of any other ethnic group.
Full report on the University World News site

CANADA: Course evaluations – or students’ revenge?
Brett Zimmerman*
It’s that time of year again when students prepare to fill out their course evaluations. No matter how confident I’ve become with my teaching, the drill remains a source of consternation. Like death and taxes, the evaluation exercise is something instructors cannot avoid, certainly not at any university whose administrators believe in accountability.
Full report on the University World News site


EUROPE: Georg Winckler – guru
Alan Osborn
A new body to promote doctoral education across Europe – the just-launched EUA Council for Doctoral Education – has Professor Georg Winckler’s fingerprints all over it. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who cares more passionately about the richness of European culture and science and the way that national fragmentation stops them finding their proper place in the world. It is a recurring theme in the conversation, writing and political work of the Austrian professor, president of the European University Association and rector of the University of Vienna.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Nobel winner Joshua Lederberg dies
Joshua Lederberg, one of the 20th century’s leading scientists, whose work in bacterial genetics had vast medical implications and led to his receiving a Nobel Prize in 1958, died on 2 February. The New York Times reports that he was 82 and lived on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Rockefeller University, where Lederberg was a professor and president emeritus, said the cause was pneumonia.
More on the University World News site

US: Chinese prof named World Bank chief economist
The World Bank has named Justin Lin Yifu, who defected from Taiwan and rose to become a top economic strategist for communist China, its chief economist – the first time a Chinese has held the job – reports AFP. "China's experiences can help the World Bank shore up its leading role in global poverty reduction," Lin said after the announcement. "By picking a candidate from China, the World Bank will be able to better serve developing countries."
More on the University World News site

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

GREECE: Lecturers accused of misappropriation
Makki Marseilles
More than 30 lecturers at the University of Crete, one of the country’s most prestigious higher education institutions and research centres, have been accused of unlawfully using €4.8 million (US$7 million) in university funds. They must either pay the money back or face prosecution and have their personal property confiscated.
Full report on the University World News site


US: Access, equity and the social contract explored
America has been the world leader in developing mass higher education, using its pioneering network of public universities to promote socio-economic mobility and national economic competitiveness, writes John Aubrey Douglass of the Center for Studies in Higher Education at the University of California, Berkley, in a recent book that comprehensively examines admission policies and practices at US public universities. But he warns in The conditions for Admission: Access, equity, and the social contract of public universities, published by Stanford University Press, that access and graduation rates have stagnated and may even be declining, particularly among younger students.
More on the University World News site


KENYA: First public university opens since crisis
Kenyatta University, the first public university to re-open since Kenya's post-election crisis began, has put in place elaborate measures to ensure that learning is uninterrupted despite continuing violence and tension in parts of the country, reports IRIN. The measures include counselling services, meetings with leaders and members of the local community, beefing up campus security and holding discussions with student and staff unions.
More on the University World News site

KOREA: Minister quits over law school feud
Education Minister Kim Shin-il has stepped down two weeks before his term ends, taking responsibility for policy confusion in the selection of US-style law schools, reports the Korea Times. Kim resigned after an announcement listing 25 universities that had successfully tendered to become Korea’s first law schools was met by angry protests from unsuccessful candidates – and after the presidential office demanded that he make a more balanced selection, as the original list failed to allocate at least one law school to each province or city.
More on the University World News site

TURKEY: Academics support headscarf freedom
Many academics across Turkey have signed a declaration of support for removing the ban on headscarves at universities, reports Today’s Zaman. The declaration, first posted on a website with the signatures of 300 academics, had been endorsed by more than 2,000 lecturers by last weekend. Meanwhile, on Saturday Turkish lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in favour of lifting the ban, defying a mass rally protesting the move as a threat to secularism, according to AFP.
More on the University World News site

US: Endowments widen a higher education gap
The wealth amassed by elite universities like Princeton through soaring endowments over the past decade has exacerbated the divide between a small group of spectacularly wealthy universities and all others, writes the New York Times. If Harvard has $34.9 billion or Yale $22.5 billion, fewer than 400 of roughly 4,500 colleges and universities in the US have even $100 million in endowments and most have less than $10 million. The result is that America’s already stratified system of higher education is becoming ever more so, and the chasm is creating all sorts of tensions as the less wealthy colleges try to compete.
More on the University World News site

US: Call to arms for private colleges
Act now or expect Congress to intervene in ways you might not like. That was the message from Susan Hockfield, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to colleagues who assembled for the annual meeting of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Washington, reports Inside Higher Ed. She called on private college leaders to better articulate to lawmakers exactly how their institutions are providing a public good, and why college officials – not the federal government – should continue to set their own policies on spending and pricing.
More on the University World News site

UK: £211,500 to get poorer child into university
A scheme to get more working class young people into university has cost almost £211,500 (US$412,800) for every successful application over the last five years, according to official figures, reports The Telegraph. The disclosure came a week after a study by the influential Institute of Education warned that a huge expansion in university places since the early 1990s had benefited the middle-classes rather than those from deprived backgrounds.
More on the University World News site

UK: Tech-savvy graduates a challenge for employers
They may be a whiz with the computer and brimming with confidence, but would you give ‘Generation Y’ a job if you had to suffer their pushy parents and fair-weather notions of loyalty? asks Reuters. Technologically skilled, convinced they are highly employable but sometimes genuinely useless, new British university-educated graduates are maddening employers – but a recession could burst their bubble.
More on the University World News site

Zimbabwe: Academic system in ruins
Once hailed as a beacon in Africa, the Zimbabwean education system has crumbled in tandem with the collapse of the economy, writes Stanley Kwenda in the Financial Gazette. The University of Zimbabwe was once the pinnacle of an efficient system but now it is almost dysfunctional: most of its students are only there because they have no choice. Government officials send their children to universities in the western world although they blame the same countries for Zimbabwe's problems.
More on the University World News site

BAHRAIN: Warning to private HE institutions
Private education institutions have been given a deadline to meet new standards – or they will face penalties or be closed down – reports the Gulf Daily News. They have until the end of the current academic year, in June, to comply with financial and academic requirements stipulated by the new higher education law. Institutions have been given three years to fulfil buildings and educational facilities requirements, or have their licences revoked.
More on the University World News site

AZERBAIJAN: Working group to reform higher education
A working group has been set up in Azerbaijan to develop a government programme to reform the higher education system, reports the agency Trend News. President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree on 31 January that will ensure measures are taken to integrate Azerbaijani higher education schools into those of Europe.
More on the University World News site
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