ISSN 1756-297XIssue No: 0151 12 December 2010
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HE Events Diary

Higher Education Marketing

A stormy House of Commons debate, yet tuition fee increases still approved. See our News section.

South African production of PhD graduates is worryingly low and on the decrease. See our Features section.

In Student View, Iranian Puyan Mahmoudian describes how political activism and criticism of the government made him a 'starred' student, marked out for discrimination.


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 a Special Report edited by YOJANA SHARMA, correspondents report on e-books and their uptake in higher education. JOSEPH TRYBLE argues that India and China could come to dominate the global education e-book market. Other articles look at e-book developments in university presses and in India, America, the UK, Africa, Scandanavia and Arab states. In a second Special Report, JANE MARSHALL reports on a policy forum on open educational resources hosted by Unesco and the Commonwealth of Learning. In Features, KATE ASHCROFT probes issues around the massification of higher education in Ethiopia, and ALISON MOODIE reports on a new funding project to boost PhD numbers in South Africa. In Student View, PUYAN MAHMOUDIAN describes how student activism and criticism of the Iranian government resulted in him being ‘starred’, and barred from further study.

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

UK: Coalition survives tuition fees rebellion
Brendan O’Malley
Coalition proposals to allow tuition fees for universities in England to rise to a maximum of £9,000 (US$14,185), triple the existing level, to compensate for an 80% cut in the teaching budget were passed after a stormy House of Commons debate on Thursday night. But the government majority was slashed to 21 as a reported majority of the 57 MPs in the junior coalition party, the Liberal Democrats, abstained or voted against the measure.
Full report on the University World News site

UK: Curbs on student visas and jobs unveiled
Brendan O’Malley
Britain’s coalition government has unveiled its proposals for clamping down on student visas and employment rights and is putting them out for consultation until the end of January. The measures include raising the English language competency requirement, stricter limits on international students’ and their dependants’ entitlement to work during the period of study, restrictions on graduates staying on to work, and tighter visa application procedures for extending periods of study.
Full story on University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Majority of academics are casual
Geoff Maslen
Casualisation of the Australian academic workforce has long been of concern to education unions but no-one knew the full extent. So revelations that casual academics now far outnumber those with permanent or ongoing employment have shocked the entire community.
Full report on the University World News site

IRAN: Student stars that punish, not reward
Yojana Sharma
A just-published report from the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran lists 217 students with sinister ‘stars’ against their names, who have been barred from higher education for political activism or religious belief despite performing well in entrance examinations. The Campaign believes there could be more than 1,000 ‘starred’ students – and that there has been a “huge jump” in student exclusions in the past two years.
* 'Starred' student Puyan Mahmoudian writes about his exclusion in Student View
Full report on the University World News site

US: Hackers hit universities’ database ‘jackpots’
Sarah King Head
Since 2008, 158 data breaches have compromised more than 2.3 million records at American higher education institutions, according to a recent report by Application Security Inc, a US database safety company. Identity theft has become the US’ largest consumer complaint, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
Full report on the University World News site

PAKISTAN: Violent clashes over college ‘privatisation’
Ameen Amjad Khan
College students and teachers, enraged by a decision they say amounts to the privatisation of colleges in the country’s most populous province Punjab, staged major protests that erupted into violence in several cities last week.
Full report on the University World News site

NEPAL: Exams disrupted for Maoist convention
Anil Giri
Nepal’s oldest university was forced to call off its bachelor-level examinations this month under pressure from radical student groups affiliated with Maoist organisations which are holding their national convention at the university during the exam period. And last week, seven students were arrested during protests against petroleum price hikes.
Full report on the University World News site

KENYA: Hundreds of unaccredited colleges to be closed
Gilbert Nganga
Kenya has published a list of all accredited colleges operating in the country, exposing hundreds of bogus tertiary institutions that will be closed down in the second week of January. While the move signals government’s intention to clean up the higher education sector, it has caused uncertainty and panic among students in colleges denied accreditation.
Full report on the University World News site

ZIMBABWE: Government restores student grants
Kudzai Mashininga
The government has restored higher education grants after they were scrapped about a decade ago due to Zimbabwe’s political and economic crisis. The restoration of grants came after Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai pleaded with students to stop a planned class boycott against deteriorating standards and promised the government would address their concerns.
Full report on the University World News site

SPECIAL REPORT: e-Books in higher education

Although e-book readership is still tiny compared to paper books, it is growing. University libraries and academic publishers can no longer ignore the potential of digital books and have to cater for new ways to access content. University World News takes a look at e-books and their game-changing effect in higher education.

In a comprehensive overview of the sector JOSEPH TRYBLE believes India and China could come to dominate the global education e-book market. But e-book readership depends on widely available, cheap reading devices: ALYA MISHRA gets behind the hype on a government-led project in India. It is also clear that students will drive e-book acceptance but as ELYSHA KRUPP reports, even in the US uptake is low. Perhaps more innovative ways to get e-books to students is required: YOJANA SHARMA uncovers one way devised by a British company. In a separate article she finds small university presses being forced into major changes.

In a look at regional trends, KAREN MACGREGOR reports on an initiative that started in Africa to deliver low cost e-books to universities in 27 developing countries. Correspondents in Scandinavia and the Arab world find there is still a way to go for e-books to gain ground.

GLOBAL: China and India to dominate education e-books
With many different and high-priced digital reading devices coming on the market in the West, and a need to gear digital content more closely to students’ needs, India and China could be front-runners in providing cheap readers and academic content to the rest of the world, industry expert JOSEPH TRYBLE believes.
Full report on the University World News site

INDIA: $35 laptop a revolution in university learning?
Alya Mishra
Cheap reading devices or laptops are a major issue in the spread of e-books and other digital educational content in higher education. India unveiled a prototype of a low-cost laptop in July initially for university students. As more details emerge, sceptics wonder if the mass-produced cheap laptop can live up to the education ministry’s ambitions both in terms of price, and in providing wider learning opportunities.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Despite the hype, e-textbook sales remain low
Elysha Krupp
From the amount of attention the iPad, Kindle and other e-readers are getting, it would seem that the majority of higher education students have exchanged the printed word for its digital equivalent. But a recent study by OnCampus Research, a division of the National Association of College Stores, NACS, shows this is not the case. Some believe it is just a matter of time before the true ‘digital natives’, now in high school, demand e-books over print.
Full report on the University World News site

UK: What students really want – chapters, not books
Yojana Sharma
Students not only spend a great deal of time online, they no longer have the attention span to read entire textbooks, let alone e-books. But one innovative British company thinks it has found the solution: provide reading material in smaller chunks.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: University presses join to face e-book future
Yojana Sharma
It was once said that the purpose of the university press was to publish as many worthy scholarly books as possible without going broke. But university presses, many of them non-profit and kept afloat by their universities, are becoming concerned about e-books – if they cannot keep up with the changing digital landscape, many could well go broke.
Full report on the University World News site

AFRICA: Low-cost academic e-books project to scale up
Karen MacGregor
An initiative to deliver low-cost, high-quality digital publications to universities in the developing world will scale up to serve 27 countries worldwide, starting in Sub-Saharan Africa. Deals involving major discounts have been reached with academic publishers, and pilot projects have run in three countries. But it is not as simple as making resources available, says Angus Scrimgeour of the International Association for Digital Publications, IADP.
Full report on the University World News site

SCANDINAVIA: e-Book market uncertainty
Jan Petter Myklebust
In Norway, Sweden and Denmark, e-books are causing friction between publishers, libraries and bookstores. Publishers are in a dilemma about pricing and copyright protection. But libraries, students and academics want access to more e-books. If Scandinavian publishers do not deliver in time, customers will increasingly source their e-books abroad.
Full report on University World News web site

ARAB STATES: e-Books still at an early stage
Wagdy Sawahel
Arab states still have some way to go before e-books can catch on. But with improvements in digital readiness in the region it is the production of e-books and the expansion of e-book lending, particularly in online and distance learning environments, which will determine the pace of e-book adoption in higher education.
Full report on the University World News site

SPECIAL REPORT: Open Education Resources forum

Delegates from more than 60 member countries of Unesco attended a forum on “Taking Open Educational Resources Beyond the OER community”, organised jointly by Unesco and the Commonwealth of Learning and held in Paris this month. They debated issues ranging from the current state of OER and the need for greater awareness of their potential, to the development and dissemination of quality resources and what the future holds. JANE MARSHALL was there for University World News.

GLOBAL: Open resources – dichotomy and paradox
There was a ‘dichotomy’ challenging governments and a ‘paradox’ confusing higher education, with the growth of open and distance learning and the use of open educational resources, Sir John Daniel told a policy forum on ‘Taking Open Educational Resources Beyond the OER Community’, held by Unesco and the Commonwealth of Learning in Paris this month.
Full report on the University World News site

AFRICA: Open resources – what works on the continent
Jane Marshall
It is important for African higher education institutions to be part of the Open Educational Resources movement as creators of knowledge, not just users of materials that originate elsewhere and are often irrelevant to their needs, says Catherine Ngugi, project director of OER Africa.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Planning for open educational resources
Jane Marshall
Unesco and the Commonwealth of Learning should play a leading role in informing governments and education practitioners of the benefits of open educational resources (OER), and in promoting policies to maximise their use in both developing and developed countries, participants agreed at an OER policy forum held in Paris this month.
Full report on the University World News site


ETHIOPIA: University expansion must be sustainable
Kate Ashcroft
Higher education in Ethiopia is ‘massifying’ rapidly. Student numbers quadrupled in the decade to 2007-08 and the plan is for the sector to more than double in size in the next five years, to 467,000 students. Urgent decisions need to be made on financial sustainability, or “all of a sudden, you are in big trouble,” Jamil Salmi, Tertiary Education Coordinator for the World Bank, told a conference in Addis Ababa last month.
Full report on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: New funds to boost PhD production
Alison Moodie
South Africa’s production of PhD graduates is worryingly low, and has even shown a slight decline despite various initiatives to increase doctorate numbers. But the National Research Foundation has launched a sweeping new funding project to tackle the problem.
Full report on the University World News site


IRAN: Barred for my activism, with no legal recourse
PUYAN MAHMOUDIAN writes that participation in student associations and involvement in a student publication critical of the government and university policies meant he became a ‘starred’ student, marked out for discrimination. It led to being barred from continuing his education. He then found that there was no legal recourse in Iran against the ban.
Full report on the University World News site


BANGLADESH: Rat in curry prompts cull at university
University officials in Bangladesh ordered a major rat extermination drive after rodent meat found its way into chicken curry served to students, writes Ethirajan Anbarasan for BBC News. The incident happened at Rajshahi University in western Bangladesh.
More on the University World News site

US: Sign language fourth most studied
American Sign Language is close to surpassing German as the third-most-studied foreign language at America’s colleges and universities, writes Elizabeth Weise for USA Today. Only 4,500 more students study German than study ASL, and enrollment in classes for the gesture-based language used by the deaf increased 16% since the last survey three years ago.
More on the University World News site


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GLOBAL: WikiLeaks: campuses ideological battlegrounds
Diplomatic cables recently made public by the WikiLeaks website show how the United States and other nations have focused on colleges and universities as key battlegrounds in their efforts to win over hearts and minds, writes Peter Schmidt for The Chronicle of Higher Education.
More on the University World News site

US: Columbia reverses anti-WikiLeaks guidance
Days after Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, SIPA, caused an uproar by warning its students against linking to WikiLeaks or discussing the secret-spilling website’s latest cache of diplomatic cables online, the prestigious training ground for future diplomats has changed tack and embraced free speech, writes Sam Gustin for Wired.
More on the University World News site

CHINA: Top test scores from Shanghai stun educators
With China’s debut in international standardised testing, students in Shanghai have surprised experts by outscoring their counterparts in dozens of other countries, in reading as well as in maths and science, according to the results of a respected exam, writes Sam Dillon for The New York Times.
More on the University World News site

UK: Third of universities in England could close
More than a third of England’s universities may be forced to close or merge as a result of swingeing public cuts to higher education, an analysis by the lecturers’ trade union has found, writes Jessica Shepherd for the Guardian.
More on the University World News site

SUDAN: Ministry repatriates colleges from north
Sudan’s Ministry for Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology finally launched last Monday the relocation of Southern Sudan University colleges operating in the north in a repatriation scheme that ends in five days, writes Mabior Philip for Borglobe.
More on the University World News site

QATAR: Educators from across world talk about change
Over 1,200 people who work in education across the world arrived last week in the small, oil-wealthy Persian Gulf emirate of Qatar, writes Ursula Lindsey for The Chronicle of Higher Education. The visitors, scattered across Doha’s five-star hotels and attended to by squadrons of PR people, were there for the second World Innovation Summit for Education, more commonly known as WISE, which bills itself as “building the future of education”.
More on the University World News site

CANADA: Canadian outlawed from top US stem cell post
In the global endeavour that science has become, where research knows no borders, it is a strange story, writes Carolyn Abraham for the Globe and Mail. An internationally respected Canadian scientist who was the leading candidate to become the head of California’s high-profile stem cell research institute was, at the last minute, banned from consideration because he is not an American.
More on the University World News site

TAIWAN: Asia’s first US-accredited university
Taiwan’s Ming Chuan University, MCU, has received accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education to become the first university in Asia to be accredited in the US education system, the university’s President Lee Chuan said at a press conference in Taipei, reports The China Post.
More on the University World News site

INDIA-FRANCE: Two higher education agreements signed
India and France on Monday signed two memorandums of understanding on higher education, and also decided to take forward a 2009 Plan of Action for the Indian Institute of Technology-Rajasthan by setting up a French consortium that will help the institute gain expertise in areas like health technology, solar energy, aerospace, quantum computing and several other fields, reports The Times of India.
More on the University World News site

SOUTH KOREA: Top university given world-class boost
Seoul National University has been given a weighty opportunity to boost its competitiveness in the world as a result of the passage on Wednesday in the national assembly of a bill on the establishment and management of the prestigious institution, comments the Korea Joongang Daily. The bill’s passage was welcome after irksome meandering on the issue for more than two decades.
More on the University World News site

JAPAN: Firms turning to foreign students
University students are having a hard time finding jobs amid the economic downturn, with those who have secured employment starting after their scheduled graduation next spring hitting a record low of 57.6% in October, reports Kyodo News. But a new trend among firms to seek more aggressive and proactive employees may be creating more chances for foreign students seeking work experience in Japan, even in the increasingly competitive job market.
More on the University World News site

INDONESIA: Graduates struggle to find jobs
University and diploma graduates in Indonesia find it harder to secure a job than high school graduates, the latest Central Statistics Agency report reveals, reports The Jakarta Post.
More on the University World News site

US: Report on commercial colleges revised
After reviewing 80 hours of videotapes by its undercover investigators, to remove personally identifiable information, the US Government Accountability Office has revised its hard-hitting report on recruiting practices in for-profit higher education – softening some of the findings but without changing its conclusion that the colleges visited had engaged in deception or fraud – writes Tamar Lewin for The New York Times.
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US: Sabbaticals under fire at Minnesota universities
Of the 3,340 full-time and 760 part-time faculty members in the University of Minnesota system, 104 went on sabbatical and 83 went on semester leave from 2009-10, writes Adam Daniels for The Minnesota Daily. But with looming budget problems crippling public universities across the country, lawmakers are looking at cutting sabbaticals as a way to balance the books.
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US: Public blames graduation rates on students
The public pins most of the blame for poor college graduation rates on students and their parents and gives a pass to colleges, government officials and others, a new Associated Press-Stanford University poll shows, reports Associated Press.
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