ISSN 1756-297XIssue No: 0016  17 February 2008
HE Events Diary

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Changes in the way English is taught in schools has led to a crisis in the humanities faculties around the world. See the story in this week's news section

N igeria's universities are facing a staffing crisis. Find out more in this week's feature section.

The US House of Representatives has passed an act addressing the affordability of university education. See our news section.


Universities and community engagement


SPECIAL REPORT: Costing Europe’s universities

How can the full costs of a university be determined and why should this matter? A conference to examine the question was held by the European University Association in Brussels last week.

Attended by more than 120 university leaders, administrators and financial experts, the conference was opened by Professor Christina Ullenius, EUA vice-president and former rector of Karlsbad University in Sweden.

Ullenius said the conference was aimed at exploring the links between costing and funding with autonomy, governance and accountability. It was also intended to formulate advice and recommendations for universities on the further development of their financial management towards full-cost accounting. Our correspondents report.

EUROPE: Funding crucial to HE’s sustainability
Alan Osborn
Only institutions that knew the full costs of their activities and projects could tell if they were operating on a financially sustainable basis, European University Association vice-president Professor Christina Ullenius told delegates at the Brussels conference.
Full report on the University World News site

EU: Universities moving to full cost accounting
David Haworth
The huge diversity of higher education institutional funding systems across the 27 countries of the European Union was cited as one of the main difficulties facing universities in Europe. In an expert group session, Dr Franz Strehl of Linz University, Austria, said that in principle there should be one funding system template for the whole of Europe – but he admitted the prospect was still a long way off despite support for the idea within the EUA’s university funding project.
Full report on the University World News site

EU: Low awareness of comparative accounting
David Haworth
European universities have a low awareness and a lack of knowledge of how to exploit accounting comparisons to measure performance, Staska Jamnik of Ljubljana University, Slovenia, told the EUA conference.
Full report on the University World News site

EU: University autonomy could boost competition
David Haworth
The development of university autonomy in Europe was a prerequisite for getting more funds from private and public sources, delegates attending the two-day EUA conference concluded. While technical finance issues dominated the discussions by 120 education experts from 30 countries, autonomy was a recurring issue.
Full report on the University World News site

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

AUSTRALIA: Humanities face global crisis
Geoff Maslen
The growing emphasis in schools on basic English literacy to better prepare students for the workforce has led to a crisis in university humanities faculties around the world, according to an international group of academics. The academics claim the teaching of English in schools has become too focused on basic literacy and examinations, and a new approach is necessary.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Bill to make HE more affordable approved
Judith Ritter
In an unusual gesture of bipartisanship, the US House of Representatives approved the College Opportunity and Affordability Act last week. The bill addresses soaring university costs, streamlines the federal student loan process, introduces consumer protection for student loan borrowers, assists students in managing textbook costs and increases financial aid for military and low-income families, and students with disabilities.
Full report on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Funding boost to slow fee hikes
Karen MacGregor
The South African government has committed R3.6 billion (US$500 million) to universities to reverse a funding decline, reward institutions that produce more graduates, improve infrastructure and relieve financial pressure to raise fees – an issue that propels students to protest and has disrupted campuses recently. But Minister of Education Naledi Pandor warned students that demands for free tertiary study would never be met.
Full report on the University World News site

INDIA: Court acts against 14 colleges
Suchitra Behal
In an unprecedented move, the Bombay High Court has ordered the closure of 14 technical colleges in the cities of Mumbai and Pune in Maharashtra for not having the requisite authorisation from the All India Council for Technical Education to conduct their courses.
Full report on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Universities join Parliament in apology
Geoff Maslen
Universities across Australia joined with the national Parliament last Wednesday in formally apologising to the nation’s indigenous people for the past wrongs committed against them and, in particular, for the forcible removal of Aboriginal children from their parents – children who became known as the Stolen Generations.
Full report on the University World News site


NIGERIA: Critical shortfall in academic numbers
Tunde Fatunde
N igerian universities are facing a staffing crisis as more than 400 professors reach the retirement age of 65 years. To prevent an unprecedented mass exodus, N igeria’s Head of State Musa Yar’Adua set up a committee to advise the government on ways of extending the retirement age and also substantially increasing academic salaries.
Full report on the University World News site

GERMANY: Students vent fee anger ahead of elections
Mike Gardner
Students voiced their opposition to tuition fees ahead of land or state government elections in Hesse and Lower Saxony last month. Lower Saxony’s pro-fee Christian Democrat-Liberal Democrat Government won a further four-year term, but in Hesse the prospects for keeping tuition fees are uncertain given a hung parliament.
Full report on the University World News site


RUSSIA: Job shift for British Council’s Lenskaya
Nick Holdsworth
Former Russian education official and British Council executive Elena Lenskaya has taken on a new role as head of development at the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences, a move that comes at a time of growing political strains between Russia and Britain.
Full report on the University World News site

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

GREECE: World’s richest man looking for a job
Makki Marseilles
Bill Gates, the world’s richest man, dropped in to Athens for six hours to launch Microsoft’s innovation centre, meet with the Greek Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition, the chancellor and the Education Secretary – and still had enough energy left to laugh and joke about his forthcoming…unemployment.
More on the University World News site

SCOTLAND: Singer Donovan to build ‘university’
Legendary Scottish folk singer Donovan is to build a ‘university’ in Edinburgh. The institution, to be known as Invincible Donovan University, will aim to bring enlightenment to Scotland's young people and create world peace. Donovan said the idea originated 40 years ago when he was learning transcendental meditation techniques in India, along with the Beatles.
More on the University World News site

CANADA: University may have struck oil
Nobody knows quite how it happened, but the University of Calgary and its students are about to get some first-hand experience in the energy business, writes Elizabeth Church in the Globe and Mail. By chance, a staff member uncovered information last year that showed the school owned the mineral rights to two sections of land near the US border – an area rich with both oil and gas reserves.
More on the University World News site


US: Framework for student learning outcomes
The non-profit Princeton-based Educational Testing Service (ETS) has released the final of a three-part Culture of evidence series on student learning outcomes. Culture of evidence: An evidence-centered approach to accountability for student learning outcomes provides a seven-step framework for institutions “to create, modify or improve an evidence-based accountability system that assesses student learning outcomes” – at a time when policy-makers, students and parents are seeking greater accountability in assessment, and universities are trying to meet demands for accountability while maintaining their autonomy.
More on the University World News site


US: Universities rush to set up outposts abroad
The American system of higher education, long the envy of the world, is becoming an important export as more universities take their programmes overseas. In a kind of educational gold rush, American universities are competing to set up outposts in countries with limited higher education opportunities, writes Tamar Lewin in the New York Times. American universities – not to mention Australian and British ones, which also offer instruction in English, the lingua franca of academia – are starting, or expanding, hundreds of programmes and partnerships in booming markets like China, India and Singapore.
More on the University World News site

US: Legal test of study abroad fee structure
A lawyer and parent has filed suit against Wheaton College, in Massachusetts, challenging its policy of charging full institutional tuition and fees for students studying abroad – often on significantly cheaper programs – as “unlawful and deceptive”, reports Inside Higher Ed. The lawyer is asking for a declaratory judgment that he hopes will clear the way for other students and families to seek reimbursement.
More on the University World News site

US: Harvard faculty votes to post research online
Harvard University's arts and science faculty has voted unanimously to post their scholarly articles and research online, where they would be available for free to the public, despite concerns that the move would affect the quality of research. Hundreds of professors voted unanimously for the change at a faculty meeting that culminated several months of meetings debating the move, reports the Boston Globe.
More on the University World News site

RUSSIA: Top university that displeased Putin is shut
The Kremlin has been accused of mounting an unprecedented attack on academic freedom after one of Russia's top universities was closed, reports The Guardian. The European University at St Petersburg (EUSP) has been forced to suspend its teaching after officials claimed its historic buildings were "a fire risk". On 8 February a court ordered that all academic work cease, classrooms be sealed and the university's library shut.
More on the University World News site

RUSSIA: University denies ‘political closure’
The European University has dismissed claims that it has been closed down for political reasons, saying that a court ordered it to halt its operations because of fire code violations at the institution, reports The St Petersburg Times.
More on the University World News site

KENYA: Students and academics displaced in violence
Kenya’s public universities have been thrown into crisis by the waves of violence in some parts of the country. Universities – already struggling to adjust to disruption of academic programmes – are receiving requests from students and staff who say they fear for their safety and want to be transferred to institutions that they consider safer, reports the Daily Nation.
More on the University World News site

IRAN: Tehran University chancellor replaced after protests
Iran replaced Tehran University's chancellor, who was the first Islamic cleric appointed by the hard-line government to the post, with a non-cleric economics instructor after allegations of mismanagement, reports the International Herald Tribune.
More on the University World News site

UK: University choices limited by cost fears
More than half of university-bound sixth-formers are considering a local choice because of the ‘financial implications’, limiting the ability of students to select the course best suited to them, reports the Financial Times. According to research by education charity the Sutton Trust, England is moving towards the higher education of the US, Germany and other European countries, where many students choose their local college – leaving an elite who opt for national institutions such as the US Ivy League.
More on the University World News site

UK: Universities face 'radical' changes
UK universities face "radical" and "risky" changes in the way they are funded and managed, and in the types of student they attract over the next 12 years, The Guardian’s HE Summit heard. Debating the future of higher education, speakers from throughout the sector predicted greater flexibility in the way universities offer courses in order to respond to the need for a more highly skilled workforce and greater global competition by 2020.
More on the University World News site

PHILIPPINES: Scientists nurture young ‘Einsteins’
Scientists and technologists are among the main drivers of economic development, comments the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Vibrant economies usually have a high scientist-to-population ratio. In 2002 Singapore had 4,613 scientists and engineers engaged in research and development per million population, Malaysia had 726 and Vietnam 516. Indonesia had 445 the previous year. In contrast, the Philippines was at the bottom with only 108 scientists and engineers engaged in R&D per million population, according to 2003 Department of Science and Technology data.
More on the University World News site
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