ISSN 1756-297XIssue No: 0169 1 May 2011
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The threat of lèse majesté against Thammasat University history professor Somsak Jeamteerasakul has some fearing a new government crackdown against academics who speak out, notes a News report.

The rush to create universities abroad, especially in countries with authoritarian governments, can come at a high cost, writes Andrew Ross, in a Commentary article.

In Commentary, Brendan Cantwell looks at the role that international postdoctoral researchers are playing in changing how universities function.


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


This week’s highlights

In Features, HAROON MIRANI reports that academic freedom infringements in Kashmir remain rife but the political climate may be changing, and PIYUSHI KOTECHA writes that after three decades of attrition and neglect, higher education in Southern Africa is on the move. In Commentary, ANDREW ROSS investigates labour exploitation and free speech pitfalls in creating branch campuses in countries with authoritarian governments, BRENDAN CANTWELL argues that growth in international postdoctorates could be changing the shape of research labour, and ATHAR OSAMA suggests that the Islamic world could benefit from partnerships that team up high quality universities in wealthy Gulf states with talent in more populist nations.


NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

SLOVENIA: Minister resigns a year into reforms
Ziva Rokavec
Slovenia’s Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Gregor Golobi, has announced his resignation only a year after the adoption of his higher education reforms and a new law on financing education. It is the second blow in a month to the government’s higher education plans, following a defeat in a referendum on a proposed bill to speed up employment of graduates and limit exploitation of the student workforce.
Full report on the University World News site

SWEDEN: Offers to foreign students in drastic fall
Jan Petter Myklebust and Brendan O’Malley
Swedish Universities have made 60% fewer offers to international applicants than last year, following the introduction of tuition fees for foreign students.
Full report on the University World News site

THAILAND: Academics unnerved over lèse majesté
Yojana Sharma
Thailand’s academic community has been unnerved by the threat of lèse majesté charges against Thammasat University history professor Somsak Jeamteerasakul, with some fearing it heralds a new government crackdown against academics who speak out.
Full report on the University World News site

CHINA: Ex-premier criticises higher education reform
Linda Yeung
Critical remarks about China’s university system and ambitious plans for higher education reform, made by a former Chinese premier, have raised questions about the current leadership’s policy of pursuing world-class status for universities and ignited calls for academic freedom and institutional autonomy.
Full report on the University World News site

BURKINA FASO: Unrest closes campuses indefinitely
Tunde Fatunde
Universities in Burkina Faso have ground to a halt following more than two months of unrest, which was sparked by the death of a school pupil and snowballed into campus and civilian protests – during which six students are reported to have died – and an army mutiny. All campuses have been closed.
Full report on the University World News site

HONDURAS: Students square up to the military
Pacifica Goddard
University students in Honduras are gearing up for potential direct confrontation with government security forces as they prepare for a major May Day demonstration against education liberalisation plans tabled by President Porfirio Lobo. The students are promising to resist further military incursions into a campus.
Full report on the University World News site

MAURITANIA: University closed amid ethnic conflict
Wagdy Sawahel
The University of Nouakchott in Mauritania has been experiencing violent ethnic clashes between student unions that have led to its temporary closure. And on Monday, the 25 February Youth Movement demonstrated in the Mauritanian capital in what has been called a ‘day of rage’, demanding sweeping reforms and in some cases removal of the government.
Full report on the University World News site

ARAB STATES: Call to match graduates to jobs
Wagdy Sawahel
The Islamic Development Bank and the International Finance Corporation have launched a US$2 billion five-year roadmap and action plan to tackle challenges posed by unemployment among young Arabs through investment in education for employment (e4e) programmes, with a strong emphasis on private sector involvement in university education.
Full report on the University World News site

TIBET: Law scholar elected prime minister in exile
Yojana Sharma
Lobsang Sangay, a Harvard University law academic, has been elected Tibetan prime minister in exile it was announced officially on Wednesday in Dharamsala, India, seat of the Tibetan exile parliament. According to his former professors at Harvard, Sangay’s doctoral thesis on exile politics provides some clues to his political awakening,
Full report on the University World News

JAPAN: Plans to reverse post-disaster student exodus
Suvendrini Kakuchi
Japan’s recovery plans following the powerful earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident on 11 March include luring back thousands of foreign students who play a significant role in bolstering higher education in the country.
Full report on the University World News site

LIBYA: Nuclear research ‘not up to scratch’
Yojana Sharma
Fears that Libyan nuclear scientists and researchers could ‘defect’ to countries with possible nuclear aspirations such as Syria are said to be unfounded as Libya’s nuclear research capability was never up to scratch, nuclear experts have said.
Full report on the University World News site



EAST AFRICA: Partnership improves maths teaching
After nearly a decade, a partnership between universities in East Africa has greatly improved the teaching of mathematics and increased the number of mathematicians in five participating countries.
Full report on the University World News site

SINGAPORE: Course to develop creative writing talent
Intent on strengthening the creative arts and humanities, Singapore is to provide S$1.5 (US$1.2 million) to establish a new writer-in-residence programme at Nanyang Technological University, where local and international literary names will write and teach.
Full report on the University World News site


INDIA: Academic dissent stifled in Kashmir
Haroon Mirani
Kashmir University, one of the largest universities in Indian-administered Kashmir, is also one of the most watched universities in India to ensure not a whimper of academic dissent emerges. But there are signs that the political climate may be changing. Some Kashmiri academics say now is the time to speak out because the Indian government does not want to be embarrassed internationally as it emerges as a potential superpower.
Full report on the University World News site

SOUTHERN AFRICA: A new higher education focus
Piyushi Kotecha*
After three decades of attrition and neglect, higher education in Southern Africa, and in the Sub-Saharan region, is on the move. The last few years have seen encouraging stirrings of new life, along with a growing awareness of the importance of effective higher education in the fortunes of developing nations and regions.
Full report on the University World News site


HERANA – Universities and development in Africa

AFRICA: Universities are training active citizens
The university and student life in Africa “present unmatched opportunities for exercising political activity and organisational leadership at a young age”, new research into higher education and democracy in Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania has found. Universities are ‘training grounds’ for active citizenship, which is critical to sustaining democratic processes.
Full report on the University World News site


MIDDLE EAST: Rights, freedom and offshore academics
The rush to create universities abroad, especially in countries with authoritarian governments, can come at a high cost. Problems encountered may range from exploitation of migrant labour to uncertain protection of free speech and basic rights, says ANDREW ROSS.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: International postdocs changing universities
Is the growth in international postdoctorates changing the shape of research labour? BRENDAN CANTWELL argues that there has been relatively little attention given to postdoctoral and other contingent researchers, and that they appear to be part of a trend towards academic ‘piece work’ which is changing the nature of how universities function.
Full report on the University World News site

ISLAMIC WORLD: Connecting capital and talent
Partnerships that team up high-quality universities in Gulf states with talent in more populous Islamic nations could benefit everyone, writes ATHAR OSAMA for They could allow talent-rich countries to re-energise their research while enabling scientists from capital-rich countries to receive training and the benefits of camaraderie.
Full report on the University World News site


GLOBAL: Academic freedom reports worldwide
Noemi Bouet*
Iraqi academics have again been the target of violent attacks by insurgents, in a new wave of assassinations. According to the Brussels Tribunal on Iraq, at least 453 academics have been killed since 2003. In Iran, students have protested against a growing security force presence at Tehran University, and at Bahria University in Pakistan students have marched against the sacking of a lecturer who criticised university policies. A student has been jailed for three months in Sudan for participating in anti-government demonstrations, and in the US g ay and l esbian students at Christian universities have been agitating for official acceptance.
Full report on the University World News site


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GERMANY: Plagiarism scandal hits elite
Weeks after Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, Germany’s former defense minister, was forced to resign in a plagiarism scandal, three German universities say they are investigating similar complaints about the academic work of three figures from the country’s political sphere, writes Christopher F Schuetze for The New York Times.
More on the University World News site

UK: Campus extremism ‘a serious problem’
There are “grave concerns” that students are being radicalised in British universities, according to a report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Homeland Security, writes Angela Harrison for the BBC. While the group says the problem should be tackled “with utmost urgency”, universities say there is no evidence to support the claims.
More on the University World News site

UK: Universities to escape challenge over high fees
Not a single university will have its fees renegotiated by the government body charged with approving them, it emerged last week. The Office for Fair Access (Offa) does not plan to stop any universities charging the fees they have applied for, leaving the government with a £1 billion (US$1.6 billion) deficit, write Joe Dyke and Oliver Wright for The Independent.
More on the University World News site

SCOTLAND: Universities issue warning on funding gap
Scotland’s universities are “punching above their weight” in funding, compared with the rest of the UK, according to new figures. However, university leaders said about half their income was from private and international sources and warned that if the expected funding gap was not filled next year, overall funding would slip, writes Fiona MacLeod for The Scotsman.
More on the University World News site

THAILAND: Teaching certificate sales may be rife
Up to 80 state and private universities may be involved in selling teacher certificates or offering courses without accreditation, reports the Bangkok Post. The Office of the Higher Education Commission, or Ohec, which is investigating a university in Khon Kaen province found to have sold professional teacher certificates to graduates, said it would widen its probe to 77 other providers which had produced an unusually high number of teaching graduates.
More on the University World News site

MALAYSIA: Government moots PhD for all lecturers
Malaysia’s Higher Education Ministry last Thursday suggested that a doctorate be made the basic requirement for lecturer posts at all public higher education institutions, reports the official news agency Bernama.
More on the University World News site

ARGENTINA: State university enrolment up by 13%
Enrolment in Argentina’s five recently-created universities in the greater Buenos Aires area has increased by 13%, whereas enrolment in traditional universities only increased by 2%, reports the Buenos Aires Herald.
More on the University World News site

TANZANIA: Research budget to be tripled
Tanzania is planning to triple funds for research in next year’s budget, Minister for Education and Vocational Training, Dr Shukuru Kawambwa, has said. Speaking to journalists in Dar es Salaam, he said that due to the importance of research to development, the government intended to set aside Sh100 billion (US$66.4 million) for research, writes Bernard Lugongo for The Citizen.
More on the University World News site

AFRICA: All-Africa astronomical body launched
The first astronomical society encompassing all of Africa has been formally launched at a meeting of the International Astronomical Union in Cape Town, South Africa, reports Physics World. The African Astronomical Society, or AfAS, debuted at the Second Middle East-Africa Regional IAU Meeting on 14 April – just three years after the society was first proposed.
More on the University World News site

SRI LANKA: Students concerned about military training
University student unions have voiced concerns over the government’s move to introduce a compulsory ‘leadership training programme’ under the military for all new entrants from this year, writes Mandana Ismail Abeywickrema for the The Sunday Leader.
More on the University World News site

INDIA: Student beheads girlfriend on campus
It was a college romance with a horrific ending. Last Wednesday, a student of St Xavier’s College in Ranchi, India, was beheaded by her boyfriend inside the campus in the heart of the city, writes Vijay Murty for the Hindustan Times.
More on the University World News site

UK: St Andrews to review Syrian-funded centre
The University of St Andrews is to review the work of one of its research centres because its funding was arranged by the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, write Peter Beaumont and Jeevan Vasagar for the Guardian. The prestigious university received more than £100,000 (US$166,610) for its centre for Syrian studies with the assistance of Syria's ambassador to the UK, Sami Khiyami.
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UK: Cambridge maintains intake profile
Cambridge University will fail to take in more students from state schools after a sharp rise in tuition fees, the university has admitted. Documents submitted to the government’s Office for Fair Access confirm that the university merely hopes to maintain existing numbers of deprived undergraduates from 2012, writes Graeme Paton for The Telegraph.
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US: Gaming profitable for tribal higher education
Pointing to a new administrative and classroom facility on the Okmulgee, Oklahoma, campus of the College of the Muscogee Nation, Robert Bible is candid: “We wouldn’t have this building if it weren’t for gaming revenue.” The structure, unveiled late last year, cost approximately $7.5 million to complete, writes Garry Boulard for Diverse.
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US: Expert sounds for-profit warning
The growth of private higher education has had a devastating impact on the US academy and poses a major threat to the UK, a university admissions expert has warned, writes Hanna Fearn for Times Higher Education.
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