ISSN 1756-297XIssue No: 0172 22 May 2011
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Reports from the World Bank and UNESCO paint a picture of an African continent on the move, but with much still to be done in higher education and research. See the Features section.

Exiled Thai academic Giles Ji Ungpakorn writes that academic freedom is non-existent in Thailand. See the Commentary section.

Research into bees has concluded that better understanding of their disastrous decline is urgently needed to stop it. See the story in Science Scene.


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, GEOFF MASLEN looks at pledges in Australia to remove career barriers to women researchers. ARD JONGSMA reports on a workshop in Johannesburg that explored internationalisation lessons Europe and Africa might learn from each other, and WAGDY SAWAHEL and KAREN MACGREGOR unpack recent reports from international organisations of importance to higher education in Africa. In Commentary, exiled Thai lecturer GILES JI UNGPAKORN writes that increasing prosecutions of academics and activists on lèse majesté charges prove that academic freedom is non-existent in Thailand. ELIZABETH DAVIS-RUSSELL describes universities in Liberia post-civil war and her efforts to reconstruct a destroyed university, and JOHN DOUGLASS, RICHARD EDELSTEIN and CECILE HOAREAU propose a new model for California as an international higher education hub. Finally, in Student View, DAVINA LEVY describes life on campuses in Egypt before and after the popular revolution.


Global forum on rankings and accountability

GLOBAL: UNESCO debates uses and misuses of rankings
Jane Marshall
International rankings of higher education institutions are here to stay, but classifications should evolve to give information that is more relevant to the needs of users such as universities, students and policy-makers, fits local situations and contributes to the growth of world-class higher education systems rather than a few world-class universities.
Full report on the University World News site

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

PAKISTAN: Taliban on campuses, say arrested students
Ameen Amjad Khan
Four alleged Taliban militants have been arrested by police, with one of them – a student – admitting that terrorists have a presence in universities, causing alarm at the possible extent of the Taliban influence on campuses. Militants also revealed plans to blow up a university.
Full report on the University World News site

SRI LANKA: No dons return after mass resignation
Santhush Fernando
More than a fortnight after Sri Lanka’s university system came to a virtual standstill, when dons resigned en masse from all administrative positions, not a single academic has returned to administrative duties. Lecturers are calling for a major salary increase to stem the brain drain and shore up pay in advance of private and foreign universities being allowed to set up in the country.
Full report on the University World News site

NEW ZEALAND: Lean budget for universities
John Gerritsen
The government budget announced on Thursday left New Zealand universities treading water in their efforts to remain internationally competitive, with a 2% increase to government subsidies for degree and postgraduate enrolments.
Full report on the University World News site

NORWAY: One in five scientists fails to publish
Jan Petter Myklebust
One in five of Norway’s university scientists have not produced a single publication over the past five years, while 20% wrote more than half of all publications, an expert committee has found after a year-long investigation into how research can be improved. The experts said it was time to end the right of all scientists to devote half their working time to research, and to reward more productive academics.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: US, UK universities top new subject rankings
David Jobbins
A small number of élite universities in the US and the UK dominate the six latest global subject rankings released on Thursday by QS, the UK-based education network. Just 13 universities appear in the top 10 rankings for chemistry, earth and marine sciences, environmental sciences, mathematics, metallurgy and materials, and physics and astronomy.
Full article on the University World News site

BELARUS: EHU student and lecturer spared jail
Brendan O’Malley
Anastasiya Palazhanka, 20, a second-year student in political science and European studies at the European Humanities University in Lithuania and recent winner of the International Women of Courage Award, has been given an 18-month suspended prison sentence in Minsk. An EHU lecturer, Aliaksandr Feduta, was given a two-year suspended sentence.
Full article on the University World News site

US: Cuba research ban could reach highest court
Alison Moodie
A hotly contested Florida law that bans public universities from using state or private money for research and travel to Cuba and other “state sponsors of terrorism” may soon head to the United States Supreme Court.
Full report on the University World News site

GERMANY: Minister promises more masters places
Michael Gardner
Germany is to earmark funds to accommodate more students enrolling for a masters, having completed their first degree. The money will come from what is already being provided to cope with a general increase in student numbers, Federal Education Minister Annette Schavan told state government, higher education, student and industry representatives in Berlin.
Full report on the University World News site

SAUDI ARABIA: King opens women’s university
Wagdy Sawahel
Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz has officially opened the US$5.3 billion Princess Nora bint Abdulrahman University in Riyadh, which will eventually cater for 50,000 female students to become the largest women’s university in the world.
Full report on the University World News site

EU: Stem cell funding in doubt
Geoff Maslen
Stem cell research deemed ‘immoral’ in the EU will still be funded by Brussels but possibly patented overseas and re-imported for sale, say policy-makers and experts following an opinion by an advocate-general of the European Court of Justice
Full report on the University World News site

AFRICA: Funding fears for Pan-African University
Gilbert Nganga
The setting up of the Pan-African University, which is due to go live in September, is facing a fresh threat, with the African Union yet to announce funding for the facility meant to help supply the continent’s high-level skills.
Full report on the University World News site


GLOBAL: Spain, Brazil lead in Iberoamerica research
María Elena Hurtado
Universities in Spain and Brazil produce two-thirds of the scientific research that emanates from the 42 countries that make up Iberoamerica, giving the two countries the first and second spots respectively in the 2011 ranking of scientific output in the countries of Spain, Portugal and Latin America.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Huge Bosch investment in universities
The German industrial company Bosch is to spend EUR50 million (US$70 million) on universities and research projects, with more than half the money being spent in India.
Full report on the University World News site

ALGERIA: Police beat up protesting medical students
Police surrounded and beat with truncheons medical students in Algeria who were demonstrating in solidarity with striking doctors, reported La Tribune.
Full report on the University World News site


AUSTRALIA: Removing barriers to women researchers
Geoff Maslen
Australia’s largest research employer has committed its executives to remove obstacles to the promotion of highly skilled women and to increase incentives to encourage women to return to the scientific workforce after family-related career interruptions. But the barriers limiting the role of women in the world of science and research will not easily be taken down, if history is any guide.
Full report on the University World News site

AFRICA: Looking at Europe for QA and qualifications
Ard Jongsma
As the African continent is reviving efforts to push ahead with an amended version of the decades-old Arusha declaration on the recognition of qualifications, some of its countries are looking to Europe for inspiration from the rapid comparable developments under the Bologna and Copenhagen processes, which cover the convergence of European higher and vocational education respectively.
Full report on the University World News site

AFRICA: Serious mismatch between skills and needs
Wagdy Sawahel
African countries are experiencing low production of tertiary educated human capital, as well as low quality and relevance of small-sized tertiary institutions that are skewed towards social science education and research that is not based on local needs. As a result, African graduates suffer unemployment and universities are not able to lead development.
Full report on the University World News site

AFRICA: More fees, private tertiary education: UNESCO
Karen MacGregor
Enrolment in tertiary education in Sub-Saharan Africa grew by 82% from the turn of the century to 2008, to more than 4.5 million students. But with demand soaring at all levels of education, resources scarce and tertiary costs high, many countries need to seriously consider raising the household contribution to and the role of the private sector in post-school education, says a new report from UNESCO.
Full report on the University World News site


THAILAND: Academic freedom and lèse majesté
The lèse majesté charges against Thai historian Dr Somsak Jeamteerasakul is just one of scores of cases against those who question or criticise Thailand’s monarchy, and it is proof that academic freedom is non-existent in the country. So argues GILES JI UNGPAKORN, a Thai politics lecturer who was charged with lèse majesté in 2009 for writing a book critical of the 2006 military coup. He now lives in exile in Britain.
Full report on the University World News site

AFRICA: The role of a university after civil war
How do you address the problems facing higher education in a country like Liberia, which is emerging from years of civil war? After going on a fact-finding mission, ELIZABETH DAVIS-RUSSELL was asked to give advice on how to rebuild the country’s higher education infrastructure, and she agreed to become the president of a Liberian university that had been destroyed. Here she describes some of the issues facing Liberia.
Full report on the University World News site

US: A higher education hub for California
Countries around the world have developed versions of the higher education hub idea by seeking to attract foreign universities to help build enrollment and programme capacity at home, funded mainly by significant government subsidies. JOHN DOUGLASS, RICHARD EDELSTEIN and CECILE HOAREAU propose a new model for California, focused on attracting the world’s talent and generating additional income to existing public and private universities and colleges in the region.
Full report on the University World News site


EGYPT: The Tahrir Square spirit lingers on campus
Davina Levy
I have been living in Cairo, arriving a few months prior to the revolution that began in September last year, and saw then how oppression permeated every aspect of life. Most people are familiar with the features of an unjust and dictatorial regime: police brutality, vote-rigging, media censorship and rampant corruption. However, the reality is much more sinister.
Full report on the University World News site


GLOBAL: Solving the vanishing bee mystery
Scientists continue to be baffled by the recent decline in bee populations around the world. The rate of honeybee colony failure has increased significantly since 2006 and a report released by the UN Environment Programme last month concluded that the disastrous decline was unlikely to stop without a better understanding of the reasons behind it.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: The answer to why people blog
Geoff Maslen
An estimated 150 million people around the world write blogs on the internet. Whatever the actual number, and it rises every day, the majority of bloggers use the internet to reveal details of their personal lives. But little is known about bloggers or why so many expose themselves on the web for all to see – that is, until now.
Full report on the University World News site


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PALESTINE: Fleeing students struggle with paperwork
International students returning to Palestine from universities in Libya and Yemen were appealing to the Ministry of Education last week for exemptions from records transfer requirements, saying that they could not obtain proper documents as uprisings hit their host nations, reports Ma’an News Agency.
More on the University World News site

BAHRAIN: University reopens amid tight security
Bahrain University welcomed back its first group of returning students last week, two months after the facility was ransacked amid violent clashes during the height of the country’s unrest, writes Alicia de Haldevang for Gulf Daily News.
More on the University World News site

US-CANADA: Dismay at professorship for Larry Thompson
Civil rights groups on both sides of the Canada-US border are expressing their disgust after the man who played a key role in sending Maher Arar to a year of torture in Syria was made a law professor at the University of Georgia, writes Diana Mehta for The Canadian Press.
More on the University World News site

GERMANY: Student overcrowding ‘untenable’
German public universities, already overcrowded, are bracing for even more students, writes Christopher F Scheutze for The New York Times. Florian Muhs, part of a student working group on overcrowding at the University of Frankfurt, says many come to him to complain. “There are not enough professors, and the rooms are not big enough,” he said.
More on the University World News site

US: Faculty groups form campaign for higher education
Decrying what they said is an “assault” on higher education, college faculty groups from California and other US states launched a national campaign last Tuesday for a larger voice in education funding and policy decisions, writes Carla Rivera for the Los Angeles Times.
More on the University World News site

US: Most university heads prefer no tenure
The deteriorating number of tenured positions in higher education is a common source of concern for faculty, but few college presidents seem perturbed by the trend, writes Jack Stripling for The Chronicle of Higher Education.
More on the University World News site

US: University heads at odds with public – survey
The general public and university presidents disagree about the purpose of college, who ought to pay for it and whether today’s students are getting their money’s worth. But university presidents and the average American agree that the cost of higher education now exceeds the reach of most people, writes Kevin Helliker for The Wall Street Journal.
More on the University World News site

IRAQ: Kurdish region offers educational oasis
For Iraq’s brightest and best, the century-old University of Baghdad has traditionally been the place to aim for. But not, perhaps, when the students themselves feel like targets, writes Brook Anderson for The Wall Street Journal.
More on the University World News site

IRAN: Universities under siege
Last Saturday, Iranian university campuses were filled with police and security forces as student groups called for a day of protests. Despite the heavy security presence, classes were cancelled in university campuses across Tehran, Mashhad and Mazandaran, writes Arash Bahmani for Rooz Online.
More on the University World News site

TRINIDAD-TOBAGO: ‘Universities meet world standards’
Approximately 30,000 students or 44% of the local tertiary education population in Trinidad and Tobago can now boast of being trained by fully-accredited and internationally-recognised higher education institutions, reports Brent Zephyrine for the The Trinidad Guardian.
More on the University World News site

UGANDA: Loan scheme takes shape, slowly
Poor but bright students will have to wait a little longer to access loans to pursue higher education after Uganda’s government announced that it will take it nearly two years to introduce an education loan scheme, writes Al-Mahdi Ssenkabirwa for the Daily Monitor.
More on the University World News site

SCOTLAND: Part-time fees a barrier to education
One-quarter of Scots would like to study part-time at university but are put off by tuition fees, reports Herald Scotland. According to a poll last week, the figure rose among unemployed people polled, with 73% of those saying the cost of studying part-time stopped them applying for courses that would help them back into work.
More on the University World News site

UK: School swallows merger medicine
The only higher education institution in the UK that is devoted to the study of pharmacy is to become part of University College London after merger proposals that have opened deep rifts between academics were approved by governors, writes Simon Baker for Times Higher Education.
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SRI LANKA: New students to get leadership training
The Ministry of Higher Education has made arrangements to provide three weeks of training in ‘leadership and positive attitude development’ to all the 2,200 students who have qualified to enter universities this year, writes AAM Nizam for the Asian Tribune.
More on the University World News site

VIETNAM: Ho Chi Minh City to relocate universities
Two thirds of universities and colleges will be relocated from the centre of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam to its suburbs following a decision made last week by the HCM City People’s Committee and the Ministry of Education and Training, reports Vietnam News.
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US: Trump’s for-profit university under scrutiny
The New York attorney general is investigating Donald Trump’s online business school where he charges would-be moguls up to $35,000 to “learn from the master”, writes Douglas Feiden for the Daily News.
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