ISSN 1756-297XIssue No: 0018  02 March 2008
HE Events Diary

Opportunities Jobs

How many universities does Ireland need? See the news story in this week's edition.

Naming university buildings is big business in the United States. But there can be complications. Our feature article examines the issues.

The academic blogosphere is interrogated by Canadian scholars in the latest edition of Academic Matters. See HE Research and Commentary.

Special report: The Bologna reforms

Our correspondents around the world report on the impact of Bologna on their universities


NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

BOTSWANA: Shifting policies benefit Malaysian university
From a special correspondent
For two days last week, 16 Malaysian universities held open house at the international trade fair grounds in Gaborone, Botswana. The Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education exhibition followed a similar two-week event last year where exhibitors hoped to attract Botswana's students to apply and enrol in their institutions. But one Malaysian institution had already opened a campus in the country – the Limkokwing University of Creative Technology.
Full report on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Universities warn against fee-capping
Karen MacGregor
If the South African Government decides to cap student fees, it will undermine university autonomy and income as well as quality and research, the nation's vice-chancellors warned in a hard-hitting report published last week. Fee-capping will also have the unintended consequence of making higher education cheaper for the wealthy while not improving access for poor students or easing the financial burden they bear – a problem that sparks perennial protests on campuses.
Full report on the University World News site

TURKEY: Rectors disobey lifting of headscarf ban
Brendan O'Malley
The Turkish Government's attempt to lift the ban on women students wearing a Moslem headscarf was thrown into confusion last week when university rectors – in all but nine universities, according to some reports – refused to implement the new policy. Female students who turned up at university gates on Monday wearing a headscarf were ordered to remove them by security officers.
Full report on the University World News site

NEW ZEALAND: First woman vice-chancellor steps down
John Gerritsen*
The only woman vice-chancellor in the 139-year history of New Zealand universities finished up at her job last week and the country's female academics are hoping it will not be another century-and-a-half before the next one is appointed.
Full report on the University World News site

EUROPE: EU urges freedom of knowledge
Alan Osborn
Europe has a number of legally-protected freedoms such as the right to live and work in any of the 27 member countries. Such rights, enshrined in the EU treaties and frequently tested in the European Court of Justice, are among the EU's most cherished achievements, serving as the legal underpinning for a stream of policies and collective endeavours. Now comes a call for a new freedom to be enacted – to encompass the world of knowledge.
Full report on the University World News site

IRELAND: Troubling question of university numbers
John Walshe
The Irish Government faces serious political differences over how many universities the country should have. At present there are seven universities in Ireland, ranging in size from the National University of Ireland Maynooth with 6,500 students to University College Dublin with 22,000 full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students. Northern Ireland has two which means the island as a whole, with a population of just six million, has nine universities.
Full report on the University World News site

UK: Learning about globalisation
Diane Spencer
One hundred enterprising 18 and 19-year-olds from Britain will have the chance to visit three of the leading countries of the new global economy – China, India and Brazil – in Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Global Fellowship scheme. It aims to nurture outstanding talent and enterprise through a once-in-a-lifetime trip.
Full report on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Getting a buzz out of learning
From a special correspondent
Picture this: a lecture theatre is full of students – each with a handheld device that instantaneously gives responses on the lecture content. Every lecturer's worst nightmare? Not so, says Associate Professor Roy Tasker from the school of natural sciences at the University of Western Sydney. "It's an opportunity to encourage student participation in lectures, and for lecturers to receive prompt feedback on what's working for students and what's not," he says.
Full report on the University World News site


US: Naming rights net millions – but at a price
Philip Fine
Selling the right to name institution buildings and equipment has become a staple part of fundraising in US universities – but there can be unintended consequences for their image. Let's imagine for a moment that I'm actually not a journalist writing this story but a multi-millionaire. As a wealthy member of the community, I have decided to donate part of my fortune to my alma mater. What would logically follow is that one day while listening to public radio, you would hear the host trying to make sense of why a convicted serial killer did what he did, while interviewing none other than the Philip Fine, professor of psychiatric disorders to provide insight. A few years later, you would be reading an article about a drunken party that ended with several arrests which took place, that's right, just outside the Philip Fine Student Lounge.
Full report on the University World News site


AUSTRALIA: Oxford zoologist brought her skills to Australia*
Merlin Crossley*
Obituary: Stella Ann Crossley, Zoologist
2 November 1933 –21 November 2007
On her first day of school, the teacher suggested Stella Crossley return home. She was, after all, only three years old. But little Stella had followed her five-year-old sister Audrey to the classroom and – with the quiet determination that later became a character motif – refused to leave. It was an early start to a brilliant academic career that took her from a tiny English village to Oxford, a fellowship in the United States and, finally, to being a professor and respected zoologist at Monash University in Melbourne.
Full report on the University World News site

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

RUSSIA: Students presumed clean of drugs
Helen Womack
Russian students will be relieved to hear that plans by the Federal Narcotics Control Service to have them all compulsorily tested for drug addiction have been shelved. The FNCS came up with the idea last month, noting there were nearly 30,000 known addicts among Moscow's student population of 1.2 million and arguing that it was important to monitor the health of young people likely to go into "responsible professions".
Full report on the University World News site

US: Students learn to grow medical m arijuana
Learning how to get started in the medical m arijuana business costs a lot less than an Ivy League education and takes as little as one weekend. Where did we go wrong? asks the health blog of the Wall Street Journal. So far, 60 students have completed two-day weekend sessions in the art and science of the medicinal herb at Oaksterdam University in Oakland, California.
More on the University World News site


CANADA: Blogging in academe
Academic blogs have their problems and limitations, but they offer scholars opportunities to disseminate ideas in a manner that is accessible to a far broader audience than before, write Dale Kirby and Mary Cameron, assistant professors in Memorial University’s education faculty, in the latest edition of Academic Matters. The increasing use of blogs and other new media in academe, they write, “could bring us closer to Jürgen Habermas’s ideal of the public sphere and facilitate a further democratisation of intellectual discourse”. Also, award-winning novelist Camilla Gibb explains why she abandoned a promising career as an academic for an uncertain future as a novelist. The theme of the latest edition of the journal is ‘The seductive educator’, with articles in English and French examining “how effective university teaching is a form of seduction that appeals to the emotional and intellectual dimensions of learning, enthralling students, making them aware of the possibilities and limitations of knowing”.
More on the University World News site


EGYPT: 2,500 students protest Islamist military trial
More than 2,500 students, mostly followers of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, demonstrated at two universities in Egypt on 24 February – the latest in months of protests against the government's campaign to try 40 of the group's leaders and financiers in front of a military court on charges of money laundering and terrorism – reports the International Herald Tribune.
More on the University World News site

VENEZUELA: New system for student admissions
A new university admissions system will be implemented that takes into account socio- economic status and residency as well as merit, Venezuela’s Higher Education Minister Luis Acuna has said, reports Bloomberg. The new system is designed to improve access to higher education – but some professors fear it is a political move to control universities.
More on the University World News site

UGANDA: All university staff to lose permanent jobs
The Ministry of Education has started drafting a policy document to phase out permanent jobs at all public universities to improve staff performance and efficiency, reports The Monitor. All employees, including academics, would instead be hired on temporary basis, according to Minister for Higher Education Gabriel Opio.
More on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Racist university video sparks outrage
A video of white South African university students feeding black campus cleaners soup they had urinated in has caused outrage in a country scarred by decades of apartheid, reports Michael Geo rgy for Reuters. University classes were cancelled and staff and students protested last Wednesday, demanding action against the four men.
More on the University World News site

KENYA: Queries over UK ‘top university’ degrees
Parents, guardians and self-sponsored students in Kenya could be losing millions of shillings in fees and other charges in the belief that they will get certificates from two famous UK universities – Cambridge and Oxford – through the Digital Advisory Learning Centre. The centre, which has eight campuses across the country with a high concentration in Nairobi, claims to offer diploma and degree certification from the two universities but the reality is different, report Business Daily.
More on the University World News site

UK: Disadvantaged students ‘catch up’ at university
Students with lower A-level grades from some of the country's poorest performing schools do just as well as high flyers from the independent or selective sector in their degrees, according to ground-breaking new research, writes Richard Garner in The Independent. The findings have been seized on as vindication by campaigners who argue that universities should embrace positive discrimination to help candidates from struggling comprehensives.
More on the University World News site

UK: Nearly a quarter of students drop out
Labour promised to give half of young people a university education. But nearly a quarter of students are not finishing their courses. What’s gone wrong? asks Jack Grimston in The Sunday Times. According to a parliamentary report published last week, £800m spent by the government over the past five years on various schemes to cut student drop-out rates has had no impact – 22% of students fail to complete their degrees, almost the same proportion as in 2002.
More on the University World News site

CANADA: Campus text message alerts for crises
On the sprawling University of British Columbia campus in Vancouver, students are offered a chance to win a free iPod if they sign up for a new text-messaging emergency alert system the school bought in the aftermath of deadly shootings on North American campuses, writes Janice Tibbetts in The Province. North American universities and colleges, in the wake of the mass murder last spring at Virginia Tech, have been scrambling en masse to beef up their emergency planning, buying the text-messaging technology, outdoor speaker systems and electronic billboards so they can to notify students of an immediate danger.
More on the University World News site

CANADA: Graduate scholarship targets superstars
The Harper government is putting its imprint on higher education, pulling the plug on a foundation closely associated with former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and establishing a new, marquee graduate scholarship programme aimed at attracting young academic superstars to Canadian campuses. Elizabeth Church reports in the Globe and Mail that the new graduate programme, named after former Governor General Georges Vanier, will give 500 PhD students from Canada and abroad $50,000 annually for up to three years.
More on the University World News site

US: Theses are forever
Princeton University has lifted restrictions it had placed on public access to Michelle Obama’s senior thesis. The limits on access to her scholarship on “Princeton educated blacks and the black community” had fuelled a small firestorm, writes Elizabeth Redden in Inside Higher Ed. Similarly, Hillary Clinton’s Wellesley College senior thesis “has been speculated about, spun, analysed, debated, criticised and defended,” as MSNBC wrote in May. Inaccessible during Bill Clinton’s presidency, “the writings of a 21-year-old college senior, examining the tactics of radical community organiser Saul D Alinsky, have gained mythic status among her critics – a ‘Rosetta Stone,’ in the words of one, that would allow readers to decode the thinking of the former first lady and 2008 presidential candidate.”
More on the University World News site

US: Lecture hall where students died may be razed
State lawmakers have been asked to spend $40 million to raze a lecture hall at Northern Illinois University where five students were fatally shot on Valentine’s Day, and replace it with a new classroom and memorial building, reports the Chicago Tribune.
More on the University World News site
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