ISSN 1756-297XIssue No: 0180 17 July 2011
Support University World News - Click here to donate

Stepford Universities

HE Events Diary
Tens of thousands of students took to the streets in Chile's capital Santiago last Thursday, to protest in favour of public higher education. There were clashes with police. Credit: AFP

Education ministers and top officials from 10 countries met in Hong Kong last week, and described higher education as a 'global public good'. See the News section.

Bernd Althusmann, Lower Saxony’s Minister of Cultural Affairs, is the latest German politician facing accusations of plagiarism in his doctoral thesis. See the News section.

The new University of Seychelles may be one of the world's smallest universities, but it is set to play a big role in the island nation's future. See the Features section.


University World News was a media partner to the Talloires Network Leadership Conference in 2011, the OECD’s Institutional Management in Higher Education Conference in 2010, and the Unesco World Conference on Higher Education in 2009.


This week’s highlights

In Features, PHILIP FINE reports on the new University of Seychelles, which is hoping to turn the 155-island nation off Africa’s east coast into more than a honeymoon destination. In Commentary PHIL BATY, Editor of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, defends reputation surveys. KAZUKO SUEMATSU says the Japanese earthquake in March smashed higher education internationalisation plans but was also an opportunity to rethink the way forward, and FRANCOIS THERIN articulates his fears for the long-term sustainability of international higher education in the Gulf. Finally, JONATHAN HARLE writes that access to academic journals has improved markedly in Africa thanks to electronic publishing, but there are still barriers to overcome.


NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

CHILE: Reform plan fails to stop student protests
María Elena Hurtado
Disappointed by the higher education measures announced by President Sebastián Piñera, which include a $4 billion education fund, tens of thousands of Chilean students staged a massive strike in Santiago and Chile's main cities on 14 July. Vice-chancellors of Chile's 25 state-run universities, who have buried their hatchets and are talking to the government again, are attempting to forge a common position with students.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Higher education is a ‘global public good’
Yojana Sharma
Higher education does not merely benefit individuals or contribute to countries’ economies but is a ‘global public good’ with the potential to solve major global problems and lift people out of poverty, an international meeting of education ministers and high-level officials heard in Hong Kong last week.
Full report on the University World News site

SOUTH KOREA: Degrees taught in English to continue
Yojana Sharma
South Korean university degrees taught in English will continue as part of the country’s globalisation efforts, even though learning in another tongue may be stressful for some local students, a Korean vice-minister for education told University World News last week.
Full report on the University World News site

EUROPE: Students feel financial squeeze
David Jobbins
Students across Europe feel they are hard-pressed financially, according to Eurostudent IV, the latest in a series of in-depth studies of student life in 25 European countries. In more than half the countries covered, at least a third of students strongly felt they had insufficient means to meet monthly expenses.
Full report on the University World News site

UK: Four in 10 universities to charge maximum fee
Brendan O’Malley
Nearly four in 10 universities in England will charge the maximum £9,000 (US$14,335) tuition fee across all courses, but together they will spend an extra £195 million a year on widening access, the Office for Fair Access has confirmed.
Full report on the University World News site

GERMANY: Another minister faces plagiarism claims
Michael Gardner
Yet another senior German politician is the focus of questions about his doctoral thesis. Bernd Althusmann, Lower Saxony’s Minister of Cultural Affairs, is alleged to have quoted incorrectly several sources in his dissertation, creating the impression that he originated more of the content than was actually the case.
Full report on the University World News site

CANADA: University unveils the CNN of universities
Sarah King Head
A Toronto university has made it possible for the international university community to stay connected in real time without the cost of expensive and often-unreliable satellite links. The Global Campus Network is expected to make Ryerson University a hub for up to 4,100 higher education institutions worldwide within the next couple of years by using full high-definition streaming technology and existing broadband networks.
Full report on the University World News site

PAKISTAN: Court moves on bogus universities
Ameen Amjad Khan
Pakistan’s High Court in the city of Lahore has issued a notice to the Higher Education Commission and to the federal government requiring them to explain their position on bogus universities. Such institutions, said barrister Javaid Iqbal Jaffery in a petition to the court, are “operating freely and their number is increasing sharply”.
Full report on the University World News site

EGYPT: Public university leaders to be replaced
Ashraf Khaled
A recent decision by the Egyptian government to replace the current heads of public universities and college deans has drawn angry reaction from these leaders, who deny having political links with the former regime. And academics have vowed to continue protesting until further demands are met.
Full report on the University World News site

ISLAMIC STATES: Plan to measure university standards
Wagdy Sawahel
Ministers of 57 Islamic states have agreed to establish a system to measure the performance of universities, in an effort to promote innovation and world-class higher education standards.
Full report on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Intellectual property rights failing
Sharon Dell
South Africa’s current intellectual property rights regime is failing to support the national system of innovation and is actively disadvantaging local inventors while facilitating exploitation by foreign interests, according to new research to be published in the September edition of the South African Journal of Science.
Full report on the University World News site

NIGERIA: ICT aids testing of 1.5 million candidates
Tunde Fatunde
Nigeria’s Joint Admission and Matriculation Board has employed technology to improve administration of its entrance examination for the 1.5 million candidates struggling to gain admission into higher education institutions next October. Among the feats recorded this year was the release of the exam results within four working days.
Full report on the University World News site

ZIMBABWE: Higher education, science plan launched
Kudzai Mashininga
Zimbabwe’s unity government has launched an ambitious five-year science and higher education plan that it hopes will reverse the brain drain and arrest falling standards emanating from a political and economic crisis that has rocked the country for a decade. The plan includes funding, integration of research efforts, strategic partnerships and boosting universities’ capacity in science and technology.
Full report on the University World News site


UK: Cloud computing cuts research costs
The launch of a shared research cloud platform via a high-performance computing resource last week will enable British universities to access more real-time processing than they could afford to individually.
Full report on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Academic collaborates with Ben-Gurion
Munyaradzi Makoni
A University of Johannesburg academic will continue research on water purification with Israel’s Ben-Gurion University, despite the severing of ties between the two universities in March this year.
Full report on the University World News site


SEYCHELLES: More than a honeymoon destination
Philip Fine
It may just be the smallest university in the world but its aspirations are big, and the need it is filling for its equally small country of 86,000 people runs deep. Inaugurated late last year and with only 300 students registered and 12 degree programmes, the University of Seychelles is hoping to turn the 155-island tourist destination off Africa’s east coast into a knowledge economy for the region.
Full report on the University World News site


GLOBAL: Reputation surveys important to rankings
One of the most controversial elements of university rankings systems is the reputation survey, which has been dismissed as little more than a catalogue of prejudices. But such surveys, if done correctly and as one element of a broader ranking methodology, can give important insight into a university’s standing, argues PHIL BATY, Editor of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.
Full report on the University World News site

JAPAN: Where to after the earthquake?
The Japanese earthquake earlier this year has set back the country’s internationalisation plans for higher education, says KAZUKO SUEMATSU. But it is also an opportunity for Japan to learn some lessons and rethink the way forward.
Full report on the University World News site

GULF: When will its higher education business models implode?
Higher education business models in the Gulf fall into four main groups, but all struggle with the issues of quality higher education and student numbers, says FRANCOIS THERIN. He analyses the different models and articulates his fears for the long-term sustainability of international higher education in the region.
Full story on the University World News site

AFRICA: The availability of academic journals
While lack of access to academic journals, books and data has been regularly cited as an impediment to African scholars, the shift to electronic publishing means more immediate access is becoming available. However, says JONATHAN HARLE, there are still barriers to overcome, particularly developing students’ ability to find the latest material and boosting the status of university librarians.
Full report on the University World News site


GLOBAL: Arctic sea ice melting
Rising air temperatures in the Arctic region have led to an increase in rainfall and a decrease in snowfall, making the sea ice more susceptible to melting, a new study has revealed. The Arctic region is warming more rapidly than anywhere else on Earth, say the researchers.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Milky Way a galactic cannibal
The Milky Way has a history of devouring smaller neighbouring galaxies that get too close. One such incident that occurred early in the life of our galaxy could be responsible for its shape, according to two international astronomers.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Healthy diets overcome depression
Health researchers have found that people with healthy diets are less likely to have depression and anxiety. Researchers at the University of Bergen in Norway and Deakin University in Melbourne analysed data collected from more than 5,700 middle-aged and older adults from western Norway
Full report on the University World News site

EUROPE: Neanderthals created material culture
The question whether symbolically mediated behaviour is exclusive to modern humans or shared with earlier populations such as the Neanderthals has been hotly debated for decades. Now researchers at four European universities believe they have confirmed that personal ornaments and other objects uncovered in French caves were made by Neanderthal people.
Full report on the University World News site


US: Tweet your way to a free MBA
Has the 400-word application essay been replaced with the 140-character tweet? That’s the buzz as the University of Iowa’s Henry B Tippie College of Business announced that it had swapped an essay question with a call for tweets, writes Jenna Ross for Star Tribune.
More on the University World News site

US: Is Google replacing our memory?
A Columbia University study has found that Google and other search engines are literally changing the way our brains process and retain information, writes Matt Weinberger for ZDNet. The research was conducted by Columbia psychologist Betsy Sparrow and presented in a paper Science magazine published entitled “Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive consequences of having information at our fingertips”.
More on the University World News site


The Facebook group of University World News is the fastest growing in higher education worldwide. More than 2,750 readers have joined. Sign up to the University World News Facebook group to meet and communicate directly with academics and researchers informed by the world’s first truly global higher education publication. Click on the link below to visit and join the group.
Visit the University World News group on Facebook


RUSSIA: Corruption in medical schools sparks uproar
An exposé in the Russian edition of Esquire has roiled education and health officials by detailing corruption at six medical schools. The magazine in April published nine short articles by medical students describing the various ways they can pay professors in exchange for passing tests, writes Anna Nemtsova for The Chronicle of Higher Education.
More on the University World News site

UK: British bid to attract 10,000 Brazilian students
Government ministers have been accused of seeking to plug a black hole in university funding by arranging for 10,000 fee-paying Brazilians to study in the UK, writes Daniel Boffey for The Observer.
More on the University World News site

WALES: University mergers urged in shake-up
Ministers have been handed proposals for cutting the number of universities in Wales through mergers, reports the BBC. Education Minister Leighton Andrews, who last year said universities must “adapt or die”, is backing the proposals which would cut the number of universities in Wales from 11 to six.
More on the University World News site

SCOTLAND: Universities face huge funding shortfall
The true scale of the financial crisis facing Scottish universities has been laid bare after it was confirmed that they will require another £268 million (US$432) per year to keep up with their English competitors, writes Simon Johnson for The Telegraph.
More on the University World News site

HONG KONG: Group opposes competitive research policy
The University Grants Commission Concern Group has complained that new policies proposed by the commission may backfire and diminish the high standing of Hong Kong’s higher education, writes Andrea Deng for China Daily.
More on the University World News site

MALAYSIA: Autonomy for five universities
Malaysia’s five research universities are set to receive full autonomy by 2015, according to Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin. He said the ministry’s Readiness for Autonomy Audit showed that the research universities should be ready by then, writes Richard Lim for The Star.
More on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Playing the zero sum game
Should governments use scarce public research money to build a small number of brilliant universities that can share and initiate global conversations? Or should they build genuine research capacity in all universities, in provincial cities and outer metropolitan areas as well as sandstone heartlands? asks Simon Marginson in The Age.
More on the University World News site

PAKISTAN: Universities must submit rankings data
Friday was the deadline for universities in Pakistan to submit data for a national rankings process to the Higher Education Commission, reports The News. But an official said only around 10 out of 132 universities had done so.
More on the University World News site

SOUTH KOREA: Universities brace for fewer students
Private universities in Korea are preparing for declining revenues due to a persistently low birthrate, mirroring the situation in Japan, which has seen a string of bankruptcies among private colleges due to the same problem, reports The Chosunilbo.
More on the University World News site

US: Finance difficulties hindering graduation rates
Estranged from his family at age 17, Jake Boyd put himself through Macomb Community College in suburban Detroit by working nearly 100 hours a week, writes Jon Marcus of The Hechinger Report. It took Boyd almost five years to earn his associate degree in law enforcement from Macomb, the campus where President Barack Obama announced his American Graduation Initiative in 2009, setting a goal of restoring the country to first place by 2020 in the proportion of 25- to 34-year-olds with college degrees.
More on the University World News site

US: Campus affirmative action may head to top court
The debate over racial preferences in higher education admissions could be headed back to the US Supreme Court, writes Andrea Billups for The Washington Times. After a federal appeals court decision striking down the Michigan’s voter-approved ban two weeks ago and a renewed effort afoot to overturn a similar law in California, colleges and universities may be seeking further guidance on how to legally create racial diversity in their student bodies.
More on the University World News site

US: Third of Alabama students need remedial classes
More than a third of Alabama high school graduates who attend college in-state must take remedial courses in their freshman year because they cannot do college-level work, an analysis of new data from the Alabama Commission on Higher Education shows, writes Marie Leech The Birmingham News.
More on the University World News site

US: Law schools get practical
Looking to attract employers’ attention, some law schools in the US are throwing out decades of tradition by replacing textbook courses with classes that teach more practical skills, writes Patrick G Lee for The Wall Street Journal.
More on the University World News site

NEW ZEALAND: Innovation ‘shopfront’ launched
Nine universities and crown research institutes have launched the Kiwi Innovation Network, KiwiNet, to take more of a New Zealand Inc approach to commerc ialising science and technology research, writes Fiona Rotherham for Business Day.
More on the University World News site

AFRICA: Distance learning ‘struggling’
Open and Distance Learning in Africa is struggling with credibility issues as governments have very few policies for quality assurance, according to Association of African Universities Secretary General Olugbemiro Jegede. There is an apparent lack of interest in establishing national quality assurance systems to improve education, writes Polycarp Machira for The Citizen.
More on the University World News site

FIJI: Universities aplenty
For a small islands nation, Fiji has too many universities that are creating waste and un-necessary duplication of roles and courses, a Fiji-born lawyer and former diplomat has said, writes Samisoni Pareti for Islands Business.
More on the University World News site
Copyright University World News 2007-2011