ISSN 1756-297XIssue No: 0190 25 September 2011
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HE Events Diary

A new study by the OECD uses research impact indicators to map university research efforts around the world. See the News section.

In Features, Geoff Maslen reports on the launch of Australia's 12th Confucius Institute, based at La Trobe University, and at China's more recent global 'soft power' project aimed at schools and called Confucius Classroom. Credit: Harvard

Berkeley-based researcher Cecile Hoareau writes that the recession could open up a window of opportunity for higher eduction reforms in the European Union. See the Commentary Section.

In Commentary, Khaled Al-Rasheid explains how Saudi Arabia's universities have risen rapidly up the global rankings. This year King Saud University entered the world's top 200 universities in the QS rankings.


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, GEOFF MASLEN reports on the opening at La Trobe University of Australia’s 12th Confucius Institute, bringing the total number of institutes worldwide to more than 330. SHARON DELL reveals that an evaluation and rating system of social science researchers in South Africa has increased their publication production by 25%. In Commentary, CECILE HOAREAU argues that the recession in Europe is unlikely to mean cuts to higher education funding and could open up a window of opportunity for reforms. KHALED AL-RASHEID looks at how Saudi Arabian universities have risen up the global rankings and says the progress made is significant and sustainable, and BRIAN MARTIN writes that despite its good intentions the Excellence in Research for Australia system has created a culture that discourages research collaboration.


NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

GLOBAL: New scoreboard for research and innovation
Geoff Maslen
Although research efforts by universities and private organisations are increasing across the globe, most research remains highly concentrated in a small number of US universities, according to a just-published OECD study that uses a new measure of research impact. Across disciplines, however, “a more diverse picture emerges”.
Full report on the University World News site

EUROPE: New continental higher education strategy
Alan Osborn and Brendan O’Malley
The European Union’s 4,000 universities and other tertiary institutions are not doing enough to help create jobs and economic growth, and their ability to contribute to prosperity remains underexploited, the European Commission says in its new higher education strategy.
Full report on the University World News site

GREECE: Students escalate opposition to reforms
Makki Marseilles
Greece’s Education Secretary Anna Diamantopoulou has warned that students risk not being accredited with the autumn semester if they continue to be involved in escalating protests over higher education reforms, including the occupation of more than 350 faculties.
Full report on the University World News site

CHINA: Student flows to US forecast to fall – study
Yojana Sharma
The flow of students from China to universities in America is forecast to fall between now and 2015 but rise to Canada and Australia, according to student mobility forecasts by the British Council. Visa changes, currency fluctuations and shifting trade flows between China and other countries could have an impact on overall numbers.
Full report on the University World News site

NEW ZEALAND: Quake-hit university to cut jobs
John Gerritsen
First they were rocked by a deadly earthquake, now staff at the University of Canterbury are facing job cuts. The university on New Zealand’s South Island has suffered a 13% drop in enrolments since an earthquake struck Christchurch in February, killing 181 people.
Full report on the University World News site

CHINA: Mao raises questions over celebrity professors
Mimi Leung
When it was revealed last week that the grandson of the late Chinese leader Mao Zedong was teaching at a college in Guangzhou, in southern Guangdong province, it unleashed a barrage of comment in China over the appointment of ‘celebrity professors’.
Full report on the University World News site

US-ISLAMIC STATES: Science link-up to be launched
A ground-breaking initiative to foster higher education and scientific cooperation among Islamic countries, and between them and the United States, will be launched next May. The US-Islamic States innovation initiative is the first of its kind in the Middle East and Africa.
Full report on the University World News site

NIGERIA: Campus security reviewed after threats
Tunde Fatunde
Nigerian universities are urgently re-examining their outdated security framework, following two recent and unrelated security threats – extensive destruction of property by rampaging students at the University of Calabar in the southeast, and an email purportedly sent by Islamic extremist group Boko Haram to 15 universities in the south, warning of violence unless they cease “propagation” of Western education.
Full report on the University World News site

SWEDEN: Budget pumps funds into higher education
Jan Petter Myklebust
The Swedish government is to plough SEK7 billion (US$1 billion) into funding education reforms over the next four years to improve teacher training, raise the standard of mathematics teaching and improve completion rates in the humanities and social sciences.
Full report on the University World News site

SPAIN: Cuts and culture hinder Bologna process
Paul Rigg
University leaders are warning that government funding cuts and inflexible policies are distorting Spain’s attempts to implement the Bologna Treaty, which seeks to set common academic standards and encourage greater student and staff mobility across Europe.
Full report on the University World News site

GERMANY: Hamburg to scrap tuition fees
Michael Gardner
The City of Hamburg plans to do away with tuition fees as of the 2012 winter semester. This would leave Germany with just two of its 16 federal states generally charging fees in public-funded higher education.
Full report on the University World News site

CANADA: Conference looks at ‘Stepford universities’
Sarah King Head
“Everyone wants to look like Harvard,” said Ian Clark, explaining a fundamental weakness in the Canadian university model. He and seven other higher education pundits will explore this and other themes – including mission, incentives and image – at a “Stepford Universities? Differentiation in the new higher education landscape” conference in Toronto next week.
Full report on the University World News site

THAILAND: Call for term calendar to match the world
Suluck Lamubol
When the chairman of the Council of University Presidents of Thailand (CUPT) recently suggested that the country's universities should realign their semester dates to more closely match the United States and other countries to promote internationalisation in higher education, it caused a stir among policy planners.
Full report on the University World News site

NAMIBIA: Huge demand for medical training
Moses Magadza
Demand for places in the University of Namibia’s two-year old School of Medicine and the recently introduced pharmacy degree programme far outstrips the number of places available, it has emerged. When the school opened, there were 500 mature student applicants for just two places.
Full report on the University World News site


INDIA: Second cutting-edge Max Planck Centre opened
Aarti Narayan
Germany’s Max Planck Society, a world leader in basic science research, last week officially opened a new centre in India on lipids research in collaboration with the National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bangalore, as part of the German organisation’s global expansion.
Full report on the University World News site


AUSTRALIA: Another Confucius Institute established
Geoff Maslen
China continues its ‘soft power’ diplomatic efforts to expand its influence around the globe with the establishment of ever-more Confucius institutes at universities around the world and, recently, the spread of an offshoot aimed at schools called the Confucius Classroom scheme. La Trobe University in Melbourne this month became the 12th in Australia to establish a Confucius Institute, in an arrangement with Chongqing University, a national comprehensive institution on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River.
Full report on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Researcher rating boosts publication
Sharon Dell
Recent research indicates that the evaluation and rating system for individual researchers by the National Research Foundation has had a positive impact on the publication profile of South Africa’s researchers in the social sciences, increasing the number of articles produced by an estimated average of 24.5% in the first five years of operation.
Full report on the University World News site

BOTSWANA: Decision soon on stalled new university
A special correspondent
The future of the Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) at Palapye, 260 kilometres northeast of the capital Gaborone, will be known in early October. The potential of this high-profile project to contribute to meeting the country’s human resources needs has been wrapped in controversy and subject to the whims of contending interests for years.
Full report on the University World News site


EUROPE: What role for the EU in an era of austerity?
The recession is unlikely to mean cuts in European funding for higher education, argues CECILE HOAREAU. Instead, provided that Eurozone survives the debt crisis, it is likely that the recession will create a rationale and open up a window of opportunity for legitimate reforms.
Full report on the University World News site

MIDDLE EAST: Rankings herald an Arab renaissance
Saudi Arabian universities have risen rapidly up the global university rankings in the last few years. KHALED AL-RASHEID looks at how they have achieved this and argues that the progress made is both significant and sustainable.
Full report on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: The problem with ERA
Excellence in Research for Australia aims to improve research quality. Instead, however, it creates a culture that encourages competition rather than collaboration, argues BRIAN MARTIN in the journal Australian Universities’ Review. A different approach to the government imposing a competitive measurement scheme would have been to open up space for diverse proposals to improve research.
Full report on the University World News site


GLOBAL: Academic freedom reports worldwide
Noemi Bouet*
In Chad two students detained for being in possession of pro-reform pamphlets are preparing to go on trial. In Iran prominent jailed student activist Majid Tavakoli has been permanently banned from studying at any university, and a doctoral student who campaigned for the opposition candidate in the 2009 elections was detained and subjected to 50 lashes. International Turkmen students have been prevented by their country’s migration officials from returning to universities in neighbouring Tajikistan and are in danger of being expelled. And in Nigeria, students have accused the authorities of failing to guarantee their safety after extremist Islamic group Boko Haram threatened bomb attacks on universities.
Full report on the University World News site


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UK: Students plan fresh wave of protests
British student leaders who organised a series of mass demonstrations that saw tens of thousands of young people take to the streets last year are planning a fresh wave of protests, writes Matthew Taylor for The Guardian.
More on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Universities welcome visa rules review
Australian universities have welcomed the release of a long-awaited review of international student visa rules, saying that immigration reforms and the removal of tough financial requirements could give the sector a much-needed boost, reports The Conversation.
More on the University World News site

BAHRAIN: Obstacles remain for pro-democracy students
Universities across Bahrain have opened for the new academic year, but a number of students who support the nation’s pro-democracy movement say various obstacles are preventing them from entering the classroom, writes Phillip Walter Wellman for Voice of America.
More on the University World News site

IRAN: Baha'i educators’ lawyer arrested
As a number of Baha'is in Iran await trial for providing higher education to youth barred from university, the Baha'i International Community has been distressed to learn of the arrest of a lawyer who was preparing to defend them, reports the Baha’i World News Service.
More on the University World News site

WALES: Agreement over university mergers
Plans to radically overhaul the higher education system in Wales, designed by the body that funds Welsh higher education, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, have been widely agreed upon by university leaders and other key figures, writes Henry McMorrow for Gair Rhydd.
More on the University World News site

MALAYSIA: Strong calls for review of university act
Calls to review the Universities and University Colleges Act of 1971, or AUKU, are growing stronger. Deputy Higher Education Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said the main priority was to repeal Section 15 of the act, which prohibits students from getting involved in politics, reports The Star.
More on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Young academics plan to flee the sector
Two in five academics under the age of 30 plan to leave Australian higher education within the next five to 10 years because of high levels of dissatisfaction caused by lack of job security, poor pay and mountains of paperwork and red tape, writes Julie Hare for The Australian.
More on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Academic freedom on the agenda
Freedom of intellectual inquiry at universities will become a hot topic now that it has legislative backing for the first time, writes Bernard Lane for The Australian.
More on the University World News site

US: Lean education, research spending bill approved
A US Senate panel voted last week to approve a bill that would cut spending on the National Institutes of Health by $190 million in the 2012 fiscal year while maintaining a maximum Pell Grant award of $5,550, writes Kelly Field for The Chronicle of Higher Education.
More on the University World News site

US: Universities seek out students of means
Money is talking a bit louder in college admissions these days, according to a survey released last week by Inside Higher Ed, writes Tamar Lewin for The New York Times.
More on the University World News site

UK: Russell Group criticises access policies
It was claimed last week that British coalition government policies designed to widen access to higher education fail to recognise the “root cause of the problem” facing teenagers from poor backgrounds, writes Graeme Paton for The Telegraph.
More on the University World News site

INDIA: Weak rupee costs students abroad
As if the rising cost of education was not bad enough, the rupee hitting a two-year low against the US dollar will leave Indian students abroad poorer by anywhere between Rs50,000 (US$1,000) and Rs100,000, especially for those who delayed paying their fees to foreign universities last July, write Vinay Umarji and Swati Garg for the Business Standard.
More on the University World News site

CANADA: Research focus strikes degree quality
The quality of undergraduate education is suffering under a stronger focus on research at universities, says a new study by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. This comes at a time when, according to Statistics Canada, the cost of a university education is higher than ever, up by 4.3% in 2010, reports CBC News.
More on the University World News site

CANADA: Science fraudster traced to Hebron job
A scientist found to have committed academic fraud at the University of Manitoba in Canada is now studying food safety and biotechnology in Palestine, according to a US group that tracks research misdeeds, writes Margaret Munro for Postmedia News.
More on the University World News site

NIGERIA: Fake universities grow to 51
According to the National Universities Commission, the number of fake universities operating in Nigeria has risen from 44 to 51, writes Martin Paul for The Moment.
More on the University World News site

PHILIPPINES: Iranian students file racism rap
Some 100 Iranian dentistry students last week filed a complaint with the Commission on Higher Education in the Philippines against academics, security guards and students of Manila Central University who they said branded them as “terrorists and terrorist sympathisers”, writes Ashzel Hachero for Malaya.
More on the University World News site

MALAWI: Police quiz academics over pressure group
Plainclothes police officers last week stormed a constituent college of the University of Malawi, to question administrators on the existence of a political pressure group, a move some students called illegal and contrary to the Kampala Declaration among other laws granting academic freedom, writes Dillinger Soko for the Nyasa Times.
More on the University World News site

UGANDA: Lecturers divided over Makerere reopening
Makerere University Academic Staff Association is divided over the reopening of the Ugandan university, write C Businge, J Lule and B Mayanja for New Vision.
More on the University World News site
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