ISSN 1756-297XIssue No: 0193 16 October 2011
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HE Events Diary

India's Human Resources Minister Kapil Sibal met with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week at the first India-US higher education summit, held at George Washington University. See the Features section. Credit: Livemint

In Commentary, Kate Ashcroft teases out the main messages from the just-published book she co-authored with Philip Rayner, titled Higher Education in Development: Lessons from Sub-Saharan Africa.

On the 20th anniversary of private higher education in Poland, Bianka Siwinska writes that the sector is under threat from demographic pressure and unfair treatment by the state.


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 ALYA MISHRA writes that while the first India-US higher education summit provided recognition of the growing international importance of India’s universities, there is a wide gap between what India needs and what American institutions might provide. YOJANA SHARMA reports on rising hopes in Malaysia that a draconian law restricting student political activity on campuses might be scrapped, and SARAH KING HEAD looks at differentiation of institutional mission in Canadian higher education, as discussed at the “Stepford Universities?” conference in Toronto. In Commentary, RICHARD HOLMES critiques the latest global university rankings produced by Times Higher Education, and BIANKA SIWIÑSKA charts the dramatic growth of private higher education in Poland – and the dire threats it faces today. KATE ASHCROFT highlights the central messages in a just-published book she co-authored on dilemmas of development work in African universities.

A reason to celebrate

GLOBAL: University World News turns four
On the face of it, there is nothing special about a fourth anniversary. Other annual milestones – first, fifth, tenth and so on – seem more appealing. But when University World News was launched on 14 October 2007 the journalists involved were uncertain that their audacious idea of producing the planet’s first international higher education newspaper would last four months. So we are celebrating reaching four years.
Full report on the University World News site

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

ASIA: Higher education in East Asia must improve
Yojana Sharma
University access has increased dramatically in low- and middle-income countries of East Asia, but higher education is “not yet fulfilling its potential”, according to the World Bank. The emerging economies and developing countries of Asia need to improve higher education to maintain economic growth and “climb the income ladder”, it said in a just-released report.
Full report on the University World News site

IRAQ: Sweeping higher education reforms planned
Wagdy Sawahel
Iraq plans to rebuild its war-torn higher education system by giving financial and administrative independence to universities, establishing spec ialised institutions and allowing foreign universities to open branches in the country.
Full report on the University World News site

FRANCE: Ministers divided on foreign student rules
Jane Marshall
Laurent Wauquiez, France’s minister for higher education and research, is embroiled in a row with Claude Guéant, the interior minister, over whether new immigration measures have made it more difficult to attract talented foreign students.
Full report on the University World News site

SPAIN: Study highlights progress on fair access
Paul Rigg
Spanish universities help to neutralise social inequality, according to the largest study of university students undertaken in Spain. The research shows that 51% of university students come from families whose parents never accessed higher education.
Full report on the University World News site

EGYPT: Elections reinstate some university leaders
Ashraf Khaled
Four university presidents in Egypt have kept their posts in unprecedented elections, just weeks after they were forced to step down. The elections were held recently at the public universities of Cairo, Beni Suef, Benha and South Valley.
Full report on the University World News site

SINGAPORE: Research manipulation claims probed
Emilia Tan
Huge expansion in Singapore’s science research could be leading to stresses in the system. A former professor at the top-rated National University of Singapore has come under scrutiny for possible fabrication of research data.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Nobel prizes for science and economics
Geoff Maslen
Seven distinguished scientists have received Nobel prizes for science this year although one of them, Canadian professor Ralph M Steinman, died of pancreatic cancer three days before news of the award reached him. It is the first time a Nobel prize has been awarded posthumously, although this is against the Nobel Foundation’s statutes. On Monday the economic sciences prize in memory of Alfred Nobel went to two US macro-economists.
Full report on the University World News site

BRAZIL: Silence greets collaboration plan with Europe
Tom Hennigan
Brazil and the European Union will hold a meeting next year to focus on improving academic and student mobility, as part of a drive to strengthen cooperation in higher education and research. The partnership with the EU has so far been greeted by silence in Brazil, with no comment from higher education organisations or any apparent press coverage.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Powerful search tool now includes books
Jacquie Withers
Thomson Reuters last week launched a Book Citation Index, a new resource that includes scholarly books within the Web of Knowledge search and discovery platform and will enable academic libraries to increase the visibility of their book collections, the company says. Starting with 25,000 books, the number will double by the end of 2013.
Full report on the University World News site

NIGERIA: Terror agenda sparks debate on campuses
Tunde Fatunde
The political and ideological agenda of Boko Haram, a Muslim fundamentalist group that opposes ‘Western education’, has ignited debate at Nigerian universities. The group has attacked buildings and threatened to send suicide bombers onto campuses. The university community has roundly condemned terror, but is polarised over Boko Haram’s intentions.
Full report on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Young scientists recognised in academy
Munyaradzi Makoni
An early-career scientists’ academy aimed at nurturing the development of top young academics and unlocking their collective potential to tackle national and global problems, has been launched in South Africa. It is the latest offshoot of the rapidly growing Global Young Academy.
Full report on the University World News site


INDIA: Higher education summit with US reveals gaps
Alya Mishra
The first India-US higher education summit, between India's Human Resources Minister Kapil Sibal and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week, was aimed at strengthening collaboration between the two countries. It provided symbolic recognition of the importance of India's university and research sectors for international interaction. But in India academics and students were expressed scepticism that it would yield any real change in education outcomes, with a wide gap between India's needs and what US institutions might provide.
Full report on the University World News site

MALAYSIA: Repressive university act under review
Yojana Sharma
Hopes that a draconian law that restricts political activity on university campuses in Malaysia might be scrapped have risen dramatically in recent weeks, with government ministers publicly calling for change. But academics say it will only be a partial opening up, with lecturers and university staff still subject to controls.
Full report on the University World News site

CANADA: Driving the differentiation bus
Sarah King Head
Differentiation of institutional mission in Canadian higher education seems inevitable and undisputed. But how to drive the “differentiation bus” across the sector was the question that framed discussions at an armchair panel session of the recent “Stepford Universities?” conference.
Full report on the University World News site


GLOBAL: Rankings – Despite changes, questions persist
There are now a large number of global university rankings. Each has its own strength, but they have drawn a lot of scepticism from the higher education sector. The latest, the Times Higher Education-Thomson Reuters rankings, have been revised substantially since last year, making comparisons impossible, says RICHARD HOLMES. There are improvements but still also inconsistencies, leaving the compilers facing some difficult questions.
Full report on the University World News site

POLAND: Private higher education under threat
The emergence and growth of private higher education in Poland has been widely regarded as one of the greatest achievements of the country’s transformation in the 1990s, writes BIANKA SIWIŃSKA. Now, however, the sector is endangered – not only due to great demographic pressure, but also to unfair treatment of private institutions by the state.
Full report on the University World News site

AFRICA: Dilemmas of development work in universities
Most Sub-Saharan African problems are multilayered, requiring social, cultural, economic and scientific solutions that work together, writes KATE ASHCROFT, co-author of the just-published book Higher Education in Development: Lessons from Sub-Saharan Africa. The central message is that, if real change is to be sustained, it takes time and much working together in partnership, enquiry, reflection and tackling real day-to-day problems in situ. This is more difficult than finding an off-the-shelf ‘cure’ to a problem and applying it.
Full report on the University World News site


EUROPE: State of biomedical research
The European Medical Research Councils group has published a white paper assessing the current status of biomedical research in Europe in a global context. It says European biomedical research is advancing “at a great pace” given the relatively small funds available and, with more money, it could do better.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Light to detect colon cancer
Short bursts of light from an endoscope could be a less invasive way for physicians to detect abnormal cells in the colon, according to bio-engineers at Duke University in North Carolina. The finding could lead to improvements in the detection of dysplasia, abnormal cells with the potential to turn cancerous in the epithelium, which forms the lining of various tissues including the oesophagus and colon.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Combating multi-resistant bacteria
An international quest launched by the Infectious Diseases Society of America to produce 10 antibiotics to combat multi-resistant bacteria by 2020 has taken a step towards the goal with the recreation of the DNA of an ancestral wallaby gene from 60 million years year ago.
Full report on the University World News site


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US: Billion dollar green challenge for campuses
The Sustainable Endowments Institute, along with 15 partner organisations, last week launched the Billion Dollar Green Challenge to encourage higher education and non-profit institutions in the US to invest a total of $1 billion in green revolving funds to finance energy efficiency improvements, writes Joshua Bolkan for Campus Technology.
More on the University World News site

CHILE: Student leaders seek support abroad
Representatives of Chile’s confederation of university students, Confech, will travel to Europe to seek international support and raise the profile of their push for sweeping reforms to the nation’s education system, writes Joe Hinchliffe for the Santiago Times.
More on the University World News site

HUNGARY: Students protest higher education bill
More than 1,000 students protested against the government’s new higher education concept in front of the University of Debrecen in eastern Hungary last week. The students gathered in protest against cuts in funding and an expected curtailment of student rights and autonomy, reports
More on the University World News site

UK: Universities could be bought ‘in six months’
A private equity firm or private higher education provider will buy a UK university in whole or part “within the next six months”, according to a legal expert. The prediction by Glynne Stanfield, a partner in the education group Eversheds, came as government documents revealed that a US private equity firm, Warburg Pincus, had twice met with David Willetts, the universities and science minister, writes John Morgan for Times Higher Education.
More on the University World News site

UK: Business-backed technical colleges to open
A new wave of comprehensive colleges backed by firms including the developers of the BlackBerry, Toshiba, Boeing and Rolls Royce will open in England next year as part of a new generation of vocational schools in which businesses will help shape the curriculum, write Jeevan Vasagar and Jessica Shepherd for the Guardian.
More on the University World News site

UK: Internet ends neat chancellorship succession
Cambridge University’s chancellorship, a ceremonial post created in 1246, has long passed serenely among aristocrats, bishops, generals and princes. Dons in dark gowns would meet in ivy-covered colleges to orchestrate the transition. Now, the internet age has spoiled all that, writes Frances Robinson for The Wall Street Journal.
More on the University World News site

UK: University to scrap first-class degrees
University College London will stop telling students whether they have received a first, second or third, and instead give them an American-style ‘grade point average’, writes Julie Henry for The Telegraph. The new system gives students a score based on all the courses they have taken as undergraduates.
More on the University World News site

UK: Wales helps stranded Tasmac students
The University of Wales has set up an email helpline to assist hundreds of students from a London college that closed suddenly, reports the BBC. Tasmac London School of Business awarded degrees validated by the university until it ceased trading. Many of the 650 overseas students had paid thousands of pounds in fees to the private college before it went under.
More on the University World News site

NORWAY: Universities stick to no-fee-for-all policy
As Sweden introduces tuition fees of up to £13,145 (US$20,567) for non-European Union students this year, Norway is now one of the few European states to stick to the once-sacrosanct belief in free education for all, writes Jack Grove for Times Higher Education.
More on the University World News site

KENYA: Maathai rejected lucrative memoir offers
The late Professor Wangari Maathai’s deep love for and attachment to Kenya made her resist several bids from top foreign universities for her memoirs, write Walter Menya and Daniel Wesangula for The Daily Nation.
More on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Academics condemn Iran Baha’i attack
More than 40 distinguished philosophers and theologians from 16 countries have joined in the condemnation of Iran’s policy to bar young Baha’is and others from higher education. In a global initiative the 43 prominent academics – of Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim backgrounds – have signed an open letter, published in The Telegraph, UK, and reported in Brazil’s Folha de Sao Paulo.
More on the University World News site

IRAQ: Coveted jobs breed diploma fraud
For two years, an assistant dean at Iraq’s largest university received threats from a police officer: sign a fraudulent document certifying that the officer had graduated from the university, the dean was told, or he would be arrested or even killed, write Michael S Schmidt and Omar Al-Jawoshy for The New York Times.
More on the University World News site

US: Columbia probed for ‘steering’ student
The US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has opened an investigation into a complaint filed by Kenneth L Marcus, the director of the Initiative on Anti-Semitism at the Institute for Jewish and Community Research, writes Arnold Ahlert for Front Page Mag.
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US: Ransom library acquires JM Coetzee archive
The archive of Nobel prize-winning author JM Coetzee has been acquired by the Harry Ransom Center library at the University of Texas at Austin. The $1.5 million acquisition includes 155 boxes of the author’s essays, manuscripts, notebooks, letters and speeches dating back to 1956, reports the BBC.
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SAUDI ARABIA: Biochemistry students ‘neglected’
Biochemistry students at Saudi universities complain that they are neglected by the ministries of higher education, health and labour, which do not recognise the significance of their branch of study for the country’s development, writes Joud Al-Amri for Arab News.
More on the University World News site

LEBANON: Essay-writers for hire degrade academia
A new academic year begins and “an ugly practice” continues to degrade the integrity of Lebanon’s higher education system, writes Niamh Fleming-Farrell for The Daily Star. Essay-writers for hire and the ‘entrepreneurs’ who solicit work for them continue to defy deterrence and remain a threat to institutions’ integrity.
More on the University World News site
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