Issue No:0002 22 October 2007
HE Events Diary

Linux Newsletter Left
The Linux penguin, set to dominate Russia's education system. See the UNI-LATERAL article entitled Government moves to replace Microsoft with Linux for more.

EXCLUSIVES: Our correspondents report

VENEZUELA: Chavez scraps university entrance exam
Jose Orozco
The Venezuelan government has decided to scrap the national university entrance examination, raising questions about the effect on academic standards and whether access for poorer students will be improved.
Full report on the University World News site

US: American lawmakers promote study abroad
Ard Jongsma
Higher education lawmakers seeking ways of encouraging more students to study abroad have received strong support on the political and academic scenes. The ambitious aim is to increase the number going overseas to one million a year.
Full report on the University World News site

OECD 1: US top destination for foreign students
Brendan O'Malley
The United States continues to be the top destination for international students seeking a university education, according to the latest report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). But America’s market share fell significantly – by 4% – between 2000 and 2005.
Full report on the University World News site
Education at a Glance 2007 report on the OECD site

[The OECD produces quantitative internationally comparable indicators that are published in Education at a Glance, as well as country briefing notes contrasting key findings from member nations with global trends among OECD countries in the areas of quantity and quality, equity, and resources and efficiency.]
Education at a Glance country briefing notes on the OECD site
NEXT WEEK: Brendan O'Malley talks with Andreas Schleicher about the OECD report's findings

OECD 2: Germany receives poor report
Michael Gardner
Germany’s poor showing in the OECD report has met with a mixed response among politicians and higher education organisations.
Full report on the University World News site

Stem cell research continues to evoke heated debate in the US.
Keeping stem cell research alive in the Features section below.
Stem Cell (Newsletter)
University of Washington School of Medicine: Clare McLean

UK: Two centuries of honours degrees to disappear
Diane Spencer
Britain’s 200-year-old system of awarding honours degrees as firsts, upper and lower seconds, and thirds is to be replaced by a Higher Education Achievement Report (Hear) within four years. This follows recommendations made in a report by a group of vice-chancellors led by Professor Bob Burgess of Leicester University.
Full report on the University World News site
Burgess report available on the Universities UK site

[However, in a commentary The Independent argues that vice-chancellors took years to produce a report that essentially leaves a flawed degree classification system as is because they were unable to agree.]
Full report on The Independent site

CANADA: Global graduate schools body planned
Philip Fine
National graduate education associations in Europe, America, China, Canada and Australia are expected to establish an international organisation to deal with issues facing graduate schools at a time of growing competition, following a meeting held in Banff in Canada.
Full report on the University World News site

[For more information on the Banff meeting, visit the website of the US’s Council of Graduate Schools.]
More reports on the Council of Graduate Schools site

TURKEY: Headscarf issue poses new challenges
Tabitha Morgan
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has promised to rewrite his country’s constitution to enable women to wear headscarves at state universities.
Full report on the University World News site

FRANCE: Higher education saved from budget cuts
Jane Marshall
Higher education and research were among the few sectors spared in the French government’s 2008 budget. The decision reflected President Nicolas Sarkozy’s election promise to reduce public spending overall while providing extra resources to arm France for a “worldwide battle for intelligence”.
Full report on the University World News site
More information on the French government site

SPAIN: Strong take-up for student loans
Rebecca Warden
Spain has followed Britain and Australia in adopting a generous student loans scheme. More than 3,300 graduates had applied for one of the new postgraduate student loans, less than a month after the scheme was launched.
Full report on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Government struggles to resolve fees row
Karen MacGregor
University and student leaders are negotiating over steep fee hikes that sparked protests in Johannesburg. While the campus disruptions are unlikely to spread across South Africa, they have placed pressure on government to resolve a perennial problem.
Full report on the University World News site

RUSSIA: Student fees rise sharply at universities
Nick Holdsworth
The cost of a degree at Russian universities has shot up by 15% over the past year, according to a study into the expense of courses.
Full report on the University World News site

IRELAND: First graduate medical school
John Walshe
The University of Limerick became the first in Ireland to open a graduate medical school last month, despite having no tradition of medical education. The curriculum at St George’s University of London will be used at Limerick.
Full report on the University World News site

NEW ZEALAND: Universities face growth restrictions
John Gerritsen
New Zealand’s eight universities face the prospect of carrying unsubsidised students for the first time in nearly a decade as the government’s tertiary education reforms begin to bite.
Full report on the University World News site

INDONESIA: Research boosted in tsunami-devastated Aceh
Geoff Maslen
A consortium of eight Australian and four Indonesian universities is helping rebuild research capacity in the tsunami-devastated Indonesian province of Aceh, with the establishment of a research training institute.
Full report on the University World News site


FRANCE: Mathematical sciences foundation launched
Six leading research institutions have joined forces to launch the Mathematical Sciences of Paris Foundation, bringing together the expertise of nearly 1,000 researchers.
Full report on the University World News site
More on the Mathematrical Sciences of Paris Foundation site

CANADA: Red wine beats food-borne bacteria, say scientists
Adding to the list of health benefits ascribed to red wine, researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia have found that it also protects humans from common food-borne diseases.
Full report on the University World News site


SOUTH AFRICA: New leader for Africa’s top university
Karen MacGregor
For the first time in post-apartheid South Africa, a white academic will take over from a black university leader. Professor Max Price has been appointed vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Town, Africa’s foremost research university. He replaces Professor Njabulo Ndebele, a scholar of African literature who has been UCT vice-chancellor for eight years.
Full report on the University World News site

[Max Price comments in the Sunday Times that this is a promising moment for universities like UCT – “a time to innovate and think expansively”. He describes his vision of how South African universities can contribute to development, continue the transformation project and insert themselves into global networks in the areas of research, teaching and exchange.]
Full report on the Sunday Times site

AUSTRALIA: Oxford don to head University of Sydney
Geoff Maslen
An Oxford don and leading international and Australian academic, Dr Michael Spence, has been appointed vice-chancellor of Australia’s oldest university, the University of Sydney. He will succeed Professor Gavin Brown, who retires next July after 12 years as Sydney vice-chancellor.
Full report on the University World News site


RUSSIA: Government moves to replace Microsoft with Linux
Nick Holdsworth
Russian students will be exclusively using free software within three years after Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev announced a programme to replace Microsoft with Linux.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Chocolate improves student evaluations
A new study shows that giving students chocolate leads to improved evaluation results for professors, reports Inside Higher Ed. “Fudging the numbers: Distributing chocolate influences student evaluations of an undergraduate course” is to be published in the journal Teaching of Psychology.
Full report on the Inside Higher Ed site

US: University president red in the face(book)
Salisbury University's president removed her Facebook profile after being questioned about captions posted alongside photographs she uploaded, reports Associated Press. One offending caption complained that Mexicans were flirting with her daughter, while another accompanying a photo of a tapir referred to the animal’s large g enitalia. She apologised, saying the photos were taken during a vacation to Mexico and that she thought the public could not see them.
Full report on the Associated Press site


RUSSIA: Putin’s new dissidents
Nick Holdsworth
Russia’s ageing but revered scientific geniuses are on collision course with the Kremlin after the 1,200-strong membership of the country’s leading scientific body rejected government proposals to seize control of its vast property holdings.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Keeping stem cell research alive
Arlene Cherwin
As stem cell research continues to evoke heated debate, and President George W Bush holds fast to his 2001 decision only to allow research on 21 human embryonic stem cell lines, university researchers remain undeterred.
Full report on the University World News site


FRANCE: University revives Epicurean teaching
Five years ago Michel Onfray, France's best-selling philosopher and best-known atheist, ended a 20-year formal teaching career to open his own private university, reports the International Herald Tribune. The Popular University of Caen strives to re-establish the Epicurean way of teaching, an ancient Greek ascetic form of hedonism aimed at imparting personal happiness and fulfilment for its own sake.
Full report on the International Herald Tribune site

CHINA: Government to review quality of doctorates
China's education authorities are to carry out a nationwide review of doctoral studies in order to improve postgraduate education, reports China View. A survey launched by the Academic Degree Committee of the State Council and two ministries requires higher education institutions to submit appraisal reports by the end of November.
Full report on the China View site

CANADA: Universities reverse the academic brain drain
After bemoaning the brain drain of gifted academics in the past two decades to the richer pastures of the US and Europe, Canada has succeeded in reversing the trend, reports the Globe and Mail. Universities have snagged academic stars thanks to a federal injection of money into research.
Full report on the Globe and Mail site

US: Yet another economics Nobel for Chicago
The University of Chicago can boast of yet another Nobel prize in economics with the naming of Professor Roger B Myerson as one of three winners of this year's award, reports the International Herald Tribune. The university claims ties to 24 Nobel winners in economics – more than a third of 61 individuals honoured since the first Nobel prize in economics was awarded in 1969.
Full report on the International Herald Tribune site

US: Campaign launched against student credit cards
Many US colleges sign lucrative affinity deals with credit card companies in which they provide contact lists of students or allow sidewalk-marketing by credit pushers, reports the Washington Post. Now the Public Interest Research Group is staging a national campaign warning students about the fees and terms of certain credit cards, which use gifts to lure youthful clients. Students still get free items, including lollipops that say ‘Don't be a sucker’.
Full report on the Washington Post site

INDIA: Universities outdated, say vice-chancellors
Vice-chancellors from nearly 400 universities met recently in Delhi to have a free and frank discussion on higher education during a national conference on “Development of higher education: Expansion, inclusion and excellence”, reports the Times of India. They identified a low gross enrolment ratio, disparities in male-female schooling, quality, and academic reforms as major challenges.
Full report on the Times of India site

UK: Universities angered by funding cut for second degrees
University leaders have warned that plans to cut funding for students who want to take a second degree will slash millions of pounds from the budgets of institutions offering part-time courses, reports The Times. The government plans to withdraw £100 million (US$205 million) of funding from universities with students who are on degrees equivalent to, or lower than, a qualification that they already have.
Full report on the The Times site

UK: Student numbers hit new high
Student numbers bounced back this year with record numbers starting higher education courses in 2007, according to new figures from the university admissions service Ucas, reports Education Guardian. The total number of people applying for full-time undergraduate study in 2007 was 531,898, a rise of 5.4% on 2006.
Full report on the Education Guardian site

UK: Universities worry about social networking sites
Universities are jittery about the growing use of social-networking sites, reports The Independent. They worry about lack of control, inappropriate content and about resistance from students if universities try to get involved. But the main concern is that the sites are privately owned. “That means they aren't audited, may withdraw services at any time, and – most worrying – could be tempted to exploit the vast amount of information that they carry.”
Full report on The Independent site

ISRAEL: Government moves to avert lecturer strike
Negotiations were held last Thursday between education ministry officials and the Senior Lecturers Union, which represents Israel's university professors, to try and prevent a university lecturers strike, reports the Jerusalem Post. The union said it would not open the just-starting next academic year, because a collective wage agreement had been missing since 2001 and wages had eroded significantly.
Full report on the Post site

KOREA: Universities revolt over law school enrolments
Fourteen universities have threatened not to accept any applications for law schools unless the government increases the law student enrolment quota from 1,500 to 2,500, reports the Korea Times. Government is determined to stick to its plan to limit law student quotas, which lawyers and judges want, but universities say they have invested large amounts of money in building facilities and hiring professors.
Full report on the Korea Times site


US: Where are global leaders educated?
A study of the educational backgrounds of 2,563 high-ranking officials in international organisations has shown that 89% earned at least one ‘Western’ degree. Nearly half studied in two countries – 27% in the US and 19% in the UK – writes Moosung Lee, a PhD candidate at the University of Minnesota, in International Higher Education. By recruiting key personnel from preferred universities, “international organisations are to some degree instilling particular cognitive and cultural norms”.
Full report on the International Higher Education site

GHANA: New study on HE change and transformation
Universities in Ghana have been challenged to tackle the critical issues of expanding access with equity, quality and relevance, knowledge production, sustainable funding and resource management. A new report by African scholars, commissioned by the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa – a major African universities initiative involving six US foundations – analyses measures that universities have taken to expand enrolment, generate additional funding and review curricula and modes of operation in an attempt to respond to these challenges.
Access the full report on the Partnership for HE in Africa site
Copyright University World News 2007