ISSN 1756-297XIssue No: 0201 11 December 2011
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Editorial Board

HE Events Diary

The global COP17 climate change gathering held in Durban, South Africa, closed on Friday. Local researchers and universities used the event to showcase green research projects. Credit: Greenpeace

A major research project into biodiversity conservation in Australia has brought together top researchers from around the world. The sixth mass extinction of species on Earth is under way, caused by the behaviour of humans.

Terri Kim investigates the impacts of the financial turbulence in Europe on higher education, and finds that the crisis could undermine participation and encourage mobility and mergers. See the Commentary 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, ALYA MISHRA says visa and work restrictions in Britain and America are prompting Indian students to seek out more welcoming destinations such as Canada, Europe and Singapore. WANDA HENNIG looks at local green research projects showcased at the global COP17 climate conference in Durban, and GEOFF MASLEN reports on a major research programme in Australia into mass species extinctions and biodiversity conservation. TUNDE FATUNDE says Nigerian universities are responding to an ultimatum for the 61% of academics who do not have a PhD to upgrade their qualifications. In Commentary, TERRI KIM argues that financial turbulence in Europe could undermine higher education participation and encourage mobility and mergers. JEFF L SAMIDE calls for more emphasis on developing students’ communication skills to better prepare them to work in a globalised world, and in Australia, LUCIENNE TESSENS, CLAIRE WEB and KATE WHITE argue that senior women in universities need more support and leadership programmes that focus on developing skills such as networking.


NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

GLOBAL: New university ranking aims for objectivity
David Jobbins
A new university ranking seeks to use a sophisticated set of bibliometric indicators to rate scientific performance to establish the world's top 500 research universities.
Full report on the University World News site

SWEDEN: Top universities in merger talks
Jan Petter Myklebust
Three top Swedish institutions - Stockholm University, the Karolinska Institute and the Royal Institute of Technology-KTH - are discussing a merger which would create the largest university in Northern Europe.
Full report on the University World News site

EUROPE: EU sets 20% student mobility target
Jan Petter Myklebust
At least one in five higher education students should spend three months studying or training abroad by 2020, European Union member governments have agreed. Education ministers from the 27 member states last month adopted conclusions on the modernisation of higher education with a special emphasis on mobility.
Full report on the University World News site

NETHERLANDS: 'Halve foreign students', right says
Robert Visscher
A right-wing political party has called for the number of foreign students allowed into The Netherlands to be halved, to ease a shortage of student housing.
Full report on the University World News site

GERMANY: Shortage of science graduates alarming
Michael Gardner
German industry still lacks spec ialists in mathematics, informatics, the natural sciences and engineering, according to a survey recently published by the country’s leading industrial organisations. It stressed that the shortage of graduates in these key fields had grown dramatically since the beginning of the year.
Full report on the University World News site

AFRICA: Local academics excluded from policy-making
Munyaradzi Makoni
Crafting of policies in Africa largely excludes African academics, with over-reliance on donor agencies and foreign consultancies. But universities can play a key role by building stronger linkages with facilitative institutions to ensure that adequate skills are developed in policy research.
Full report on the University World News site

ISLAMIC STATES: Central Asia university links to grow
Ameen Amjad Khan
A representative body of the ministers of higher education and research from Islamic countries agreed, during a meeting held in the last week of November in Azerbaijan, to expand higher education cooperation with Central Asian countries.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Prioritise higher education for refugees – UN
A study commissioned by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has stressed the need to prioritise access to higher education for refugees, as a tool to rebuild lives and for post-conflict reconstruction.
Full report on the University World News site

ARAB STATES: New centre to tackle genetic disorders
Wagdy Sawahel
In an effort to boost the development of education and research in inherited diseases and genetic disorders in the Arab world, a molecular medicine centre has opened in Bahrain.
Full report on the University World News site


INDIA: New destinations for students heading abroad
Alya Mishra
For many years Indian students, the world’s largest group of overseas students after the Chinese, rarely looked beyond Britain, the US and Australia for higher education. But changes in visa rules, fraudulent institutions that prey on unsuspecting foreign students and lack of opportunities to work after graduation in the UK and US have prompted students to seek newer, more welcoming destinations including Canada, Europe and Singapore.
Full report on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Local green research showcased at COP17
Wanda Hennig
You only had to attend a few events at COP17 to know that this mammoth annual climate-focused happening is in effect a great big academic gathering, all the way from the scientists who provide climate impact facts and figures to students protesting the tardiness and vested interests of government negotiators and researchers called on to provide the data NGOs need to raise sustainable project funding.
Full report on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Major research into mass species extinction
Geoff Maslen
Of the six great mass extinctions of species on Earth, five involved catastrophic events such as collisions with huge meteorites, geological upheavals or the advent of ice ages whose effects lasted for millennia. The sixth mass extinction is occurring now but it is the behaviour of humans over the past few hundred years rather than nature that has resulted in the ever-increasing loss of thousands of animal and plant species from the planet.
Full report on the University World News site

NIGERIA: Urgent need for more academics with PhDs
Tunde Fatunde
Professor Julius Okojie, executive secretary of Nigeria’s regulatory agency the National Universities Commission, has again reminded universities of the urgent need to upgrade the qualifications of academics. He said there were 35,000 lecturers in Nigeria and 21,350 of them – 61% – still did not have a doctoral degree.
Full report on the University World News site


EUROPE: Higher education amid financial meltdown
What will be the impact on higher education of the current financial turbulence in Europe? TERRI KIM argues that widening participation is likely to suffer, and that there will be greater mobility among students and academics, and more mergers and restructuring of public universities. She argues, however, that this is the perfect time to revisit accepted truths about higher education and to question its purpose.
Full report on the University World News site

US: The changing role of academic career development
Increasing globalisation means students need to be prepared better for the working world they will face. This includes understanding cultural and linguistic nuances, says JEFF L SAMIDE, as he calls for more emphasis to be placed on developing students’ communication skills at university.
Full report on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: How to increase women university leaders?
The number of women leaders in Australian universities is still low, despite various initiatives aimed at boosting it. LUCIENNE TESSENS, CLAIRE WEB and KATE WHITE argue that support needs to be strengthened and leadership programmes need to focus more on developing skills such as networking.
Full report on the University World News site


UK: Creating nanoporous materials
A new method of creating nanoporous materials, with potential applications from water purification to chemical sensors, has been developed by scientists at the University of Cambridge. To produce a porous material it is necessary to have multiple components, so that when the minor component is removed, small pores are left in its place.
Full report on the University World News site

JAPAN: Low friction along fault lines
Researchers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology have uncovered the physical interactions between water and minerals that might explain why some fault lines slip without causing catastrophic earthquakes.
Full report on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Indian Ocean seamounts mystery solved
Scientists have unexpectedly found traces of the supercontinent Gondwana in the Indian Ocean – in the process solving a mystery behind a large group of ocean ‘mountains’ known as seamounts that include Christmas Island.
Full report on the University World News site


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EUROPE: EC head urges restraint in R&D funding cuts
European Commission President José Manuel Barroso has warned that innovation and research funding should be spared from austerity, in a speech at the 2011 Innovation Convention, a gathering of entrepreneurs and innovators sponsored by the commission, writes Jordan Shapiro for New Europe.
More on the University World News site

CANADA: Universities fare poorly on free speech index
A new report contends that a “disconcerting” number of Canadian universities have failed in their mission to protect free speech and in the process are helping to erode open debate in the larger society, writes Charles Lewis for the National Post.
More on the University World News site

THAILAND: Cabinet backs one university per province
Anticipating a drop in the number of students studying at universities in future, the Thai cabinet has approved in principle an education ministry proposal to merge state-run institutions into one university per province, write Samatcha Hoonsara and Wannapa Khaopa for The Nation.
More on the University World News site

ITALY: Nepotism in universities may fuel brain drain
One reason for the poor performance of Italian institutions in world league tables may be nepotism, it has been suggested. The practice has been blamed for a brain drain that has seen many of the country's best researchers move to the US or the UK after failing to progress at home because of their lack of connections, writes Frank Nowikowski for Times Higher Education.
More on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Gillard urged to lift some university fees
Fees for some university courses will soar if Julia Gillard’s government accepts the recommendations of a major review of higher education funding. The review has proposed a controversial overhaul that would eventually lead to all students paying 40% of the cost of their courses, writes Dan Harrison for The Sydney Morning Herald.
More on the University World News site

WALES: More universities 'at risk' – Review
The number of universities in Wales at ‘moderate risk’ of collapse has risen in the past year. An Institutional Risk Review unearthed long-term sustainability issues with seven of the nation’s 10 campus-based universities, writes Gareth Evans for Wales Online.
More on the University World News site

SCOTLAND: Student vandals cost universities £600,000
The Young Ones made undergraduate excess an art form, but it seems they have nothing on Scotland’s students. Universities north of the border have suffered damage worth more than £600,000 (US$942,000) at the hands of students in the past five years, reports The Scotsman.
More on the University World News site

UK: University fees lowered to fill degree courses
Figures show that 24 new universities and former polytechnics and one further education college in England have lowered their tuition fees to below £7,500 (US$11,700) a year, writes Tim Ross for The Telegraph. Most elite institutions and red-brick universities will still charge the maximum £9,000.
More on the University World News site

UK: Cures for killer diseases ‘at risk’ from cuts
Academics have warned that scientific breakthroughs with the potential to cure Parkinson's disease, provide vaccines for global killers such as HIV-Aids and malaria, and deliver solutions to curtail the environmental costs of building homes could be delayed by “ruinous” cuts to the development of research facilities at the country's leading universities, writes Daniel Boffey for the Guardian.
More on the University World News site

UK: Professors issue warning on private universities
Coalition government plans to expand the number of private universities in the UK risks leading to higher dropout rates and lower academic standards, according to a powerful lobby of almost 500 professors, writes Graeme Paton for The Telegraph. It is claimed that giving profit-making companies access to state funding will create a system in which institutions pursue short-term financial gains at the expense of a decent education.
More on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: New journal for private higher education
A peer-reviewed journal for the study of private higher education is part of a plan to foster research in this growing part of the sector, writes Bernard Lane for The Australian.
More on the University World News site

US: On private campuses, income gap widens at the top
Within the world of American private higher education, there are a handful of college presidents who earn considerably more than professors on their campuses, or gobble up a notable share of their institutions’ budgetary pie, write Jack Stripling and Andrea Fuller for The Chronicle of Higher Education.
More on the University World News site

US: For-profit breaks mould of part-time staff
Professors at online colleges in the US can be an anonymous, itinerant bunch, moonlighting as adjuncts from far-flung locales and often struggling to cobble together a teaching load that can pay the bills, writes Paul Fain for Inside Higher Ed. Breaking this mould are 98 newly minted online faculty members at Grand Canyon University. The for-profit Christian university hired them as full-time employees, and they get standard benefits packages that are not available to part-timers.
More on the University World News site

US: Guidelines given to promote campus diversity
The Obama administration has released new guidelines aimed at encouraging school districts and colleges to keep and pursue policies that promote racial diversity. In the process, they withdrew directives put forward during the administration of George W Bush, reports the Los Angeles Times.
More on the University World News site

US: Masters degrees no guarantee of higher income
Laura Sayer, unsure of what she wanted to do after graduating from college in 2006, figured a masters degree was “a safe bet”. With $5,000 in loans from her time at the University of Cincinnati, Sayer was set back $50,000 more after completing the interdisciplinary masters programme in humanities and social thought at New York University. The 27-year-old now makes about $45,000 a year as an administrative assistant for a non-profit group, a job that didn’t require her advanced degree, writes Janet Lorin for Bloomberg Businessweek.
More on the University World News site

US-INDIA: Harvard drops Indian party leader’s courses
Harvard University has cancelled Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy's summer courses over his controversial article in a Mumbai newspaper advocating destruction of hundreds of Indian mosques and disenfranchisement of non-Hindus in India, reports The Economic Times.
More on the University World News site

PAKISTAN: PhD courses peter out
PhD courses that had flowered in Pakistan’s universities during the last decade with encouragement from the Higher Education Commission have been petering out, according to academic sources, writes Ikram Junaidi for Dawn.
More on the University World News site

PALESTINE: Online university opens in West Bank
An American online university started by an Israeli entrepreneur has opened an operations centre in the West Bank, writes DD Guttenplan for The New York Times. Shai Reshef, the founder of University of the People, a non-profit institution that offers free online education to students in more than 120 countries, said his agreement with ASAL Technologies, a Palestinian software and information technology services company based in Ramallah, was just the first stage of a plan to move the university’s entire back office to the West Bank.
More on the University World News site

US: Virginia Tech shooting tests emergency plans
In the chaotic minutes following a fatal shooting at Virginia Tech last Thursday, school officials were forced to test emergency procedures put in place following the 2007 campus rampage that resulted in 33 deaths, writes Mark Guarino for The Christian Science Monitor.
More on the University World News site

US: Penn State rethinks role of football programme
In his first extensive interview since taking office last month, Penn State President Rodney Erickson said last week that he seeks to transform the university's public face from a football factory to a "world-class research institution", write Kevin Johnson and Kelly Whiteside for USA Today.
More on the University World News site
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