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University World News Global Edition
22 January 2012 Issue 0205 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search


Student mobility, branch campuses and China’s look at foreign universities

Welcome to the new-look University World News. Our redesigned website has a newsy and visual style and a flexible structure that lifts more articles, including commentaries by academics, towards the top of the page. We also launch World Blogs, in which an international network of academics will offer opinions on higher education issues and report on university life, kicking off with a blog on student mobility by Rahul Choudaha.
____In Commentary William Lawton and Alex Katsomitros write about the growth of international university branch campuses, Elaine Unterhalter argues that naming and questioning global inequalities in higher education is important, and Jani Ursin says the Finish experience is that university mergers must be transparent and inclusive to succeed.
____In Features, Yojana Sharma reports that China is to evaluate foreign university activities and prepare guidelines on the partnerships it is willing to support. Suluck Lamubol looks at a free speech campaign launched by academics and students in Thailand, and Mamadou Mika Lom investigates lecturer strikes that are threatening the academic year in Senegal.
Karen MacGregor Global Editor


Huge pension shortfalls erode university budgets
Erin Millar

Facing staggering pension plan shortfalls, some universities in Canada are struggling to continue funding plans and are resorting to desperate measures including dipping into operating budgets and negotiating higher employee contribution rates. Collectively, pension plans at universities have bled billions.

Private universities bill ‘temporarily’ halted
Dinesh De Alwis

After weeks of escalating opposition and protests, Sri Lanka’s higher education minister has temporarily withdrawn a proposed Private University Bill. But he is hoping to present a quality assurance bill to parliament related to private higher education providers. Meanwhile, lecturers have joined students in protesting.

Overseas education plans hit by currency woes
Alya Mishra

Indian students are having to rethink their plans for a foreign education after a sharp slide in the Indian rupee against major Western currencies, and banks cutting back slightly on loans for overseas study because of a perception that the graduate jobs market is tightening.

Mass killer tells of US diploma racket
Jan Petter Myklebust

Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian far-right extremist who confessed to killing 77 people last year in a bombing and shooting spree, has claimed during police questioning that he earned a net income of more than US$1 million from the falsification of diplomas from élite American universities.

'Balance' rules hit student exchanges with Denmark
Jan Petter Myklebust

Lund University Rector Per Eriksson has appealed to the Swedish and Danish ministries of higher education to tackle difficulties impeding student exchanges between the two countries as a result of Denmark's introduction of higher fees and strict regulations on balancing numbers.

Diplomacy leads to research collaboration with India
Ameen Amjad Khan

Providing hope of a new beginning for often-tense bilateral relations between India and Pakistan, top scientists from the two countries have agreed to initiate university-level cooperation through exchanges of researchers, students and academics.

Chinese university to open branch in Florence
Lee Adendorff

Ties between Italian and Chinese academic institutions are set to strengthen with the opening of a branch of eastern China's Ningbo University in Florence. A campus building has been identified in the Tuscan capital for exclusive use by Ningbo, and the first Chinese professors and students will arrive in September.

Centre to train Islamic scholars opens
Michael Gardner

The first of four centres for Islamic theology was officially opened last week at the University of Tübingen in southern Germany. All four will begin teaching later this year.

German technical university launches branch campus
Wagdy Sawahel

The Technische Universität Berlin has announced the launch of its first branch campus in Egypt. It will be the first German university to offer programmes in Egypt that are subject exclusively to German higher education standards and laws in terms of both content and structure.

Bogus colleges crackdown, 21 managers charged
Gilbert Nganga

Kenya has published new rules and put more than 200 institutions on notice in a crackdown that will see 21 managers facing criminal charges for operating illegal colleges, with 63 having been closed over the past year.

Vice-chancellor’s resignation sparks controversy
Guillaume Gouges

University of Mauritius Vice-chancellor Konrad Morgan resigned this month, with immediate effect. The announcement sparked controversy as the president of the university board accused the Indian Ocean island’s government of interference.

Universities form council to lobby support
Wagdy Sawahel

Five universities in the United Arab Emirates have formed the University Leadership Council to lobby for more support for research and development and to encourage cooperation with industry.

World Blogs

International mobility – The future is Asia
Rahul Choudaha

The rise of Asia has major implications for student mobility. As budget cuts affect the West, Asia will provide a growing number of self-financed international students. Institutions need to develop strategies that involve deep understanding of countries and student decision-making processes, and prioritise which countries to recruit from.


China to evaluate foreign university activities
Yojana Sharma

China is to take stock this year of international branch campuses and foreign higher education provision with a comprehensive evaluation of Sino-foreign joint university programmes, foreign diplomats in Beijing told University World News. Clearer guidelines will be prepared on the kind of partnerships China is willing to support.

Academics launch campaign against lèse majesté law
Suluck Lamubol

A group of academics, social activists, writers and students have launched a new campaign to push for amendments to Thailand’s draconian lèse majesté legislation in the hope of ending abuses of the law that they say violates the principle of free speech.

Ongoing lecturer strikes threaten ‘lost year’
Mamadou Mika Lom

Lecturers at universities in Senegal have been observing 72-hour strikes since 7 December. With issues far from resolved and four weeks already lost, many fear that the academic year is under serious threat.

Tunisian graduates’ self-immolate over lack of jobs
Wagdy Sawahel

Last Wednesday five jobless university graduates in Morocco set themselves alight in the capital Rabat, in protest against youth unemployment. It was the latest in a wave of horrific self-immolations that began with the December 2010 death of a young Tunisian vegetable vendor, which helped to spark the Arab uprisings.


International branch campuses continue to expand
William Lawton and Alex Katsomitros

The number of international branch campuses continues to rise, despite predictions that the US would lose interest, and another growth spurt is expected in the next year. But the landscape is changing, in line with prevailing geopolitical currents.

What is wrong with global inequality in higher education?
Elaine Unterhalter

Global inequalities in higher education are often taken for granted. The inequalities take various forms, but the justification for them is often based on presuppositions that competition, difference and merit are neutral, and the social context in which they arise is ignored. Naming these inequalities and questioning their foundations is important.

University mergers need to be transparent and inclusive
Jani Ursin

Universities in Finland are being merged to make them more internationally competitive, but have the mergers worked? Mergers create some very specific challenges, and stand the best chance of success if they are handled transparently and include all those involved in the decision-making process.


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World Round-up

Asian countries collectively top US R&D spend
Ten Asian countries, including some developing countries in South-East Asia, have as a bloc caught up with the global leader in research and development investment, the United States, according to a US report published this week, writes Mico Tatalovic for SciDev.

State funding for top universities dropped by 20%
US per-student state funding for public research universities dropped about 20% between 2002 and 2010, according to a report released last week by the National Science Board, the policy-making arm of the National Science Foundation, writes Kevin Kiley for Inside Higher Ed.

Barrier lifted to jobs for foreign graduates
French officials have instructed the local authorities to review work permit applications from foreign college graduates following criticism from students, heads of universities and companies that immigration rules were forcing highly qualified graduates to leave the country, reports The New York Times.

Taiwan relaxes rule for mainland students
Taiwan universities and colleges have relaxed admission rules for Chinese mainlanders looking to apply for graduate and doctorate programmes over the straits, authorities said last week, allowing them to choose up to five majors on each application and removing the limit on applicants’ ages, reports Xinhau.

One-sixth of UK degree students study abroad
The days when international students flooded into the UK to study at its world-renowned universities may not be over, but the dynamics are rapidly changing, writes John Morgan for Times Higher Education.

Scholars struggle to protect history amid violence
When soldiers and protesters clashed in downtown Cairo in late December, the army's crackdown left at least 16 dead and hundreds injured. Another victim of the violence was the oldest scientific institute in Egypt, which was largely destroyed in a fire, along with much of its precious library, writes Ursula Lindsey for The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Universities lower admission standards
Faced with a lower number of applicants and a lower national average of test scores, universities throughout Chile were forced to lower their admission standards for the 2012 academic year, according to a report from Demre, the government body that measures Chile’s academic registration, writes David Pedigo for The Santiago Times.

Universities take on low-scoring students
Students in Australia who averaged final exam scores of 50% or less across four grade 12 subjects are being offered university places in courses such as nursing and teaching, writes Bethany Hiatt for The West Australian.

Applications slow down at top universities
Elite US colleges such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Columbia University are experiencing a slow-down or drop in applications for freshman admission after years of record increases, writes Janet Lorin for Bloomberg.

Putin praises ‘educational revolution’
An “educational revolution” is transforming Russia’s society and economy, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin wrote in an article published in the Izvestia daily, writes Aleksey Nikolskiy for Ria Novosti.

Free-zone degrees guarantee government jobs
Degrees earned from universities in free zones in the United Arab Emirates will now guarantee Emirati students a government job, writes Melanie Swan for The National.

MIT expands its free online courses
While students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology pay thousands of dollars for courses, the university will shortly announce a new programme allowing anyone anywhere to take MIT courses online free of charge – and for the first time earn official certificates for demonstrating mastery of the subjects taught, writes Tamar Lewin for The New York Times.

Cracking open the scientific process
The New England Journal of Medicine marks its 200th anniversary this year with a timeline celebrating the scientific advances first described in its pages, writes Thomas Lin for The New York Times. For centuries, this is how science has operated – through research done in private, then submitted to journals to be reviewed by peers and published for the benefit of other researchers and the public.

Funding body unveils plan to force down fees
Welsh universities risk having their student numbers cut by up to almost 60% if they do not reduce their fees in 2013-14. Under a new funding policy laid out by the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, more than half of all student places would be redistributed on the basis of tuition fee levels and other priorities such as research income, writes David Matthews for Times Higher Education.

Calls for high pay clampdown to reach universities
The heads of elite universities were awarded an average pay rise of £9,700 (US$14,800) last year, taking their average earnings beyond £333,000. Analysis of 13 top university leaders’ pay packets has prompted calls for the prime minister's clampdown on executive pay to reach beyond banks and big business to include universities, writes Jessica Shepherd for the Guardian.

Ombudsman set to be in place next session
With a host of higher education reform bills still to get parliament's nod, India’s Human Resource Development Ministry has decided to implement part of its reform agenda through executive order from the next academic session, writes Akshaya Mukul for The Times of India.

Universities drop alternative medicine degrees
Starting this year, it will no longer be possible to receive a degree from a publicly-funded British university in areas of ‘alternative medicine’ including homeopathy, naturopathy and reflexology, reports Deutsche Welle.

Senate extends lecturer retirement age
Nigeria’s senate gave the nod last week to a bill seeking to increase the retirement age of university professors from 65 to 70 years, write Uchenna Awom and Chibuzo Ukaibe for Leadership.

Female professorships reveal 'glass ceiling'
Although 47% of staff at universities in Scotland is female, only 21% have been promoted to professorships, figures compiled by The Herald reveal. The situation has remained static since 2007, when legislation was introduced to improve gender equality.

Tertiary education fund to be outsourced
Botswana’s Ministry of Education and Skills Development is looking to outsource the management of the P2 billion (US$270 million) per year tertiary education student funding scheme, writes Gothataone Moeng for Mmegi Online.

This Week

Asian wealth will fuel study abroad

International branch campuses expand at a stately rate

What makes for a successful university merger?

Global inequalities in HE should not be taken for granted

Thai academics campaign for free speech

Lecturer strikes pile pressure on minister in Senegal







Most read stories from last week's edition


Plan for 1.5 million students by 2030

New York campus bid to be innovation capital

Democracy vs academic freedom?

Dynamic time for international partnerships

US model threatens European traditions

Universities face grave financial threat

Branch campus growth has moved to Asia

Student access soars, but challenges remain

New wave of student protests

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