University World News Global Edition
4 March 2012 Issue 0211 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
Fuzzy thinking around terms, learning gains and the future of universities?
In World Blog, Hans de Wit wonders whether higher education is in danger of overusing and neutering the term ‘global’. In Commentary John Aubrey Douglass, Gregg Thomson and Chun-Mei Zhao argue that properly designed student surveys might produce more useful information than a one-size-fits-all test to measure learning gains, which the OECD is planning at the international level.
In the UK, Sir David Watson says that to succeed in a challenging climate, higher education needs to stop confusing the terms of the debate and become messier, less precious, and more flexible and cooperative. Susan Young and Stephen Riter describe a partnership between an Australian and an American university that has led to new approaches to international learning, including through the use of modern technology.
In Features we talk to Neal King, secretary general of the International Association of University Presidents, about it and Microsoft’s first Academic Summit aimed at helping university leaders to better understand the benefits of technology. Naw Say Phaw Waa reports on growing concern about graduate unemployment ahead of a looming election in Myanmar, and in Botswana Sheldon Weeks writes that a recent student strike has exposed weaknesses in the national university.
Karen MacGregor – Global Editor
Yojana Sharma

A major World Bank report on China has called for universities to be given more autonomy by the state. This is key if they are to make a substantial contribution to innovation that would drive economic growth and enable China to leap the difficult hurdle from being a middle-income to a high-income country by 2030.
Geoff Maslen

Australia faces significant challenges to its scientific future, according to a report commissioned by the nation’s Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb, and released on Wednesday. While the rate of increase in university science enrolments has almost kept up with other disciplines, Chubb says the figures offer little relief for concerns about the future of science and technology.
Suvendrini Kakuchi

A call to shift enrolment from the current April to September, made by the prestigious University of Tokyo and supported by at least 30 other universities, has turned the spotlight on higher education internationalisation in Japan and reviving universities’ depleting revenue. But a changeover would also have an impact on broader recruitment practices.
Makki Marseilles

Greece’s universities, deeply embroiled in the general crisis that has plagued the country for at least two years, are only reluctantly implementing key reforms to the way they are run, in the face of opposition from academics and students.
Alya Mishra

Aiming to provide state-of-the-art laboratory facilities to all science and engineering institutions, India has introduced its first virtual science and engineering laboratory. The virtual lab will enable students, even in smaller institutions with dismal infrastructure, to perform experiments online.
Rebecca Warden

The Spanish government is to slash funding for its Campus of Excellence programme, a further blow to universities that are already dealing with cuts and a harsh economic climate.
Michael Gardner

A landmark ruling by Germany’s Constitutional Court will improve basic salaries for professsors across the country, according to representatives of higher education lecturers.
Kudzai Mashininga

Within five years the number of private universities in Africa is likely to outstrip public institutions, according to Professor Olugbemiro Jegede, secretary general of the Association of African Universities, or AAU.
Mićo Tatalović

African universities need to better support early career researchers if they are to build a thriving research environment and boost the continent's number of PhD-qualified staff, according to a joint report by the British Academy and the Association of Commonwealth Universities launched last week.
Leigh Thomas

The attempt by the United Arab Emirates to move away from reliance on oil and towards a knowledge economy has been led by the larger oil-rich emirates. But now a smaller and less affluent emirate is staking out its own research role.
Robert Visscher

European universities are going to work more closely together to beat the energy problems of the future, following the first meeting of the European Platform of Universities Engaged in Energy Research, Education and Training.
Wagdy Sawahel

Open and distance learning and higher education access in Sudan have been given a boost by the launch of the country’s first educational television channel.
Naw Say Phaw Waa

When Than Myint (47) took a tricycle rickshaw from the bazaar to her home in Yangon, she fell into conversation with the driver, who turned out to have graduated from university last year. The 22-year-old told her that jobs were hard to find, even with a degree.
Karen MacGregor

Next week in Redmond, in the US state of Washington, leaders of universities in Mexico will gather to learn about uses of new technology in higher education. It is the first of a series of Academic Summits to be held worldwide by Microsoft in partnership with the International Association of University Presidents, IAUP.
Sheldon Weeks

Starting in the last week of January, students went on strike at the University of Botswana. Studies were stopped and the university nearly closed. Surprisingly, the demonstrations had the support of students in two faculties famous for carrying on business as usual: science and medicine.
World Blog
Hans de Wit

The word global has taken off in a big way recently, but what does it mean? Is it in danger of being neutered of meaning by overuse? With regard to higher education, we should be careful of using ‘global’ to describe an outcome when it is actually about a process.
John Aubrey Douglass, Gregg Thomson and Chun-Mei Zhao

The OECD is looking for a one-size-fits-all test to measure learning gains, but in the US the Collegiate Learning Assessment, which attempts to do the same, is seen by many as a blunt instrument producing questionable data. Properly designed student surveys might produce more useful information.
David Watson

If higher education wants to succeed, particularly in the current challenging climate, it will have to become messier, less precious, more flexible and significantly more cooperative. To do so it needs to stop confusing the terms of much of the debate around the future of university education.
Susan Young and Stephen Riter

A partnership between Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia, and the University of Texas at El Paso has won international recognition for its innovative approach. Over five years the relationship has deepened and led to new approaches to international learning, including through the use of modern technology.
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World Round-up
One of the largest academic publishers in the world withdrew its support last Monday from a controversial United States bill, the Research Works Act, that critics feel would restrict public access to published, publicly funded research, reports CBC News.
Thousands of students protested against draft university reforms in the centre of Prague and marched to the government office last Wednesday, reports the Prague Daily Monitor. Students carried banners against Education Minister Josef Dobes, the planned introduction of tuition fees and other reform steps.
South Korean universities cut annual tuition fees by 4.5% on average this year, government data showed last week, caving in to domestic pressure to lighten the financial burden on students, reports Yonhap News Agency.
US Republican candidate Rick Santorum’s attack on President Barack Obama’s promotion of a college education conflicts with the broad appeal and economic value that higher education holds for young Americans, write William Selway and Timothy R Homan for Bloomberg.
As state funding has dwindled, public colleges in the United States have raised tuition fees and are now resorting to even more desperate measures – cutting training for jobs the economy needs most, writes Catherine Rampell for The New York Times.
Crisis, danger and possible “severe and long-term impacts for the UK” are some of the comments contained in a report on postgraduate education published last week by the 1994 Group of leading research universities, writes Harriet Swain for the Guardian.
Research shows that teenagers from middle-class homes have benefited the most from the expansion of higher education over the past 15 years, writes Graeme Paton for The Telegraph.
Scottish universities have opposed plans for new legislation to force them to recruit more students from deprived backgrounds or face fines, writes Andrew Denholm for The Herald Scotland.
Growing numbers of Scottish school pupils are applying to study overseas to maximise their chances of finding a job after graduation. Despite similar levels of tuition fees and expensive travel costs, more young people are choosing universities in Europe, the United States and Australia, writes Chris Marshall for The Scotsman.
Two Melbourne academics have received death threats after writing a theoretical paper arguing that killing a newborn baby should be allowed in cases where an abortion would have been granted, writes Henrietta Cook for the Sydney Morning Herald.
A French university last week closed its doors for two days to avoid hosting an event designed to encourage a boycott of Israel, writes Cnaan Liphshiz for The Jerusalem Post. CRIF, the representative body of French Jewry, called the closure of the University of Paris VIII “a victory in the fight against the boycott campaign”.
Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande said last week that the retirement age of academics needed to be reviewed as part of a broader plan to attract experienced scholars to two new universities, to be built in Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape provinces, writes Bekezela Phakathi for Business Day.
Getting a university degree remains a huge challenge for many South African students, especially those who don't have money to spend on textbooks and laptops. So students have become creative about closing the tech gap with the help of cellphones, writes Jennifer Howard for The Chronicle of Higher Education.
At least 11 American universities, including Harvard, are visiting Botswana this year to explore possibilities of doing business there, the country’s ambassador to the United States, Tebelelo Seretse, has announced, writes Victor Muyakwabo for The Monitor.
There are just 35 Indian students studying at the University of Tokyo, but the university authorities intend to drastically increase the number soon, reports the Deccan Herald. Last Monday, the university opened an India office in Bangalore to engage students, academics, businesses and others on educational opportunities in Japan.
Oxford University has been given one of its biggest ever donations after £26 million (US$41 million) was handed over to create scholarships for humanities students – with help from Led Zeppelin’s comeback concert, writes Richard Harley-Parkinson for the Mail Online.
Harvard University isn't backing down – and neither is Their Day in the Yard, writes Ricardo Lopez for The Los Angeles Times. The group of Harvard students, alumni and faculty has been urging the Ivy League school to award honorary posthumous degrees to seven students expelled more than 90 years ago for being gay or for being perceived as gay.
A climate change sceptic is slamming an educational charity, known for a controversial advertising campaign on city buses that challenged the existence of God, after it produced a report questioning the legitimacy of a class he taught at Carleton University, writes Mike de Souza for Postmedia News.
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