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World-class universities for all? And how to pick and choose rankingsIn World Blog, William Patrick Leonard says that while the main global ranking systems use independent parties for their metrics, some US institutions have been ‘gaming’ national rankings that rely on self-reported statistics. In Commentary, Kevin Downing writes that since rankings measure different things, universities could pick the one that matches their aims and status.
Simon Marginson argues that while experts advise developing countries not to try to create world-class universities, this ambition is entirely valid. Following Dickson Poon’s huge donation to King’s College London, Daniel McDiarmid urges university leaders to invest time and energy in fundraising, as it pays off.
In the second article in our series “Thoughts and experiences of African university leaders”, Gilbert Nganga interviews the vice-chancellor of the University of Nairobi, George Magoha.
In Features, Brendan O’Malley describes a pilot study that calls for a ranking and classification system for universities in the Arab world. Yojana Sharma reports on the continued dearth of women university leaders globally, and she and Alya Mishra write that shock results in state elections in India could further delay reforms including a bill to allow in foreign universities.
Karen MacGregor – Global Editor
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
University affordability for students in 40 countries around the world may have reached its peak. Across countries in the OECD, government support for higher education barely kept up with inflation last year while the outlook for 2012 looks bleak “given the debt crisis in the Eurozone”, according to a report released last week.
The withdrawal of US and other NATO troops from Afghanistan by 2014 poses a challenge for the country’s universities, which are responsible for turning out local professionals able to take over non-military tasks, a top Afghan higher education ministry official has said.
A House of Lords committee has urged the UK government to think again over its reluctance to support a European Commission proposal for a 70% hike in funding for the new Erasmus for All programme, which will support student mobility beyond Europe's borders.
HONG KONGMimi Leung
A £20 million (US$32 million) donation to King's College London by a Hong Kong businessman, announced last week, is the latest in a spate of contributions by Hong Kong philanthropists to UK universities. The donation from Dickson Poon is the biggest from an individual in King's College history and the largest to any single law faculty in Europe.
The Rectors’ Conference in Germany has called for reform of the country’s accreditation system to give higher education institutions a more active role.
The threat of increased fees for Italian students looks set to become a reality. As universities wrestle with shrinking state funding, budget shortfalls and the prospect of court action, the government headed by Mario Monti is seeking a reform package aimed at liberalising the economy and jump-starting growth.
NORWAYJan Petter Myklebust
Norway's minister for higher education and research has called for more university collaboration with southern Europe, to help countries hit hardest by the economic crisis – and to lure talent.
CHILEMaría Elena Hurtado
Measures to ease the debt burden of Chilean students in response to violent protests last year have failed to satisfy students and opposition politicians. Critics say new laws that forgive student debt and reduce interest on government-supported loans do not address fundamental problems.
EUROPEJan Petter Myklebust
Danish and Swedish universities are in the running to become world centres for food innovation when the first round of Horizon 2020 research programmes is announced.
SERIES: African university leaders
When it comes to publicity, Professor George Magoha is shy. The vice-chancellor of the University of Nairobi rarely grants an interview or calls a press conference. He believes being too public a leader could be a blunder for Kenya’s premier university. Magoha spoke to University World News for this second in a series of articles on African university leaders.
The Arab world urgently needs a ranking and classification system for its universities, a pilot study covering seven countries concludes.
Women have now caught up with – and in some subjects surpassed – men in university enrolments. Yet the number of women heads of universities remains small globally. Overcoming this equity hurdle will require institutional changes, including greater transparency in the way leaders are selected, a conference in London heard.
INDIAAlya Mishra and Yojana Sharma
Higher education reform in India, including a proposed bill to allow in foreign universities, has hit another snag after the party leading central government performed below expectations in elections in three out of five states – reducing its room for manoeuvre in pushing key bills through parliament.
Dr Patrick Stokes is a researcher and philosopher at Deakin University in Melbourne. He found it a little weird when ‘friends’ he knew had died started contacting him via their Facebook pages.
UNITED STATESWilliam Patrick Leonard
The main international university ranking systems focus narrowly on top institutions and use independent third parties for their metrics. How can people find out more about other American institutions, and can they trust national ranking statistics if they are self-reported?
Policy experts tend to advise developing countries not to focus on creating world-class universities. But universities that do not develop their global science capacity will find themselves in a position of continuing dependence. The ambition for world-class universities is not a superficial or elitist whim. It is an entirely valid aspiration.
International rankings raise a huge amount of debate, but undoubtedly have a major impact on everything from university reputation to the ability to hire top academics. Each of the main ranking systems measures different things, so institutions can select the one that most clearly matches their aims and status.
The huge donation from Dickson Poon to King's College London shows that fundraising efforts, even in harsh economic times, pay off. But many institutions in countries around the world are still slow to invest in fundraising, not just in terms of staffing but also in terms of university leaders' time and energy.
Current evidence suggests that screening men for prostate cancer is a double-edged sword, say Dr Carvell T Nguyen and Dr Michael W Kattan, both working in urological institutes in Cleveland, Ohio, in the US. They say the ethical and economic implications of over-diagnosis and over-treatment of clinically insignificant prostate cancer are profound.
Recent challenges to honey bee health, including dramatic colony losses attributable to Colony Collapse Disorder, have devastated honey bee stocks worldwide. But an agent causing the losses has yet to be identified and new ideas about the decline in colonies are still emerging.
Curving down the western coast of South America is the world's longest mountain chain – and one of its greatest puzzles. The Andes run for about 7,000 kilometres with the highest peak, Mount Aconcagua in Argentina, rising nearly 7,000 metres above sea level.
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UNITED KINGDOMBBC. The government was committing the cash for "investment in major new university research facilities", Osborne said in his budget speech.
MALAYSIAThe Malaysian Reserve.
ECUADORThe New York Times.
UNITED STATESInside Higher Ed.
UNITED STATESThe Chronicle of Higher Education.
RUSSIAThe Moscow Times.
UNITED STATESThe Washington Post.
UNITED KINGDOMThe Telegraph.
UGANDARadio Netherlands Worldwide.
UNITED STATESAssociated Press.
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