University World News Global Edition
25 March 2012 Issue 0214 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
World-class universities for all? And how to pick and choose rankings
In 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
Geoff Maslen

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.
Yojana Sharma

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.
David Jobbins

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.
Mimi 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.
Michael Gardner

The Rectors’ Conference in Germany has called for reform of the country’s accreditation system to give higher education institutions a more active role.
Lee Adendorff

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.
Jan 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.
María 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.
Jan 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
Gilbert Nganga

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.
Brendan O’Malley

The Arab world urgently needs a ranking and classification system for its universities, a pilot study covering seven countries concludes.
Yojana Sharma

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.
Alya 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.
Geoff Maslen

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.
William 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?
Simon Marginson

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.
Kevin Downing

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.
Daniel McDiarmid

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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Junior researchers are being squeezed out of Japanese universities by government policies aimed at cutting costs. So says the Council for Science and Technology Policy, or CSTP – the government’s top advisory body on science – raising concerns that the next generation of scientists is under threat and that the trend may already be harming research productivity, writes Ichiko Fuyuno for Nature.
UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has announced a £100 million (US$158 million) fund to boost university research through private sector involvement, reports Angela Harrison for the BBC. The government was committing the cash for "investment in major new university research facilities", Osborne said in his budget speech.
Albert Einstein's complete archives – from personal correspondence with half a dozen lovers to notebooks scribbled with his groundbreaking scientific research – are going online for the first time, writes Daniel Estrin for Sapa-AP.
Malaysia will recognise degrees from 146 universities in China, the latest move by the government to woo the support of local Chinese ahead of the next general election, writes Teo Cheng Wee for Straits Times.
The European Union is to help Malaysia towards its goal of becoming a regional and international hub for higher education, according to Vincent Piket, the EU ambassador and head of a delegation to Malaysia for MyEULink 2012, writes Thanusya Shanmuganathan for The Malaysian Reserve.
India is taking steps to expand links with Russian universities in an effort to reach out to that country’s younger generation, writes Vladimir Radyuhin for The Hindu.
There are no ivy-covered walls at Alfredo Pérez Guerrero University. No quad. No soccer fields. The entire campus fits into four small, rented buildings on the fringes of a modest residential neighbourhood, writes William Neuman for The New York Times.
Despite the national political conversation that President Barack Obama has spurred about keeping the price of higher education down, it would be understandable to think that a few institutions missed the memo this year, writes Kevin Kiley for Inside Higher Ed.
Harsh economic realities mean trouble for college leaders. But where administrators perceive an impending crisis, investors increasingly see opportunity, writes Nick DeSantis for The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Students from Dubna University in the Moscow region have filed a complaint with prosecutors alleging that the rector forced them to attend a rally in support of president-elect Vladimir Putin, reports The Moscow Times.
The University of Khartoum reopened its doors last Sunday after being closed for two months following clashes between police and students, reports the Sudan Tribune.
Public universities will lose autonomy if recommendations to be presented to the higher education minister are adopted, writes Benjamin Muindi for Daily Nation.
Welsh Education Minister Leighton Andrews has put forward three options for the reconfiguration of universities in south-east Wales, it has emerged. Cardiff Metropolitan University said the minister outlined his plans during a “necessarily serious” meeting with senior management last week, writes Gareth Evans for Wales Online.
The Washington region has become home to a rising number of graduate-level business programmes designed for corporate executives as universities inside the Beltway and beyond look to tap the concentration of relatively well-educated, well-compensated professionals, writes Steven Overly for The Washington Post.
Data from Britain’s leading universities reveal an 8% rise in the number of students taking the principal law entrance examination this year, writes Graeme Paton for The Telegraph.
Scotland’s universities are launching a £10 million (US$15.87 million) project to help food and drink companies use academics to help with their research and development work, writes Peter Ranscombe for The Scotsman.
When in late 2010 Sharita Namusobya (23) earned her bachelor degree, she was something of a pioneer. Namusobya was among the first batch of 281 students who graduated from St Lawrence, a newly established private university in the Ugandan capital Kampala, reports Mark Schenkel for Radio Netherlands Worldwide.
Former Zambian president Rupiah Banda has accepted an appointment as the African president-in-residence at Boston University, reports Associated Press.
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