University World News Global Edition
20 May 2012 Issue 0222 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
On university rankings, oil tankers, icebergs and excellence initiatives

In Commentary, Daniel Lincoln argues that Times Higher Education’s plan to rank up-and-coming universities highlights the inconsequential nature of most global ranking systems. Martin Ince writes that excellence schemes boost university ranking positions to a point, but are more likely to reinforce existing positions.
Benjamin Ginsberg warns that the erosion of tenure in America and Canada is undermining academic freedom, and in World Blog Stephen Toope describes a recent mission to Brazil that was the largest ever undertaken by Canadian university presidents – and during which 75 new partnerships were announced.
Yojana Sharma and Hana Kamaruddin wrap up coverage of the inaugural AsiaEngage university-industry-community regional conference held in Malaysia earlier this month.
In Features, Alya Mishra writes that the focus of Indian institutes of technology will remain national despite IIT-Bombay’s participation in the winning international bid to set up a Centre for Urban Science and Progress in New York. And Geoff Maslen finds out, from a new Australian study, why small, developed nations produce high-impact research.
Karen MacGregor – Global Editor
Marguerite-Jeanne Deschamps

The European Union’s Council of Ministers has approved a new employability benchmark of 82% of EU graduates being employed within three years of leaving education and training by 2020. This is a significant step up from the 76.5% benchmark in 2010.
Geoff Maslen

Australia’s Chief Scientist Professor Ian Chubb has won a grant of US$54 million from Prime Minister Julia Gillard to recommend ways of boosting the number of students in universities and schools taking science and mathematics subjects.
Jane Marshall

France’s new President François Hollande has appointed Geneviève Fioraso, a spec ialist in the economics of research and innovation, as the new minister for higher education and research.

Germany’s federal Education Minister Annette Schavan faces allegations that part of her doctoral thesis may have been plagiarised. Schavan denies the claims made earlier this month but the University of Düsseldorf, which awarded her doctorate, is having her thesis reviewed.
Ashraf Khaled

Within days of being named as Egypt's new higher education minister – the fifth in 15 months – Mohamed al-Nashar had been slammed by academics for both his political past and his present views.
Jan Petter Myklebust

Key European Union regulators and their counterparts from the UK, France and The Netherlands have called for greater transparency over access to clinical trials data.
Ard Jongsma

South Africa and the European Union signed a Joint Declaration on Cooperation in Education and Training on Thursday, the formal endorsement of years of intensifying collaboration between the two partners.
Gilbert Nganga

Kenya is pushing to change the way universities are funded and how lecturers are paid, in reforms that have angered lecturers. The Universities Bill wants state subsidies to public universities to be based on the courses they offer rather than on student numbers, and proposes that lecturers be paid according to the courses they teach rather than job grades.
AsiaEngage conference
The “Regional Conference on Higher Education-Industry-Community Engagement in Asia” was held in Malaysia from 7-9 May. It was the inaugural event of AsiaEngage, a network of universities aimed at strengthening civic engagement. University World News was there.

Yojana Sharma

As top representatives of the main partners of a new Asian network stood with their hands on a darkened glass ball, the word AsiaEngage lit up in red and blue and swirled around the sphere. It represented the birth of the new AsiaEngage umbrella organisation for community-engaged universities.
Yojana Sharma

The AsiaEngage network was launched this month with a secretariat at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, or UKM. University World News spoke to Vice-chancellor Sharifah Hapsah Syed Hasan Shahabudin on what it means to be part of the network and how UKM incorporates community engagement without jeopardising its aspirations of becoming a world-class university.
Yojana Sharma

With the official launch on 7 May of AsiaEngage, a new regional umbrella organisation to promote higher education-community engagement, the international Talloires Network of engaged universities is strengthening its regional activities.
Yojana Sharma

Many large universities conduct research and teaching as if they are isolated from the society and region around them. But even the desire to become world-class can be achieved by better serving their locality, a conference on higher education-industry-community engagement in Asia heard.
Yojana Sharma

University researchers and scientists are increasingly playing a role in disaster research, analysis and data collection. But the University of the Philippines has gone much further, taking on a central role in planning and response in Asia’s most disaster-prone country.
Hana Kamaruddin

Students in some Asian countries – such as Japan, Indonesia and South Korea – now earn credit hours for voluntary work, an incentive that builds volunteering into the university assessment system and promotes community work as an integral part of higher education.
Hana Kamaruddin

Sustaining university-industry-community initiatives beyond the first flush of enthusiasm is a core challenge for all partners involved, according to delegates at a key Asian higher education conference.
Hana Kamaruddin

Asian universities are engaged in ground-breaking projects to counter waste, boost the use of alternative fuels and reduce emission of greenhouse gases.
Alya Mishra

The Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, is part of a winning bid to set up a Centre for Urban Science and Progress in New York. While this furthers IIT-Bombay’s global footprint, its focus and that of other technical institutes in India remains national.
Geoff Maslen

The world’s smaller developed nations, particularly in Scandinavia, have high levels of R&D support and this goes hand-in-hand with international collaboration and results in high-impact research results, according to a new study.
World Blog
Stephen Toope

The largest-ever international mission of Canadian university presidents – to Brazil – saw the announcement of 75 new university partnerships and scholarship programmes, and talks around an innovation agenda. Canada is also opening its doors to 12,000 Brazilian students. The stage has been set for further collaboration in the future.
Daniel Lincoln

Times Higher Education has plans to publish a list of the top global 100 universities under 50 years old. The plans highlight the problems of world ranking systems since most don't compare like with like and context, such as funding cuts, is not taken into account. Higher education is in the midst of huge change and rankings are fast becoming inconsequential.
Martin Ince

Research suggests that excellence schemes boost universities’ ranking positions, but only so far. They are more likely to reinforce universities’ existing positions in a competitive market than to seriously challenge American and British domination of the ranking system.
Benjamin Ginsberg

Tenure guarantees academic freedom in the United States and Canada. The shift to more contingent staff will mean that few academics will risk losing their jobs by speaking out about intellectual ideas that challenge orthodoxy or vested interests.
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World Round-up

The government of Quebec Premier Jean Charest, abandoning any hope of negotiating a settlement with striking students, announced that it is suspending classes in colleges and universities where students are still on strike, writes Rhéal Séguin for The Globe and Mail.

Education spending in India is at US$600 billion and the private education segment alone is expected to cross the $45 billion mark by 2015 from the present $35 billion, according to research by Investor Relation Society, affiliated to the US-based Global Investor Relations Network, reports the Press Trust of India.

Brazil’s Supreme Court has confirmed the nation’s establishment of university quotas to promote educational opportunities for Afro Brazilians, writes Karen Juanita Carrillo for AmNews.

Cuban universities have slashed enrolment by nearly 26%, apparently because of deep cuts in government spending, while several foreign investors are leaving the island, according to official and news media reports, writes Juan O Tamayo for The Miami Herald.

Universities stand to lose billions of pounds unless the UK coalition government urgently abandons new rules for overseas students, campuses across the UK have warned, writes Jessica Shepherd for the Guardian.

Universities are spending millions of pounds to navigate the government's ‘Kafkaesque’ new student visa rules. A public accounts committee of MPs heard that an institution such as the London School of Economics spends £250,000 (US$395,000) a year trying to understand regulations governing the entry of non-European Union students, writes Jessica Shepherd for the Guardian.

A tripling in the cost of a degree under Labour has made almost no difference to the number of lectures and tutorials undergraduates receive, writes Graeme Paton for The Telegraph. New figures show that students reported an average of less than 14 hours of timetabled tuition each week this year – up by just 12 minutes compared with 2006 when fees soared three-fold.

The publisher plaintiffs in the closely watched lawsuit over Georgia State University's use of copyrighted material in electronic reserves say they are "disappointed" with much of the ruling handed down by a federal judge, writes Jennifer Howard for The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The parents of two University of Southern California Chinese graduate students slain near the campus last month have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the university, saying the school misled them when it claimed that it ranks among the safest universities, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Many universities have built or are currently building new campuses in Tokyo's traditional commercial and residential areas east of the Sumidagawa River, as land prices are low and the location is convenient for students to commute, reports the Daily Yomiuri.

University of the Free State Vice-chancellor Professor Jonathan Jansen has questioned the "dangerous" official acceptance of low standards for passing school-leaving examinations, asking how minimum subject pass rates – marginally higher than under apartheid – could possibly be defended, writes Karl Gernetzky for Business Day.

Every year about one million Nigerian students pass university entrance examinations, but institutions can admit only 300,000 of them. The shortage of places leaves many of Nigeria's best students frustrated and uneducated, according to Kabir Mato, director of the Institute for Anti-Corruption Studies at the University of Abuja, writes Heather Murdock for Global Post.

Sir David Bell, who led the Department for Education until the start of this year, said that letting in working-class students with lower A-level grades than their middle-class counterparts was “patronising” and could be seen as a “back door route in”, writes Julie Henry for The Telegraph.

Two top Chinese universities – Beijing Foreign Studies University and Renmin University of China – have come together to nurture high-quality students by signing a strategic cooperation agreement in Beijing on 15 May, writes Luo Wangshu for China Daily.

South Sudan’s Association of Private Universities, or APU, handed over a petition to the office of President Salva Kiir in response to a recent statement by the minister of higher education, science and technology threatening to close down 22 private universities for not meeting required standards, writes Lagu Joseph Jackson for The Citizen.

The University of KwaZulu-Natal is standing behind its embattled vice-chancellor, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba, as claims of perjury are investigated against him, writes Lee Rondganger for the Daily News.
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