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8 July 2012 Issue 0229 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
All of Europe’s education support efforts to merge into one holistic bundle

In Features, Ard Jongsma interviews Jordi Curell, head of higher education in the European Commission’s education and training directorate, and reports that proposals to bundle all European education and training support efforts into one interconnected programme are entering a decisive stage.
Alya Mishra writes that new anti-discrimination regulations for universities in India may not be enough, given the covert nature of discrimination and the hierarchical structure of society, and journalists across all continents report on the growing switch to teaching in English among many universities in non-English countries.
In Commentary, Way Kuo contends that Hong Kong higher education needs to embrace other cultures and make the most of its geographical position if it is to attract more international students. Devi D Tewari looks at whether the American or European model of PhD examination best suits developing countries, and Philip G Altbach writes that Slovenian higher education has the potential to be world class – though there are challenges.
Finally, in World Blog, Serhiy Kvit argues that Ukraine's integration into the European Higher Education Area would raise standards and improve its university system.
Karen MacGregor – Global Editor
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Ard Jongsma

The European Commission has launched a platform for higher education policy dialogue with countries in the south Mediterranean area, convening 80 high-level officials including ministers, the commissioner and director-generals in Brussels to discuss developments in higher education in North Africa and the near Middle East – and the European response to it.
Alya Mishra

Aiming to improve the quality of education across all colleges and universities, India will soon come up with a regulation that will inform students about their academic rights and entitlements – including on programmes operated by foreign universities. The academic community has welcomed the announcement.
Alison Moodie

The United States is at risk of losing its competitive advantage in the global marketplace unless it ensures greater and more equal access to higher education, according to a survey released by the OECD.
Han-Suk Kim

In an astonishing attack on higher education elitism, South Korea’s main opposition party has said it could dismantle the country’s most prestigious university – Seoul National University – if it comes to power in upcoming presidential elections.
Wagdy Sawahel

The six Gulf Cooperation Council states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates must urgently develop and implement higher education policies aimed at expanding student enrolments and strengthening quality, a new report says.
Ameen Amjad Khan

Pakistan and India are increasingly using higher education as a foreign policy instrument, in particular to improve relations with post-Taliban Afghanistan. Pakistan announced a package of 600 fully funded scholarships for students from Afghanistan – on the same day that an Afghan minister visiting Delhi pledged to increase education links with India.
Geoff Maslen

Physicists around the world excitedly greeted the news on Wednesday that a new particle has been detected consistent with the elusive Higgs boson, the long sought-after particle believed responsible for all forces in the universe.
Geoff Maslen

Rejection by the European parliament on Wednesday night of an international treaty that attempted to strengthen the enforcement of intellectual property rights could impact on the debate in other countries, according to Professor Christoph Antons, a chief investigator with the Australian Research Council.
Ashraf Khaled

Shortly after being sworn in as Egypt’s first freely-elected civilian president, Mohamed Mursi was driven by motorcade to Cairo University, the country’s oldest secular higher education institution. Minutes later, the engineering professor showed up in the auditorium where US President Barack Obama delivered his landmark address in 2009.

The University of Zambia has been closed indefinitely by a lecturer strike for better pay and working conditions. The academics have resolved to withhold examination results from students pending a favourable outcome for their demands.
Francis Kokutse

University administrators in Ghana have joined the latest wave of nationwide strike action that has swept the country over the past few months. Students have reacted with anger, saying that admission to universities and academic work is being affected.
Guillaume Gorges

The University of Mauritius has finally appointed a local academic, Professor Ramesh Rughooputh, as vice-chancellor – following the abrupt resignation of his foreign predecessor, and after another foreign academic declined the post.
Ard Jongsma

Proposals to bundle all European education and training support programmes into one huge, interconnected programme for 2014-20 are entering a decisive stage, as European ministers have accepted the majority of the European Commission’s outline and the European parliament is set to discuss further details.
Alya Mishra

Despite affirmative action laws, cases of discrimination against disadvantaged groups at India’s elite institutions continue to surface, leading to new anti-discrimination regulations for universities. But this may not be enough, given the covert nature of discrimination and the hierarchical structure of Indian society.
Andrew Green, Wang Fangqing, Paul Cochrane, Jonathan Dyson and Carmen Paun

The Politecnico di Milano, one of Italy's most prestigious universities, will teach and assess most of its degree and all of its postgraduate courses entirely in English from 2014. While the move proved controversial in Italy, it is far from unusual – universities worldwide have been switching wholly or partly to teaching in English for a number of reasons.
Serhiy Kvit

Ukraine's higher education system needs reform and its integration into the European Higher Education Area would aid this, boost standards and the quality of what universities offer, and counter corruption.
Way Kuo

Hong Kong and its universities need to internationalise more. But to do so they have to consider what they can offer the rest of the world. International students will not study in Hong Kong just because universities operate in English.
Devi D Tewari

The United States PhD model is the gold standard, but the European model is less expensive and could be a more realistic initial goal for developing countries wishing to raise standards.
Philip G Altbach

Slovenia has the potential for academic excellence, but it faces challenges, including selecting fields and disciplines its universities can excel in and negotiating the line between serving national and international interests. If successful, however, it could serve as a model for small countries and for universities with a European style of governance and administration.

A deadly mistake made two million years ago by two of humankind’s earliest ancestors has provided the first evidence of what food they ate – from an analysis of the plaque on their teeth. The find is unprecedented in the human record outside of fossils just a few thousand years old.

An effective new weapon in the fight against the spread of cane toads has been developed by researchers at the University of Sydney and the University of Queensland. Cane toads now number more than 200 million and are spreading across the continent by an average of 40 kilometres a year, with devastating impacts on native species.

Researchers at the University of Nottingham have developed a computer program that helps Asian students improve their understanding of accented English speech in noisy environments.

Pharmacological cognitive enhancement is a topic of increasing public awareness, according to German researchers. In the scientific literature on student use of drugs or caffeine as a study aid, there are high prevalence rates with caffeinated substances but remarkably lower rates for illicit or prescription stimulants such as amphetamines or methylphenidate.
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Oxford Publishing Ltd, a unit of Oxford University Press, said last week it had settled probes by the World Bank and the UK Serious Fraud Office into allegations of corruption in its operations in East Africa, writes Samuel Rubenfeld for The Wall Street Journal.

The Quebec government has quietly adopted several controversial measures it says will broaden access to higher education in the Canadian province. Student groups, however, contend that the measures will have the opposite effect and will actually increase student debt loads, writes Jonathan Montpetit for The Canadian Press.

Two Australian universities are going through the final planning phases before the prototype of a free online learning platform aimed at disadvantaged people, particularly in developing nations, is given its first test run, writes Julie Hare for The Australian.

Environmental ecology students had an employment rate as high as 94.3% in 2011, marking the third consecutive year of surging employment, according to the Chinese College Graduates’ Employment Annual Report 2012, writes Cheng Yingqi for China Daily.

A federal judge has struck down a key provision in a Barack Obama administration regulation that would have penalised programmes whose graduates end up with huge debts and low job prospects, writes Jamie Goldberg for the The Sacramento Bee.

What happened at the University of Virginia is probably going to happen again somewhere else, writes Kevin Kiley for Inside Higher Ed. It likely won’t take the same form, though – the removal and reinstatement of a university president.

Academic freedom is a cause held dear by most scholars, but very few will suffer for it as Miguel Angel Beltrán has, writes Jack Grove for Times Higher Education. However, the Colombian sociologist did not set out to become a role model for dissident intellectual thought, let alone spend two years in a high-security prison for his beliefs.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Education will actively move to promote mergers among national universities, to counter the steady drop in student numbers caused by the declining birth rate and to better integrate university education resources, reports The China Post.

British universities recruited more than 50,000 international students through commission payments to overseas agents last year, spending close to £60 million (US$93 million) on the practice in 2010-11, a Times Higher Education investigation has found, writes David Matthews.

The Australian government has launched a postgraduate scholarship programme to be undertaken in top Philippine universities, further strengthening its support for Filipinos’ professional excellence, writes Gloria Jane Baylon for the Zambo Times.

Thailand is working to join hands with more of its neighbours in the Association of South East Asian Nations to drive the region's educational improvement – starting with research sharing – according to a top official, writes Wannapa Khaopa for The Nation-Asia News Network.

According to statistics from Vietnam’s Ministry of Education and Training, the number of candidates who sat for university entrance examinations this year has decreased by 27.2% from last year, down to 662,096 candidates from more than 900,000, reports VietNamNet Bridge.

The number of disadvantaged students admitted to sought-after UK institutions remained flat last year, it was claimed. The Office for Fair Access said attempts to attract more applicants had been too “slow” and all institutions would be expected to set more ambitious targets for 2012-13, writes Graeme Patron for The Telegraph.

Employers and universities have been putting their heads together. Recently the Higher Education Academy reported on the outcomes of eight flexible learning pathfinder projects, which found that employers favoured distance learning as a way of delivering career-related study, writes Stephen Hoare for the Guardian.

Makerere University needs to cut down on its student population if it is to improve the quality of teaching and research, which has reached an all-time low, celebrated scholar Professor Mahmood Mamdani has advised, writes Francis Kagolo for The New Vision.

Uganda’s Minister of Trade Amelia Kyambadde and Education Minister Jessica Alupo have led a delegation to Rwanda for a three-day higher education exhibition that opened last Wednesday, writes Taddeo Bwambale for New Vision.

The founder of the pioneering Bangladeshi micro-lending Grameen Bank is to become the new chancellor of Glasgow Caledonian University. Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus succeeds journalist, broadcaster and politician Lord Macdonald of Tradeston, reports the BBC.

Welsh Education Minister Leighton Andrews last week hinted there may be “further developments” regarding the creation of a new university in southeast Wales, writes Gareth Evans for Wales Online.
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