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29 July 2012 Issue 0232 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
Higher education and the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games

This week we publish a Special Report on the Olympic and Paralympic Games, including an article by author of a book on the games Andy Miah, who believes that work done by universities afterwards will create the real legacy of the 2012 event. Ramón Spaaij, co-editor of a just-published book on the Olympics and peace, writes that London continues a proud tradition of efforts to place sport at the service of promoting a more peaceful world.
In World Blog, William Patrick Leonard contends that American universities have got too used to state handouts and regard them as an entitlement. They need to control costs to ensure sustainability, and to rebuild external trust and funding.
In Commentary, Frank Ziegele and Gero Federkeil write that higher education rankings tend to oversimplify, but the new U-Multirank system takes into account universities’ complexity. And Ranjit Goswami argues that China’s higher education is outstripping India’s due to China’s focus on quality and strong state support.
And in Features, Alya Mishra and Yojana Sharma warn that higher education in Britain is becoming less attractive to Indian students because of tougher visa rules and withdrawal of a post-study work option, while Sharon Dell reports on a new paper showing that South Africa’s research output is rising and the country could be on the verge of a ‘scientific renaissance’.
Karen MacGregor – Global Editor
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Chrissie Long

Mexico’s incoming president has an ambitious goal: to increase university enrolment by 50%. Responding to figures showing that his country suffers one of the lowest university participation rates in the region, the 46-year-old former governor hopes to create 1.5 million additional seats by the time he leaves office in 2018.
Brendan O’Malley

Universities must demand higher standards of mathematics among applications for science and maths courses, to ensure that the UK can produce more high-calibre science graduates to secure economic growth, according to a House of Lords report published on Tuesday.
David Jobbins

Quacquarelli Symonds Limited, publisher of the QS World University Rankings, has defended the use of quality marks granted to universities that have paid to go through an audit process. Universities apply and pay for a process that judges them across 51 criteria that can lead to the awarding of up to five QS 'stars' that are visible against their entry in the ranking.
Wagdy Sawahel

The 43 states of the Union for the Mediterranean plan to set up an international higher education and research centre, the Euro-Mediterranean University of Morocco, with a focus on Euro-Mediterranean issues and priorities. Meanwhile, Morocco’s government has announced reforms, including an end to free higher education.
Ria Nurdiani

Indonesia’s top institution, Universitas Gadjah Mada, made headlines this month when 52 of its prospective students were caught cheating during an entrance test for the international programme of the medical faculty.

Zambia’s higher education institutions have improved in the field of information and communication technologies – but access remains very low.
SPECIAL REPORT: Olympic Games 2012
Andy Miah

Universities and colleges in the United Kingdom, particularly those in London, have created new programmes of activity for the 2012 Olympic Games that will classify as ‘research impact’. But it is what they do after the gold medals have been handed out that will decide what the lasting legacy will be for higher education.
Ramón Spaaij

The 2012 London Olympics continue a proud tradition of efforts to place sport at the service of promoting a more peaceful world. All 193 UN member states co-sponsored the latest UN resolution on the Olympic Truce, signing up to the ideals of peace and conflict resolution and the premise that individuals, not countries, compete against one another in sport in peaceful competition without the interference of politics, religion or racism.
Martin Whittaker

If anyone is likely to have divided loyalties at the London Olympics, it is Dr Aki Salo. While in his heart he’ll be rooting for his native Finland, his attention will be firmly fixed on the performance of Britain’s sprinters.
Yojana Sharma

A group of Hong Kong-based student and academic activists who work undercover in China to expose working conditions and labour rights breaches in factories, has said manufacturers producing Olympic mascots for London 2012 have violated international codes of ethics and produced merchandise under sweatshop conditions.
Geoff Maslen

The experiment was kept a closely guarded secret so as not to alert Olympic competitors in other countries. In a world first, four riders from the highly rated Australian men’s pursuit track cycling team rode into a 65 kilometre-an-hour headwind inside a large wind tunnel at Monash University, at different heights, in different helmets and – crucially – in different combinations.
Alison Moodie

As the 2012 Olympics kick off, all eyes will be on the athletes’ prowess and speed as they compete for coveted gold medals. Less attention is paid to the psychological skills needed to function at such a high level, and the mental toll of staying on top. New research and technological developments shine the light on this overlooked issue.
Sarah King Head

Dr Anjali Forber-Pratt has overcome enormous odds to be a paralympic track medallist and to complete a PhD at the University of Illinois. She will be competing in several events at the upcoming Paralympics, and says that being a student and an athlete “complement each other well”.
Sarah King Head

The olympic experience happens every day for participants and organisers of Special Olympics events around the world. And it is happening increasingly in the context of higher education – in terms of offering sporting venues and opportunities, and supporting research and programming that can improve the lives of people with intellectual disabilities.
Alya Mishra and Yojana Sharma

For Indian students, higher education in Britain is no longer an attractive option owning to tougher visa rules and withdrawal of a post-study work option. According to consultants and students, the UK is being replaced by Canada and Australia as the preferred destinations for graduate study.
Sharon Dell

South Africa could be on the verge of a “scientific renaissance” if it sustains recent levels of research output, which in 2010 saw the country poised to make the largest contribution yet to its share of the world’s publications and move up two positions in international publications rankings.
William Patrick Leonard

There are three ways for US universities to balance budgets in an era of shrinking state funding. One is to increase tuition fees, another is to increase enrolment and the last is to cut budgets. Universities need to look more carefully at the latter and rein in spending on programmes of questionable relevance, efficiency or effectiveness.
Frank Ziegele and Gero Federkeil

A new ranking system, U-Multirank, allows higher education stakeholders to choose what indicators are important to them when rating a university. Could this satisfy critics who claim that the current rankings are overly simplistic?
Ranjit Goswami

India could learn lessons from China as it tries to grow its higher education sector. China's focus on quality and state support for efforts to boost universities have led to a growing gap opening up between the two countries' progress in higher education.
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Wedged between the Sunni neighbourhood of Baba Amr to the west and Alawite areas to the east, the Al Baath University campus is at the heart of the conflict that has ripped apart Syria's opposition stronghold of Homs, write Samer Mohajer and Loveday Morris for The National.

Because many Chinese students have trouble making sense of the American admissions process, a huge industry of education agents has arisen in China to help guide them – and, in some cases, to do whatever it takes to get them accepted, writes Justin Bergman for Time.

Eight years ago, Germany announced that its universities would compete for several billion dollars in public funds to spur them to distinguish themselves on the national and world stage. Other countries took notice, with some attempting similar strategies to vault their universities into the upper echelons of global rankings, writes Aisha Labi for The Chronicle of Higher Education.

A Supreme Court ruling could pave the way for a flood of appeals from private colleges and overseas students against a significant number of government immigration decisions, lawyers have said, writes David Matthews for Times Higher Education.

The finances of many of America’s higher education institutions are starting to wobble. If they continue to deteriorate, the fallout won't be confined to college campuses, writes Douglas Belkin for The Wall Street Journal.

US President Barack Obama last week announced an initiative that he said will give African-American students greater access to "a complete and competitive education” from birth to when they get a career, reports CNN.

As colleges and universities in Quebec prepare for what will likely be a turbulent back-to-school season, students who choose to continue to boycott classes have been put on notice, writes Karen Seidman for The Montreal Gazette.

A number of South Korean universities have been falsifying graduate employment data to raise funds and attract students, according to a government investigation, writes Oh Kyu-wook for The Korea Herald.

The Chilean government’s parliamentary lower house has rejected the findings of a report investigating allegations of educational profiteering in seven private universities. Student leaders and opposition politicians criticised the ruling, claiming that the government must not ignore illegal educational profiteering, writes Mariana Zepeda for I Love Chile.

Israel’s National Academy of Sciences has decried the recent decision by the Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria to recognise the Ariel University Center as a full-fledged university, writes Judy Siegel-Itzkovich for The Jerusalem Post.

University leader Fred Hilmer has declared that Australian universities are on a precipice, underfunded and smothered by regulation, and are heading for decline without urgent and dramatic policy change, writes Dan Harrison for Illawarra Mercury.

India's online education market size is set to grow to US$40 billion by 2017 from the present US$20 billion, reports the Press Trust of India.

The University of California, Berkeley announced last week that it is joining the new online education website founded by Harvard and MIT that offers free, not-for-credit courses to a worldwide audience, writes Larry Gordon for Los Angeles Times.

A little more than a month after sitting the gaokao, China's college entrance exam, Zeng Mengyao is celebrating her results. She will attend Xiamen University in China's eastern Fujian Province. Zeng's dream to be admitted to a prestigious university would have been crushed without the national preferential policy introduced by the Ministry of Education this year, reports Xinhuanet.

Despite reaffirming its partnership with Peking University seven months ago, Yale has decided this summer that it will not continue its programme sending undergraduates to live and study at the Chinese institution, citing low student enrolment, write Gavan Gideon, Daniel Sisgoreo and Tapley Stephenson for Yale Daily News.

As Wayne State University's faculty negotiates a new labour contract, officials are offering proposals that faculty members say would abolish tenure for academic staff – and make Wayne State among the first research universities in the nation to do so, write Kim Kozlowski and Mark Hicks for The Detroit News.

Are graduate students who work as teaching assistants and research assistants at private universities entitled to collective bargaining? The answer depends on whether these graduate student employees should be seen primarily as students or employees, writes Scott Jaschik for Inside Higher Ed.

Students entering Clearing, the last-minute summer scramble for university places, have for years expected to see only the more modern institutions opening their doors. But this August, for the first time, applicants are likely to find elite research-intensive universities touting for business alongside their newer counterparts, reports Anna Fazackerley for the Guardian.

A private college in London has been given the power to award its own degrees in a move the government says will increase competition in England's higher education system, writes Angela Harrison for BBC News.

The number of graduates going into unpaid employment or voluntary work has increased by 23% in the past year – and more than tripled since 2003 – according to new figures seen by The Independent, writes Kay Smith.
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