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12 August 2012 Issue 0234 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
MOOCs shake up world’s universities ‘like a tectonic shock’ – Marginson

In World Blog, Jo Ritzen argues that universities could help Europe out of its current economic crisis, but there needs to be more Pan-European higher education cooperation and institutions need to become more engaged in broader societal issues.
In Commentary, Simon Marginson explains why Massive Open Online Courses – MOOCs – will be the game changer in higher education worldwide. Lynnel Hoare writes that transnational education may need to overcome ethnocentricity but can bring significant benefits to mature students, and Francesca Onley describes a project involving mobile teaching support in Tanzania that could provide a model for improving learning around the world.
Geoff Maslen interviews Melbourne sociologist Ramon Spaaij, author of a new book on ‘lone wolf’ terrorists – the first in-depth analysis of the phenomenon. Also in Features, Alya Mishra reports on gaps in America’s visa regulations highlighted by the latest raid on a dubious university, which has left hundreds more foreign students stranded. And she looks at a study of India’s culture of creative improvisation, which has led to ‘frugal innovations’ that are attracting interest worldwide.
Finally, Gilbert Nganga writes that rapidly rising student numbers and increased competition have led universities in Kenya to embark on an extraordinary ‘race for space’ in commercial buildings in cities and towns, driving a property boom.
Karen MacGregor – Global Editor
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Yojana Sharma and Shafigeh Shirazi

More than 600 degree programmes in 60 universities in Iran are now segregated by gender, in what is being seen as a major expansion of the government’s efforts to separate male and female students. Discrimination against women students is also on the rise.
Yojana Sharma

New laws to clamp down on academic cheating at China’s universities could come into effect later this year as the rampant problems of plagiarism, falsification, lying about credentials and research papers and other misconduct continue unabated in higher education.
Lee Adendorff

Student groups are threatening protest action after the Italian parliament backed a law on 7 August that gives universities the power to raise the fees of students who are taking too long to complete their studies.
Michael Gardner

Ten years after the formal introduction of bachelor and masters degrees at German higher education institutions in the wake of the Bologna reforms, most courses have been adapted to the new system. Statistics suggest that the new degrees have found acceptance among students and industry.
Ashraf Khaled

One month after Egypt got its first-ever elected Islamist president, the higher education portfolio went to another Islamist – engineering professor Mustafa Musad.
Wagdy Sawahel

Egypt has launched several higher education initiatives including a plan to set up branches of Alexandria University in Lebanon and Malaysia, establishing an Arab higher education area and joining the Arab and European Leadership Network for Higher Education.
Sharon Dell

Recent research in South Africa confirms what has almost become a truism, particularly in the developing world: knowledge production and the pursuit of higher education is good for a country’s economic growth, and governments would do well to bear such evidence in mind in their development of research-related policies.
Jane Marshall
Côte d’Ivoire’s universities, disrupted or closed for the past two or three years, are due to reopen on 3 September – but critics are protesting against increases in fees of up to 5,000%.

University of Malawi students have sued the institution’s council for losses they incurred during an eight-month academic freedom protest by lecturers, who have in turn passed a vote of no confidence in the institution’s authorities.
Maina Waruru

Kenyan universities will start teaching human rights to arts students, in an initiative spearheaded by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Five universities will be selected later this year to pilot the project, in which arts students will take a unit on the subject.
Geoff Maslen

In the long roll call of ‘lone wolf’ terrorist attacks, few countries have been spared. Melbourne sociologist Dr Ramon Spaaij has been researching terrorism for 10 years and for the past five has focused on solitary gunmen who open fire on the innocent in pursuit of specific goals. His new book, Understanding Lone Wolf Terrorism, is the first in-depth analysis of such terrorism worldwide.
Alya Mishra

Herguan University in Sunnyvale, California, is the third institution in less than two years to have been raided by US officials and accused of visa fraud by the federal authorities, leaving hundreds of foreign student – most of them from India – stranded.
Alya Mishra

Although countries like China have raced ahead of India in research spending and investment in science and innovation, India’s culture of creative improvisation has led to inexpensive, low-key innovative solutions, sometimes known as ‘frugal innovation’.
Gilbert Nganga

In the basement of Church House in downtown Nairobi, Kenya, worshippers gather at one end of a room for evening prayers. At the other end of the dimly lit space, students of the Presbyterian University of East Africa finish assignments for a 17h00 class. The noise from the enthusiastic worshippers fills the room, but the students are at ease. They are used to it.
Jo Ritzen

Universities can help lift Europe out of the economic crisis. But there needs to be more Pan-European higher education and research cooperation, Europe needs to recognise that one size does not fit all, and universities need to overcome the crisis of trust between academia and society.
Simon Marginson

Free Massive Open Online Courseware – MOOC – is less than a year old but it is already clear this will be the game changer in higher education worldwide. Right now it is reverberating through the world’s universities like a tectonic shock.
Lynnel Hoare

Transnational education has been seen as everything from altruistic to neocolonialist, but in much research the voices of students involved are ignored. A study of mature students on a transnational education programme in Singapore shows they can reap considerable benefits, but it raises questions about ethnocentricity in the way courses are taught.
Sister Francesca Onley

A joint project in Tanzania between an NGO founded by Stanford's chief technology officer and Holy Family University could provide a model for future teaching. It involves the use of mobile teaching technology that enhances student learning and encourages creative and innovative approaches to their education.
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Police used water cannons to break up a protest in Chile's capital last Wednesday by thousands of students demanding free education. Hooded vandals set ablaze three city buses amid violence that left dozens arrested and injured, writes Luis Andres Henao for Associated Press.

The Brazilian Senate has approved a bill that reserves half of the places in the country's prestigious federal universities for state school students, reports the BBC. African-Brazilian Senator Paulo Paim said most Brazilians would benefit as only 10% of students graduated from private schools.

The Human Resource Development Ministry has decided not to push ahead in the monsoon session of parliament with legislation allowing foreign education institutions to set up base in India, reports The Economic Times. Instead, the ministry is focusing on the troika of bills – prevention of malpractices, education tribunals and mandatory accreditation – that forms the core of its higher education reform agenda.

Students who have applied for visas to study in the UK and who have already passed approved language tests could be barred from taking up their places at colleges or universities if immigration officers judge that their English is not good enough, writes Max de Lotbinière for the Guardian.

Conservative backbenchers are pressuring the government over funding for European Union students at UK universities, as the latest figures showed outstanding debt more than doubling in a year, writes John Morgan for Times Higher Education.

The more hardcore Quebec student activists say they will receive help from outside the province as they form picket lines to block the return to colleges and universities, reports The Canadian Press. They say that where student assemblies vote to remain on strike, they plan to enforce those votes outside classrooms as they start to reopen next week.

Reducing the number of students attending four-year universities and redirecting them to technical and vocational education is the main goal of the National Higher Education Strategy, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Wajih Owais said last week, reports The Jordan Times.

By 2013, the Russian government could be paying tuition fees for the country’s best students at foreign universities, writes Wais Wafa for Surghar Daily. President Vladimir Putin is expected to sign a decree by 1 September establishing the Global Education programme, which will allow qualified Russian students to study abroad at the government’s expense.

All universities on the island of Ireland are to jointly confer an honorary doctorate of laws on philanthropist Charles ‘Chuck’ Feeney next month. It is the first time that such an event has been arranged by Ireland’s universities, north and south, writes Patsy McGarry for The Irish Times.

Taxpayers could save A$3 billion (US$3.17 billion) in the next four years if the government spent less on subsidising university students, with new research showing fee help had little or no bearing on a student's decision to enter tertiary education or on their future earnings, writes Jen Rosenberg for The Sydney Morning Herald.

Some 15,000 teenagers who were expected to apply to higher education courses this summer are “missing” from official statistics, it was claimed. The Independent Commission on Fees – set up to track the effects of the new funding regime – warned that students were most likely to be put off in England, where fees are higher than elsewhere in the UK, writes Graeme Paton for The Telegraph.

Three weeks after the Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria decided to grant Ariel University Center full university status, Israel’s Defence Minister Ehud Barak is blocking any progress towards making the decision a reality, writes Lahav Harkov for The Jerusalem Post.

UK universities have been accused of social engineering after drawing up admissions schemes that favour applicants from poorer backgrounds. Four institutions – Edinburgh, Leeds, Bristol and Birmingham – have devised systems that boost the grades of applicants from low-income homes, writes Daniel Martin for Daily Mail.

The chair of Pakistan’s Higher Education Commission, Dr Javaid Laghari, warned last week that universities are about to go bankrupt due to shortages of funds, reports the Pakistan Observer.

The issue of whether non-medical PhD degree holders should be hired for teaching basic medical sciences subjects at public medical institutions in Pakistan has become a tug-of-war between the country’s two top regulatory bodies, writes Asif Choudary for Dawn.

A Korea-born American who heads Pyongyang's only private university is trying to teach students in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea about market economies, writes Park Ju-Min for China Daily.

The declining quality of education in East Africa should not solely be blamed on universities, a seasoned academic has cautioned, writes Zephania Ubwani for The Citizen.
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