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09 September 2012 Issue 0238 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
University rankings and system benchmarking reach similar results

In Commentary, Benoît Millot compares university rankings and system benchmarking and finds that they come to very similar conclusions – and that money does buy quality. Claims that MOOCs can replace higher education as we know it are overblown and will end up harming them, argues Stephen H Foerster.
Susan L Robertson writes that the UK Border Agency must take some blame for the London Met fiasco, as its system of licensing universities to accept non-EU students is over-complex. Karola Hahn and Damtew Teferra describe a harmonisation and tuning project that is promoting higher education integration across Africa.
In World Blog, William Patrick Leonard contends that American universities investing heavily in athletic programmes may be putting off potential international students who are drawn more by academic quality.
In Features, Yojana Sharma explores a new study on what transnational education students really want and finds they are less concerned about reputation and more about flexible learning and a close subject fit. Alya Mishra outlines how and why China has become a top study destination for Indian medical students, and Geoff Maslen looks at the new International Journal of Play.
We also report on the recent International Education Association of South Africa annual conference held in Cape Town.
Karen MacGregor Global Editor
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Ard Jongsma

A European University Association review that set out to examine mobility strategies at European universities stumbled across the persistent problem of gathering reliable and comparable data on mobility, designed a set of tools to alleviate it and in the process compiled a most interesting snapshot of the current state of affairs in Europe.
Alya Mishra

Inadequate higher education infrastructure and poor quality courses are pushing 600,000 Indian students to top universities overseas – and are costing the country around Rs950 billion (US$17 billion) in foreign exchange annually – a study has found.
David Jobbins

The British university barred from teaching students from outside the European Union prepared to challenge the decision in court last week, as politicians continued to attack government policy on international students.
Ard Jongsma

On 4 September, the OECD published a review with a press release titled “OECD calls for reform of post-secondary vocational education and training in Denmark”. On the same day, the Danish authorities sent out the same report with a press release concluding: “Danish VET system praised by OECD.” Both are right, but the Danish interpretation better captures the gist of the review than the OECD’s own.
Dinesh De Alwis

The Sri Lankan government unexpectedly decided to reopen all state universities last week, despite an ongoing lecturer strike. It is thought the move was a response to political and student union pressures, and to enable institutions to prepare for the new academic year.
Dinesh De Alwis

The shattered hopes of thousands of Sri Lankan students whose university entrance marks were miscalculated could be restored after the Supreme Court last week ordered public institutions to admit extra students in the new academic year.
Ashraf Khaled

Egypt’s first elected civilian President Mohammed Mursi has promised to remove decades-old restrictions on student activities in the country’s universities.
Jane Marshall

Tunisia is preparing for a change of direction for universities away from the policies of the old regime of former president Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali. There are plans to set up a national consultation on higher education to improve quality rather than increase the quantity of institutions.
Wagdy Sawahel

Experts representing Arab countries recently concluded the fourth annual conference of the Arab Organization for Quality Assurance in Education by announcing the Cairo Declaration, in terms of which Arab standards for quality education similar to those achieved internationally are to be formulated.
Gilbert Nganga

Kenya’s private university investors are lobbying the government to change the law to allow them to attract high-performing school-leavers – currently the preserve of their public rivals – and they have the overwhelming support of students.
Jane Marshall

Universities in Côte d’Ivoire reopened last week after two years of closure, and have been rehabilitated after the ravages of the post-electoral crisis.
Yojana Sharma

Students involved in transnational education – learning in a different country from where the degree-awarding institution is based – are less concerned about the awarding institution’s reputation and more about a flexible learning environment and a close fit in terms of subjects available for study.
Alya Mishra

Six years ago, when he was preparing to sit for multiple medical entrance examinations, Dr Vishal Swaroop had not heard of Liaoning province in China, five hours east of Beijing. Today he has a medical degree from Liaoning Medical University in the coastal city of Jinzhou.
Geoff Maslen

A team of academics from around the world have published the first International Journal of Play, a peer reviewed 114-page publication on the many activities of children at play. “Our intention is to produce a journal that reflects, challenges and advances an understanding of play across the alphabet of scholarly disciplines,” say the editors.
2012 IEASA conference in Cape Town
The International Education Association of South Africa, or IEASA, held its annual conference in Cape Town from 29 August to 1 September. University World News was there, along with more than 250 academics and practitioners of international higher education from around the world. This is the first of a two-part Special Report on the conference.

Karen MacGregor

The internationalisation of higher education must be taken out of international offices and “brought back to where it belongs – in academia”, according to Hans de Wit. It is a mistake to see research and internationalisation as administrative issues residing in a research or an international office.
Karen MacGregor

Eighteen years after South Africa’s new democracy ushered in tens of thousands of foreign students, the government is drafting policy frameworks and an international relations strategy for international higher education.
William Patrick Leonard

American universities that invest heavily in football and basketball programmes may be scoring an own goal since most require heavy subsidies. They could instead invest the money in boosting academic quality, which would attract more international students and boost their global standing.
Benoît Millot

International university rankings and tertiary system benchmarking results come to similar conclusions about the top universities and countries. They also suggest that well-resourced systems perform better and that decisions made by universities and national policy-makers make a difference.
Susan L Robertson

The decision by the UK Border Agency to withdraw London Metropolitan University's licence to teach non-EU students has created huge debate. The university must accept some of the blame, but the UKBA has produced an over-complex system and appears not to understand the effect its decision could have on the UK's standing in international higher education.
Stephen H Foerster

It has been claimed that MOOCs will spell the death of higher education as we know it. But many people will continue to prefer traditional learning and elite university credentials will still count for more. MOOCs are a great new tool for educationists, but overstating their importance could create false expectations that end in disappointment.
Karola Hahn and Damtew Teferra

The harmonisation of higher education in Africa is a multidimensional process that promotes the integration of tertiary systems in the region. The objective is to achieve collaboration across borders – in curriculum development, standards and quality assurance, and joint structural convergence and consistency of systems as well as compatibility, recognition and transferability of degrees to facilitate mobility.
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As millions of students have flocked to free ‘massive open online courses’ or MOOCs in recent months, higher education experts have focused on two big questions: whether universities will begin to offer credit for such courses, and what might be done to prevent cheating. On Thursday, the first glimmers of answers began to emerge, writes Tamar Lewin for The New York Times.

Thousands of kilometres from Kuala Lumpur, in Cameroon doctoral student Michael Nkwenti Ndongfack attends his Open University Malaysia classes online and hopes to defend his final thesis by Skype, reports AFP. Online university education is expanding quickly in Asia, where growth in technology and internet use is matched by a deep reverence for education.

US higher education administrators have mixed and even contradictory views about the financial future of their institutions. While the economy continues to recover at a sluggish pace, 57% of respondents in KPMG’s new Higher Education Outlook Survey said they expected their college to be in better financial shape in five years, writes Eric Kelderman for The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Students aren’t throwing away their red squares just yet. The Coalition large de l’association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante said last Thursday that students must remain vigilant to ensure a real tuition freeze is brought in by the Parti Québécois, writes Karen Seidman for The Montreal Gazette.

With an intake drawn from more than 150 countries at last count, London Metropolitan University has long been a magnet for overseas students attracted not only by the world-class reputation of Britain’s higher education system but the prospect of studying in one of the world’s most multicultural cities, writes Ben Quinn for The Christian Science Monitor.

Israel’s Defence Minister Ehud Barak, who has been delaying the final approval for the Ariel University Center's upgrade, is advising Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to wait for the High Court of Justice's ruling on the matter, writes Attila Somfalvi for YNetnews.

Mongolia’s Minister of Education, Culture and Science L Gantumur met the directors of state universities on 19 August, with the main item on the agenda the issue of student fees and the quality of universities, writes M Zoljargal for The UB Post. Universities are proposing steep fee hikes.

South Africa’s Department of Higher Education and Training has launched a new Labour Market Intelligence System at an initial cost of R75 million (US$9 million). It says this is a groundbreaking research project that will enable the government and the private sector to make better decisions in matching skills demand to supply in the country, writes Farzana Rasool for ITWeb.

Interview coaching, a free lunch and discounted exam fees are some of the incentives Japan's institutions are offering as they try to attract applicants from the country's shrinking pool of 18-year-olds, writes Hiromi Oida for The Asahi Shimbun.

In early 2008, Joshua Foromera was a talented Zimbabwean high school graduate living as a refugee in South Africa. He fled Zimbabwe because of political and economic collapse, seeking higher education opportunities, writes Scott Baldauf for The Christian Science Monitor. Today, Foromera is a biology and chemistry major at Duke University, following his dream of finding a safer, more effective treatment for the virus linked to AIDS.

The government's university access tsar has warned Oxford and Cambridge that they risk losing their status as world-class universities if they fail to widen their entry to include more students from state schools, writes Peter Wilby for the Guardian.

Members of the Nile University community continued their sixth day of peaceful protests last weekend. Students at the research university have been appealing to the government to return land and buildings allocated for a new campus, after the new campus was confiscated at the beginning of 2011, writes Basil El-Dabh for Daily News Egypt.

Marc Hauser, a prolific scientist and popular psychology professor who resigned last summer from Harvard, fabricated data, manipulated results in multiple experiments and incorrectly described how studies were conducted, according to the findings of a federal research oversight agency that were posted online on Wednesday, writes Carolyn Y Johnson for The Boston Globe.

Harvard University students under investigation for cheating on a take-home government course exam said they’re waging a battle against the allegations, writes John Lauerman for Bloomberg Businessweek.

Philanthropist Chuck Feeney was described as the “Renaissance man of Irish higher education” when the universities of Ireland conferred an honorary doctorate on the Atlantic Philanthropies founder in Dublin last week, reports Mary Minihan for The Irish Times.
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