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16 September 2012 Issue 0239 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
Nuanced action needed to tackle visa abuse while not deterring students

In World Blog, Hans de Wit urges countries of the global South, particularly in Africa, to lead the way in innovative practice in higher education internationalisation. In Commentary, Philip G Altbach and Liz Reisberg write that visa regulations for international students are under scrutiny in many countries, but changes in legislation need to be handled with care.
AC Grayling, first master of the UK’s about-to-open New College of the Humanities, argues that the US model of liberal arts colleges is the future for the humanities as it teaches students to think broadly and to lead. Michael J Mulvany, Zdravko Lackovic and Roland Jonsson make the case for reforming PhDs so that they build on transferable skills such as project management.
The OECD published its Education at a Glance report on Tuesday. Geoff Maslen unpacks the report and OECD Secretary General Angel Gurría outlines two key changes – the ascent of the knowledge economy and higher education’s explosive growth – that have transformed the global education and economic landscapes.
In Features, Sarah King Head interviews leaders of the Institute of International Education’s Scholar Rescue Fund, which has provided safe havens for hundreds of academics under threat and which celebrated its 10th anniversary last week. And Jan Petter Myklebust follows a raging debate in Scandinavia about the over-reliance on cognitive behavioural therapy in psychiatric treatment.
Karen MacGregor Global Editor
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Yojana Sharma

Leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) grouping have called for greater cross-border higher education cooperation in advance of building an Asia-Pacific higher education space that would include South East Asian nations, India, China, Japan and South Korea as well as Pacific Rim countries such as the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Karen MacGregor

A global shift towards science and technology and rapid growth in international mobility are trends impacting on the standing of the world’s finest universities, according to the 2012-13 QS rankings. Universities from a record 72 countries are in the top 700 list published last week.
Mimi Leung and Yojana Sharma

The ongoing controversy over compulsory ‘moral and national education’ lessons in primary and secondary schools dominated elections for Hong Kong’s Legislative Council last week as protests spread from schools and parent groups to universities and the wider public.
Alya Mishra

The withdrawal of ‘highly trusted sponsor’ status from London Metropolitan University has distressed and angered Indian students and parents. But as the government announced a special fund to assist international students affected by the decision, experts said the London Met case should not be seen as representative of Britain’s higher education system.
Makki Marseilles

An overall 17.5% salary cut proposed by a Greek government desperately seeking €11.8 billion (US$15.4 billion) to balance next year’s budget, has become casus belli – a justification for war – for academics, who are withdrawing their labour during the autumn examination period and threatening further industrial action.
Michael Gardner

Universities in Austria remain in a state of limbo regarding tuition fees. While the country’s Supreme Constitutional Court has urged the government to resolve the issue, the ruling Social Democratic Party looks set to enter an intense debate on a suitable fee model.
Maina Waruru

More than 12,000 academic and non-teaching staff at public universities in Kenya have gone on strike for better pay and conditions of service, paralysing institutions. Students took to the streets of Nairobi on Tuesday in solidarity with lecturers and one university has been closed.
Jan Petter Myklebust

An investigation into alleged plagiarism by former European education commissioner Ján Figel' is expected to take at least two months.
Wagdy Sawahel

The National Iranian American Council, or NIAC, has warned against a new United States bill that bans visas for Iranian students seeking education at American universities in fields relating to the nuclear and energy sectors. The bill’s broad language has critics arguing it is potentially a human rights issue.
OECD – Education at a Glance 2012
The OECD published its 2012 Education at a Glance report on Tuesday. Geoff Maslen overviews this key education publication, and we publish an editorial by OECD Secretary General Angel Gurría and extracts from the report.

Geoff Maslen

Spending on education by countries around the world is rising but access to higher education remains unequal, says the OECD’s Education at a Glance 2012. Governments should increase investment in early childhood programmes and maintain reasonable costs for higher education in order to reduce inequality, boost social mobility and improve people’s employment prospects.
Angel Gurría

The global education and economic landscapes have been in a state of rapid transformation, spurred in significant part by two key changes. The first is the ascent of the knowledge economy, which has created powerful new incentives to build skills through education. The second is the explosive growth of higher education worldwide.

In 2010, more than 4.1 million tertiary students were enrolled outside their country of citizenship. Luxembourg, Australia, the United Kingdom, Austria, Switzerland and New Zealand have, in descending order, the highest percentages of international students among their tertiary enrolments.

Within most OECD countries, the percentage of 25- to 34-year-olds with tertiary attainment is moderately to considerably higher than the percentage of 55- to 64-year-olds with tertiary attainment. Exceptions to this trend include Germany, Israel and the United States.

OECD and G20 countries vary significantly in the amount of tuition fees charged by their tertiary institutions. For instance, in eight OECD countries, public institutions charge no tuition fees, but in one-third public institutions charge annual fees in excess of US$1,500 for national students.
Sarah King Head

The Institute of International Education will host a gala on 18 September in New York to honour four financial world leaders – Henry Jarecki, Henry Kaufman, George Soros and Thomas A Russo – for their role in founding the Scholar Rescue Fund in 2002.
Jan Petter Myklebust

Debate has raged in Scandinavia this year about over-reliance on cognitive behavioural therapy in psychiatric treatment, and growing awareness of a prevalence of over-medication. With treatment approaches narrowing, university curricula in psychiatry and psychology have followed suit, with worrying implications for producing quality practitioners.
Hans de Wit

Africa has more academics with a foreign degree and more graduates with study-abroad experience, and has imported more knowledge and concepts from abroad than any other continent, making it probably the most internationalised higher education system in the world. Hence innovation and change in internationalisation should come from Africa.
Philip G Altbach and Liz Reisberg

The crisis around London Metropolitan University's international students is just the latest of a number of scandals relating to immigration policy. Academics may be reluctant to face the seriousness of immigration law abuse, but changing legislation wholesale will not help. Nuanced action is needed that deals with the problem but does not frighten off students.
AC Grayling

Too many governments are eschewing funding for the humanities and favouring more vocational courses, without understanding how the humanities contribute to society and the workplace. The American model of liberal arts colleges and universities offers a blueprint for the future.
Michael J Mulvany, Zdravko Lackovic and Roland Jonsson

There has been concern about the overproduction of PhDs, but this does not mean PhDs should be reduced. Instead they should be reformed to increase the transferable skills they offer, with an emphasis placed on developing project management skills.
Nick Holdsworth

They did it with Dolly the sheep but then she was alive and kicking. Now Russian and Korean scientists say they could be a step closer to cloning a prehistoric animal, after the discovery of potentially usable “soft, fatty tissue” from a woolly mammoth.

The malaria species rampant in the Asia-Pacific region has been a significant driver of evolution of the human genome, according to a study by an international team of researchers. The team has shown that Plasmodium vivax malaria is a significant cause of genetic evolution that provides protection against malaria.

Researchers at Goldsmiths, University of London, have devised a revolutionary commercial music format that manipulates and transforms every aspect of a song to create a unique version on each listen. Dr Mick Grierson, from the department of computing, and his team were asked by musician Gwilym Gold and producer Lexx to create a new music format.

Having access to a personal computer lowers or decreases the risk of cognitive decline and dementia in older men by up to 40%, according to researchers at the University of Western Australia. Professor Osvaldo Almeida, research director at the Centre for Health and Ageing, and colleagues undertook an eight-year study of more than 5,000 men aged 65 to 85.

Coinciding with the London Olympics and Paralympics, Britain’s The Lancet medical journal has published a series of papers on the worldwide problem of physical inactivity. More than 50 health professionals and researchers contributed to the series.
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University leaders are blaming ministers for chaos in this year's clearing, with 30,000 fewer applicants. Universities have been forced to lower their offer grades in the frantic rush to fill places, and many vice-chancellors say this was the most "chaotic" and "uncertain" admissions round they have ever experienced, writes Anna Fazackerley for the Guardian.

British Universities Minister David Willetts is to launch a global drive to "protect Britain's reputation" and spread the message that the country remains open to students from overseas, in the wake of the government's curbs on student visas, writes Alan Travis for the Guardian.

The number of students from outside the European Union given places at leading institutions rose by almost 12% last year, it was revealed. Researchers insisted that overseas admissions increased more sharply in Britain than elsewhere in the world, writes Graeme Paton for The Telegraph.

Fraud in international higher education is a US$1.5 billion to US$2.5 billion business, an expert said on Thursday at the European Association for International Education annual conference in Dublin, writes Elizabeth Redden for Inside Higher Ed.

Universities in Brazil have long been for the privileged few. Only 11% of the population of working age has a degree – and such scarcity has brought rich rewards. Graduates earn, on average, 2.5 times more than those without degrees, and five times as much as the majority who never finish secondary school, reports The Economist.

Ben Gurion University last Sunday blasted the Council for Higher Education for seeking to shut down its political science department, vowing to fight the bid with all its might, writes Tomer Velmer for Israel Times.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague issued a strong condemnation last Monday of the Israeli government’s decision to grant the Ariel University Center the status of a full university, writes Herb Keinon for The Jerusalem Post.

With a shared language and cultural roots, many educators in Taiwan assumed the island would be an appealing destination for the masses of mainland Chinese students eager to pursue higher education in the developed world, writes Eva Dou for The Wall Street Journal.

State universities are refusing to register more than 50,000 tertiary students who are on the state-funded cadetship programme, until the government clears outstanding payments, writes Felex Share for The Herald.

The reduced number of Indian students this year has led to concerns in some British universities over the financial viability of courses and departments particularly in science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects, reports the Press Trust of India.

Cambridge University has put itself on a collision course with the government over access to higher education for the poor, by dismissing the practice of lowering entry offers to students from disadvantaged backgrounds as a "cruel experiment", writes Martin Hickman for The Independent.

Vietnam’s Ministry of Education and Training has told universities gradually to scale down vocational training before they completely stop this kind of training in 2017. But a lot of institutions do not intend to reduce the number of vocational students, who earn them good income, reports VietNamNet Bridge.

In a landmark collaboration that will boost academic standards in Indian higher education institutes, the Bangalore-Cambridge Innovation Network was officially launched at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore last week, reports The Times of India.

A new scientist exchange programme will allow around 25 scientists to participate in exchange visits between India and Denmark every year, writes Tirna Ray for The Times of India.

Japanese researchers are working on a robot they hope will be smart enough to ace entrance exams at the nation's top university, which test everything from maths to foreign languages, reports AFP.
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