ISSN 1756-297XIssue No: 0024  20 April 2008
HE Events Diary

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Danes are worried by the demise of Danish in their own universities and have called for action. See the story our news section.

This magnificent fresco attracted a lot of attention at a recent archaeological conference. Find out more in the article in our feature section.

He discovered humankind's oldest known ancestor, now he's professor of human palaentology at the Collège de France. In this week's people section, we profile Professor Michel Brunet. Photo copyright MFPT.


NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

UK: League tables in the spotlight
Diane Spencer
Around the world, university league tables influence students, academics and governments. Foreign students increasingly use them to select an institution in another country while governments and scholarship bodies use them to inform decisions about supporting students. Then there are the academics who use them to decide where they want their next job. Yet questions remain about the quality, methodologies and robustness of the rankings, as a new report notes. Counting what is measured, or measuring what counts? was commissioned by the Higher Education Funding Council for England.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Slowdown in foreign graduate numbers
Geoff Maslen
Applications from prospective foreign students to enrol in American graduate schools this year are down by 16% compared with what they were in 2003, according to a new survey. The survey found that two out of three schools have still not reversed the declines they suffered in 2004 and 2005. The Council of Graduate Schools, which represents 500 higher education institutions in the US and Canada and has conducted the annual survey for the past five years, says overall applications increased by only 3% this year compared with 2007.
Full report on the University World News site

NEW ZEALAND: Chinese student numbers on the rise
John Gerritsen*
Bucking a trend that appears to be dogging two of its competitors for international students – Australia and the UK – New Zealand's education system is enjoying a rebound in enrolments by Chinese students.
Full report on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Too few graduates – too many tradespeople
Geoff Maslen
Australia faces a desperate shortage of university-trained professionals whereas the new Labor government and its conservative predecessor have promoted vocational training. Ignoring the need for government to create more university places for its young people, Australia seems intent on using migration to meet its skill needs, says a report released last week. It offers a warning other western countries should heed.
Full report on the University World News site

DENMARK: Danglish alarms the Danes
Ard Jongsma
A new report from an ad-hoc language committee warns about the demise of native language instruction at universities in Denmark. The Danish Language Council has recommended changes to university legislation, not to stem the tide but to oblige universities "to ensure the Danish language doesn't disappear completely from higher education".
Full report on the University World News site

FINLAND: Merger fever hits universities
Ian Dobson*
The Finnish higher education sector is about to enter a phase of institutional mergers. Perhaps this is long overdue given that Finland currently has 20 universities with 176,000 enrolments, and 26 polytechnics with another 130,000, to service its five million-strong population.
Full report on the University World News site

SPAIN: Universities relocated to new innovation ministry
Rebecca Warden
Universities are to be star performers in Spain's brand new Ministry of Science and Innovation. Responsibility for higher education was moved from the old-style Education Ministry to the new ministry when Spanish premier José Luis Zapatero unveiled his new cabinet last week. The soc ialist government hopes that putting universities and industry under the same roof will add dynamism and a sharper technological edge to the Spanish economy which has traditionally relied on sectors such as tourism and, more recently, a booming property market to fuel growth.
Full report on the University World News site

GERMANY: Science confronts an uncomfortable truth
Mike Gardner
A German independent research unit has examined the history of the German Research Foundation, the country's chief research grants body, from 1920 to 1970. The foundation's role in research funding during and after the Nazi period is the unit's core issue. From 1933 on, it unreservedly supported Nazi goals, starting with the expulsion of democratic and Jewish scientists from universities and the organisation itself, and backing Nazi genealogy research and hereditary health policy.
Full report on the University World News site

IRELAND: Hole in one for students
John Walshe
An Irish golf scholarship programme is set to become one of the most sought after in the world, following a €2 million donation from a billionaire. Students who enrol at the National University of Ireland Maynooth will have free access to the championship Montgomerie and O’Meara courses in the exclusive Carton House Estate, and also benefit from winter training on the Oceanico Group golf courses in Portugal’s Algarve.
Full report on the University World News site

RUSSIA: Far East university knife fight
Nick Holdsworth
A quarrel between Russian and Chinese students outside Vladivostok's State University of Economy and Service escalated into a violent battle that left three Russians with knife wounds. The fight made headline news across Russia when mobile telephone footage of the conflict was posted on a local news agency site. The grainy images showed an argument between two students that quickly escalated as other Russian and Chinese youths appeared on the scene close to the state university's main entrance in the Far East port city.
Full report on the University World News site

NEWS BRIEF: New Zealand tertiary unions to merge
New Zealand's two largest tertiary education unions will merge after university staff voted in favour of an amalgamation that will create a union spanning universities, polytechnics and Maori tertiary institutions. Association of University Staff members voted to merge with the Association of Staff in Tertiary Education to form the New Zealand Tertiary Education Union from the start of next year.
Full report on the University World News site


JORDAN: Academic freedom in Arab universities
John Akker*
The second conference on academic freedom in Arab universities took place in Amman, Jordan, at the end of March and agreed to establish a permanent committee to deal with academic freedom issues in Arab countries. The event was organised by the Amman Centre for Human Rights Studies, the Network for Education and Academic Rights (NEAR), the Scholars at Risk Network, and the United Nations University International Leadership Institute. The Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK also participated.
Full report on the University World News site


EU: New scheme for vocational education transfers
Alan Osborn
A voluntary scheme aimed at promoting the transferability of skills and qualifications in vocational education has been proposed by the European Commission in the hope that it will increase the number of students taking training courses in European Union countries other than their own. At present there are more than 30,000 vocational training establishments in the EU.
Full report on the University World News site

UK: University develops computerised meeting organiser
Diane Spencer
Organising meetings in-house can be bad enough but in this global business world the chore can be well-nigh impossible. Help is at hand: computer scientists at Leicester University are collaborating with other higher education institutions, corporate research centres and businesses in six countries as part of a European Union-funded project, inContext, to find cyberspace ways of connecting people.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Nanomaterial safety tested in a Petri dish
Mark Rowe*
Nanomaterials, made of minuscule particles much smaller than those generally found in nature, are being developed by many industries as a means of dramatically improving everyday products. Yet, as with any scientific development, caution abounds regarding the possible health effects.
Full report on the University World News site



GREECE: Macedonian king's conquests depicted in fresco
Makki Marseilles
The magnificent fresco decorating the façade of Philip II's grave, discovered in Vergina in north-east Greece near Thessaloniki, shows the Macedonian king accompanied by his eldest son Alexander and other courtiers during a hunting expedition.
More on the University World News site


CANADA: An academic abroad, in Korea
The global scope of scientific discovery suggests that academic life is the same the world over, writes York University associate professor Thomas R Klassen in the latest edition of the Canadian journal Academic Matters. In an age when university faculty regularly communicate and collaborate with colleagues in other countries, publish in the same journals and might teach exchange students from any number of continents, it is easy to believe that universities are uniform in all developed nations. However, a year spent on research leave at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, shattered this notion.
More on the University World News site


FRANCE: Searching for our ancestors' ancestors
Jane Marshall
Professor Michel Brunet has temporarily left the deserts of Libya for the lecture halls of Paris. The scientist who discovered Toumaï, humankind's oldest known ancestor, is the new professor of human palaeontology at the prestigious Collège de France. Last month, Brunet expressed satisfaction that by re-establishing the chair, the college had asserted its opposition to Creationism, the theory that rejects evolution and claims that living creatures were created in their present form by a god.
More on the University World News site

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

GREECE: Citius, Fortius, Altius with drugs
Makki Marseilles
Is gaining access to university without passing examinations enough of a motive for young athletes to take part in fixed games or to use drugs to win? Is the prospect of material rewards enough to take a risk of jeopardising health and future careers if caught? It would appear that it is as more and more young people take or are given illegal substances to enhance their performance.
More on the University World News site

SCOTLAND: Principal blows $59,000 on bathrooms
A university principal who criticised under-funding in higher education spent £30,000 (US$59,000) of public money on sprucing up two bathrooms, reports the Sunday Herald. The lavish costs were part of a £50,000 makeover for the official residence of Dundee University's Sir Alan Langlands, who subsequently backed a round of redundancies and recently described the Scottish government's funding package for universities as "disappointing".
More on the University World News site

BRAZIL: Rector withdraws over fund scandal
A Brazilian university rector was forced to withdraw earlier this month following student protests against his alleged involvement in a fund abuse scandal, reports China View. Timothy Mulholland, of the University of Brasilia, or UnB, said in a statement that he would leave his position for 60 days to safeguard efficiency, transparency and legality during an investigation into the incident.
More on the University World News site


UK: Business to fund 30,000 new places in shake-up
Radical plans to reshape universities by making them more business-friendly and targeting most future new course places at adults in work have been laid out by the universities secretary, John Denham, in an interview with Patrick Wintour of The Guardian. Around 30,000 new places will be co-funded by employers as part of the plan, which aims to refocus the culture and purpose of higher education.
More on the University World News site

UK: Lecturers oppose too much business influence
Lecturers have warned against giving businesses too much influence over the content and design of university courses, as the government launched plans to make universities more business-friendly, reports the Education Guardian. The University and College Union argued that plans outlined by the universities secretary, John Denham, would stifle innovation in higher education.
More on the University World News site

US: Torture and tenure
A civil liberties group that is working to curb what it sees as abuses by the Bush administration has mounted an email campaign to push for the firing of John Yoo, a tenured professor of law at the University of California at Berkeley, reports Inside Higher Ed. While Yoo’s views on torture have been widely condemned in the academic legal world, many are objecting to the campaign as an infringement on academic freedom – ironically coming from a group formed to protect civil liberties.
More on the University World News site

US: Strings-attached gifts can limit universities
When Stanley J Seeger gave Princeton $2 million for Hellenic studies nearly three decades ago, the gift’s income paid for two courses in modern Greek and trips to Greece for five, writes Karen W Arenson in the New York Times. But the Seeger money, which must be spent only on matters Greek, is now worth $33 million, multiplying through aggressive investing like the rest of Princeton’s endowment. So the university offers Greek, Greek and more Greek. “Institutions do get shaped by the interests of donors,” said Robert K Durkee, vice-president and secretary of Princeton.
More on the University World News site

UK: 'Extremism' fear over Islam studies donations
Extremist ideas are being spread by Islamic study centres linked to British universities and backed by multi-million-pound donations from Saudi Arabia and Muslim organisations, a new report claims, reports The Telegraph. Eight universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, have accepted more than £233.5 million (US$462 million) from Saudi and Muslim sources since 1995, with much of the money going to Islamic study centres. The total sum, revealed by Anthony Glees, the director of Brunel University's Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, amounts to the largest source of external funding to UK universities.
More on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Academics question senate probe
A one-man commission appointed to investigate issues around the submission of a document on academic freedom to the senate at the University of KwaZulu-Natal has been questioned by some of the university’s academics, writes Primarashni Gower in the Mail and Guardian. The appointment of former vice-chancellor and former education minister Professor Sibusiso Bengu, the university’s council representative on the senate, to investigate the processes around the submission is seen by a few academics as tantamount to “a senator adjudicating on a matter that has become contentious within the senate itself”.
More on the University World News site

UGANDA: Private universities fear tax hit
The Uganda Revenue Authority is demanding corporation tax arrears from Uganda Christian University, a move that has prompted an outcry from other private universities that see themselves as the next targets, reports New Vision. Vice-chancellors have objected to the demand and urged the government to emulate Kenya and Tanzania, where non-profit universities are exempt from corporation tax.
More on the University World News site

HONG KONG: More private universities needed
Hong Kong needs to follow the world trend of establishing more private universities, a forum was told last week, but discussion is needed on the government’s role, reports The Standard. Principal Assistant Secretary of Education Daniel Cheng Chung-wai said in many countries it was the private sector that provided the bulk of higher education. In Japan and South Korea, for example, private higher education institutions produced about 70% of graduates each year. However, he added, quality must take precedence over quality.
More on the University World News site

INDIA: Government mulls ICTs in higher education
Higher education delivery in India could be soon in for an overhaul, with the government mulling heavy deployment of information and communication technologies in the sector, reports The Economic Times. An ambitious project of the Ministry of Human Resource Development mooted a year ago, the National Mission in Education through ICT, has been given the green light by state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd, which has agreed to dovetail its infrastructure and provide technological backbone to the project. The e-learning programme is heavily dependent on the use of technology for its success and hence the green signal was critical for its roll out.
More on the University World News site

NEW ZEALAND: Drive to lift Maori education
Under-achievement by Maori students will no longer be excusable and the education system will be held responsible, says Maori Affairs and Associate Education Minister Parekura Horomia, reports the New Zealand Herald. He was launching the government’s new Maori education policy, Ka Hikitia, which sets out goals, actions and outcomes over the next five years to lift achievement.
More on the University World News site

GAZA: Universities closed after fuel cut
The Gaza Strip's four main universities shut down last Monday after officials said students could not get to class because of critical fuel shortages, reports Associated Press. University officials said attendance rates were down by at least 60%, prompting the closure. It affected more than 45,000 students and was expected to last four days. Officials said they would put together an emergency education plan that could include conducting some lectures over the internet and radio.
More on the University World News site


CANADA: Dean, Faculty of International Education
Malaspina University-College, British Columbia
Full specifications on the University World News site
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