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09 December 2012 Issue 0251 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
India’s potential for higher education hubs and national student exchange

In World Blog, Rahul Choudaha argues that the United States has entered late into the recruitment drive for international students and needs to develop better capacity to attract these students and meet their needs.
In Commentary, Myint Oo contends that a new partnership between universities in Myanmar and the United States will need to overcome hurdles, and Ken Coates writes that Canadian universities are no longer seedbeds of intellectual rebellion – careerism and commerc ialisation have quietened the questioning.
Two articles deal with issues in Indian higher education. Ranjit Goswami maintains that the time has come for a national exchange programme for Indian students who cannot afford to go abroad, and Alya Mishra outlines a debate over the country’s potential to host several higher education hubs, and the challenges it faces in doing so.
In Features, Nicola Jenvey describes threats to university autonomy contained in new legislation passed by South Africa’s parliament – and anger in the higher education sector over lack of consultation – and Jan Petter Myklebust reports on the implications for universities of profound changes in workforce and skills demands in the health and social sectors across Europe.
Karen MacGregor – Global Editor
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Yojana Sharma

China is stepping up its overseas training programme for presidents and vice presidents of public universities as it looks to upgrade higher education to compete with world-class systems and top universities internationally.
Geoff Maslen

A national report on the work of Australia’s university researchers has found that the number of disciplines in higher education institutions performing at and above world standard has doubled over the past two years, with 10 universities rated above the world standard for research, including four performing at well above world standard.
Dinesh De Alwis

National and international condemnation has followed the injury during a clash with police of dozens of students at Jaffna University. This, along with the arrest of four students, sparked a wave of protests that has hit Tamil-dominated northern Sri Lanka in recent weeks.
María Elena Hurtado

The former president of Chile’s National Accreditation Commission and two former university rectors were jailed last weekend on charges of bribery and money laundering. They will spend at least six months in prison, which is how long the Public Prosecution Office has said it will take to investigate the charges.
Adele Yung and Yojana Sharma

The debate about academic freedom at the new Yale-National University of Singapore liberal arts college has continued unabated, with Singaporean opposition politicians and American university professors adding their voices to the barrage of criticism of the venture.
Wagdy Sawahel

An African-led high-speed internet network has been launched to connect academics and researchers throughout Southern and East Africa to peers across the two regions and in Europe. The network will promote African collaboration in research globally.
Michael Gardner

Radical modernisers and educational traditionalists clashed at this year’s Online Educa Berlin conference in Germany’s capital. Donald Clark, a director of the United Kingdom’s University for Industry, called for a new approach to accreditation.
Ashraf Khaled

Higher education and research are given short shrift in Egypt's draft constitution – the country's first since a popular revolt deposed long-standing president Hosni Mubarak almost two years ago – according to academics.
Nick Holdsworth

Two Turkmen university students are said to have died after being forced to take part in rehearsals for a patriotic holiday celebration in the Turkmenistan capital Ashgabat.
David Jobbins

Universities’ increasingly important revenues from international students are being seriously depleted by foreign exchange charges on fees and other transactions. In the UK alone universities spend £34 million (US$54 million) a year in foreign exchange charges.

There may be truth in the idea that unfaithfulness can be judged just by looking at a stranger’s face. Researchers from the University of Western Australia have found that women have the knack far more than men.
Nicola Jenvey

South Africa’s universities view their autonomy as sacrosanct, and so the decision by Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande to push through legal amendments that will allow him to intervene in university governance "at whim" has come as a severe blow.
Alya Mishra

With Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia and, more recently, Sri Lanka and Bhutan aspiring to become global education hubs in Asia, India’s potential to host several hubs – and the challenges it would face in doing this – has become a point of recent debate.
Jan Petter Myklebust

Europe’s youth workforce declined by 11% between 2000 and 2010, while the health and social work sector experienced a 3% increase in its workforce, creating more than 770,000 jobs at the same time as there was a five-million decline in job openings elsewhere. Changing workforce and skills needs have important implications for higher education.
Rahul Choudaha

The number of international students in the United States has expanded rapidly in recent years, particularly at the undergraduate level in research universities. In order to build on this, US institutions need to develop capacity and ensure they can meet students’ needs.
Ranjit Goswami

India has such diversity within its borders that a national student exchange programme could provide many of the benefits of an international one – with the added bonus that many more students could benefit from it.
Myint Oo

The newly announced International Academic Partnership Programme between American universities and Myanmar aims to reclaim the former greatness of Burmese institutions. But it will face some big hurdles, such as Myanmar's lack of academic freedom, independence and transparency.
Ken Coates

The Canadian student protests are a reminder of how campuses used to be full of questioning and debate. A preoccupation with practicalities – work, careers, salaries and the commerc ialisation of research – has transformed universities into calm places where dissent is rare.

A newly discovered gene essential for embryo survival could also hold the key to treating and potentially controlling chronic infections such as HIV, hepatitis and tuberculosis. Called Arih2, the gene is crucial to the immune system’s function of making critical decisions regarding switching on the immune response to an infection.

A self-confessed environmental capitalist called Jason Drew claims the common housefly could help save the planet by providing a natural alternative to fishmeal as an animal feed, thereby also feeding the world and reducing the pressure on overfished seas.
Nick Holdsworth

It’s a tale of centuries of oppression and survival against the odds. A new study by Indian and Estonian geneticists suggests what historians have long argued – that Europe’s Roma gypsies are descended from dalits or low caste ‘untouchables’ who left north-west India 1,000 years ago.

An international team of sleep researchers has developed the world’s first screening tool to help reduce workplace accidents and illnesses caused by shift work, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. Shift work affects some 13% of the full-time workforce in France, 15% in the US, 16% in Australia, 18% in the UK and almost 23% in Japan.

An international team of researchers has obtained unexpected results from an experiment with strongly heated graphite of up to 17,000 degrees Kelvin (the absolute temperature scale). The findings pose a new problem for physicists working with laser-driven nuclear fusion but may also lead astrophysicists to revise current understanding of the life cycle of giant planets and stars.
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Nearly one in five degree courses has been scrapped since the tripling of tuition fees to £9,000 (US$14,481) a year, it has been revealed. Official figures show a cull of more than 2,600 in the number of courses available to applicants planning to start their degrees in 2013, writes Sarah Harris for the Daily Mail.

Hungary’s government last week unveiled a wide-reaching plan to make higher education more accessible to more students while creating disincentives for dropping out, reports MTI-Econews.

The United States House of Representatives last week passed legislation that would reallocate up to 55,000 green cards to foreign graduates of American research universities who receive advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics, writes Michael Stratford for The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The Committee of Vice-chancellors of Nigeria has revealed that Nigerians spend an average of US$500 million annually on European and American universities – about 70% of the total allocation in 2008 to all federal universities – writes Uche Nnaike for This Day.

Labour is edging towards supporting a removal of international students from the coalition's net migration targets, an opposition MP has said, in the week that new figures showed a dramatic fall in the number of student visas being issued, writes David Matthews for Times Higher Education.

About once a fortnight Matt Robb, senior principal at consulting firm Parthenon, has a conversation with a financier who wants to inject serious finance into a British university. This isn't about new lecture halls or research facilities. Financiers are hearing stories about a global revolution in online learning in the US, and are eager for that revolution to catch on in the UK. So far they have been disappointed, writes Anna Fazackerley for the Guardian.

The Academic Financial Trading Platform, the first massive open online course platform dedicated exclusively to business education, launched courses last month to a growing community of Indian MBA students and executives, writes Manash Pratim Gohain for The Times of India.

Chair of Pakistan’s Academy of Sciences Atta-ur-Rehman has slammed the appointment of Federal Secretary of the Ministry of Education Major Qamar Zaman as executive director of the Higher Education Commission as being against legal process and in contempt of a Supreme Court decision, writes Myra Imran for The News.

In Ukraine, where state officials lose large amounts of money through uncompetitive tenders and not closing offshore tax havens, the government is allegedly trying to scrimp on student stipends. Some educators say they are being told to save money by artificially failing students, making some of them ineligible for stipends, write Daria Zadorozhnaya and Yuriy Onyshkiv for the Kyiv Post.

Aligned with what Australian policy-makers are now calling the Asian Century, China has become Australia's chief partner in higher education cooperation, writes Joseph Xiaojun Zhang for Xinhua. The number of university agreements between the two countries has leapt almost 75% in less than 10 years, rising from 514 to 885.

Director of Liberia’s National Commission on Higher Education Dr Michael Slewion has called on the Medical and Dental Council not to incorporate Liberian medical doctors trained in China because they are not up to the task, reports The Analyst.

What we perceive to be the best of British products for cars and clothes are the shiny labels – those that scream: "I am the best". Yet, carrying a Cambridge University certificate into a Fortune 500 company interview in Beijing screams that out loud, too, for Chinese nationals, writes Elizabeth Gasson for China Daily.

The state government of South Australia has "walked away" from its vision to make Adelaide a renowned university city and there is no clear strategy for rescuing the policy, according to the visiting head of University College London, reports AdelaideNow.

Sweden is set to slide down the scale in a new global comparison of education achievement, said a report published by the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education last week, reports The Local.

As Chilean scientists rally against changes in national science policy, it is time for global efforts to improve the governance of research, argues Pablo Astudillo in the Guardian. The politicisation of science is proving increasingly harmful to the advance of science.

The Commission on Higher Education has decried the “enrolment by injunction” tactic of institutions that were ordered last year to close down programmes that did not meet government quality standards, writes Dona Z Pazzibugan for Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Anti-Israel incidents at Scottish universities have contributed to Jewish students quitting their courses in despair. Attacks have created a “toxic atmosphere” in which Jewish students no longer feel comfortable, a delegation of community representatives told senior Edinburgh University officials, writes Marcus Dysch for The Jewish Chronicle.
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