University World News Global Edition
03 March 2013 Issue 0261 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
The US Supreme Court, affirmative action and the complexity of merit

A court battle in the United States over affirmative action has brought into focus old questions about merit and whether tests adequately determine eligibility for higher education, writes John Aubrey Douglass in Commentary.
Dylan Conger and Mark C Long investigate why women students are outnumbering men in universities around the world and seem to do better once in university – and whether universities should be concerned. Midori Kagawa-Fox contends that universities in Oceania need to do more to prepare students for the ‘Asian Century’.
In World Blog, William Patrick Leonard argues that critics of cutbacks, and those who say universities can do more with less, are failing to address the real issues.
In Features, Lee Adendorff examines the implications for planned higher education reforms of the post-election stalemate in Italy. Alya Mishra and Yojana Sharma describe growing higher education and research cooperation agreements with India forged during recent visits to the country by the British and French leaders. And Nicola Jenvey reports on a debate over privilege versus expectations following a controversial strike by South African medical students studying in Cuba.
Karen MacGregor – Global Editor
“Worldviews 2013”, the second international conference on global trends in media and higher education, will be held in Toronto from 19-21 June. The innovative forum aimed at advancing understanding of (and between) the academy and the media is co-hosted by University World News, Inside Higher Ed, the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations and the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. Check out the conference here – and see you there.
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Yojana Sharma

Emerging economies such as the BRICs – Brazil, Russia, India and China – and South Korea have been catching up with the West and Japan in research and development spending for some years, and their research ‘portfolios’ are showing significant areas of world-class excellence, according to a new report by Thomson Reuters.
Geoff Maslen

Enrolments by foreign students in Australian universities, technical institutions, English language colleges and schools are expected to jump by 117,000 – a 30% increase – to a record 520,000 over the next eight years. This sharply increased number of on-campus students would add close to A$20 billion to the economy, according to a report released by the government last Wednesday.
Ameen Amjad Khan

Hundreds of Pakistan’s legislators face being barred from contesting upcoming elections. The country’s election commission is poised to declare them ineligible, on the grounds that they submitted fake degrees to prove their eligibility to run in the 2008 elections.
Jan Petter Myklebust

The chair of the Danish Rectors' Conference has described a recent European Court of Justice ruling on an international student’s right to financial support as representing a threat to Denmark’s student financial aid system in its current form.
Alan Osborn

The European Union appears ready in principle to endorse the European Commission’s proposals for developing open access to scientific information arising from publicly funded research. But officials say there is some way to go before a detailed system can be agreed.
Jane Marshall

Portugal’s private University Fernando Pessoa is planning to set up a second branch in France – despite a complaint filed last year by French Higher Education Minister Geneviève Fioraso that installation of its first university centre in France was against the law.
Michael Gardner

Germany’s Free State of Bavaria is now set to phase out tuition fees. Its Christian Social-Free Democrat coalition government has worked out a political deal that would compensate higher education for losses.
Alison Moodie

The future of America’s largest federal student loan programme is far more stable than expected, according to a Congressional Budget Office report released last month.

The seemingly innocuous denial of tenure to a journalism professor at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University has exploded into a full-blown row over academic freedom after an overseas assessor suggested that the professor was being unfairly targeted for his outspoken political comments.
Wagdy Sawahel

Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi has issued a decree to establish the Egyptian Chinese University in the capital Cairo – the first Chinese university to be set up in the Middle East and North Africa region.
Geoff Maslen

For physicists around the world, Valentine’s Day represented the successful completion of phase one of the remarkable achievements accomplished by the lord of speeding particles, the US$10 billion Large Hadron Collider.

The Zambian government has drafted a new higher education law, aimed at revamping and expanding the sector and improving standards, in a country where access to university education remains low.
Lee Adendorff

With Italy in the grip of a post-election stalemate that could result in a short-term centre-left minority government, funding increases and desperately needed reforms to the university sector could be stalled for months if not longer.
Alya Mishra and Yojana Sharma

Britain and France announced a host of higher education and research joint ventures with India during high-level visits to the country last month led by British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President François Hollande. Both leaders were accompanied by their higher education and research ministers.
Nicola Jenvey

The detention of South African medical students in Cuba, following their decision to embark on an ‘illegal’ hunger strike over food, low stipends and calls for a health attaché, has opened a debate over privilege versus expectations.
William Patrick Leonard

Proponents of quality at any cost and those who support doing more with less should stop trying to pull the wool over people's eyes and address the central issue of what higher education is for and how it can be funded sustainably.
John Aubrey Douglass

A US Supreme Court ruling is awaited on an affirmative action case. But the case opens up broader questions about how merit should be defined and whether tests are adequate for determining which students are most suited for higher education study.
Dylan Conger and Mark C Long

Should universities be concerned that women students are outnumbering and outperforming their male colleagues in secondary and higher education around the world?
Midori Kagawa-Fox

Universities in Australia and New Zealand have a vital role to play in preparing students with the cultural and linguistic skills they need to take advantage of the opportunities that a rising Asia offers.

British and Australian researchers have discovered that tartar preserved on the teeth of ancient skeletons can reveal the effects of changes in human diet and health from the Stone Age to the modern day. As one researcher noted: “The modern mouth now basically exists in a permanently diseased state.”

Scientists have discovered that global warming can affect the biodiversity of ecosystems in the Arctic and Antarctic in different ways despite the similarities between them. In an international study, scientists compared the robustness of food webs of the two polar ecosystems.

An international team of more than 25 astronomers has detected tiny planets outside the solar system, showing for the first time that stars in the Milky Way galaxy are able to host much smaller planets than anything seen in the solar system.

Humans have at least two functional networks in their cerebral cortex not found in rhesus monkeys. Researchers who made the finding believe new brain networks were likely added in the course of evolution from our primate ancestor to human.

London researchers have found that people living in urbanised environments are less able to concentrate on a task at hand than those living in remote areas. In a study of the effect of urbanisation on a remote Namibian tribe, they discovered that those who had not moved to an urbanised environment were more able to concentrate in cognitive tests.
Geoff Maslen

A decade-long project by researchers in Australia and Latvia has resulted in an automatic authorship detection system that has provided new evidence about who actually wrote two famous texts: the US Federalist Papers and Letter to the Hebrews in the New Testament.
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A burgeoning Chinese effort to build academic and civilian expertise in computer espionage has ties to the nation's military, according to Science magazine, writes Dan Vergano for USA Today.

New taxpayer-funded research must be made available to the public free of charge within a year of its publication, the Barack Obama administration has announced. The president's office of science and technology policy told federal agencies to work on plans to release federally funded studies to the public, writes Ry Rivard for Inside Higher Ed.

The UK government has sparked anger by rejecting universities' calls for overseas students to be withdrawn from the net migrant count, a move that may kill off hopes of securing the change in the current parliament, writes John Morgan for Times Higher Education.

Nearly three-quarters of Australians believe international students should be encouraged to stay in the country after completing university studies, according to a survey released by Universities Australia on the eve of a higher education conference in Canberra, writes Daniel Hurst for Newcastle Herald.

A student protest near Nasarawa State University in Keffi, Nigeria, claimed the lives of four students last Monday, writes Adeola Adeyemo for Bella Naija. The students were reportedly protesting over the scarcity of water and power on campus.

Quebec Premier Pauline Marois declared the Canadian province’s post-secondary education crisis “behind us” after a two-day summit. But a powerful voice on the university stage is already dismissing part of the deal as “totally speculative”, while thousands of students rally in the streets, write Rhéal Séguin and James Bradshaw for The Globe and Mail.

An Iranian student belonging to one of the country's most persecuted religious minorities appears to have been expelled from university because of her beliefs, writes Saeed Kamali Dehghan for the Guardian.

The London School of Economics abruptly cancelled an academic conference on the Arab Spring that it planned to hold last weekend at the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, citing “restrictions imposed on the intellectual content of the event that threatened academic freedom,” writes Ursula Lindsey for The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Many American universities could face a volatile year in terms of financing in 2013, with a major credit ratings agency saying it expects to issue more ratings changes in the not-for-profit higher education sector this year, reports Reuters.

Hundreds of extra postgraduate places are to be created at Scottish universities under a £30 million (US$45 million) scheme, reports Andrew Denholm for The Herald. The Scottish Funding Council will target part of its funding for higher education over the next five years at creating an additional 850 taught postgraduate places in 18 universities.

Scottish universities have been accused of Victorian values on gender equality after new figures showed that their governing bodies are dominated by men, writes Andrew Denholm for The Herald.

UK universities should invest in online courses if they are to take advantage of a "historic opportunity", according to Universities Minister David Willetts, who said that countries such as India and Indonesia have a soaring demand for university courses – creating a market for the UK's universities – writes Sean Coughlan for the BBC.

Oxford University was last week accused of “institutional bias” against ethnic minorities amid striking differences in different racial groups’ entry rates, writes Sarah Harris for Mail Online.

Students at Oxford University have overwhelmingly rejected a boycott of Israel. The Oxford University Students Council voted last Wednesday with 69 votes against, 10 for and 15 abstentions. They also rejected advocating for a boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against the country in the National Union of Students, reports Huffington Post.

In ancient times the Lighthouse of Alexandria was one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Salah Khalil’s ambitions are slightly more modest. The founder of the Alexandria Trust, a London-based charity, Khalil wants to “restore the excellence in learning and culture in the Arab region” by starting an online publication devoted to covering higher education, writes DD Guttenplan for The New York Times.

A group of students from Thammasat and Kasetsart universities in Thailand has petitioned Education Minister Pongthep Thepkanchana to stop the two public institutions gaining more autonomy, reports the Bangkok Post. The students fear greater independence will result in higher tuition fees.
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