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07 April 2013 Issue 0266 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
The Changing PhD – Are universities producing too many postgraduates?

In Features, Geoff Maslen outlines a new report that looks at rising PhD production worldwide, why countries want more PhDs, increasing diversity among doctoral students, funding constraints and efforts to improve the quality of research training. Given postgraduate unemployment, are universities now producing too many PhDs?
We unpack a report from the European Commission on the policies and strategies of European states and universities to attract international students – and in many cases retain them for skills-hungry economies. And Hiep Pham describes efforts by Vietnam to lure academics in the diaspora back home to support development, and explains why they are not staying.
In an interview with Erin Millar, Canada’s David Malone, the new rector of the United Nations University, pledges to “relentlessly” pursue quality and research relevance.
In Commentary, Roger Y Chao Jr calls for Hong Kong's restructuring of higher education to trigger a debate on whether to internationalise further or provide more opportunities for home students. Carlos Olivares writes that Chile’s quality assurance crisis in higher education urgently needs solutions, and Mark Harvey reports on a project in the UK to speed up admissions and potentially attract more international students.
In World Blog, William Patrick Leonard contends that American colleges need to look at new ways to balance their budgets and retain quality.
Karen MacGregor – Global Editor
Don’t forget to register for Worldviews 2013, the second international conference on global trends in media and higher education, being held in Toronto from 19-21 June, co-hosted by University World News. There will be a free pre-conference event at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, on 16 April featuring a keynote and panel debate on the interplay between higher education, media and society, followed by a reception.
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Jane Marshall

Champions of the French language are opposing a measure that will open the way for universities to teach courses in languages other than French – notably English. The measure is included in the Higher Education and Research law that is due to come into force later this year.
Wagdy Sawahel

Thousands of Al-Azhar University students have staged protests demanding the removal of top university officials and an investigation into a food poisoning incident in residences that led to nearly 500 students being hospitalised. The university’s president was dismissed last Wednesday.
Yojana Sharma

Universities and colleges are coming under pressure to offer more relevant degrees, as graduate unemployment levels in China remain stubbornly high. The Ministry of Education said last week that it had refused authorisation for over 250 courses at 60 institutions around the country for which permission had been sought.
Mimi Leung

The naming of physicist Wang Enge as president of China’s top Peking University came as a surprise to many academics in China when it was announced last month by the central committee of the Communist Party, with almost immediate effect.
Jan Petter Myklebust

Danish taxpayers will face a bill of DKK200 million (US$35 million) a year following a European Court of Justice ruling on the eligibility of foreigners to receive student loan and grant support. And Danish universities face fines totalling DKK97.5 million for enrolling more foreign exchange students than they send local students abroad.
Geoff Maslen

An international team of scientists believe they have the first evidence of the existence of the mysterious dark matter that, with dark energy, comprises 95% of the universe – the remaining 5% being the visible stars and planets.
Karen MacGregor

A just-published ‘report card’ ranking 54 American and Canadian top research universities on their “contributions to urgent global health research and access to treatment worldwide” has found that a tiny 3% of research funding was devoted to diseases that afflict the world's poor.
Jan Piotrowski

The global scientific community is increasingly positive, following a high-level expert meeting last month, that it will play a significant role in devising new international targets for development post-2015.

Zambia’s Minister of Education John Phiri has tabled a higher education bill that seeks to establish a Higher Education Authority, which will set standards for the sector and ensure continual improvements in the quality of learning and qualifications.
Ameen Amjad Khan

The United States Agency for International Development, USAID, has stepped up efforts to assist in modernising education in Pakistan by expanding its US$75 million teacher education project across all of the country’s provinces.
Geoff Maslen

As more and more universities around the world graduate ever-increasing numbers of students with PhDs, governments are beginning to ask if it is time to slow the production line. A new study notes that China is the world leader in producing PhDs, having outnumbered the United States on a per year basis for the first time in 2008.
Karen MacGregor

A complex picture of the policies and strategies of European countries and universities to attract international students is painted by a new report from the European Commission. It reveals, for instance, “great interest” in growing ties with emerging economies through their students, and that 75% of international courses in The Netherlands are now taught in English.
Hiep Pham

Hai Tran never imagined, when he waved farewell to his parents at the boarding gate of Vietnam’s Noi Bai airport in 1998 to study information technology at a Russian university, that it was the start of a 15-year adventure in several foreign countries.
Erin Millar

Canadian Dr David Malone, who took office as rector of the United Nations University last month, pledges to “relentlessly” pursue higher quality and more relevant research during his five-year term at the helm of the international research institution.
William Patrick Leonard

Non-elite colleges in the United States tend to resort to raising fees and enrolments to balance their budgets, but this has led to problems with the quality of degrees obtained. A new approach is needed that ensures that the value of degrees is not diminished and students do not end up unemployed.
Roger Y Chao Jr

Hong Kong is restructuring its higher education system and there will be excess capacity in the next few years. A debate is needed about how the government should use the extra places in public institutions and who should benefit.
Carlos Olivares

Chile needs to address the issue of quality assurance in its tertiary education institutions in order to encourage greater flexibility and higher quality teaching, so that students are prepared for the future world of work.
Mark Harvey

A new project being trialled at Goldsmith’s College in London aims to speed up the admissions process so that applications can be turned around in days rather than weeks. This could help avoid potential losses of international students.
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Stanford University will team up with the non-profit edX founded by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University to develop an open-source web platform for free online courses, writes Nick Anderson for The Washington Post.

Imagine taking a college exam, and instead of handing in a blue book and getting a grade from a professor a few weeks later, clicking the ‘send’ button when you are done and receiving a grade back instantly, your essay scored by a software program, writes John Markoff for The New York Times.

The number of students caught cheating in university essays has more than halved following a major crackdown in the UK on the ‘cut and paste culture’, it emerged last week, writes Graeme Paton for The Telegraph.

Auckland's universities are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on new buildings, transforming not only their campuses but also the shape of the city they serve. The unprecedented construction has provided some of the largest construction jobs in Auckland in recent years, writes Nicholas Jones for The New Zealand Herald.

Research universities and graduate assistants across America are starting to feel the sequester's impact. The across-the-board US$85 billion in discretionary spending cuts began just one month ago, writes Delece Smith-Barrow for US News.

Federal policies that restrict what government scientists can say publicly about their work are about to be put under the microscope, reports Bruce Cheadle for the Canadian Press. Federal Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault has agreed to investigate how government communications rules on taxpayer-funded science impact on public access to information.

The University of Stellenbosch will reluctantly comply with a request by the Red Meat Industry Forum and Media24 to provide the names of retailers whose meat was sampled to determine its actual ingredients – against the wishes of the researchers, who believe the information should be kept confidential, writes Linda Ensor for BDLive.

The Association of African Universities has been supporting universities in Africa to digitise research material and set up a database containing university research, it emerged at a recent workshop in Accra on “Institutional and National Digital Repository Collaborative Framework for African Academic and Research Institutions”, reports GNA.

Higher education institutions in East Africa are set to harmonise tuition fees for students within the East Africa Community, reports the Daily Monitor.

Google Inc has unveiled a Chinese language version of its new service YouTube EDU, which allows internet users to access videotaped courses from three local universities, writes Helen Ku for Taipei Times.

Poland – hardly a traditional top choice for international students – is trying to rebrand itself as Europe's new education destination, writes Anthony Ash for the Guardian. It has long lagged behind other countries in terms of attracting students from abroad.

Scottish universities have enjoyed an increase in the amount of money they get in donations from former graduates, according to new figures. Official statistics show the sector's endowment income increased between 2010-11 and 2011-12 from around £29 million (US$44 million) to nearly £33 million, writes Andrew Denholm for Herald Scotland.

Punjab University has been hit by a scandal that has not only damaged its credibility but also cast severe doubts over the authenticity of the degrees issued by the university and of the degrees of MPs verified by the institution during the past three years, writes Usman Manzoor for The News.

Melbourne University academics are preparing for industrial action over concerns that academic freedom could be limited under a new agreement. Academics fear that the university is seeking the power to make them redundant if their research fails to match their department's ''research direction'', writes Benjamin Preiss for The Age.

Universities have defended spending more than €1.7 million (US$2.18 million) on tens of thousands of live rats and mice for medical experiments over the past two years, writes Treacy Hogan for

A Florida Atlantic University instructor involved in a controversial ‘stomp on Jesus’ class assignment has been placed on paid leave, with the institution citing concerns for his safety, writes Scott Travis for Sun Sentinel.
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