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University World News Global Edition
21 April 2013 Issue 0268 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
New Asian and Russian rankings; and plundering developing world brains

In World Blog, Richard Holmes probes the THE Asian University Rankings and finds that Asia is still – for the most part – not a big threat to the West in terms of world-class universities.
In Commentary, Philip G Altbach argues that in the push to retain international students, rich countries are plundering ever more of the best brains of developing countries, but nobody seems to care. Marina Larionova reports on the results of a pilot system for ranking Russian universities, and Vikki Boliver reveals that admission to elite British universities is far from fair.
In Student View, Taina Moisander of the European Students’ Union argues that rising graduate unemployment has made labour market demands prominent in reforms – but instead of limiting choices, questions should be asked about quality.
In Features, Yojana Sharma reports on Asia’s first MOOC, “Science, Technology and Society in China”, which has attracted 17,000 students, mostly from the developed world. And she interviews the head of a new Malaysian agency set up to boost international student numbers.
Jan Petter Myklebust looks at Denmark’s first MOOCs and finds that European universities are signing on to the massive open online course movement. And David Haworth reviews the European University Association’s annual conference debates on rankings, internationalisation, university cooperation and the financial crisis.
This week we launch a new Special Report on “Higher Education Philanthropy in Africa”, starting with an article by Thashlin Govender of the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation that offers practical solutions to key barriers that prevent disadvantaged students from graduating.
Karen MacGregor – Global Editor
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Geoff Maslen

Alarmed vice-chancellors across Australia face a A$900 million (US$940 million) cut to their universities’ revenues with a further A$1.4 billion to be slashed from higher education over the next four years so that the federal government can generate some of the A$14.5 billion it plans to allocate to schools.
Chrissie Long

A graduate student at Boston University, who came to the United States to study maths and statistics, was among those killed in the Boston Marathon bombing on Monday 15 April.
Peta Lee

The BBC has defended its controversial actions relating to the filming of the trip by London School of Economics students to North Korea, saying that the Panorama programme it aired last Monday was “strongly in the public interest”. There are concerns that the BBC’s actions might place academics working in 'sensitive countries' at risk.
Wagdy Sawahel

Experts have agreed to set up an African Quality Assurance and Accreditation Council for Higher Education, to harmonise the official approval of courses and activities of quality agencies among countries. The major aim is to encourage qualification recognition, academic mobility and internationalisation across Africa.
Ashraf Khaled

Fighting erupted last week among rival students at Ain Shams University, Egypt's second biggest public institution, prompting the administration to suspend classes indefinitely. Dozens of students were injured and campus facilities were damaged.
Ishmael Tongai

Graduate employment has risen in South Africa in the past 15 years, despite the country’s exceptionally high unemployment rate. While a third of people are jobless, graduate unemployment has declined to under 5%.
Hiep Pham

Traditional ‘high employment’ courses like economics, finance, banking, business and information technology appear to be losing their appeal among would-be students in Vietnam, according to universities, which receive student applications in April.
Michael Gardner

The Social Democrat-Green government of North Rhine-Westphalia is tabling a bill in Germany’s Upper House, the Bundesrat, urging the federal government to improve employment terms in higher education and research.
Kudzai Mashininga

Zimbabwean students have called for the resignation of Higher Education Minister Ignatius Chombo, who is being investigated by a graft commission. They have also resolved to support Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai for the presidency in upcoming national elections.
Yojana Sharma

Naubahar Sharif has been teaching science, technology and innovation for some years at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He drew on his lectures to develop a massive open online course, or MOOC, on “Science, Technology and Society in China”, and this month it was launched on the Coursera platform – billed as Asia’s first MOOC.
Jan Petter Myklebust

Copenhagen University is to offer four initial massive open online courses, or MOOCs. Already 40,000 students have registered for four courses starting in September and up to 100,000 are expected. MOOCS are beginning to take off in higher education across Europe.
Jeffrey R Young, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Many of the boldest experiments in higher education these days are led by a relatively new kind of business leader: the social entrepreneur. The founders of Coursera proudly claim the label, stressing their lack of concern about a business plan as they set up free online courses from top colleges.
David Haworth

This month’s annual conference of the European University Association debated how rankings systems needed to become more sophisticated benchmarking exercises, as higher education worldwide becomes ever more internationalised.
Yojana Sharma

The Malaysian agency set up earlier this year to promote the country as a higher education hub says it will concentrate on boosting foreign student numbers, particularly from South East Asian and Gulf countries.
Higher Education Philanthropy in Africa
University World News launches a new Special Report on “Higher Education Philanthropy in Africa”, which will comprise a series of articles in the coming year on the involvement of major donors in universities across the continent, and funding trends. There has been intense debate internationally around development aid to Africa, and the series will paint a picture of donor funding of African higher education, and analyse its impacts and implications.

Thashlin Govender

A Michael & Susan Dell Foundation programme in South Africa is tackling the chronic drop-out rate among disadvantaged students and the country’s deepening skills gap by supporting students to overcome financial, academic and psychosocial barriers. It hopes to create a blueprint that universities can use to address economic and academic divisions in the country.
Richard Holmes

The Times Higher Education Asian University Rankings show that university quality in Asia is patchy, with some countries performing well and others unable to make a dent in the top 100. They also show that most Asian universities are not on a level yet with top Western institutions.
Philip G Altbach

With the rich world worrying about skills shortages, one solution being pursued is to boost the ‘stay rates’ of international students. To oversimplify, the rich are stealing the brains of developing countries – and the situation is becoming acute. The danger is that developing nations will be permanently damaged.
Marina Larionova

Russia has been developing its own, multidimensional university ranking system, which in future is likely to include excellence indicators as the country increases its efforts to move up the global rankings and compete with the world’s top universities.
Vikki Boliver

Research suggests that access to the United Kingdom's top universities is far from fair for students from state schools and ethnic minorities, even when the figures are screened for subjects studied at A-level.
Taina Moisander

Higher education has been blamed for graduating too many students without the skills necessary for the job market. But a considered debate is needed about the causes of graduate unemployment, before we start on narrowly focused higher education reforms.
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As updates trickled out of Boston, Owen Yardley, chief of police at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, and colleagues around the country discussed plans to step up security at commencements and other large-scale events they help oversee, writes Brad Wolverton for The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Thailand’s Education Ministry plans to grant 25,000 full scholarships to produce university lecturers with doctorates, to prepare for a looming academic shortage, reports Bangkok Post. The PhD scholarships for lecturers will be offered for study locally and abroad.

The French government has started unveiling a series of reforms aimed at making its universities more attractive to foreigners, with a new emphasis on drawing in the brightest students from developing countries, writes Joseph Bamat for France24.

UK universities are wrestling with a ‘two-tiered’ approach to delivering PhDs as a result of the introduction of the research councils’ doctoral training centres, a conference has heard, writes Elizabeth Gibney for Times Higher Education. And international students are losing out.

Rising numbers of degree courses are lying empty after failing to attract any students following a sharp hike in tuition fees, according to new research, writes Graeme Paton for The Telegraph.

There's a battle brewing in the world of Canadian academia, writes Diana Mehta for The Canadian Press. On one side stands Access Copyright, a collective that has provided institutions access to a pool of protected intellectual work for more than two decades while distributing royalties to the writers, artists and publishers it represents.

When Tunisians revolted against the Ben Ali regime in January 2011, the protesters were joined by many academics hoping to see an end to censorship. But newly won freedom for research and teaching in Tunisia again finds itself under threat, writes Martina Sabra for

A Chinese system that places promising athletes in prestigious universities while the less athletic compete in annual entrance examinations is spurring controversy and may be reformed in this year’s entrance examination, writes Yiqi Sun for UPI.

India and Germany are planning to set up a jointly funded vocational university, reports IANS. The university is likely to be based in one of the major cities of India and will provide technical education.

Self-paced electronic learning revenues in Africa may hit US$512.7 million by 2016, according to the latest forecast. The continent is said to be experiencing a sharp upturn, and the e-Learning Africa forum says it is no longer just an end user of new products from the Western world and others, writes Stanley Opara for Punch.

Scottish universities employ 88 people who earn the same as the First Minister's £140,000 (US$213,000) salary or more, reports icScotland. Just two principals across the 18 institutions earn less than the leader of the Scottish government, according to figures from the National Union of Students.

A new draft code of conduct to improve the governance of Scottish universities has been attacked as weak and vague, writes Andrew Denholm for Scotland Herald. The criticism comes after the code was published by a steering group of experts chaired by Lord Smith of Kelvin.

There has been a 51% increase in applications to technology courses in Irish higher education over the past five years, a new study by the Higher Education Authority has found, writes Louise Holden for The Irish Times.

One of Australia's most exclusive universities has been accused of bowing to China after calling off a talk to students by the Dalai Lama, reports the Guardian.

An investigation is under way after reports that seating at a second university debate was segregated between men and women, writes Tom Moseley for The Huffington Post UK.
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