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19 May 2013 Issue 0272 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
Special Report – Global patterns of PhD growth and postgraduate mobility

They number in the hundreds of thousands and many are the Tuareg of higher education, forever on the move, following knowledge “like a sinking star beyond the utmost bound of human thoughts...”
They are PhD students and postdocs, often the spear carriers if not the heavy load haulers of research projects in universities around the globe. Too often their crucial contributions are overlooked in the journal papers their supervisors publish, yet they aim to be at the pinnacle, to become professors or leaders of business or industry or government, wherever they end up.
Universities in most countries are turning out PhD graduates by the score. Denmark has increased its enrolments in doctoral education by 70% since 2006 and Europe overall by 40% over the past decade. China is said to be boosting its numbers by 40% a year. Yet ever-increasing numbers of students from developing countries are heading to campuses in the Western world for their doctoral studies – and staying on afterwards.
In this special two-part series are accounts by academics and University World News journalists revealing how PhD students in more than two dozen countries face the challenges of completing their studies in another country – or, as in Greece, are fleeing economic disaster at home. The second set of reports will be published next week.
In World Blog, Abu Kamara calls for universities to do more to encourage students to question their worldviews. And in the Commentary section, Hamish Macleod and Geoff Gould argue that demand for MOOCs is growing and needs to be extended to schools and further education colleges.
Geoff Maslen – Projects Editor
The rise of the mobile PhD
Thomas Jørgensen

A diverse, worldwide research system has many benefits but it must not result in work being concentrated in a few global hubs. A more globalised and more diversified research setup will provide more opportunities for research collaborations and will widen the pool of talent. A bigger and more culturally diverse set of researchers can only be a benefit to all.
Rahul Choudaha

In “The Disposable Academic”, The Economist argued that "doing a PhD” was often a waste of time. However, this pessimism does not reflect the experience of all students, as evidenced by increasing numbers of doctoral students from the global South heading to the advanced economies of the North in the past 20 years.
Geoff Maslen

The European parliament in 2008 backed the adoption of a ‘Blue Card’ as an EU-wide work permit that would attract high-skilled non-EU citizens to work and live in any country within the European Union, apart from Britain and Ireland.
Jane Marshall

One of the first acts of the soc ialist-led government when it came to power a year ago was to repeal an order by its predecessors that had tightened up residence and employment rules for non-European students and graduates in France.
Alan Osborn

As befits its high standing in the academic world, the UK draws postgraduate students from more than 150 countries, representing a high and steadily rising proportion of all students in British universities. Of 550,000 postgraduates enrolled last year, 210,000, or 38%, came from outside Britain.
Jan Petter Myklebust

Almost 17,000 foreign students are studying for PhDs in the five Nordic countries. These students comprise a significant proportion of the more than 70,000 foreigners enrolled in higher education, and their numbers have more than doubled since 2005.
Makki Marseilles

Over the past two centuries large numbers of unskilled and semi-skilled Greeks have left the Aegean shores in search of a better future. Today’s emigrants are highly skilled professionals, with postgraduate qualifications, who are unable to function in the country’s depressing economic environment. But their leaving is also delaying – even preventing – Greece’s recovery.
Basak Bilecen

Nowadays university campuses are full of international students pursuing different programmes with different interests. Students from Turkey are no exception and are among the very highly mobile student populations.
Paul Rigg

In a commentary last month, Philip Altbach wrote that the rich were stealing the brains of developing countries. But in the case of Spain, where doctorate production has grown exponentially, the evidence regarding the destinations of foreign doctoral students does not support that view.
Erin Millar

Although Canada has more than doubled its international PhD candidate numbers in the past five years, highly educated immigrants face worse job prospects than their Canadian-born counterparts. This is likely to cause many to leave the country in the long term.
Adolfo Albo and Juan Luis Ordaz Díaz

Migration from Mexico to the United States has been a historical process that has brought benefits to both countries. Mexican migration to the US is often thought to be a movement of people with low education and income levels, but emigration of highly qualified Mexicans is also significant.
Alya Mishra

India’s new science policy aims to position the nation among the top five global scientific powers by 2020. This cannot be achieved without qualified academics, researchers and scientists, yet India has to contend with large numbers of postgraduate students leaving to complete PhDs or postdocs – a majority to the US – and staying away to pursue a career.
Geoff Maslen

In the 1850s, Chinese immigrants referred to the Australian gold fields as Xin Jin Shan, the New Gold Mountain, whereas the Californian gold rush was in decline and had become known as Jiu Jin Shan, the Old Gold Mountain. In the 21st century, a new group of Chinese has come to Australia seeking the gold that is linked to obtaining a degree.
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Yojana Sharma

Mutual recognition of degrees in Europe and Asia would help balance the flow of students between the two regions, a conference of education ministers from 38 European and Asian countries was told.
John Gerritsen

For the second year running, New Zealand’s government has frozen subsidies for public tertiary institutions and found new ways to restrict spending on student loans and allowances. It has also threatened to arrest students seriously in default if they enter or leave the country.
Ishmael Tongai

Cyril Karabus, an emeritus professor at the University of Cape Town, is happily back home in South Africa after a nine-month ordeal in Abu Dhabi. He has been released from prison, and cleared of criminal misconduct, had his bail money returned and his name deleted from a database of fugitives.
Rebecca Warden

A scheme that could see cities around the world aspiring to the title of Learning Cities is to be launched by UNESCO in October.
Jack Stripling and Jonah Newman, The Chronicle of Higher Education

American public higher education's million-dollar club just got bigger. Four public college presidents earned more than $1million in 2011-12, up from three presidents a year earlier, a Chronicle analysis has found. The median total compensation for public college leaders rose to $441,392, an increase of 4.7% on 2010-11.
Wagdy Sawahel

Twelve centres of excellence and a knowledge transfer alliance are among the outcomes of a three-year partnership between higher education institutions in five European and four North Africa countries – Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia – which is now coming to a close.

Universities need to encourage students to think more critically about where their worldviews come from. In an increasingly global higher education world, not to do so will only encourage the exclusion of international students from important social activities.
Hamish Macleod and Geoff Gould

Pilot MOOCs at Edinburgh University have created a big appetite for new forms of learning. They have also thrown up some interesting questions about course popularity and about the need to prepare students for online learning from an early age.
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As a new middle-class rises in Brazil with aspirations for better education, it is finding lamentable conditions and low standards of education at many colleges and universities. Experts are warning that the country's strained education system could stymie development, even as Brazil emerges as an economic powerhouse, writes Jenny Barchfield for Associated Press.

Police and education authorities are investigating allegations of mass cheating by international students at tertiary institutes across the country, reports ONE NEWS.

Universities in Japan are doing everything they can to attract students amid the problems of an ageing society and decline in the number of young people. One approach being adopted to lure applicants is providing dormitories with state-of-the-art facilities, writes Masaaki Kameda for The Japan Times.

Jeffrey Beall is a metadata librarian at the University of Colorado at Denver, but he's known online for his popular blog Scholarly Open Access, where he maintains a running list of open-access journals, and publishers he deems questionable or predatory. Now, one of those publishers intends to sue Beall, and says it is seeking US$1 billion in damages, writes Jake New for The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The amount of lecture and tutorial time in universities has barely changed over the past six years despite a nine-fold hike in annual tuition fees, a major study has found. It was revealed that students are receiving just 20 minutes more teaching each week in the current academic year compared to 2005-06 when courses cost just £1,000 (US$1,500), writes Graeme Paton for The Telegraph.

Australia’s tertiary education union has vowed to launch a major campaign against university funding cuts in the lead-up to the federal election, as hundreds of students rallied last week in a national protest, reports AAP.

The Zimbabwean government owes US$62 million in unpaid fees to state universities, polytechnics and teacher colleges, parliament heard last week. Director of Higher Education Martha Muguti disclosed that the Ministry of Finance had since 2012 failed to meet its budgetary obligations to finance tertiary institutions, leaving them in dire straits, reports NewsDay.

In a tough job market, Shanghai's universities are offering a variety of incentives, such as subsidies for students willing to return to their home towns to work. This is meant to ensure steady enrolment next year by bumping up the proportion of graduating students finding jobs, reports the Shanghai Daily.

Oxford University has announced the creation of a Margaret Thatcher Scholarship Trust, which will give young people who succeed "against the odds" the opportunity to study at the institution, reports The Huffington Post UK.

A new report shows that ‘fly in, fly out’ academics are a source of frustration for Chinese students taking UK degrees in their own country, writes Jack Grove for Times Higher Education.

Universities in England are to receive a £50 million (US$76 million) cash injection intended to drive economic growth through "cutting-edge innovation and research projects". According to Universities Minister David Willetts, the funding, shared among 16 projects, aims to create 500 new firms and 3,000 jobs, writes Sean Coughlan for BBC News.

Columbia University still offers a ‘whites only’ tuition fee fellowship, which is restricted to “a person of the Caucasian race” and may be in violation of the US Constitution, a Manhattan Supreme Court wrote in papers filed last Monday, reports RT.

The US Department of Education has fined Yale University $165,000 for "very serious and numerous" Clery Act violations, stemming from s ex offences that the Ivy League school failed to report, as well as not properly defining areas where crime statistics could be tabulated, writes Greg Otto for US News.

A prominent university in South Africa will make learning the Zulu language compulsory for all incoming students starting next year, the first time ever that the country’s higher education sector has made such a move to impose the teaching of an indigenous African language, writes Palash Ghosh for International Business Times.

A man who used his IT expertise to launch cyber attacks on the websites of Oxford and Cambridge universities has been jailed for two years, reports the Press Association.
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