University World News Global Edition
09 June 2013 Issue 0275 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
Plagiarism, propaganda – and Arctic research – in China; and MOOCs in India

This week in Commentary, Maurits van Rooijen argues that e-learning is the perfect example of how public-private partnerships can work well. Phan Le Ha contends that English is too readily accepted as the language of teaching and learning in Asian universities, and Andres Bernasconi wonders why Latin America fares so badly in world university rankings.
In World Blog, Grace Karram describes a symposium held in Canada to disseminate research findings from across Ontario – and to launch a policy research network that promises to help coordinate the province’s large, diverse post-secondary system.
In Features, Alya Mishra finds that students in India are signing up for MOOCs in their tens of thousands, in many cases to complement university studies. Nadia El-Awady writes that two-and-a-half-years after the revolution, Egypt’s higher education sector is suffering along with the rest of the country and frustration is mounting.
John Richard Schrock compares issues of quality, plagiarism and propaganda in Chinese universities with those in the United States, and Yojana Sharma reports on a new Arctic research centre to be set up in Shanghai in collaboration with Nordic countries, aimed at boosting China’s polar research.
Karen MacGregor – Global Editor
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
David Jobbins

The sixth Global University Summit has put the role of universities in economic regeneration firmly on the agenda for the G8 summit of world leaders in Northern Ireland later this month.
Shafigeh Shirazi and Yojana Sharma

Iran’s universities will close and examination timetables have been rearranged to avoid clashing with presidential elections this month. There has been subdued criticism from students and universities, but they have been unable to openly oppose the Ministry of Higher Education’s directive due to harsh controls on campus protests.
Yojana Sharma

A high-profile case of student poisoning in Shanghai and an explosion in a laboratory at a university in Nanjing in recent weeks have led to concerns about the safety of students on campuses and a tightening of rules on the use of hazardous chemicals and other poisons in laboratories.
Alison Moodie

For years, a college education has been viewed in the United States as integral to securing a stable, well-paid job. President Barack Obama has emphasised this point time and again, most recently during a speech on 31 May, when he urged Congress to prevent student loan interest rates from doubling this summer.
Ard Jongsma

Exploring areas of support for higher education in the framework of the Africa-EU Strategy, the European Commission has quality assurance and international accreditation high on its agenda. Among the options are support for quality agencies, developing continental standards and guidelines, and expansion of the recently ended harmonisation and tuning initiative.
Ishmael Tongai

The World Bank expects to kick off a new US$430 million Africa “Centres of Excellence” initiative next month, aimed at strengthening capacity in universities in West and Central Africa. The project will promote regional spec-ialisation among participating universities and strengthen their ability to deliver quality training and research.
Jan Petter Myklebust

In an interview with the newspaper Berlingske Tidende, Danish Minister of Education Morten Østergaard called for a ‘cultural revolution’ at universities. He wants all graduates – even graduates in the Eskimo language – to be prepared for work in the private sector.
David Jobbins

The University of Suss ex – one of the top new universities of the 1960s and home of the influential Institute for Development Studies – has plummeted in the 2014 Guardian University Guide, published last Tuesday.

The new, European Commission-supported international university ranking U-Multirank announced last week that 540 higher education institutions had registered to participate, exceeding its goal of 500. Registration was “still open, but space is limited”.
Wagdy Sawahel

The 5th Tokyo International Conference on African Development, held in Yokohama last weekend, produced a five-year action plan that includes new initiatives to promote African higher education and science and technology development.
Alya Mishra

Kritika Desai, a final-year student of English literature at Jadhavpur University in Kolkata, has just enrolled for an “Introduction to Finance” on Coursera – a platform providing massive open online courses, or MOOCs. The course is offered by the University of Michigan.
Nadia El-Awady

On 25 January 2011, millions of Egyptians took to the streets chanting, “Bread! Freedom! Social Justice!” Significantly, it was Police Day. Egyptians had long suffered under what they felt was a police state. On 11 February, just 18 days after the start of the revolution, former president Hosni Mubarak handed the governance of Egypt to a military council.
John Richard Schrock

As with other countries, academe in China is a mixed bag. There are essentially five ‘bands’ of universities from rank one downwards, and I visit the top ones – mostly ranks one and two. I have also met some of the 1,000 talent scholars who have been brought here from Western universities, and they are nearly all impressive.
Yojana Sharma

In a major push to up its research prowess, China has announced that it will set up a new China-Nordic Arctic Research Centre in Shanghai in partnership with Nordic countries. But some countries fear that China is extending its research interests into new geopolitical areas.
Jennifer Howard, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Steven B Roberts's 103-page tenure package features the usual long-as-your-arm list of peer-reviewed publications. But Roberts, an assistant professor at the University of Washington who studies the effects of environmental change on shellfish, chose to add something less typical to his dossier – evidence of his research's impact online.
Grace Karram

Research into higher education in Canada has been diffuse. But a recent symposium brought together and disseminated research findings – and launched a policy research network to help coordinate the province’s large post-secondary system.
Maurits van Rooijen

e-Learning can foment beneficial partnerships between public and private education institutions, generating a positive impact on visibility and reputation as well as creating an alternative source of revenue.
Phan Le Ha

Asia is seen as the future for the internationalisation of higher education, and the globalisation of English is enabling this future. But universities’ adoption of English for teaching and learning runs the risk of undermining local languages and access.
Andres Bernasconi

You can disagree with rankings systems, but they do highlight some major failings in how Latin American universities function – particularly with regard to research and governance.

Researchers in America, Australia, Britain and Canada found an overwhelming consensus among scientists regarding human-induced global warming after examining the abstracts of 12,000 papers dealing with climate from 1991 to 2011. They say the number of papers rejecting the consensus was a “vanishingly small proportion”.

The first survey of European genealogical ancestry over the past 3,000 years has found that all people of European descent are related – even if they now live on opposite sides of the continent. Further research is expected to show that every human is related no matter how distantly to every other member of the human species and that classifying people by race is biologically wrong.

Rural welfare and economic growth across Africa depend on agricultural productivity. Now a team of international researchers has outlined ways in which 33 African countries can improve their agricultural sectors.

An international team of biologists has helped unlock the genetic secrets of one of the world’s most unusual and culturally significant plants, the sacred lotus. Among other intriguing properties, the sacred lotus – like birds and mammals – has the ability to generate heat and regulate its temperature.

The Human Variome Project comprises an international consortium of scientists and health professionals working to improve global health through free and open sharing of genetic variation information.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has allocated more than US$8 million in new grants through its Grand Challenges Explorations initiative, which funds innovative ideas to tackle global health and development problems and provides additional resources for projects that demonstrate promise. Fifty-eight projects from 18 countries will receive $100,000 grants that allow researchers to begin testing projects that could transform lives.
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Several prominent Turkish universities have announced the postponement of university finals amid ongoing Taksim protests across the country, in a move that was interpreted by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as encouraging students to join in the protests, reports Hürriyet Daily News.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has appointed Rami Hamdallah, president of Al-Najah National University in the West Bank city of Nablus, as prime minister, writes Fadwa Hodali for Bloomberg Businessweek.

The British government's hardening of international student visa rules could cause long-term damage to universities and cost £2.4 billion (US$3.71 billion) over the next decade, writes Richard Adams for the Guardian.

Record numbers of teenagers are deserting British universities in favour of leading institutions in the United States, amid concerns over rising fees and the quality of degree courses, writes Graeme Paton for The Telegraph.

Redirecting money from universities into schools to pump up Julia Gillard's troubled Gonski school education reforms has not impressed voters any more than it has impressed state governments, with one in four saying they may shun the Australian Labor Party because of it, writes Mark Kenny for The Sydney Morning Herald.

If you want a glimpse into what has gone wrong with higher education in America, look no further than the brilliant career of E Gordon Gee, who as of 1 July will be the ex-president of the Ohio State University (and of Brown and Vanderbilt, as well as the flagship public universities of Colorado and West Virginia), writes Paul Campos for TIME.

India’s central universities are opening satellite campuses in remote locations in a move ostensibly driven by the desire to provide quality education to people in those areas, writes Prashant K Nanda for Livemint.

Police are investigating an Indian university suspected of issuing fake PhDs after it awarded more than 400 doctorates in a single year, reports New Straits Times.

Jamaica’s education administrators are hoping that parliament will this year pass legislation empowering them to ensure compulsory registration of all tertiary institutions and to close those performing below standard, in order to protect students, writes Nadine Wilson for the Jamaica Observer.

A group of 33 Thai universities has jointly invested 200 million baht (US$6.5 million) to bid for free digital TV channels, reports the Bangkok Post. Somkid Lertpaitoon, president of the Association of University Presidents and rector of Thammasat University, said the group comprised 27 state universities and six private campuses.

Les Ebdon, the access ombudsman for higher education in England, has told universities and colleges to step up their efforts to attract students from disadvantaged backgrounds, as official statistics show affluent applicants outnumbering those from deprived areas by three to one, writes Richard Adams for the Guardian.

Universities in Wales continue to “punch above their weight” in their contribution to the economy, new research has found. The 12th annual Higher Education-Business and Community Interaction survey shows how universities are defying financial constraints to develop their expertise and facilities, writes Gareth Evans for Wales Online.

The University of Canberra says attracting more international students will help the city's higher education sector overcome federal funding cuts. The Australian Capital Territory government allocated A$2 million (US$2 million) in last Tuesday's budget to promote Canberra as a study destination, reports ABC News.

Starting salaries for people in Taiwan with tertiary degrees have dropped in recent years, with pay for holders of masters degrees or above falling the most, according to a survey by the Council of Labor Affairs, writes Ann Yu for The China Post-Asia News Network.

Hanban, the Confucius Institute programme headquarters, has signed a cooperation agreement with a university in Trinidad and Tobago, writes Cheng Yingqi for China Daily. The University of the West Indies at St Augustine will provide office space, 10 multimedia classrooms and a small auditorium for the country's first Confucius Institute.
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