University World News Global Edition
18 August 2013 Issue 0283 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
Higher education in Chile and Myanmar is in urgent need of reform

This week in World Blog, Rahul Choudaha argues that foreign universities interested in India should focus on establishing partnerships and building a presence gradually, rather than on establishing branch campuses.
In Commentary, Jamil Salmi contends that after years of international isolation, Myanmar has a unique opportunity to undertake fundamental higher education reform – and this chance should not be missed. Ignacio Sanchez writes that higher education in Chile is in crisis and needs urgent reform in the areas of quality, access, funding and research.
In response to a recent article by Philip G Altbach, UNESCO argues that its work in higher education is advancing on many fronts and that it is continuing to use its convening power to promote sustainable change and quality.
In Features, Yojana Sharma and Emilia Tan report on a controversy in Malaysia over an Islamic studies and Asian civilisation course being made compulsory for students in all universities – including private and foreign institutions.
Jan Petter Myklebust looks at European Court of Justice rulings on discriminatory practices in financial aid for international students and the children of migrant workers. Peta Lee unpacks a report on removing barriers to the recognition of the foreign qualifications of immigrants, so that European countries can make better use of their skills. And Wachira Kigotho investigates what Africa might learn from Nigeria's university ranking experience.
Karen MacGregor – Global Editor
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Alya Mishra

A ruling by India’s Supreme Court that appointments for highly spec ialised teaching positions in medical colleges cannot be subject to affirmative action caste-based quotas has led to a political uproar that has disrupted the current session of parliament, where a number of higher education bills are pending.
Karen MacGregor

America held steady in the 2013 Academic Ranking of World Universities, dominating global higher education with 17 universities in the top 20 and 149 in the top 500 – one fewer than last year. Some institutions swapped places in the top 20 but they were all still there except for the University of Tokyo, which slipped a place to make way for the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.
Karen MacGregor

Academics in South Korea attract the largest amounts of funding per capita in the world from big business, according to a new index – on average US$97,900 per researcher. Next come academics in Singapore, The Netherlands, South Africa and Belgium.
Geoff Maslen

Australia’s universities are burdened by massive quantities of red tape imposed on them by federal and state government regulations, differing acts set down by parliament and the need to provide the same information to various government departments. A review of the situation has called for a significant reduction in red tape, with the higher education sector’s main regulatory body having its functions sharply curtailed.
Eugene Vorotnikov

Russia’s government plans to increase its control over higher education quality by regularly monitoring graduate employment. The first monitoring exercise will be completed in November, with the results to be taken into account in compiling national university rankings in 2014.

UK students’ satisfaction with their courses is being maintained, according to the 2013 National Student Survey, published last Tuesday. Conducted annually by Ipsos MORI since 2005, the survey gathers opinions mainly from final-year undergraduates.
Tunde Fatunde

Public universities across Nigeria have again been paralysed by a strike organised by the influential Academic Staff Union of Universities. Past industrial action has often focused on the struggle for increased salaries. This time lecturers are demanding full implementation of a 2009 agreement, the core philosophy of which was higher funding for universities.
Peta Lee

There was good reason to celebrate the 10th birthday of the Mandela Rhodes Foundation on the weekend of 26-28 July. At a gala event held in Cape Town’s city hall, a massive R106 million (US$10.8 million) was pledged to the foundation’s scholarships. This will be added to the R350 million endowment already raised over the past decade.
Jan Petter Myklebust

Of the 252,827 students exchanged under the Erasmus programme during 2011-12, around 75,000 – 30% – moved between 100 sending or receiving universities. Spain dominated the list, with 31 institutions in the top 100 for both sending and receiving students.
Jane Marshall

About 50 students were due to appear in court last Tuesday following violent confrontations that erupted with police in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, as students protested against the closure of university accommodation and other services during the holidays.
Maina Waruru

East Africa has a second Islamic university, after Kenya’s Commission for University Education granted a letter of interim authority to Umma University to offer various degree and diploma courses.
Kudzai Mashininga

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has promised to improve higher education quality and access, following his re-election in a disputed poll on 31 July that handed him what is believed to be his last term in office.
Yojana Sharma and Emilia Tan

An Islamic studies and Asian civilisation course, compulsory for students in Malaysia’s public universities, will also be mandatory for all private university students – including at foreign branch campuses – from 1 September. The move has sparked controversy, with critics concerned about ‘creeping Islamisation’ and proponents calling them ‘Islamaphobic’.
Jan Petter Myklebust

The European Court of Justice has been ruling against discriminatory practices regarding student financial aid for the children of migrant workers, and regarding discounted public transport fares. But the European Students’ Union has warned that the grant system in several states might be at risk.
Peta Lee

Modifications to existing systems in Europe are vital to removing barriers and improving the recognition of immigrants’ foreign qualifications, according to a European Union-funded report just released titled Tackling Brain Waste.
Steve Kolowich, The Chronicle of Higher Education

In California, the MOOC revolution came to a halt unceremoniously. Senator Darrell Steinberg, the leader of the state senate, quietly decided to put his online education bill on the back burner last month. The bill, introduced with fanfare in March, originally aimed to push public universities to award academic credit to students who succeeded in some massive open online courses offered by outside providers.
Wachira Kigotho

The absence of nearly all African universities from global ranking systems has been of major concern to potential students, parents, employers and other stakeholders, who feel locked out of making informed choices on the quality of universities in Africa.
Rahul Choudaha

Foreign universities have become disillusioned about creating branch campuses in India, due to red tape. But opportunities in India are considerable, and institutions might do better by focusing on different ways of establishing partnerships and building their presence gradually.
Jamil Salmi

Rebuilding the higher education system in Myanmar, after years of international isolation, presents a unique opportunity to undertake courageous reforms that are often not possible in other countries because of vested interests and entrenched positions. This chance should not be missed.
Ignacio Sanchez

Chile’s higher education system is in crisis and requires a series of urgent reforms to put it on track, including more attention to quality, access, funding and the creation of world-class research centres.

UNESCO has responded to a recent article in University World News by Philip G Altbach, titled “Long-term thinking needed in higher education”. The UN agency argues that its work in higher education is advancing on many fronts, that it is helping ministries and institutions build effective systems, and that is continues to use its convening power to promote sustainable change for quality higher education.

Climate change could drive the Iberian lynx – the world’s most threatened cat – to extinction within 50 years, despite substantial ongoing conservation efforts, a new international study has found. The researchers say the impact of climate change must be incorporated in strategies to reintroduce the Iberian lynx to new habitats if the species is to be saved.

They may not be pumped from the gym, but researchers say the arm and shoulder muscles of male kangaroos play a key role in attracting members of the opposite s ex. This could be linked to the fact that male kangaroos establish and maintain their dominance hierarchy through sparring contests that involve grasping their opponent and using their back legs to box them.

For the first time the complex interplay between bacterial investment strategies and their outcomes has been recreated and analysed by an international team of researchers.

A new understanding of the evolutionary history of plants has been revealed by a team of scientists at the University of Aberdeen and at Purdue University in Indiana. The researchers say the findings pave the way for fresh insights into how plants adapt to their environments, and could lead to new strategies for improved crop yields to meet the demands of the world’s growing population.

Delving deeper into the content of soil has raised serious questions about the effects of land use on climate change. An international study has found that deep soils store significantly more carbon than previous estimates have suggested.
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Poor research output by students is considered one of the biggest drawbacks of Indian higher education. But the government claims there has been 49.27% growth in the number of research PhDs awarded by Indian universities between 2008-09 and 2011-12, and also a surge in international publication, reports TNN.

Australia is the most expensive country for overseas students, with a combined average cost of university fees and living costs totalling more than US$38,000 per year. Despite this, Australia has remained one of the most popular destinations for international students, with numbers likely to be further boosted by the continuing fall in the Australian dollar and improved visa processing, writes Ray Clancy for Expat Forum.

Rising numbers of students are shunning traditional subjects in favour of more practical university degrees amid mounting concerns over the graduate jobs market, according to research, writes Graeme Paton for The Telegraph.

Universities and other third-level colleges face the prospect of having up to 10% of their state funding withheld if they fail to reach new performance targets, writes Katherine Donnelly for The Independent.

School-leavers are being urged to take advantage of competition between universities as one offers up to NZ$3,000 (US$2,417) cash for those with high marks in the National Certificate of Educational Achievement, writes Nicholas Jones for The New Zealand Herald.

France's official council promoting integration has struck a raw nerve by proposing that Muslim headscarves, already banned in the civil service and state-run schools, also be outlawed at the country's universities, reports Reuters.

A record number of students have already been accepted for university courses, official figures show. As of midnight last Wednesday, 385,910 applicants had been accepted by UK universities and colleges – 31,600 more than at the same point last year, a rise of 9%, reports the Belfast Telegraph.

Market forces are working against degrees in the ideology of Marx, Lenin and Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, where the Communist government has resorted to offering free tuition to attract students, reports The Associated Press.

All but one of South Africa’s universities placed under administration are making steady progress, with Walter Sisulu University, for example, achieving short-term financial stability, parliament heard last week, writes Bekezela Phakathi for BDLive.

The Association of Vice-chancellors of Nigerian Universities has urged the federal government to establish a ministry of higher education. The secretary general of the association, Professor Michael Faborode, said that the proposed ministry would give the needed attention to the challenges facing the sector, reports Vanguard.

Kaplan’s fortunes are looking up. The education company no longer has to pick up the slack for The Washington Post, the venerable newspaper and loss leader that Kaplan’s corporate owner, the Washington Post Co, just sold off. Even better, Kaplan is back in the black itself after years of tumbling enrolments and profits, which were driven in part by the weak economy and the for-profit sector's scandal-fuelled regulatory woes, writes Paul Fain for Inside Higher Ed.
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