University World News Global Edition
29 September 2013 Issue 0289 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
Beleaguered UNESCO under the spotlight, with poll for the top job looming

In Commentary, Elspeth Jones looks to the future and argues that internationalisation is a means to an end, not an end result. Students will expect higher education to equip them with the tools – especially international and intercultural competence – to operate effectively in a globalised world.
Audra Mitchell contends that students and lecturers alike should think carefully about field trips to conflict zones, to avoid exploitation and moral dilemmas, and Orlando Albornoz argues that while Hugo Chávez widened access to higher education in Venezuela, he failed to make much impact on the sector or improve quality.
Ahead of elections for the top job at UNESCO, Yojana Sharma interviews one of the candidates, Joseph Maïla, a professsor of international relations and former president of the Catholic University of Paris.
In World Blog, William Patrick Leonard argues that factors including loans and subsidies, and regional accreditation organisations’ focus on quality over budget control, have contributed to unsustainable tuition fee rises in the United States.
In Features, Alecia D McKenzie reports on the role of educators in the worldwide movement towards sustainable food consumption, and Suluck Lamubol investigates a debate over university uniforms in Thailand, led by a transgender student who is intent on questioning taboos in Thai society.
Karen MacGregor – Global Editor
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Carmen Paun

With just three months to go before the launch of the European Research Area, much work is still needed before a border-free international market for research projects can be established, a new report has found.
Alya Mishra

India is set to launch an ambitious higher education plan that will pump money into state universities, link university performance to funding and set up new institutions, thus creating expanded access to higher education for the country’s growing number of school-leavers.
Peta Lee

A vital lifeline has been extended to displaced Syrian students around the world. At last week’s 2013 Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting in New York, the Institute of International Education announced an expanded commitment, in collaboration with the Global Platform for Syrian Students and other partners, to raise US$7 million in support – including more than 600 scholarships.
Karen MacGregor

Tertiary institutions in OECD countries will need to expand the number of student places they offer, according to a just-released report from the OECD. This year more than 23 million students across OECD and G20 countries will enter their first university-level course, with entry rates in OECD nations soaring from around 40% in 1995 to 60%.
Jan Petter Myklebust

The Danish Ministry of Education, which is working on an action plan for increased higher education internationalisation, is embarking on a new financing model for state support of study-abroad students that is worrying universities. If the new model is implemented, exchange funds for universities will only be provided for Danish students abroad – not for international students.

A spectacular ‘missing link’ fossil has been unearthed in China, with palaeontologists declaring that the discovery of the 419 million-year-old armoured fish had solved an age-old debate in science. Finding the fish fossil, called Entelognathus or ‘complete jaw’, was as big as discovering the Higgs-Boson particle in physics because of its immense significance to the understanding of early vertebrate evolution.
Ameen Amjad Khan

Pakistan’s higher education regulator has disclosed that 80% of universities have not implemented anti-s exual harassment regulations framed back in 2011 to curb the rising menace of male lecturers coercing female students into ‘s ex for grades’.
Justin Doubleday, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Less than half of students in the United States who took the Scholastic Aptitude Test in 2013 are ready to succeed in post-secondary education, according to a report released last Thursday by the College Board, which owns the SAT.
David Jobbins

Cambridge University is back at the top of the national league tables – the third to be published this year in the United Kingdom.
Maina Waruru

An initiative aimed at strengthening the teaching of science, technology and innovation, as well as sustainable development, at five African universities will be launched later this year by the African Development Bank and the United Nations University.
Wagdy Sawahel

Sudan has opened an academy of aviation sciences and technology, aimed at providing aviation higher education and producing highly skilled civilian pilots for the national and African airline industries.
Alecia D McKenzie

Tall and athletic-looking, Claus Meyer seems as if he might be more comfortable on a sports field than talking about food in a classroom. But the Danish chef and businessman has a self-imposed mission – to educate others about how food can change the world.
Suluck Lamubol

Thailand’s Thammasat University, one of the few in the country that does not require students to wear uniforms, has sparked a nationwide debate after a student launched a provocative campaign challenging the need for uniforms in higher education. Now the matter has taken a new turn, transforming into an academic freedom issue.
Yojana Sharma

A so-far lacklustre campaign for director general of UNESCO is about to become more heated, as the two Arab candidates hoping to eject incumbent Director General Irina Bokova set out their stalls in preparation for the first round of voting, in Paris.

Joseph Maïla is a professor of international relations at École Supérieur des Sciences Économiques et Commerciales in Paris and former president of the Catholic University of Paris. In March he submitted his candidature for the post of director general of UNESCO – he is one of two candidates challenging the incumbent, Irina Bokova. YOJANA SHARMA spoke to Maïla as he prepared for the first stage of voting for the post, to take place on 4 October.
William Patrick Leonard

Why have US tuition fees kept rising? A mix of factors – including the provision of loans and subsidies and regional accreditation organisations’ focus on quality over budget control – have contributed, along with the idea that a degree is a sure route to family advancement and to fulfilling the American dream.
Elspeth Jones

The next 25 years will present interesting challenges for those who seek to fully internationalise the higher education curriculum. Developments such as MOOCs could open up the sector to a much more diverse, global range of students, but the lack of campus interaction could impede the kind of multicultural learning that goes on when students from different cultures and countries mix.
Audra Mitchell

Field trips to conflict zones are becoming standard in some postgraduate degrees and are being used to lure students. But the subjects of field research can end up exploited and students traumatised by guilt over their involvement. Universities would do better to simulate the conditions of a field trip without the risks of exploitation.
Orlando Albornoz

Hugo Chávez widened access to higher education for many previously excluded people in Venezuela. But despite much propaganda, he ultimately failed to make much impact on the system or to boost quality.

An international team of scientists has found that species living in rainforest fragments are far more likely to be wiped out than was previously assumed. In the journal Science, the researchers outline a study spanning two decades, during which they witnessed the near-complete extinction of native small mammals on forest islands created by a large hydroelectric reservoir in Thailand.

Researchers at the universities of Harvard and Massachusetts in the United States have found that students suffering from dyslexia were able to boost their speed and comprehension of texts using e-readers rather than words printed on paper.

An international team of scientists has discovered that the common weed thale cress contains a substance with an important link to human brain chemistry and could be used to turn off the plaque formation that causes Alzheimer’s disease.

The threat to food production as a result of warming temperatures associated with climate change has triggered collaboration between two of the hottest countries in the world – India and Australia – to determine how future livestock production is about to be affected.

Research in Western Australia has highlighted the relationship between the loss of digging mammals and declines in ecosystems. Referred to as ‘biotic engineers’, species such as bilbies, bandicoots, potoroos, echidnas and woylies have long been known for their impact on soil health and ecosystem functioning – but many of the animals are extinct or under threat.
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World Round-up

After the University of Athens announced it could no longer function because of lay-offs demanded by the European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank, universities in Thessaloniki, Patras, Ioannina and Crete have followed suit. All say that cuts in administrative staff, including guards and archivists, have made it impossible to keep their doors open, writes Helena Smith for the Guardian.

Scholars from 200 universities across the Muslim world last week resolved to work for greater academic interaction, create an Islamic universities’ pool of scholarship, and initiate joint research and development programmes, writes Riazul Haq for The Express Tribune.

Australia’s Coalition government has nominated international education as its highest priority for the sector, saying it will move quickly to fix a sector reeling from Labor's "obsession with things like 457 visas", writes John Ross for The Australian.

Writers and poets from around the world have joined in mourning following the news that Professor Kofi Awoonor, a Ghanaian poet and diplomat, died after sustaining injuries during the terrorist attack on Westgate Mall in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, writes Alice Vincent for The Telegraph.

Research and higher education funding have been left largely unchanged in France's new draft budget, despite the country continuing to grapple with a stubbornly high public deficit, writes Barbara Casassus for Nature.

With cyber attacks on the rise in Canada, universities are trying to protect not only valuable research in fields like biochemistry and engineering, but also the vaunted culture of openness that makes universities unique, writes Eric Andrew-Gee for The Star.

The number of US institutions marketing themselves to British students has almost doubled in just four years, in a bid to capitalise on mounting interest in overseas study combined with a backlash over rising tuition fees in the UK, writes Graeme Paton for The Telegraph.

He may be the leader of the free world, but when President Barack Obama proposed that the government grade universities based on their cost and success rates, a lot of other people were ahead of him, writes Jon Marcus for The Hechinger Report.

Last Sunday students flocked to Cairo University, Egypt’s largest centre of higher learning, for the first day of a new academic year. Despite calls for civil disobedience by some groups that support ousted president Mohamed Morsi, the campus buzzed with activity, writes Osman El Sharnoubi for Ahram Online.

At universities in land-strapped Singapore, students may one day borrow books from an underground library, attend lectures in a subterranean auditorium or even swim in an Olympic-size swimming pool below sea level, writes Calvin Yang for The New York Times.

Thailand’s Education Minister Chaturon Chaisaeng has repeated his call for universities to cut the number of recruitment rounds held through direct admissions, to ensure fairness to poor students, writes Lamphai Intathep for Bangkok Post.

In the push to get academic research out of the ivory tower – and to make money – university technology transfer offices are becoming less choosy about their partners, writes Heidi Ledford for Nature.

England has “too many” universities and some are likely to close, the director general of the Confederation of British Industry has warned. John Cridland was given a rough reception over his views at a fringe meeting at the Labour conference in Brighton last week, with the Million+ group of newer universities rejecting his argument, writes John Morgan for Times Higher Education.

Information from the admissions service, UCAS, shows that 445,820 UK and European Union students had been accepted for degree courses 28 days after A-level results. This is up from 408,480 at the same point last year, but slightly down on 2011, the final year before tuition fees rose, when the figure was 465,070, writes Katherine Sellgren for BBC News.

Stanford University has asked a US district court to help resolve a dispute among the descendants of Chiang Kai-shek over who owns the former Chinese leader’s diaries and private papers, writes David Knowles for New York Daily News.

One is a world-renowned American university, the other a technical college in a Buckinghamshire town known for having lots of roundabouts. But now a cross-Atlantic David versus Goliath fight that pits Harvard University in Massachusetts against Havard School in Milton Keynes is being waged at the High Court in London, writes Sam Masters for The Independent.
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