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27 October 2013 Issue 0293 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
Chinese government cracks down on embezzlement, misuse of research funds

This week in News, Yojana Sharma reports on the Chinese government’s new proposals on the supervision of research funds, aimed at clamping down on corruption and misuse.
In Commentary, Eugene Sebastian and Abid Khan describe a new type of partnership between Australia’s Monash University and the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay. The European Commission’s Jordi Curell looks at joint postgraduate courses under the Erasmus Mundus programme, involving nearly 700 universities and 16,000 students, that have been found to add value for graduates in securing jobs.
Andrys Onsman discovers three reasons why growing numbers of international students are choosing to study at joint venture institutions in China, and Lal Tawney argues that the global appetite for online learning is huge and universities should integrate it into traditional teaching if they are to thrive.
In World Blog, Serhiy Kvit finds the Ukraine moving closer to the European Union but still far adrift of European standards, especially in higher education.
In Features, Brenda Dionisi probes a major new funding and standards strategy for Italian universities that also seeks to further internationalise higher education. Paul Rigg attended the annual international “Reinventing Higher Education” conference in Spain, and found MOOCs, SPOCs and hubs to be hot topics.
Sarah King Head looks at two new UNESCO chairs, in genocide prevention and education, established in the United States, which are examples of engaged scholarship. And Gilbert Nganga outlines Kenya’s plans to provide all university students with laptops, in an effort to boost e-learning and ICT skills.
Karen MacGregor – Global Editor
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Yojana Sharma

China’s Ministry of Education this month published new proposals on the supervision of research funds, in order to curb rampant embezzlement and misuse. Academic committees are to be created comprising professors, associate professors and senior professionals to supervise the funds, the ministry said in a notice published on its website.
Alan Osborn

Hopes have risen that a significant cut to European Union research grants for 2014 can be avoided, following a vote in the European Parliament last week to restore money dropped from the budget by the council of EU government ministers earlier this year – although final agreement will not be reached until mid-November.
Makki Marseilles

More than 1,000 university lecturers have signed a text protesting against the destruction of the Greek university. Meanwhile, the education minister issued an ultimatum to striking administrative staff, saying that if they failed to assess themselves electronically within five days in order to enter ‘voluntary suspension’ they would face immediate redundancy.
Karen MacGregor

The Russian government is behind the world’s first university ranking for the BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. UK-based QS Quacquarelli Symonds will produce the pilot BRICS ranking in December.
Ria Nurdiani and Yojana Sharma

No foreign university has applied to operate in Indonesia despite laws passed last year that were designed to make it easier for foreign institutions to set up on a non-profit basis in collaboration with local universities.
Jan Petter Myklebust

While most European countries face budget cuts and severe limitations on public spending, Norway has swum against the tide and proposed finalising the long political process of providing students abroad with access to state funding worldwide. A new budget proposal would extend support to first-year Norwegian students in the United States.
David Jobbins

The United Kingdom’s Office of Fair Trading, set up to make markets work in consumers’ interests, has launched an investigation into competition between universities in England. The probe will focus on the impact regulation has on universities' and students' experiences of the current system.
Mimi Leung

China’s universities are becoming increasingly concerned about preventing student suicides as the job market for graduates tightens and students run out of hope for the future.

A sod-turning ceremony at Tsinghua University in Beijing last Thursday marked the future location of Schwarzman College, a state-of-the-art residential institute designed specifically for the new Schwarzman Scholars programme. The event was recorded as the largest ever internationally funded philanthropic effort in China’s history.
Peta Lee

Human rights group Amnesty International has called on Chad to end its brutal practice of illegally detaining and killing critics. It has also demanded that the government curb repressive tactics against opponents, including students and academics.

Australian and German universities have established a graduate research college in Melbourne offering doctoral students from around the world the chance to undertake climate change studies as well as tackling other major environmental issues.
Brenda Dionisi

Italian officials are finalising a major funding and standards strategy for universities, which they hope will be enacted despite endemic political instability. The Ministry of Education, University and Research’s plan will span three years, among other things setting academic standards for public and private universities and seeking to internationalise higher education.
Paul Rigg

Massive open online courses, SPOCs – self-paced open courses that may become MOOCs – and university hubs generated most interest at the fourth annual international conference on “Reinventing Higher Education”, which took place in Spain from 7-8 October.
Sarah King Head

It is entirely apt that Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey, should be the recipient of a UNESCO Chair in Genocide Prevention – especially since it was there that the man who coined the term ‘genocide’, Raphael Lemkin, taught law in the 1950s.
Gilbert Nganga

At a hostel near the expansive Kenyatta University, Kenya’s biggest by student numbers, Patrick Kinyanjui is seated on his bed, typing away at his class-work on a laptop. Several students are queuing for an opportunity to do an assignment due the following day. Lecturers are increasingly demanding typed assignments.
Serhiy Kvit

Ukraine is supposedly moving closer to the European Union through an Association Agreement, but it is still far adrift of the standards required to meet European norms. Radical higher education reforms are needed to tackle everything from bribery to PhD preparation – but official reforms are restricted to school buses and preschool numbers.
Eugene Sebastian and Abid Khan

What makes for a successful transnational partnership? Monash University and the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay are pioneering a new type of partnership based on a bilateral relationship that is given time to cultivate, on shared aspiration, on an effective governance structure and on the deployment of the best talent.
Jordi Curell

Since 2004, the European Union has funded 138 Erasmus Mundus joint masters courses and 43 joint doctoral programmes involving almost 700 universities and more than 16,000 students, PhD candidates and scholars. Independent evaluations have found that these joint degrees have had considerable added value for alumni when searching for employment.
Andrys Onsman

A recent survey suggests that there are three reasons why growing numbers of international students are choosing to study at joint-venture institutions in China, including the type of degree they will get, spending time in China and the quality of the courses on offer.
Lal Tawney

The appetite for online learning is huge and international. For instance, 90% of downloads of Open University courses from iTunes U have been from outside the UK. Universities that do not integrate online learning into their traditional ways of teaching will fail to thrive in a global higher education sector.
Kim Jacobson, The Conversation

A glass ceiling remains in place for female medical research scientists in Australia. Although approximately 50% of PhD students and postdoctoral scientists are female, males run the majority of research laboratories. There is an exodus of female scientists at the transitional stage between a postdoctoral researcher and laboratory head, and a major factor is the funding system.

Ancient relatives of today’s humans, dubbed the Denisovans, may have crossed one of the world’s most prominent marine barriers in Indonesia and later interbred with modern humans on their way to Australia and New Guinea. Scientists say there is genetic evidence pointing to hybridisation between the Denisovans and modern human populations – but only with indigenous people in Australia, New Guinea and surrounding islands.

Latest research into the effect s ex has on sports performance suggests that as long as the interaction occurs 10 to 12 hours before the athlete takes to the field it makes little to no difference to the athlete’s output. The research results were presented last week at a conference in Phuket in Thailand on science and medicine in sport.

A species of one of the world’s tiniest creatures, ocean plankton, is heading for extinction as it struggles to adapt to changes in sea temperature – and it may take local fisheries with it. Researchers found that a species of cold water plankton in the North Atlantic, a vital food source for fish such as cod and hake, is in decline as the oceans warm.

British scientists may have discovered how Mars lost its early carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere to become the cold and arid planet known today. The research findings provide the first direct evidence from Mars of a process called ‘carbonation’ which currently removes carbon dioxide from Earth’s atmosphere, with potential to combat climate change on Earth.

A species of dung beetle in South Africa’s Western Cape has given up its ability to fly and instead gallops across the sand in a behaviour researchers suspect evolved as a way to navigate back and forth from home.
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With students and graduates from recession-hit Europe moving to the United Kingdom in their droves in the hope of finding work, the person serving you that cappuccino could well have a PhD, writes Will Coldwell for The Independent.

Universities should be spending more time on teaching, according to David Willetts. In a new report, the universities minister suggests that the university system has become "lopsided", with institutions focusing more on research than on teaching students, reports the Belfast Telegraph.

A Chinese scholar known for his liberal political views says fellow faculty members at Peking University have voted to fire him, a move that threatens Peking's ties with at least one college in the United States and has raised concerns about academic freedom in China, writes Ian Wilhelm for The Chronicle of Higher Education.

When Craig Steven Wilder first began digging around in university archives in 2002 for material linking universities to slavery, he recalled recently, he was “a little bashful” about what he was looking for, writes Jennifer Schuessler for The New York Times.

Scottish universities have been warned not to prevent student leaders from criticising their institutions, reports the Herald Scotland.

Rising numbers of institutions are cutting entry requirements at the last minute to allow students who “miss their target grades” to get a place, writes Graeme Paton for The Telegraph.

At first, older people had to be persuaded to attend college. Now they bring their friends and travel from other cities to take classes ranging from healthcare to history and law. This year, 100 universities in Taiwan offered these courses and the older student population has shot up from about 800 in 2008 to more than 3,000 today, reports Cindy Sui for BBC News.

An equity index has been devised to measure transformation at universities in South Africa, researchers said last week, reports SAPA.

The Inter-University Council for East Africa last week called for harmonisation of the curriculum for higher education within the East African Community countries, writes Jemimah Wangui for Capital News.

British universities have strong connections to the fossil fuels industry, with the equivalent of £2,083 (US$3,370) invested for each UK student, according to a report by People & Planet, writes Ilaria Bertini for Blue and Green Tomorrow.

A new political movement has been launched by a group of academics at Dublin City University which seeks a number of sweeping reforms to third-level education in Ireland, writes Tom Myatt for University Times.
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