University World News Global Edition
10 November 2013 Issue 0295 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
Chile – The canary in the global higher education privatisation coalmine

In Commentary, Cristina González argues that Chile is an early and extreme example of the privatisation of higher education, and that turmoil in the generally high-fee, low-quality sector may be a preview of things to come in other countries.
Roger Y Chao Jr contends that to counter fraud in higher education, China will need to tackle its cultural roots, pressures linked to rankings and an overemphasis on commerc ialisation of research. And Diana Beech previews a conference taking place this month that aims to give researchers a voice in shaping research policy in Europe.
In World Blog, William Patrick Leonard argues that, with the US public tertiary education community in crisis, chief financial officers at institutions need to pursue cost-cutting rather than enhancement measures – but are not.
In Features, Yojana Sharma describes new forms of collaboration with foreign universities in Suzhou, aimed at boosting research and innovation in China. Kalinga Seneviratne reports on Nava Nalanda Mahavihara, a university in Nalanda in India set up to revive the ancient Buddhist seat of learning – but now being overshadowed by the planned high-profile Nalanda International University.
John Ryan reviews the life and work of Robert Barnard, a UK academic and mystery writer who died in September. And in Student View, Aengus Ó Maoláin looks at two recent global debates on access and says the student movement is determined to fight for increased access to higher education through universal funding.
Karen MacGregor – Global Editor
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Bianka Siwinska

The directors of higher education research centres from around the world flew to Shanghai for their first ever global meeting last weekend and, encouragingly, policy-makers also attended. The aims were to discuss the future of research on higher education, to debate common issues – and to create a global network of higher education research experts.
Suluck Lamubol

The Thai government’s attempt to pass a blanket amnesty bill for ‘political’ offences, in an ill-judged bid to promote political reconciliation, has brought university lecturers, rectors and student groups out onto the streets in scenes of protest the likes of which the country has not witnessed in many years.
Alan Osborn

Is European higher education generally delivering the right kind of qualifications for citizens gearing up to tackle the challenges and opportunities of today’s world, or is it missing targets along the line? This is not a new question, but it has been given a fresh twist in the Education and Training Monitor 2013 released by the European Commission.
Peta Lee

Education ministers from the BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – countries met in Paris last Tuesday and agreed to establish a mechanism at the “highest political and technical level” to coordinate and implement collaboration, especially in higher education.
Shafigeh Shirazi

Iran’s parliament, or Majlis, has finally approved the country’s new ministers for education and higher education, after previous nominees for the posts failed to win a parliamentary vote of confidence in August. They will continue reforms, said President Hassan Rouhani.
Paul Rigg

The Spanish government has been forced to backtrack on plans to cut payments to thousands of Erasmus students studying abroad – within five days of the plan being announced.
Makki Marseilles

As the strike by administrative staff that has paralysed major universities in Greece entered its ninth week, Education Minister Kostantinos Arvanitopoulos targeted rectors of still-closed institutions in Athens – and ordered them to “take action to resolve the situation or face the consequences of the law”.
Jan Petter Myklebust

Bjørn Haugstad, junior minister for education in Norway’s new conservative-populist coalition government, has announced that the process to upgrade colleges to university status has been suspended because of quality concerns.
Dinesh De Alwis

Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Higher Education has instructed all state universities to close from 8-17 November due to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting – CHOGM. But students believe the move is an attempt to silence them – and have taken to the streets in protest.
Ashraf Khaled

A decision by Egypt's military-installed government, giving police a role in securing the country's restive universities, has raised fears of much-hated security agencies' interference in academic life – again.
Karin Fischer, The Chronicle of Higher Education

In a sudden role reversal, the number of Indian students entering American graduate schools this autumn exploded, while the share of new graduate students from China increased only modestly.
Geoff Maslen

The international Square Kilometre Array office awarded contracts last week to prepare for construction of the world’s largest radio telescope – and the biggest science experiment ever undertaken. Comprising 3,000 dish antennas covering a total area of one square kilometre in remote regions of Australia and South Africa, the telescope will be 50 times more sensitive and 10,000 times faster than the world’s current most powerful radio telescopes.
Geoff Maslen

Academics at Britain’s University of Birmingham are working with international scientific publisher Elsevier to investigate the “discourse of interdisciplinary research”, known as IDR, through a comprehensive and innovative linguistic analysis of the full content since 1990 of a successful IDR journal, Global Environmental Change.
Ishmael Tongai

Postgraduate students in South Africa are mainly concerned with funding, career guidance, future opportunities and mentorship support, says a new report by the South African Young Science Academy. The report provides insight into some of the reasons for the low production rate of doctoral students in the country.
Yojana Sharma

Universities from a number of countries have set up branch campuses in China, hoping to tap into the country’s desire for a Western education and a large pool of middle-class students. But China wants new types of university partnerships that tie in closely with its aspiration to drive up research and innovation.
Kalinga Seneviratne

“Nalanda has been a centre of learning that has not only helped in the spread of Buddhism, but also Indian culture across Asia and beyond,” said Ravindra Panth, director of Nava Nalanda Mahavihara, a university in Nalanda in northern India set up to revive the ancient seat of learning there – but now being overshadowed by a new international university.
William Patrick Leonard

Tertiary education institutions in the United States are in financial trouble. But their chief financial officers seem to be putting most of their faith in enhancement measures, which often involve initial outlay, rather than cost-cutting measures.
Cristina González

Higher education in Chile is in turmoil, with high fees, frequently poor quality, social inequality and a public crisis of confidence. The country is an early and extreme example of the privatisation of higher education, and can be seen as a preview of things to come in other nations. What happens in Chile should therefore be watched very closely.
Roger Y Chao Jr

China’s anti-corruption drive to reduce the misuse of research funds will only scratch the surface. A much more comprehensive approach to higher education fraud is needed, tackling some of its cultural roots as well as pressures linked to world rankings and an overemphasis on commerc ialisation of research.
Diana Beech

A conference that aims to allow researchers to have a voice in shaping research policy in Europe takes place later this month. It is sure to address issues that will have a direct impact on individual researchers within Europe and on the European Union’s future research output as a whole.
John Ryan

Obituary: Robert Barnard, 23-11-1936 to 19-09-2013
Robert Barnard, a sensitive and intuitive historian of the English detective novel, died on 19 September in Yorkshire, in the city of Leeds, where he had made his home for more than 30 years.
Aengus Ó Maoláin

Two recent student debates on access to higher education demonstrate the gulf between the more corporate attitude to access and systems that promote greater social responsibility. The student movement is determined to fight for higher education access through universal funding to support more open admissions policies.

A common assumption in the cognitive sciences is that thinking consists of following sets of rules, as it does in a computer. But new research has found that unlike those performed by digital computers, which are designed to follow rules, the computations performed by the neural networks in the human brain are inherently “context dependent”.

Coral reefs have more than one trick up their sleeve to cope with warming oceans, according to a team of marine scientists. They discovered that coral – an animal – produces an important sulphur molecule with many properties, ranging from cellular protection in times of temperature stress, to local climate-cooling by helping to form clouds in the sky above the ocean.

University of Aberdeen scientists have shed new light on a 100-year-old argument over whether blindness following a brain injury is absolute. The findings could pave the way for the development of new technology to support rehabilitation of people who have lost their sight through conditions such as a stroke.
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Coursera, a California-based venture that has enrolled five million students in its free online courses, recently announced a partnership with the United States government to create ‘learning hubs’ around the world, where students can go to get internet access to free courses supplemented by weekly in-person class discussions with local teachers or facilitators, writes Tamar Lewin for The New York Times.

In an ethnically themed shopping centre called Plaza Mexico, just south of Los Angeles, a public university from the Mexican state of Colima has planted its flag. Universidad de Colima offers mostly remedial education to about 100 adult Mexican immigrants. But a handful of students are also preparing to take final exams for Mexican degrees, just one of several recent efforts by Mexican universities to branch into providing fully fledged university education in the United States, writes Matt Krupnick for The Hechinger Report.

Indian universities and institutes of higher education are now being coached on how to pitch for a place in the global top ranking lists, writes Smriti Kak Ramachandran for The Hindu.

Australia’s Abbott government has no plans to extend streamlined visa processing to sub-degree programmes, fearing that it would risk threatening immigration controls, writes Andrew Trounson for The Australian.

Kim Il Sung University is the alma mater of most members of North Korea’s elite. Leader Kim Jong-un graduated from the 67-year-old institution named after his grandfather, the country’s founding leader. So did his father, Kim Jong-il. But there’s no alumni association for Kim Il Sung University in North Korea. In fact, such a thing would be a grievous breach of the law, reports the Korea JoongAng Daily.

Ministers should consider increasing student tuition fees because the existing £9,000 (US$14,469) a year cap is “simply not sustainable”, the country’s leading vice-chancellor has warned, writes Graeme Paton for The Telegraph.

Thousands of part-time college professors are joining labour unions, a growing trend in higher education that is boosting the ranks of organised labour and giving a voice to teachers who complain about low pay and a lack of job security at some of the nation’s top universities, writes Sam Hananel for Associated Press.

The use of zero-hour contracts by universities is widespread and some may be using them to exploit staff, according to a teaching union. The Educational Institute of Scotland said some universities were using the contracts to deny workers stability, security and sick pay, reports the BBC.

Professors, associate professors and doctorate degree holders who work at tertiary education institutions in Vietnam can continue working up to 10 years after retirement age. This is part of the prime minister's decree guiding implementation of the Law on Higher Education that was approved by the National Assembly in June 2012, reports VietNamNet Bridge.

South Korea’s financial markets, banks and government offices opened an hour later than usual as more than 650,000 students took their college entrance exams last Thursday, writes Heesu Lee for Bloomberg. Rush-hour schedules for buses and trains were extended, with police mobilised to help students reach 1,257 test centres nationwide in time for the 8.40am start.

London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies has been given a £20 million (US$32 million) donation to advance the study of South East Asian art, reports the Belfast Telegraph.

Results from the second UK university to run massive open online courses on a major US platform have shown the tool’s potential power for recruiting students to full programmes, writes Chris Parr for Times Higher Education.
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