University World News Global Edition
01 December 2013 Issue 0298 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
The BRICS – New rankings, emerging HE collaboration and Europe enters fray

Maxim Khomyakov looks at emerging university collaboration in the BRICS countries and the impending publication of two BRICS university league tables, and Phil Baty explains why Times Higher Education is bringing out its first BRICS ranking.
In response to a recent commentary critical of higher education in Chile, Ruben Covarrubias Giordano looks at the sector’s major achievements and points out that Chilean higher education leads the region.
Roger Y Chao Jr asks whether CAMPUS Asia – which promotes student mobility between China, Japan and South Korea – will work if limited to just three countries that are hotly competitive and have historic tensions.
The informal support industry that has grown up around higher education as it has expanded and internationalised, is described by Abu Kamara in World Blog.
In Academic Freedom, John Higgins argues that relations between the university and the state in South Africa have come a full circle since apartheid, and in the foreword to Higgins’ new book on academic freedom, author and Nobel literature laureate JM Coetzee looks at the worldwide assault on the independence of universities.
In Features, Ard Jongsma attends a high-level policy dialogue seeking closer higher education cooperation between the European Union and South Africa – part of Europe’s new focus on emerging nations, especially the BRICS countries.
Yojana Sharma writes that a £20 million donation to London’s School of Oriental and African Studies will provide a major boost to the study of ancient Asian art, and Makki Marseilles brings us up to speed on problems in Greek universities.
Karen MacGregor – Global Editor
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Jan Petter Myklebust

Some 9,000 students took to the streets last Wednesday to protest against Copenhagen University’s plans to adopt ‘student progress’ measures. The government passed reforms last April that will financially punish universities if students take too long to graduate.
Eugene Vorotnikov and Karen MacGregor

Thousands of students joined protests in the Ukrainian capital Kiev last week against a government decision not to sign a European Union integration agreement. Students are also demonstrating against ever-growing salary and scholarship arrears for lecturers and students.
Elvira Ramirez-Cohn and Yojana Sharma

Higher education institutions in most parts of the typhoon-hit Visayas region of the Philippines, which are currently closed, will reopen on 15 January or as soon as possible after that, according to Patricia Licuanan, head of the Philippines Commission on Higher Education.
Keith Nuthall

A detailed policy declaration from the European Union Council of Ministers has called on member states to make more effort to internationalise their higher education sectors.
Michael Gardner

At least 22 universities and research institutes in Germany have been receiving funding totalling more than €10 million (US$13.5 million) from the United States Pentagon since 2000. The institutions have confirmed this – but not all are willing to disclose details of their research.
David Jobbins

High tuition fees and cost of living have lost London the top place in the QS Best Student Cities Index for the second year in a row, while North American cities fare less well than those in Europe, the Far East and Australia.
Suluck Lamubol

Thai historians researching the country’s past and present monarchies are concerned that a recent ruling by Thailand’s Supreme Court will affect their work, after it ruled that defaming past monarchs is a crime under Article 112 of the criminal code, the lèse majesté law.
Yojana Sharma

China has stepped up pressure on ethnic minority students and lecturers in the restive northwestern Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, insisting that students must pass a test of political views and declare their allegiance to the Chinese state in order to graduate.
Jan Petter Myklebust

Norway’s coalition government is investigating ways of introducing tuition fees for students from outside the European Union and European Economic Area, on the grounds that such fees have already been introduced in Switzerland, Sweden and Denmark.
Tunde Fatunde

The university community in Nigeria has welcomed the scrapping by the British government of a controversial proposed £3,000 (US$4,900) security visa bond for ‘high risk’ foreign visitors, including international students from Nigeria.
Gilbert Nganga

Kenya’s higher education sector is feeling the pinch of a new government policy to temporarily freeze employment and appointments in state bodies.
Nick Holdsworth

Medical students worldwide tend to have a reputation for working hard and playing hard. But would-be doctors at a medical school near the southern Russian city of Stavropol got more than they bargained for when their impromptu outdoor Caucasian dance routine brought the long arm of the law down on them.
Moses Magadza

A distinguished academic has advised Namibia to differentiate higher education if it is to transform into a knowledge-based economy. He called for strengthening further education and training to improve access to a more diverse system that will better meet the needs of the developing Southern African country.
Wagdy Sawahel

Kuwait has launched a US$1 million annual award for research in Africa, announced at the third African Arab Summit, held under the theme "Partners in Development and Investment" in Kuwait from 19-20 November. And a Kuwaiti charity plans to establish a university in Malawi.
Ard Jongsma

A high-level policy dialogue in Brussels last month showed that there is both the will and the potential for much closer cooperation between European Union and South African higher education. The meeting ended with agreements in five areas – the rationale for internationalisation, internationalisation at home, quality and quality assurance, open educational resources and tools and instruments for cooperation.
Yojana Sharma

A visit to the abandoned and dilapidated Yangon University campus in Myanmar over a year ago was the unlikely setting for a discussion that led to a groundbreaking £20 million (US$32 million) donation to London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies.
Makki Marseilles

A passionate week for Greek universities – a female university administrator attempts suicide; the rector of Athens University sues members of its management council for slander; students occupy colleges in support of the administration staff strike, now in its 12th week; and senate committees at three universities place their resignations at the discretion of rectors.
Andrew Masterson

Among ambitious academics, the urge to see one's name in print is strong indeed. ‘Publish or perish’ is the governing dictum. Each piece of diligent research – written, submitted, fact-checked, reviewed, reviewed again and published in a scholarly journal – helps ensure the next grant, the continuation of tenure, the juicy job offer.
In his new book on Academic Freedom in a Democratic South Africa, John Higgins argues that when it comes to contested relations between the university and the state, South Africa has come a full circle since apartheid. In the foreword JM Coetzee, recipient of the 2003 Nobel prize in literature, writes that South African universities are not alone in facing the ideological force driving the assault on the independence of universities.
JM Coetzee

In institutions of higher learning in Poland, in the bad old days, if on ideological grounds you were not permitted to teach real philosophy, you let it be known that you would be running a philosophy seminar in your living room, outside office hours, outside the institution. It may be that something along the same lines will be needed to keep humanistic studies alive in a world in which universities have redefined themselves out of existence.
John Higgins

In the years before the end of apartheid, academic freedom was seen as a positive social force and as an essential component of South Africa’s democracy to come. We should insist on remembering this once powerful sense of academic freedom as a positive social force, at a moment when policy and politics together are determined that we forget it.
Abu Kamara

An informal support industry has grown up around higher education as it expands. This is especially true regarding internationalisation. There are advantages, such as earning possibilities for international students, but the downside is lack of regulation and the potential for corruption.
Maxim Khomyakov

Universities in BRICS countries want to make more of a global impact. To do so they are joining together in a universities league, to work together to enhance their positions. A first response to this is the publication of BRICS league tables – but these will only work if based on true collaboration between members.
Phil Baty

Times Higher Education is bringing out its first ranking of the BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – and emerging countries, in early December. The aim is to show the rapid progress being made by potential world-class institutions in these countries, progress that risks being obscured by Western-dominated world university rankings.
Ruben Covarrubias Giordano

I have carefully read the article by Professor Cristina González, posted by your prestigious publication, on Chilean higher education. The article provides an interpretation of the situation in Chile, based on González’ observations during her stay in the country and in the context of a series of lectures that she came to impart. Although the article is very interesting, it is necessary and appropriate to clarify some points.
Roger Y Chao Jr

CAMPUS Asia aims to be China, Japan and South Korea's version of Europe's Erasmus programme and to encourage greater student mobility between the region's most developed countries. However, can such a programme work when it is limited to just three countries? And will ongoing competition and historic tensions undermine it?
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The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is considering cutting £350 million (US$571 million) in grants to the UK's poorest students and slashing £215 million from ring-fenced science funding in order to plug a £1.4 billion hole in its finances, report Shiv Malik, Richard Adams and Órla Ryan for the Guardian.

The British Council will publish an online database listing all the agents around the world who have signed up to a new ethical code of practice in the wake of several cases involving conflicts of interest – with the agent being paid by both student and university – writes Richard Garner for The Independent on Sunday.

As presidential candidate Michelle Bachelet prepares for a second round of voting on 15 December in Chile, for what would be a second term in office, her campaign has released a proposal to provide universal access to higher education at no cost to students, writes Joel Fensch for PanAm Post.

The University of Nicosia has become the first in the world to accept the digital currency Bitcoin for tuition and other fees, writes Constantinos Psilides for Cyprus Mail. Chief financial officer Dr Christos Vlachos said that digital currency was an inevitable technical development.

For decades, India’s institutes of technology and management have been seen as the pinnacle of the country’s higher education. Yet a group of successful professionals and entrepreneurs, some of them alumni of these universities, have come together to establish an alternative to what they say is an educational paradigm that overly emphasises technical capabilities while neglecting vital skills like critical thinking, communications and teamwork, writes Max Bearak for The New York Times.

Yemen’s higher education minister has ordered the closure of all Yemeni university branches in Saudi Arabia, writes Ibrahim Naffee for Arab News. Students enrolled in distance learning courses at the universities will now be unable to obtain their bachelor degrees.

Girls outperform and outstay boys in school and, as a result, they go on to university in ever greater numbers. According to new statistics from Australia’s federal education department, the number of female students in higher education jumped by 33.5% between 2002 and 2012, compared with a 22% rise for males, reports Geoff Maslen for The Sydney Morning Herald.

Concerns are being raised about the quality of young doctors in Malaysia, with the country's biggest doctors' association raising the red flag on foreign medical colleges and experts also warning of sub-standard local training, writes Yong Yen Nie for The Straits Times-ANN.

After years of leaning on tuition increases to make up for declining state support, about four in 10 public universities now report tuition revenue is not keeping pace with inflation, according to a new report by Moody’s Investors Service, writes Ry Rivard for Inside Higher Ed.

Universities in China are charging hefty fees for courses that help participants understand Communist Party jargon, state media has reported. Consultants are reported to be charging at least US$1,500 for the courses, which help students gain a better understanding of party language, reports BBC News.

If the first chapter in the evolution of massive open online courses – MOOCs – was written in the US, it may well be in Europe that they make their next significant advance. This is the view of Hannes Klöpper, co-founder and chief academic officer at Iversity, a Berlin-based MOOC platform that launched recently, writes Adam Palin for the Financial Times.

Irish universities are turning into profit-making institutions rather than serving their proper purpose as a public good. The change could destroy the higher education sector, university staff have warned, writes Dick Ahlstrom for The Irish Times.

Universities can segregate by gender during talks by external speakers, as long as men and women are seated side by side and not one in front of the other, new guidance has advised, writes Lucy Sherriff for The Huffington Post.

A new version of the high-speed JANET network has been launched to support higher education and research institutions, writes Kane Fulton for
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