ISSN 1756-297XIssue No: 0030  01 June 2008
HE Events Diary

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Universities around the world face the challenge of change. In this week's Special Report our correspondents focus on the reforms and upheavals confronting higher education systems in a range of countries.

An international observatory on university rankings has been established. This follows the creation of an International Ranking Expert Group; organisers say the aim is to develop a means of giving credibility to the now-numerous rankings of universities and their departments. See the story in our worldwide reports.

One of Australia's living legends, Antarctic pioneer and educator Dr Phillip Law, received another degree last week. This week we profile him in our People section.


World’s oldest mother located. A team of earth scientists has discovered the fossilised remains of the planet’s oldest mother – a now extinct 25 centimetre-long placoderm fish in the process of giving birth, with the 6 centimetre embryo and umbilical cord intact. The 380 million-year-old fossil from Western Australia represents one of the biggest breakthroughs ever made in palaeontology. See this week's Uni-Lateral section for a full report. (Image: courtesy Museum Victoria).

SPECIAL REPORT: University reform

In countries around the globe, universities face huge challenges as they try to prepare their students for an uncertain future. The Bologna process, of course, is generating the most dramatic reforms of higher education systems across almost the entire European continent but, along the way, Bologna is affecting higher education in many other places – even the US. In this series of special reports, University World News correspondents describe the upheavals universities are experiencing, or will soon encounter, in a number of different nations.

US: America and the Bologna Club
Geoff Maslen
The Bologna process has sufficient momentum to become the dominant global higher education model within the next two decades, according to a report released last week by the US Institute for Higher Education Policy. The report calls on American universities and colleges to take careful note of what is happening across Europe as a result of Bologna and implies it could be time for sweeping changes in the US as well. The 200-page report, The Bologna Club: What US higher education can learn from a decade of European reconstruction, says that in terms of crossing geographic and language boundaries, “let alone turning ancient higher education systems on their heads”, the Bologna process is the most far-reaching and ambitious reform of higher education ever undertaken. Not only that, the core features of Bologna “have sufficient momentum to become the dominant global higher education model within the next two decades and Americans had better listen up”.
Full report on the University World News site.

CZECH REPUBLIC: Green Minister proposes radical changes
Nick Holdsworth
Higher education in the Czech Republic – long caricatured by critics as the dinosaur of Europe’s university system – is due for a major overhaul. This follows publication of a White Paper that proposes sweeping reforms, penned by a 30-year-old Green Party Minister of Education.
Full report on the University World News site

NEW ZEALAND: Report ponders future of universities
John Gerritsen
Almost every aspect of higher education in New Zealand, from student numbers to university cooperation, has been thrown open for debate with the publication of a discussion document on the future of the nation’s universities.
Full report on the University World News site

SAUDI ARABIA: E-learning education shake-up
In a major transformation of traditional education, most universities in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia are expected to switch to a system of e-learning next year. The Saudi Ministry of Higher Education has established a National Centre of E-learning & Distance Learning, known as the ELC, to organise the change and prepare e-learning material. Nine universities have already agreed to implement the system.
Full report on the University World News site

INDONESIA: Obstacles to university reform
David Jardine
Reform of higher education in Indonesia, as in any sector of governance, cannot be considered outside the context of the history of Dutch colonialism and the record of the 32-year militarised dictatorship of the late President Suharto.
Full report on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Divisions surface as review begins
Geoff Maslen
Higher education in Australia is undergoing a wide-ranging review commissioned by the new Labor government. As the latest in a long line of investigations over the past two decades, this one was announced in March by Education Minister Julia Gillard. It is to focus on the future direction of higher education, its ‘fitness for purpose’ in meeting the needs of the Australian community and economy, and the options for ongoing reform.
Full report on the University World News site

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

POLAND: Academic ranking group formed
Intense interest in university and faculty rankings around the world has resulted in the establishment of an international observatory on academic ranking and excellence. Described by its founders as a “partnership of rankings practitioners and academic analysts of rankings”, the aim is to develop a way of making academic rankings credible.
Full report on the University World News site

GERMANY: Donors’ association warns against scrapping fees
Michael Gardner
Germany’s ‘Stifterverband’ has warned against the abolition and reduction of tuition fees in the Federal states of Hesse and Hamburg. The Stifterverband, the country’s donors’ association for sciences and the humanities, stresses the importance of long-term funding horizons to safeguard teaching and is concerned that doing away with fees, or lowering them, could jeopardise study conditions.
Full report on the University World News site

FRANCE: An 'act of aggression', unions say
Jane Marshall
Unions representing staff of the CNRS, France’s national centre for scientific research, walked out of a ministerial meeting to discuss reform of the centre after Valérie Pécresse, Minister for Higher Education and Research, made public her plans for its future before consultations had been completed.
Full report on the University World News site

NEW ZEALAND: Budget disappoints universities
John Gerritsen
New Zealand’s universities will lobby hard for a big boost in their annual funding after last week’s government budget delivered only minor increases for staff salaries and research. The eight universities are pushing for a $230 million (US$181 million) funding increase they say will restore them to the level of per-student funding they enjoyed some 15 years ago.
Full report on University World News site


UK-AUSTRALIA: First British campus down under
University College London will next year become the first UK university with a campus in Australia. This follows the signing of an agreement in London on Thursday with the South Australian government to establish a UCL school of energy and resources in Adelaide.
Full report on University World News site

UK: Oxford launches call for £1.25 billion
Oxford University has launched a massive fundraising campaign for £1.25 billion (US$2.5 billion), the largest bid for cash by any European university, in an effort to keep up with institutions such as Harvard and Stanford. Famous Oxford alumni including Richard Dawkins, Michael Palin and Sir Roger Bannister have backed the appeal, which the university says is vital to maintain its world-class reputation.
Full report on University World News site


UK: Terrorism arrests raise academic freedom questions
Jonathan Travis
A Nottingham University student and staff member were detained for nearly a week under British terrorism laws for attempting to print ‘controversial’ documents on campus. Politics student Rizwaan Sabir was arrested after downloading an edited version of an al-Qaeda handbook from a US government website and sending it to an administrative member of staff, Hashim Yezza, for printing. Sabir is writing his MA dissertation on Islamic extremism and international terrorist networks, and many academics regard the downloaded material, which is publicly available, as a relevant piece of research.
More on academic freedom around the world on the University World News site


EU: Europeans want to ban cloning for business
Alan Osborn
The European Parliament is pushing for an outright ban on the commerc ialisation of cloning of animals, heading off potentially lucrative research revenues for universities. The parliament voted overwhelmingly for a legislative amendment within European Union legislation to ban cloning animals for economic reasons, preventing their use for manufacturing meat, dairy foods, fibres and skins for clothing and textiles, medicine and other industries.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: WTO services negotiations at critical point
Keith Nuthall
The services negotiations of the World Trade Organisation’s Doha Development Round – which could create openings for universities, colleges and research institutes to open branches in foreign countries – are reaching a critical juncture.
Full report on the University World News site

UK: Unique collaboration funds clinical research
Diane Spencer
A university, a health trust and a charity have joined forces to establish a state-of-the-art clinical research and imaging centre. Bristol University, the United Bristol Healthcare Trust and the Wolfson Foundation have collaborated to build the £6.6 million ($12 million) centre at St Michael’s Hospital, in the south-west England city, which is due to open in 2009.
Full report on the University World News site


UK: Graduate trainee schemes in higher education
Allan Bolton
While the leadership and management of higher education institutions have become a subject for increased research and discussion, it is a concern that most of the sector has made little progress in ensuring its ability to recruit and develop the next generation of senior managers and leaders.
Full report on the University World News site

KENYA: World class research needed
Every poor country wants a national airline, writes Professor Mammo Muchie in Business Daily Africa, but rarely do powerful people ruling these countries think of establishing world-class research universities.
More on the University World News site


AUSTRALIA: Award for Antarctic pioneer and educationist
At the age of 96, one of Australia’s greatest Antarctic pioneers and educators, Dr Phillip Law, was last week awarded yet another degree – this time Doctor of Applied Science Honoris Causa at RMIT University in Melbourne. In presenting him to the chancellor, the university’s acting pro vice-chancellor, Professor Irena Cosic, read out Dr Law's citation, describing him as a “living legend..., a true pioneer, innovator and educator, a man of science, courage and compassion”.
Full report on the University World News site


AUSTRALIA: World’s oldest mother located
A team of earth scientists has discovered the fossilised remains of the planet’s oldest mother – a now extinct 25 centimetre-long placoderm fish in the process of giving birth, with the 6 centimetre embryo and umbilical cord intact.
Full report on the University World News site


UK: Price too high?
British universities risk becoming too expensive for overseas students and are losing their grip on the market, says a report by the Higher Education Policy Institute. Research comparing leading universities in 11 countries found that it cost more to study in England, for example, than anywhere else other than the US, reports TimesOnline.
More on the University World News site

US: Rise in students from India
Indians have doubled their presence on US campuses in the past decade, reports the Boston Globe. Numbering more than 83,000 last year, they are the largest group of international students in the country after overtaking the Chinese in 2002, surveys show.
More on the University World News site

PHILIPPINES: Freeze on fees
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has directed the Commission on Higher Education to freeze all tuition fee increases in the 110 state-run colleges and universities nationwide to help students and parents cope with the global rise in oil and food prices, reports the Philippine Information Agency.
More on the University World News site

PAKISTAN: No human rights courses
Although there are 36 Higher Education Commission-affiliated universities in the Punjab, none of them offers a degree in human rights studies, says The Daily Times in Lahore. Nineteen public and 17 private universities are HEC-affiliated in the province, but the study of human rights has failed to get the attention of any of these schools. Educationists believe that the poor state of human rights in the country is the reason why the subject is overlooked.
More on the University World News site


CANADA: Dean, Faculty of International Education
Malaspina University-College, British Columbia
Full specifications on the University World News site
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