University World News Global Edition
26 January 2014 Issue 0304 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
Research universities, Erasmus lessons, emerging country rankings, MOOCS

In Commentary Richard H Brodhead, president of Duke University, argues that research universities around the world need to learn from each other in order to create the versatile graduates who will make a difference in the world. Claire Morel outlines lessons learned from the first generation of Erasmus Mundus joint masters which will help to improve joint degrees under the Erasmus+ programme that kicks off this month.
Richard Holmes investigates recent rankings of emerging country universities and questions whether they will contribute towards improvements in higher education quality, and Marguerite Dennis looks at what the future of MOOCs may hold – and their potential impact on university administration.
In World Blog, Grace Karram Stephenson reports on an international conference on offshore education in Dubai, which also marked the recovery of the Emirate – and higher education – following the financial crisis.
In Features , Crystal Tai writes that following regulatory hitches, South Korea's Incheon Free Economic Zone plans are back on track and three international university branches will open this year. Hiep Pham describes Vietnam’s efforts to develop at least one ‘world-class’ university by 2020.
Steve Kolowich profiles Canadian MOOCs creator George Siemens, who is in an ‘unlikely’ alliance with the Gates foundation to lead the MOOC Research Initiative, and Reuben Kyama interviews Leben Nelson Moro of the University of Juba on higher education amid the conflict in South Sudan.
Karen MacGregor – Global Editor
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
David Jobbins

Evidence of the impact on higher education of ambiguous signals from a British government determined to cut net immigration has emerged in the form of the first recorded decline in enrolment of international students from outside the European Union.
Peta Lee

The failure of companies, education institutions and young people to understand one another is one of the reasons why employers are not getting the skills they need and there are now 5.6 million young people jobless across Europe, according to a report by McKinsey & Company.
Geoff Maslen

Monash University has become the first ‘brand’ in the world to secure its own top-level domain on the internet and is now able to use .monash rather than its current online web page presence of
Jan Petter Myklebust

A group of leaders of Swedish companies and universities have proposed a new model for financing international students through 1,500 grants. The grants will be calculated on a cost-benefit analysis of at least 20% of the students working and paying taxes in Sweden for five years after graduating.
Jan Petter Myklebust

Over the Christmas period Morten Østergaard, Denmark’s minister for science, innovation and higher education, told a leading newspaper there were far too many courses at universities and the number would be significantly cut. There have also been challenges to the university funding system. Universities have now struck back.
Gilbert Nganga

Kenya has finally selected commissioners to head its new higher education regulator, the Commission for University Education, ending months of delays and potentially unlocking stalled programmes that had to wait for the leadership team.
Tunde Fatunde

The recently ended, six-month strike by public university lecturers in Nigeria has thrown the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board – the agency that administers entrance examinations for all universities – into a dilemma. Students who sat last year’s exam were unable to gain admission to public universities because of the strike.
Kudzai Mashininga

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has incurred unauthorised expenditure amounting to nearly US$6 million for his personal scholarship fund to assist local students to study in South African universities.
Michael Gardner

Defence-related research at German research institutions appears to have been commissioned by at least six foreign countries, it was recently revealed in parliament. Calls for more transparency have, however, been rejected by the coalition government.
Suvendrini Kakuchi

The Shibayama Lab at Waseda University, a leading higher education institution in Japan, is spearheading a new global approach to disaster prevention and mitigation research involving experts from diverse countries, in an initiative launched last month.
Wagdy Sawahel

UNESCO is planning to set up an online institute aimed at enhancing quality in higher education institutions across Africa. The Virtual Institute for Improving Quality of Higher Education in Africa – VIIQHE – will help to tackle the depreciating quality of lecturers.
Eugene Vorotnikov

Tertiary education training of spec ialists for Russia’s struggling textile and clothing sector is to be expanded. The Ministry of Industry and Trade has already told universities operating courses for the textile and other light industries to recruit more students and teachers.
Crystal Tai

Plans to open more branches of foreign universities in South Korea’s Incheon Free Economic Zone are back on track, say managers of the development. The United States-based George Mason University and University of Utah, and Ghent University in Belgium, are set to open branches at Incheon this year.
Hiep Pham

Vietnam is aiming for at least one ‘world-class’ national university to emerge by 2020, while also upgrading regional research-led universities to compete with the best in Asia by 2015 – in time for the formation of the ASEAN economic community.
Steve Kolowich

When George Siemens was in the seventh grade, in the early 1980s, he committed what his conservative Mennonite parents believed to be a sin: he used a computer. They held that technology – and higher education – steered people away from God. But Siemens had made his choice. And decades later, in 2008 when he was a researcher at the University of Manitoba, he helped invent the massive open online course, or MOOC.
Reuben Kyama

The political crisis in South Sudan has dealt a major blow to higher education, according to Leben Nelson Moro, assistant professor in the University of Juba’s centre for peace and development studies. “The fighting has seriously affected learning activities in our university, and many students have been displaced.” This month, university classes were suspended due to the conflict.
Grace Karram Stephenson

An international conference on offshore education in Dubai brought together higher education researchers from 30 countries. It also marked the resurgence of Dubai after the financial collapse – and of Michigan State University’s Dubai campus.
Richard H Brodhead

Research universities need to learn from each other across national boundaries in order to create the kind of thoughtful, versatile graduates that we require now and in the future. Every idea – however final it may seem – not only can be but also needs to be questioned, tested and reconsidered, for knowledge to keep advancing.
Claire Morel

A recent synthesis report by seven independent experts presented the main results achieved through the first generation of 57 Erasmus Mundus joint masters programmes. Its recommendations are particularly timely since joint masters degrees will continue to be financed under the new Erasmus+ programme that started this month.
Richard Holmes

Times Higher Education and QS have produced special rankings for emerging countries. But how do they compare and contrast and, given that they are likely to become a fixture, will they actually contribute to an improvement in university quality or will universities simply learn how to game the system better?
Marguerite Dennis

Everyone is talking about MOOCs, but what does the future hold? Will universities increasingly seek to monetise massive open online courses, and if so, how? Why are we not talking about the potential impact they might have on university administration?

For the first time, a team of 14 ecological researchers from America, Australia, Italy and Sweden have shown that large carnivores are necessary for the maintenance of biodiversity and ecosystem functions in their environments. Yet the carnivores all face serious threats and are experiencing massive declines in their populations.
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All 13 Indian institutes of technology may compete as a single unit at the global level for a place among the best in rankings, reports Firstpost.India. Higher education secretary Ashok Thakur said the idea was to position the institutes as a single unit much like their brand.

Once a hotbed of political subversion, the old foundations of the Rangoon Student Union now sustain a grove of trees that sway sleepily in regimental rows. Half a century and a name-change later, the leafy avenues of Yangon University are crawling with the first crop of undergraduates to study a curriculum free from the interfering hand of the military, reports Aljazeera.

Among the beneficiaries of the interim nuclear agreement with Iran that went into effect recently are Iranian students abroad and the Western educational institutions that are already seeing rising interest from Iran, reports Voice of America.

More than 100 American colleges and universities have promised to try to attract more low-income students by strengthening relationships with high schools and community colleges, increasing access to advisors and offering more remedial programmes, writes Jason Song for the Los Angeles Times.

Chinese authorities have detained a dissident scholar and member of the country's Uighur minority who is well known for calling on Beijing to address one of its most complex ethnic challenges, writes James T Areddy for The Wall Street Journal.

The Pakistan studies lecturer is in mid-flow when his students stand and rush for the door – his class interrupted yet again by the call to prayer, reports Zee News. "They won't come back for at least 30 minutes and some of them even decide not to return to class," said Sajjad Akhtar, gathering his notes and sitting down to wait for his students to return.

The ghost of former President George W Bush permeates the 2014 budget recently released by the US Congress. His presence is good news for physical scientists, but less cheery for biomedical researchers, as Congress reserved some of the biggest spending increases for NASA and the Department of Energy. The National Institutes of Health got a US$1 billion increase that is drawing mixed reviews from research advocates, writes Jeffrey Mervis for Science.

State spending on US higher education is up, after years of cuts, but public colleges are not yet receiving as much in appropriations as they were before the recession, writes Ry Rivard for Inside Higher Ed.

Applications to become Ireland’s first technological university could reach the Department of Education as early as the end of the year, writes Dick Ahlstrom for The Irish Times.

Between the government's recent release of its landmark white paper on post-school education and training, and its orgiastic celebration of the 2013 school-leaving results, another document rather more modestly entered the public domain, write David Macfarlane and Victoria John for the Mail & Guardian.

Sixty-nine Democrats and 65 Republicans in the US House of Representatives signed a letter recently denouncing the American Studies Association’s recent decision to boycott Israeli universities and academic institutions, writes Maya Shwayder for The Jerusalem Post.

Massive open online courses, or MOOCs, represent one of the most momentous – and contentious – changes to higher education in decades. But the debate over the free internet classes has been a conspicuously fact-free zone. So our team at the University of Pennsylvania decided to inject some empiricism into the discussion, write Brandon Alcorn, Gayle Christensen and Ezekiel J Emanuel for New Republic.

Globalisation is crucial to Finland, especially in its economic development. As a small country in the north of Europe, Finland’s economy is highly dependent on international trade and the international markets, according to the Prime Minister’s Office, writes Yuzhuo Cai for Helsinki Times.

A former police chief has been named the party chief of a Shenzhen-based university designed to be the nation’s first ‘red tape-free’ higher education institute – an appointment that was deemed by some mainland citizens as ‘suspicious’, writes Andrea Chen for South China Morning Post.

Scotland was the only country in the UK to see an increase in university entrants in 2012-13, according to the statistics agency for the sector. The rise in first year undergraduates was just 1% but contrasted with a significant fall in numbers in England, reports the BBC.

Universities are misleading students by exaggerating their achievements in undergraduate prospectuses, according to research, writes Graeme Paton for The Telegraph. Some institutions attempt to “bend the facts to breaking point” to appeal to applicants, one academic admitted.
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This Week


Duke President Richard H Brodhead on research universities

Erasmus lessons on Europe's joint masters degrees

The university rankings for emerging countries

Where are MOOCs headed

World Blog

Michigan State's international HE conference in Dubai


Vietnam's world-class university aspirations

MOOCs creator George Siemens and connectivism

University classes suspended in South Sudan

Science Scene

Top predators' populations massively decline