ISSN 1756-297XIssue No: 0031  08 June 2008
HE Events Diary

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Which countries pay their academics best? A new study provides the latest figures for universities in five English-speaking nations, our correspondent reports.

Women scientists have the support of the European Parliament with a report that proposes specific initiatives for giving them a bigger role in Europe's research efforts. See the story in this week's News section.

St Petersberg University - the subject of intense debate after it failed more than a third of its students. See our Uni-Lateral column.


Replicating the energy of the sun

The surface of the sun: the international ITER project seeks to harness this kind of energy in nuclear power plants. See the story in this week's Business section. Photo: NASA.

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

GLOBAL: US academics top salaries ranking
John Gerritsen*
US academics enjoy higher salaries than those in any of the main English-speaking countries, even when their purchasing power parity is taken into account, while New Zealanders bring up the rear. A new report shows that the purchasing power of professorial salaries at selected US universities is almost US$114,000 a year – $11,600 more than professors receive in Australia, $13,000 more than in Canada, $32,000 more than in the UK and a whopping $36,200 more than their lowly-paid New Zealand cousins.
Full report on the University World News site

CHINA: Overseas students to be expelled?
Michael Gardner
Media around the world have reported that all foreign students will be forced to leave China during the Olympic Games. But although visa regulations have been tightened and some students have not had their visas renewed, the reports of wholesale expulsions appear to be unfounded.
Full report on the University World News site

TURKEY: Headscarf ban re-imposed
Brendan O’Malley
In a decision that will worsen Turkey’s political crisis, the country’s top constitutional court has re-imposed a ban on women wearing headscarves on university campuses. By a vote of nine to two, the judges ruled that constitutional amendments ending the ban were unlawful on the grounds that securlarism was an unalterable principle of the Turkish Republic.
Full report on the University World News site

EUROPE: Parliament calls for more women scientists
Alan Osborn
The European Parliament has strongly backed a report calling for a bigger role for women in European research and setting out specific initiatives to improve the gender balance. The report Women in Science, drawn up by Danish member of parliament Britta Thomsen, was adopted last month by 416 votes in favour with 75 against and 164 abstentions.
Full report on the University World News site

ZAMBIA: Protesting students shot and wounded
Clemence Manyukwe
Two Zambian students were shot and wounded by police during protests aimed at forcing the government to increase student allowances. Some students were arrested, police confirmed. The demonstrations at two public institutions – the University of Zambia and Copperbelt University – followed industrial action by lecturers who are demanding better pay.
Full report on the University World News site

ISRAEL: Alarm at threat of British boycott
Helena Flusfeder
Israeli academics are alarmed by the recurring threat of a boycott by British academics of Israel’s higher education institutions, implicit in a motion passed at the recent congress of the University and College Union in Manchester.
Full report on the University World News site

GREECE: Higher education in crisis
Makki Marseilles
After almost a month of unrest, conflict and violence in Greek universities, all parties in the dispute – government, political parties, trade unions, lecturers and students – are seeking a way out of the crisis so the student examination period can go ahead unhindered.
Full report on the University World News site

INTERNATIONAL: Universities opt for i-Tunes
Universities in Australia, Britain, Ireland and New Zealand have followed US institutions and joined with Apple to make their teaching and research available free to a global audience, using the giant company’s distribution system, iTunes U on the iTunes Store.
Full report on the University World News site

EGYPT: Land of the Nile starved of agriculture students
Ashraf Khaled
Egypt's state-owned universities are bursting at the seams with students – except for students of agriculture. There has been a sharp decline in the number of agriculture students in public universities and there is no teaching of agronomy or other farming-related disciplines in private institutions established in the past two decades.
Full report on the University World News site


UK: Oxford’s new vice-chancellor
Oxford University has nominated the Provost of Yale University, Professor Andrew Hamilton, as its next vice-chancellor. Provided the university dons approve the appointment, Hamilton will replace the current vice-chancellor, Dr John Hood, who retires next year after his five-year appointment ends.
Full report on the University World News site


GLOBAL: Unlocking the sun’s energy secrets
Keith Nuthall
Research funding has begun to flow to a global project aimed at harnessing the physics of the stars to create a sustainable and safe nuclear fusion. A consortium of 14 research teams from across Europe has been formed to create a computer simulation of the international ITER fusion reactor, to model the technology required to operate it safely.
Full report on the University World News site

EUROPE: Poor links with industry restrict innovation
Alan Osborn
The European Union will have to achieve much greater progress in bridging the gap between research and industry if it is to make a success of the Lisbon strategy for making the EU the world’s most competitive economy by 2010, a conference in Brussels on Innovating for Competitiveness in ICT was told late last month.
Full report on the University World News site

RUSSIA: Scientific ties boosted by co-funding initiative
Nick Holdsworth
Russian and European Union scientific ties and collaboration are set to be boosted following the first meeting of a high level political body set up to create a programme of joint study projects. The EU-Russia Permanent Partnership Council on Research met for the first time in the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana on 26 May. The council agreed to push ahead with joint research and co-funding of projects in areas including health, nanotechnologies and new materials.
Full report on the University World News site


DENMARK: Erasmus Mundus on a collision course?
Ard Jongsma
In its proposals for the next phase of Erasmus Mundus, the European Commission is moving towards higher student contributions for enrolment in the EU joint programmes scheme. The proposals have met opposition from countries such as Denmark, where tuition is paid through taxation. The issue will come up for debate in the European Parliament this month and an amendment has already been mooted.
Full report on the University World News site

BOTSWANA: New tertiary education policy
A special correspondent
Botswana’s parliament recently approved a new tertiary education policy, Towards a knowledge society, for the stable and rapidly growing southern African nation. The major goals of the new approach to tertiary education are to enhance relevance, ensure quality, maintain diversity of choice and increase access – including more than doubling the ratio of young people entering tertiary education within two decades. The country’s capacity for research and innovation is to be expanded from a single national university to other tertiary institutions and a second public university.
Full report on the University World News site


US: Navigating conflict between science and policymakers
Drawing on his experience as a biologist, president emeritus of Stanford University and former editor-in-chief of Science magazine, Donald Kennedy probes conflict between the conduct of science and influences of (a security-focussed, neo-conservative) government, in a paper published by the Center for Studies in Higher Education at the University of California, Berkeley. In “Science and its discontents: An evolutionary tale”, Kennedy discusses three current conflicts: new security and secrecy regimes that seek control of science; religiously derived moral viewpoints that aim to limit scientific research; and the shaping and censoring of scientific findings for political gain. The full paper is available on the CSHE website.
More on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Context counts in Chinese higher education
Adam Habib*
A recent trip to China, to learn about Chinese higher education institutions and explore the potential for research collaborations and partnerships, suggested important lessons for South Africa’s higher education system. The most striking feature of China's universities is how they are structured to meet the needs of their context. Of course, they do borrow from the comparative experiences of other countries. But unlike higher education leaders and policy wonks in South Africa, who slavishly follow the latest reforms in the US and the UK, Chinese higher education authorities adapt other experiences to their own context, writes Professor Adam Habib, a deputy vice-chancellor of the University of Johannesburg, in Business Day.
More on the University World News site


AUSTRALIA: Fay Gale – A life of firsts
Obituary: Fay Gale – 13 June 1932 to 3 May 2008
In her prime as an academic, Professor Fay Gale was Australia’s foremost cultural geographer but throughout her life she was also a passionate advocate of equal opportunity for women and Aboriginal people. Hers was a life of remarkable firsts: from being the first woman to hold a chair at the University of Adelaide, and the only female professor there for 10 years, to being appointed the first woman to head the University of Western Australia and thereby the first female vice-chancellor of one of the elite Group of Eight universities, following this by becoming the first woman to be elected president of the Australian Vice Chancellors Committee.
Full report on the University World News site

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

RUSSIA: President’s alma mater in quality dispute
Helen Womack
A row has broken out at St Petersburg State University – the alma mater of ex-President Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev – following the failure of more than a third of students to pass their examinations. Unsuccessful students, who were sent away without any right of appeal, said they had been made scapegoats after the authorities, trying to raise respect for the rule of law, called for higher standards among law graduates.
Full report on the University World News site


US: Call to fund the young and risky
A coalition of researchers has strongly urged a greater commitment among policymakers, universities and private donors to support scientists early in their careers and encourage potentially “high risk, high reward” ventures, reports Inside Higher Ed. A series of recommendations that would alter longstanding federal funding and peer review mechanisms was published in a white paper released by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
More on the University World News site

US: Loan mess hits home for students
Todd Coffman thinks he's a good credit risk – but because he's studying at a community college, the banks suddenly seem to think otherwise, reports the Seattle Times. Coffman, 28, is halfway through a two-year X-ray-technology degree at Bellevue Community College. In the past year, he took out about $4,500 in federally subsidised student loans through Citibank. But turbulent credit markets prompted Citibank and other banks in recent weeks to stop offering student loans at many community colleges across the country.
More on the University World News site

JAPAN: Chinese students prefer the West
About 70,000 Chinese are studying at Japanese universities, comprising by far the single biggest group among the nation’s 120,000 international students. But Homare Endo, an adviser to Teikyo University Group who has served as a counsellor for Chinese students in Japan since the early 1980s, says the cream of China’s students tend to go to the United States or Europe, reports the Daily Yomiuri.
More on the University World News site

CHINA: Growing competition for top students
Universities across China are competing aggressively for top students as the annual national college entrance examination approaches. Some are offering special scholarships for students who do well in the exam, reports ChinaView.
More on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: On track to R&D spending of 1% of GDP
South Africa is well on track to reach research and development spending of 1% of gross domestic product by the end of 2008, according to Science and Technology Minister Mosibudi Mangena, reports Engineering News. The intensity of research and development, which is measured as a percentage of research spending of gross domestic product and indicates the competitiveness of an economy, currently stands at 0.9%.
More on the University World News site

INDIA: UK keen to send students to Indian universities
In a reverse trend, the UK government is interested in sending British students to study in India, reports The Times of India. “We want to set up a UK-India school to facilitate British students to come and study in India,” said Bill Rammell, UK minister of state, lifelong learning, further and higher education. This is part of a slew of initiatives by the British government to strengthen education ties with India.
More on the University World News site

UK: Cheating rife among university students
As undergraduates gear up for end-of-year exams, new research shows cheating among university students is rife, reports Education Guardian. Researchers investigating the number of cases of plagiarism in the UK’s 168 universities and colleges found over 9,000 incidents recorded in the 100 institutions that responded to the survey by the Higher Education Academy.
More on the University World News site

UK: Welsh universities furious over fake degrees
Fake degrees from every university in Wales are being sold on the internet for less than £40 each, a Wales on Sunday investigation has found. Carrying official university crests, printed on parchment paper and with authentic embossed seals, the bogus qualifications could easily be used to dupe a potential employer.
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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