University World News Global Edition
06 April 2014 Issue 0314 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
Are university rankings just the tip of an education data iceberg?

In Commentary, Ellen Hazelkorn argues that despite their crude simplicity and biases, university rankings have become game changers – and they are probably just the beginning as new ratings systems appear on the global higher education scene.
Anita Gopal suggests that Canada considers moral issues of brain drain and provides more resources to support the large number of international students it is attracting. Ranjit Goswami maintains that Indian higher education’s resistance to open access for publicly funded research needs to change.
In World Blog, William Patrick Leonard probes the gap between students and academics, versus business and the public, on whether graduates are well prepared for jobs, and concludes that academics are not in tune with the world outside.
In Features, Alya Mishra looks at the potential influence of India’s nearly 150 million eligible first-time voters on the impending parliamentary elections, and finds that campuses could be battlegrounds for parties hoping to capture the youth vote.
We cover a lively debate over differentiation – and other elephants in the room – at the biennial research and innovation conference of the vice-chancellors’ association Higher Education South Africa, as the country heads for 20 years of democracy.
And in News, Science Editor Geoff Maslen looks at last week’s report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which warned that Earth is ill prepared to cope, and a ‘virtual’ campus being set up by Melbourne and Tsinghua universities.
Karen MacGregor – Global Editor
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
David Jobbins

A dip in international student recruitment – the first fall for 29 years – is raising questions for English universities and the United Kingdom government.
John Gerritsen

New Zealanders with student loans now run the risk of arrest if they move overseas and get behind on their loan repayments.
Jan Petter Myklebust

Denmark’s Quality Commission has proposed sweeping reforms to higher education, in its first report released last Thursday. Among them are tougher admission requirements and the extension of bachelor degrees to four years of full-time study. The response from universities and students has been negative.
Jane Marshall

France has a new government, including a new minister in charge of higher education and research. Geneviève Fioraso has been replaced by Benoît Hamon, who takes over an enlarged Ministry for National Education, Higher Education and Research.
Geoff Maslen

The effects of climate change are already occurring on all continents and across all oceans but the world is ill prepared to cope, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned last Monday.
Geoff Maslen

Human-driven climate change poses a great threat, unprecedented in type and scale, to well-being, health and perhaps even to human survival, according to academics in Canberra who contributed to the health chapter of the Impacts report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Munyaradzi Makoni

Four universities on four continents have embarked on a programme to share expertise and best practices in blending classroom and virtual teaching and learning experiences.

The first global competition for the "most innovative pedagogical approaches in higher education" was announced last week by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in the United States and London-based QS Quacquarelli Symonds, which publishes the QS World University Rankings.
Geoff Maslen

A cloud-based ‘virtual’ campus will be established between Melbourne and Tsinghua universities following the signing of an agreement between the heads of the two institutions.
Munyaradzi Makoni

A centre of excellence in scientometrics and science, technology and innovation policy was launched last week at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. It is one of five new centres of excellence announced by the government in February, bringing the total to 14 countrywide.
Moses Magadza

In an unprecedented move in Namibian higher education, the national university has widely publicised the curriculum vitae of the dean of health sciences who is also founding dean of the new medical school. This follows an intense campaign criticising both him and the medical school curriculum.
Wagdy Sawahel

Libya has launched a technology and innovation parks initiative aimed at encouraging links between universities, research institutes and the technology-based private sector.
Michael Gardner

The latest of Afghanistan’s five planned national research centres has been opened at Kandahar University. The centres are being set up by the German Academic Exchange Service, or DAAD, in cooperation with the Technical University of Berlin.
Alya Mishra

Universities in India could be a frontline for political parties hoping to capture the considerable youth vote during national parliamentary elections that kick off on 7 April. Recent opinion polls and commentators agree that first-time voters could be a significant factor influencing the outcome. According to Census 2011 data, battleground 2014 will have 149.36 million first-time voters aged between 18 and 23 years.
Karen MacGregor

South African vice-chancellors called for renewal of the academy, more and better postgraduate training and greater policy coordination at their biennial research and innovation conference last week. There was a lively debate over differentiation, and a decision to meet with captains of industry and forge more productive relations with the private sector.
Jennifer Howard, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Librarians love to get free books into the hands of scholars and students who need them. Publishers love it when their books find readers – but they also need to cover the costs of turning an idea into a finished monograph. Now a non-profit group called Knowledge Unlatched is trying out a new open access model designed to make both librarians and publishers happy.
William Patrick Leonard

There is a yawning gap between student and academic views on whether graduates are prepared for the world of work, and those of business leaders and the public. The problem is that academics are not teaching curricula that are in tune with what is happening outside the world of academe.
Ellen Hazelkorn

Despite their crude simplicity and a focus on measures that favour the rich, international higher education rankings have become game changers. Yet they are likely to be only the beginning as new ratings systems come in, including Rate-my-professor sites.
Anita Gopal

If Canada wants to attract more international students it needs to do more than just lure them to the country. It must provide the resources necessary to support international students and must consider its moral responsibility when luring such students away from their countries.
Ranjit Goswami

Indian higher education is resistant to open access and so academics and others who would find research useful have to pay to read it through subscription journals. This needs to change, at least for publicly funded research.

Collaborative research on mental health issues, from schizophrenia to disaster mental health, will be the focus of a new University of Melbourne and Peking University centre launched in Beijing last week.

Older people with a body mass index in the overweight range live longer than those in the normal weight range, according to the results of a new study. The researchers found that the lowest risk of death was among people with a BMI of around 27.5, which the World Health Organization considers overweight.

Albert Einstein's scepticism about quantum mechanics could result in an ultra-secure internet, according to Chinese and Australian researchers. They found that a secure message could be shared by up to three or four people, opening the possibility of secure messages being sent from many people to many others, even if a device had been hacked.

Did the Polynesians beat Columbus to South America? Not according to a tale of migration uncovered by analysis of ancient DNA from chicken bones recovered in archaeological digs across the Pacific. An international team of researchers found that previous claims of contact between early Polynesians and South America were probably based on contaminated results.

Researchers have uncovered new evidence about the formation of Earth arising from the collision of tectonic plates. The collisions began millions of years ago and some are still happening today, resulting in some of the world’s most stunning landscapes containing diverse varieties of rock that have baffled scientists – until now.

Pre-term children are at an increased risk of having general cognitive and maths problems. A study by researchers in Britain and Germany sought to understand the relationship between pre-term birth and dyscalculia, a learning disorder involving frequent problems with everyday arithmetical tasks that is usually diagnosed when children do worse in maths than would be expected based on their intelligence.
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Several explosive devices detonated near the campus of Cairo University last Wednesday, killing a senior police official and wounding several officers in the first major attack in the capital since the beginning of Egypt’s presidential campaign, writes Kareem Fahim for The New York Times.

Each year more than 27,000 students across Australia abandon their university dreams in the first year of study, reports Heath Gilmore for The Sydney Morning Herald.

Universities in Myanmar have been given e-libraries with hundreds of thousands of digital books and academic journals to help them catch up after decades of isolation under military rule, reports Dean Coughlan for BBC News.

Late last month, 31 students filed two federal complaints against the University of California, Berkeley, for failing to prevent, investigate or discipline assailants in cases of s exual violence and harassment, writes Sofie Karasek for the Guardian.

Saudi Arabia’s custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has ordered the establishment of three new universities in Jeddah, Bisha and Hafr Al-Batin, reports Arab News.

Morocco’s Minister of Higher Education Lahcen Daoudi said the government was moving to boost English in Moroccan universities, as it was the language of scientific research, writes Aziz Allilou for Morocco World News.

Two more big universities in the Philippines have applied for an academic calendar shift and will open classes in August, following similar moves by top universities in Metro Manila, reports Solar News.

Universities and Science Minister David Willetts has spoken of his shock at discovering that there is a belief in Israel that the United Kingdom is hostile to working with its scientists and students, reports Matthew Reisz for Times Higher Education.

A study by the consumer group Which? has found that tens of thousands of British students did not attend any university open days before completing applications and half failed to consult lecturers about their courses, reports Graeme Paton for The Telegraph.

Two leading Scottish academics have criticised a Westminster-backed report claiming that Scottish universities would face being frozen out by higher education institutions in the rest of the United Kingdom after independence, reports the Scotsman.

The notion of free public higher education might elicit scoffs upon initial suggestion, but given soaring student loan debt, the idea is one that begs further investigation, writes Susan Meisenhelder for Huffington Post.

According to the 2013 Global Think Tanks Index, four of the world’s top think-tanks and four of the top 65 defence and national security think-tanks are from South Asia, reports Myra Imran for The News.

The contested life of one of Britain's best-loved poets has erupted into controversy once more, as the estate of Ted Hughes has stopped cooperating with his latest biographer, Shakespeare scholar Jonathan Bate, writes Richard Lea for the Guardian.

American military veterans rallied last week in an attempt to persuade lawmakers to pay for a clinical study at the University of Arizona, looking at the health benefits of medical marijuana, reports Astrid Galvan for Associated Press.

The Tanzania Commission for Universities intends to start screening all undergraduate research work in various institutions in a bid to curb cheating and duplication, reports The Guardian.

President Goodluck Jonathan said last week that the task of funding universities in Nigeria could not be left to government alone, reports Nnamdi Mbawike for Leadership. He advised university administrators to continue seeking other ways to generate additional revenue needed to fund research and capital development.
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