University World News Global Edition
22 June 2014 Issue 0325 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
International HE – Grows in Latin America, changes in North America

In World Blog, Hans de Wit finds strong progress in international higher education in Latin America – but too much focus on Europe and North America. In Commentary, Roopa Desai Trilokekar charts America’s ‘soft power’ and Canada’s ‘economic diplomacy’ approaches to international higher education and contends that the latter may prove risky.
Anne Corbett finds the professional higher education sector in Europe preparing for greater demand from industry for courses that combine academic learning and practical and technological skills. Gracian Chimwaza, Blessing Chataira and Chipo Msengezi are upbeat about the growth and potential of digital libraries in Africa, and Gerard A Postiglione voices concerns in China that reforms to the gaokao admissions system that aim to boost vocational skills might exacerbate the urban-rural divide.
In Features, Yojana Sharma reports on a new grouping of international universities in China advising the government on how to modernise higher education, and Peta Lee describes a study of 10 European countries that uncovered significant benefits of liberal adult education.
Wagdy Sawahel unpacks African Innovation Outlook II, the report on a major continental effort to produce regular and reliable science indicators, and Wanda Hennig looks at US-sponsored research in Africa that produced a curriculum resource pack to support teaching about s exual diversity in schools.
In a second Special Report on the triennial conference of the International Association of University Presidents, or IAUP, Suvendrini Kakuchi looks at the UN Academic Impact – a partnership with universities aimed at tackling global problems – and at new opportunities for students being created by the ASEAN community. We also interview IAUP vice-chancellors James McWha of the University of Rwanda and Thandwa Mthembu of the Central University of Technology in South Africa.
Karen MacGregor – Global Editor
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Brendan O’Malley

The overwhelming majority of displaced Syrian university students in Lebanon – six out of seven – are not continuing any form of higher education or advanced training, according to a new report. The researchers estimate that there are as many as 70,000 Syrian university students in Lebanon, and say the need to improve access for them is “acute”.
Ameen Amjad Khan

Despite a number of raids by Afghan law enforcement agencies and efforts by tribal elders to secure the release of 35 professors and around 10 students from Afghanistan’s Kandahar University kidnapped by a Taliban-linked group, there has been little progress.
Naw Say Phaw Waa

In what is being seen as a step backwards, the Myanmar government has warned university students that they could be expelled if they become involved in politics. A directive from the Ministry of Science and Technology, which has some 40 institutions including five universities under its remit, has sparked outrage among students.

Norway’s security police have for years monitored students from Iran and other countries applying for admission to local universities in security-related fields such as nuclear science – and have increasingly rejected their visa applications. A new development has been the denial of visa renewals to some Iranian PhD students already busy on their theses – sparking protests by Iranian students and Norwegian universities.
Karen MacGregor

A first round of 33 African-born academics working in North America have been selected for 31 projects at 24 universities across Africa under the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Program – and a deadline for new applications is looming. Scholars in the diaspora are being supported to return to Africa for academic collaborations initiated by African institutions.
Gilbert Nganga

Kenya has upped spending on public universities by a meagre 5% for the new fiscal year starting in July, potentially slowing down expansionary projects. Allocations to universities will increase from US$624 million to US$658 million, according to new budgetary estimates.
Jane Marshall

Harmonisation of the governance systems of higher education institutions in the eight countries of the West African Economic and Monetary Union is among recommendations of a report on how improved governance in the sector could boost socio-economic development.

Following violent confrontations between police and students at the University Cheikh Anta Diop – Senegal’s leading university – the Minister of Higher Education and Research Mary Teuw Niane told the media the crisis was “necessary” and “even predictable”.
Special Report: IAUP
The International Association of University Presidents, or IAUP, held its Triennial Conference 2014 in Yokohama, Japan, from 11-14 June under the theme “Creating the Future of Higher Education”. University World News was there.
Suvendrini Kakuchi

A United Nations partnership with universities around the world is helping to instill social and community responsibility in institutions and is getting students involved as concerned citizens, the International Association of University Presidents heard at its conference in Japan this month.
Karen MacGregor

It is powerfully symbolic that Rwanda’s new public university is leading debates during the 20th anniversary commemorations of the 1994 genocide that tore the country apart – a story of new beginnings, of ways to overcome the past. It is unusual that the university is led by an Irishman and former vice-chancellor in Australia and New Zealand – though also appropriate, as this rapidly developing country forges a place for itself in the world.
Suvendrini Kakuchi

Japanese art and design graduate Toru Shimizu (21) recently returned from a three-month study abroad stay in Malaysia. He chose Malaysia because it was an affordable place to brush up on his English. Shimizu’s career plans illustrate the rise in Asia of mobile students seeking top quality education and respected jobs – including in Association of Southeast Asian Nations countries.
Karen MacGregor

Two decades into democracy, South Africa has done well in doubling higher education enrolments. But racial inequities remain, growth has been stifled by government reluctance to open up to the private sector, and its “flirting with a welfarist neo-soc ialist model” of free university for the poor has spawned student demands and protests, says Thandwa Mthembu, vice-chancellor of the Central University of Technology, Free State.
Yojana Sharma

Six international universities have come together in a select new grouping to advise the Chinese government on how to absorb the lessons learned from Sino-foreign university collaborations, in order to develop and modernise China’s higher education sector.
Peta Lee

People involved in adult education activities become politically active, vote and are on the whole politically motivated, while adults aged between 50 and 71 will develop a higher level of self-confidence. They are also less at risk of adopting extremist attitudes and tend to develop more tolerant behaviour. These fascinating findings are from a recent Benefits of Lifelong Learning – BeLL – project carried out in 10 European countries.
Wagdy Sawahel

African Innovation Outlook II was launched recently, the second phase in an effort to produce regular and reliable indicators for planning and monitoring the state of science, technology and innovation across the continent. The number of countries participating nearly doubled from 19 in the first outlook exercise in 2010, to 35 countries in the second phase.
Wanda Hennig

Homophobia is a grim reality in much of Africa. Not only are l esbian, gay, bis exual, transgender and inters ex – LGBTI – rights nonexistent in many countries, but penalties (including death and imprisonment) and more intense crack-downs (in Nigeria and Uganda, for example) are a harsh fact of life.
Hans de Wit

Latin America is making strong progress in international higher education. But it needs to look more at alliances between countries rather than being too dependent on Europe and North America.
Roopa Desai Trilokekar

How have the United States and Canadian federal government approaches to international higher education differed? While the American government has taken the soft power diplomacy route, Canada has focused more on economics, which may prove risky.
Anne Corbett

A recent gathering of European experts on professional higher education showed how institutions are preparing for greater demand for their courses from industry as the need for lifelong learning becomes more apparent in the knowledge economy.
Gracian Chimwaza, Blessing Chataira and Chipo Msengezi

Governments in Africa have neglected library development and digital education, but there is no doubt that within a decade digital libraries will significantly shape higher education on the continent – especially in improved access, knowledge sharing and materials preservation.
Gerard A Postiglione

Reforms to the gaokao, China’s admissions system for higher education, aim to equip more students with much needed vocational skills. But there are concerns that this may exacerbate the urban-rural divide.
Geoff Maslen

Computers can mimic human perception of gender, according to a multi-disciplinary team of computer scientists and human anatomy experts at the University of Western Australia. For the first time, the team developed a mathematical model where a computer could be used rather than human ‘raters’ to match the gender scores they give to human faces.

An international team of scientists has found fossils in Spain’s ‘Pit of Bones’ archaeological site that they believe to be the oldest known population with Neanderthal traits. They describe 17 skulls – including seven not previously reported – deposited about 430,000 years ago in the ‘Pit of Bones’ site, which has the world’s biggest collection of ancient human fossils.

Scientists from 30 institutions in nine countries have sequenced the genetic code of the eucalypt tree for the first time, providing fresh insights into the Australian icon that has become the world’s favourite hardwood. The eucalypt genetic sequence consists of 640 million base pairs of DNA containing more than 36,000 genes – almost double the number of genes in the human genome.
Hanna Lange-Chenier

Researchers have discovered a way to genetically engineer trees to make their wood easier to break down in industrial processing, requiring fewer chemicals and less energy to produce paper and biofuels. The finding has potentially significant implications for the commercial use of wood byproducts and how they relate to forestry management and the environment.

A Belgian study provides new evidence that metformin, the world’s most widely used anti-diabetic drug, also slows ageing and increases lifespan. Researchers identified the mechanism behind metformin’s age-slowing effects: the drug causes an increase in the number of toxic oxygen molecules released in the cell and this, surprisingly, increases cell robustness and longevity in the long term.

A trial of isoniazid preventive therapy plus antiretroviral therapy to prevent tuberculosis has shown safety and efficacy in patients with HIV, say researchers at the University of Cape Town in a study published in The Lancet. Tuberculosis is the biggest cause of morbidity and mortality in people infected with HIV in Africa.

British and Australian researchers have discovered new information about the vision of bumblebees, adding to the knowledge of how they detect and identify flowers. The team found for the first time that bumblebees could learn to make use of polarisation patterns on artificial flowers – but only from flowers that are downward facing, or pendant.

Two years of searching for a special radioactive decay that would confirm the existence of neutrino antiparticles, and provide an indication of new physics beyond the standard model, has so far found no evidence of their existence. The experiment has been conducted deep underground in New Mexico and, if the decay indeed exists, its half-life must be more than a million-billion times longer than the age of the universe.
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Large numbers of students from mainland Europe face being blocked from taking out loans at British taxpayers’ expense after it emerged that thousands of Bulgarians and Romanians attempted to wrongly claim more than £65 million (US$110 million) of public money, writes Graeme Paton for The Telegraph.

Reform of Kyrgyzstan's higher education sector could mean shutting down an unknown number of ‘superfluous’ universities as early as the start of the academic year in September, writes Ulan Nazarov for Central Asia Online.

The United Kingdom and China have agreed to a research partnership deal worth more than £50 million (US$90 million) to help tackle global issues like climate change, long-term renewable energy supplies and human diseases, writes Claire Shaw for the Guardian.

The crucial role of liberal arts in higher education is being lost in universities worldwide, according to the vice-chancellor behind a new global network of colleges, write Holly Else and Isabel Lopez Ruiz for Times Higher Education.

Thailand’s National Council for Peace and Order has insisted that university lecturers and students must be better informed about why the coup was declared, write Wassana Nanuam and Thanida Tansubhapol for the Bangkok Post.

Education authorities are considering replacing Spain’s student grant system with loans in the same format as seen in the United Kingdom, given that higher education costs to the state have rocketed in recent years, reports Gnomes.

China’s national education authority is requiring all institutions and bureaus involved in the newly exposed gaokao ghostwriter scandal in Henan province to work together with public security bureaus, writes Zheng Jinran for China Daily – and has warned of harsh penalties for people involved.

South Korea’s nominee for education minister was accused of plagiarism last week by an opposition party lawmaker, who alleged that the candidate lifted a thesis from one of his students while working as a professor, writes Kim Hee-Jin for Korea JoongAng Daily.

Soon after the change in federal government and in the face of an escalating protest against Delhi University’s Four-Year Undergraduate Programme, the University Grants Commission recently took a U-turn and decided to ‘review’ the university’s move made one year ago, writes Anubhuti Vishnoi for Indian Express.

College principals and students have given positive feedback on the University Grants Commission's direction to include anti-corruption as a subject in the higher education curriculum, writes Piyush Bhusari for TNN.

Comparable academic institutions pay different prices for journal access, according to an analysis published last week in PNAS, writes Jef Akst for The Scientist. The discrepancies come with bundled packages of online subscriptions, prices for which are often negotiated behind closed doors.

Proposed changes to higher education are giving newfound momentum to university activism, with students emboldened to exercise their political voice, write Benjamin Preiss and Broede Carmody for The Age.

Forget the strong euro or competition from Asia. German industry's main concern today isn't selling its products but finding the people to make them, writes Andrea Thomas for The Wall Street Journal.

The Council for Higher Education, which regulates Israeli academic institutions, last week unveiled new rules for student demonstrations, following criticism over universities' alleged anti-free speech policies, writes Yael Branovsky for Israel Hayom.

Social media platforms are crammed with thousands of advertisements in which the advertisers – Saudis and expatriates – offer to carry out research for university students, reports the Saudi Gazette.

The "brightest and best future" for higher education in Scotland is to remain in the United Kingdom, according to a group of former university principals, reports STV. In a joint statement, nine former principals of Scottish universities expressed their support for a ‘No’ vote in the independence referendum.

The number of black African students attending university needs to rise for South Africa's economic development to improve, Statistician General Pali Lehohla said last week, reports SAPA. A mere 3.2% of black people aged between 18 and 29 attended university in 2013, he said at the release of Statistics South Africa's 2013 General Household Survey.
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