ISSN 1756-297XIssue No: 0041  17 August 2008
HE Events Diary

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Sport has put China centre stage this week, but its research effort is also significant. See this week's feature article.

While sports people vie for rankings in Beijing, China's Shanghai Jiao Tong University (pictured) has published its latest ranking of the world's universities. See the story in this week's News Section.

Baa. Researchers from three nations have developed a tool for finding the genetic differences behind important traits in sheep. See the story in Science Scene.


Are sports winners just like chimps?G41_Phelps_NLMain
The triumphant stance of sporting winners appears to be an inherited trait
that humans share with the apes. See our story in Science Scene this week.

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

GLOBAL: University world rankings
Geoff Maslen
Universities in the United States have again dominated the world’s top 500 in the latest rankings by Shanghai Jiao Tong University. It is the sixth year since the Chinese university began listing the world’s top higher education institutions and once more, US universities have taken 17 of the first 20 places and 55 of the top 100. This compares with America’s main competitor – Britain – which managed to squeeze only two of its universities in the top 20 and a mere 10 in the first 100.
Full report on the University World News site

FRANCE: Jiao Tong rankings cause for concern
Jane Marshal
France’s poor showing in the rankings underlined the absolute necessity to reform French higher education, said the Minister, Valérie Pécresse, who has the task of fulfilling President Nicolas Sarkozy’s aim to make French universities internationally competitive by 2012. France has just three establishments in the top 100, one fewer than in 2007.
Full report on the University World News site

AFRICA: Three universities in global top 500, two out
Karen MacGregor
Two African universities have slipped from the Top 500 identified by the Academic Ranking of World Universities, leaving only three – the universities of Cape Town, the Witwatersrand and KwaZulu-Natal – in the elite global list for 2008. South Africa follows Ireland into 25th place in terms of percentage distribution of top universities by country, ahead of Europe’s Greece, Hungary, Poland and Portugal as well as India.
Full report on the University World News site

EUROPE: Quality assurance register created
Quality assurance agencies for higher education across Europe can now officially apply to join the new European Quality Assurance Register. Founded in March, the EQAR will provide information about trustworthy quality assurance agencies working in Europe.
Full report on the University World News site

IRELAND: Student’s High Court challenge fails
John Walshe
A Dublin student has failed in a High Court bid to ‘buy’ a place in an Irish undergraduate medical school in the same way non-EU students can at present. Frank Prendergast is now preparing a Supreme Court appeal in a test case which has ramifications for selection of candidates across all disciplines.
Full report on the University World News site

GREECE: Cheque-book higher education
Makki Marseilles
The first step towards privatisation of higher education in Greece has been taken by the government despite strong opposition from the academic community, political parties, educational trades unions as well as parents and students at large.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Ford Foundation international fellowships exceed 3,000
Since its international scholarship scheme started in 2001, the Ford Foundation has provided fellowships to more than 3,000 postgraduates in 22 countries. Intended as a social justice programme, the scheme offers fellowships for postgraduate study to leaders from poor and marginalised communities who have demonstrated exceptional social commitment as well as academic achievement.
Full report on the University World News site

ZIMBABWE: Lecturers warn of university closures
Clemence Manyukwe
Academics in Zimbabwe have warned President Robert Mugabe that all state-controlled higher education institutions face closure as a result of poor working conditions, the brain drain and other problems arising from the country’s political and economic crises. With inflation now at 42 million percent, lecturers said their salaries no longer covered transport costs and that they had not been working since June.
Full report on the University World News site

BOTSWANA: Lecturer on Zimbabwe sanctions list deported
Clemence Manyukwe
The Botswana government has deported a media studies lecturer at the University of Botswana who is on the latest Zimbabwe sanctions list of the European Union. Ceasar Zvayi, former political editor of the Harare-based state-owned newspaper The Herald, had moved to Botswana to take up the lecturing job shortly after President Robert Mugabe’s controversial re-election in a one-man poll on 27 June – prompting a public outcry in Botswana.
Full report on the University World News site

University World News will be taking a short break next week
but will reappear on 31 August.


HONG KONG: Gates calls for more industry involvement
Microsoft founder and chairman Bill Gates has urged universities to seek industry collaboration in technology research. Speaking at the Microsoft Research Asia 10th Anniversary Innovation Forum in Hong Kong last week, Gates said universities should learn from the US experience in establishing partnerships with industry in conducting research and in transferring the results into marketable products.
Full report on the University World News site

DR CONGO: Ban on graduates wearing academic gowns
Parents of students have been relieved of a heavy financial burden – they will no longer have to buy or hire expensive gowns for their children’s university graduations, says Le Phare of Kinshasa. A ministerial decree has banned students from wearing the ceremonial robes which will in future be reserved for academics only. The prohibition also covers infants leaving nursery school.
Full report on the University World News site

ZAMBIA: Students riot over lecturer strike
Nine University of Zambia students have been arrested following rioting aimed at pressing the government to resolve a crippling strike by lecturers at the country’s oldest institution. Similar protests two months ago resulted in police shooting and injuring two students.
Full report on the University World News site


US: Sports winners are just like chimps
Geoff Maslen
American swimmer Michael Phelps could have been King Kong himself with his contorted face and arms thrust towards the sky following his and his team-mates’ win in the men’s 4 x 100 metre freestyle relay at the Olympics in Beijing last week. Of course Phelps is not alone among winning sportsmen with their clenched fists and chests thrown forward – just look at tennis players where even the women are now also behaving the same way. But do they realise they look just like our cousins, the apes?
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Sheep genome breakthrough
A cutting-edge new tool to pinpoint the genetic differences responsible for a variety of commercially important traits in sheep is about to be released by an international consortium of researchers in the US, Australia and New Zealand.
Full report on the University World News site

JORDAN: Digging up the past
Geoff Maslen
The past is truly another country to archaeologists such as Dr Phillip Edwards, a fascinating country he has explored for almost 30 years. Edwards hit the headlines earlier this year when he announced the remarkable discovery of an ancient tool kit used by a hunter-gatherer in Jordan 12,000 years before the birth of Jesus Christ.
Full report on the University World News site


SOUTH AFRICA: From poor to PhD – Gugu Mchunu’s story
Karen MacGregor
Not in her wildest dreams, growing up the youngest of 10 children in a deprived rural family on South Africa’s east coast, did Gugu Mchunu imagine she would end up with a prestigious PhD fellowship studying in America. “I couldn’t afford to go to university,” she recalls. But there sits a gleaming Dr Mchunu, 39, in her neat office at the University of KwaZulu-Natal where she lectures in the School of Nursing – one of some 200 South Africans among more than 3,000 once-disadvantaged intellectuals in 22 countries who have been awarded fellowships under the single biggest grant in the Ford Foundation’s history.
Full report on the University World News site

CHINA: Rise of research in the Middle Kingdom
Simon Marginson*
A notable development of the last decade was the pluralisation of research capacity in the sciences. Between 1995 and 2005, the annual number of scientific papers produced in China rose from 9,061 to 41,596. China was poised to overtake UK and Germany at the top of the EU table though its output remained less than one fifth that of the EU as a whole.
Full report on the University World News site


AFRICA: Research universities needed to fight poverty
Mammo Muchie
Research universities, as a source of new knowledge, are one of the critical levers – along with government and industry – needed to shape a knowledge economy in any part of the world. The key question for Africa is how universities can be aligned to support economic development, the eradication of poverty and sustainable use of natural resources. Here research and knowledge, far from being ivory tower pursuits, become critical to making poverty history and preparing countries to cope with disasters. However, to achieve this, research should be understood not only as a source of new knowledge, but also as a process that trains people to create more knowledge.
This article is on the University World News site

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

AUSTRALIA: Mobiles used to tell fibs
More than 40% of train travellers in Melbourne used their mobile phones to lie to their bosses and friends about being delayed because of late trains, an RMIT University study has found.
Full report on the University World News site


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US: Forbes launches new ‘Best Colleges’ ranking
Choosing a four-year undergraduate college is one of the biggest decisions a typical American family can make. And for too many years, information about the quality of American higher education has been monopolised by one publication, US News & World Report, reports Forbes, announcing its alternative – America’s Best Colleges 2008. The new guide ranks Princeton University the best in the US, followed by the California Institute of Technology, Harvard, Swarthmore and Williams.
More on the University World News site

IRELAND: Fees for better-off are back on agenda
The return of third-level fees – which were abolished in the mid-1990s – is back on the agenda as the government seeks to ensure universities are properly funded, Minister for Education Batt O’Keeffe told The Irish Times. However O’Keeffe stressed that there was no question of imposing new charges on those who could not afford them. Any new charges would target better-off families and those with incomes well above the national average.
More on the University World News site

CANADA: Newly appointed professor killed in Afghanistan
The papers appointing Jackie Kirk as an adjunct professor at McGill University were waiting to be signed when school officials learned the research fellow had been killed in an ambush in Afghanistan, reports the National Post. Jamshid Beheshti, an interim dean with the faculty of education, said he expects the school will posthumously award Kirk the professorship that would have allowed her to lecture and teach in the fall.
More on the University World News site

DUBAI: International Academic City takes on the world
Drive down Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai's main thoroughfare, and you'll pass the world's only seven-star hotel, its tallest building and its largest man-made resort island. But head off into the desert and you'll hit a modest-looking set of office buildings and construction cranes that promise to be just as superlative. This is the site of Dubai International Academic City: the future home of a Michigan State University campus and the centre of the local effort to make the emirate into a new global hot spot for higher education, writes Zvika Krieger in Newsweek.
More on the University World News site

US: 1+2+1 = more Chinese students
Type 1+2+1 into Google and the search automatically, and unhelpfully, reverts to calculator mode (=4), writes Elizabeth Redden in Inside Higher Ed. The figures also add up to an increasingly popular model for undergraduate dual degree programmes involving Chinese and American universities. Students start and end in China in a programme structure intended to avert US visa denials – by conditioning degree completion upon a student’s return to China – and to lower the cost of obtaining an American undergraduate degree (by halving the time spent studying abroad).
More on the University World News site

US: University outsources programme to find overseas students
Like a lot of universities, Northeastern has Barnes & Noble running its bookstore, and Pizza Hut, Wendy’s, Starbucks and Taco Bell selling food in the student centre, reports Tamar Lewin in the International Herald Tribune. But Northeastern has taken outsourcing a giant step further. It is using Kaplan Inc to find students for, and help run, an academic programme for international students to spend a year on campus, improving their English and adapting to American higher education before starting on a course. Northeastern is the first US university to take up a model that is common in Britain and gaining interest in the US.
More on the University World News site

UK: Minister questions wisdom of higher education
The Universities Secretary has acknowledged that some young people would be better off not going to university, reports the Financial Times. His comments come amid growing evidence that many people from the country’s ever expanding pool of graduates are leaving university to go into menial, relatively low-paid jobs, while many bright young people who instead opt for some highly regarded apprenticeships are establishing thriving careers.
More on the University World News site

UK: Students to ‘trade up’ for better college
Pupils who do unexpectedly well at A-level will be given five days after receiving their results to shop around for a more prestigious university, reports The Observer. From next year, a controversial new system will allow anyone who achieves grades higher than asked by their first-choice university the chance to ‘trade up’ without losing their original place.
More on the University World News site

UK: Oxford delays on A* grade offers
Oxford University says it will not make conditional offers for places based on the new A* grade at A-level when it is first awarded in 2010, reports the BBC. The higher grade is intended to identify the most able students and to help universities choose from among many candidates with A grades. But there are concerns it will become dominated by independent schools, hitting efforts to widen participation.
More on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Engineering departments running on empty
Departments of engineering and architecture at universities and tecknikons across South Africa are running into trouble as they face a serious shortage of lecturers and resources, reports Independent Online. Tight budgets, dwindling lecturers, swelling student numbers, a lack of resources and a struggle to fill posts because of poor salaries are the main problems.
More on the University World News site

PHILIPPINES: Private sector not keen on credit transfer
The Commission on Higher Education is having a hard time selling the government’s ‘ladderised education’ programme to private tertiary colleges, reports the Philippine Daily Inquirer. While all 111 state-run tertiary institutions are already using the system that allows learners to progress between technical and vocational education and training and higher education – and vice versa – fewer than a third of more than 1,500 private colleges and universities nationwide have adopted the scheme so far.
More on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Union fee change hits universities
The introduction of voluntary student unionism has cost Australian universities $161 million a year since it came into effect in 2006, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. A Federal Government report has highlighted its devastating impact on campuses, where basic services have been cut due to lack of funding.
More on the University World News site


SOUTH AFRICA: Academic Manager: AIMS Schools Enrichment Centre (AIMSSEC)
Stellenbosch University, African Institute for Mathematical Sciences
Full specifications on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Deputy Vice-Chancellors
University of Cape Town, Cape Town
Full specifications on the University World News site
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