ISSN 1756-297XIssue No: 0043  07 September 2008
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China has become the third most prolific patent-filing country in the world, with more than 694,000 patent applications in 2007. See the Business section.

Students are underestimating living costs and are getting into deep higher education debt, according to just-published surveys. See the News and Features sections.

Hundreds of bargain-hunting students have moved to Newfoundland and Labrador, the province with the lowest tuition fees in Canada. See News.


NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

GLOBAL: North America far ahead in new rankings
Rebecca Warden
North American universities are the clear winners in the latest edition of The Web Ranking of World Universities, published by the Spanish National Research Council or CSIC’s Cybermetrics Lab. The council has US and Canadian universities between them accounting for 123 of the world’s top 200 universities. Europe comes in a very poor second with 61 universities while the Asia-Pacific region manages a total of 14. The league table, produced twice yearly since 2004, ranks institutions according to the size and quality of their presence on the internet and its wider impact.
Full report on the University World News site

INDONESIA: Universities’ poor world ranking probed
David Jardine
Indonesia’s poor showing in university-based scientific research came under the spotlight at a recent national forum. The forum was called in late August by the Institute of Technology (ITB) in the mountain city of Bandung, the West Java provincial capital, to discuss ways of improving the showing of Indonesian universities in the sciences. Hosted by the ITB Alumni Association, it brought together university rectors, researchers and officials from the Ministry of National Education and the State Ministry of Research and Technology.
Full report on the University World News site

CANADA: Tuition-fee patchwork siphons students
Philip Fine
Hundreds of bargain-hunting Canadian students have moved to Newfoundland and Labrador, a province with the lowest tuition fees in the country. The recent student migration is one of the strange things to emerge in a country where individual provincial governments fund university operations, while the federal government is relegated to observing the wild patchwork of varying fees.
Full report on the University World News site

UK: Students underestimate debts
Diane Spencer
As the British university term is about to begin, new students are being warned not to underestimate how much they are likely to be in debt by the end of their courses. A survey from the National Union of Students reveals that prospective university students are underestimating the basic costs of living such as groceries, household bills and travel by nearly £450 (US$822) a year.
Full report on the University World News site

GERMANY: Studying too expensive
Michael Gardner
Yet another damning report has been released on social background and studying in Germany. This time the Deutsches Studentenwerk or DSW, the country’s student welfare organisation, has drawn attention to the fact that more and more school-leavers in Germany are choosing not to study owing to difficult financial hurdles. Even among the group with top marks in the Abitur higher education admission certificate, parents’ income is clearly a decisive factor in career planning.
Full report on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Graduates to get qualifications statement
Geoff Maslen
Students graduating from Australian universities are to receive a statement explaining the qualification they receive in simple terms that describe the system in which it was obtained in a consistent way for potential employers and other higher education institutions.
Full report on the University World News site

NEW ZEALAND: Call for change in research funding
John Gerritsen*
The system used to direct research funding to New Zealand’s tertiary institutions has received a thumbs-up from an independent review, along with warnings that change and more funding are needed.
Full report on the University World News site


IRAN: Kurdish student sentenced to death
Jonathan Travis*
Kurdish student Habibollah Latifi has been sentenced to death by an Iranian court, convicted of ‘endangering state security’, the Kurdish Globe has announced. Latifi is the third Iranian Kurd to receive a death sentence in less than a month in what appears to be developing into a blatant campaign against ethnic minorities. In late July, two teachers, Anwar Hossein Panahi and Arsalan Oliaii, were also handed death sentences. According to the Globe, six Iranian Kurds are now on death row, including award-winning journalist Adnan Hassanpour. All have been convicted of endangering state security and ‘relations with illegal political organisations’. Amnesty International recently expressed concern about the increased repression of Kurdish Iranians, particularly human rights defenders.
More Academic Freedom reports on the University World News site


CHINA: Racing ahead in patenting
Subbiah Arunachalam
China today is the third most prolific patent-filing country in the world after the United States and Japan. The State Intellectual Property Office of China (SIPO) received more than 694,000 patent applications in 2007 including more than 245,000 20-year patent applications and more than 181,000 10-year patent applications, says a report by Evalueserve, an international business research and analytics company. By contrast, the Indian Patent Office received about 35,000 20-year patent applications in the fiscal year 2007-08.
Full report on the University World News site

NEW ZEALAND: University uses nanotechnology for adidas
John Gerritsen*
The University of Canterbury is hoping to find big commercial success in a very little venture – using nanotechnology to imprint words on clothing fibres. The technology received its first public outing recently when it was announced the university had imprinted the names of all 1,073 past and present All Blacks (New Zealand’s national rugby team) onto a single thread stitched into the Silver Fern on the breast of an All Black jersey.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Remove bone marrow to speed bone healing
Monica Dobie
American scientists have shown that recovery from bone breaks can be significantly increased – strangely by taking out the damaged bone’s marrow.
Full report on the University World News site


GLOBAL: University rankings meaningless
David Woodhouse*
The central criticism about whole-of-institution rankings relates to the methodology that addresses quality in a superficial way but projects a complex image. Most rankings rely on two types of data: data given by institutions that may not be validated, and data obtained from opinion polls in the name of ‘expert opinion’. With both components on shaky ground, the use of complex formulae with weights and indicators only helps to project a pseudo-scientific image to outcomes that may be statistically irrelevant.
Full report on the University World News site

UK: An unfair funding system
Diane Spencer
The higher education funding system is creaking under the pressure of market forces, says a report just published by the National Union of Students. In Broke and Broken: A critique of the higher education funding system, the NUS presents what it sees as the unfairness and lack of sustainability in the current system, and argues that the scenario can only get worse if the cap on top-up fees were raised or lifted. A wide-ranging debate is needed, it says.
Full report on the University World News site


US: Affirmative action in law school admissions
The Supreme Court has held repeatedly that race-based preferences in public university admissions are constitutional. But debates over the wisdom of affirmative action continue, write Jesse Rothstein of Princeton University and Albert H Yoon of the University of Toronto, in the abstract of an article titled Affirmative Action in Law School Admissions: What do racial preferences do? published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. “Opponents of these policies argue that preferences are detrimental to minority students – that by placing these students in environments that are too competitive, affirmative action hurts their academic and career outcomes,” they write. The article examines the “mismatch” hypothesis in the context of law school admissions – and finds its flawed.
More on the University World News site


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UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

CANADA: Film casts a critical eye on universities
The film Les Invasions barbares, Denys Arcand's trenchant take on modern values, zeroed in on the sad state of Quebec’s health system. Now another Québécois movie, Le Banquet, attempts a similar attack on the province’s other great behemoth, the education system – specifically, the universities – writes Henry Aubin in The Gazette.
More on the University World News site

UK: Cambridge wants to star in TV soaps
Britain's soap operas offer a steady diet of sex, scandal – and if Cambridge University has its way, scholarship, reports Associated Press. Trying to shed its elitist image, Cambridge has approached the producers of Britain's three leading TV soaps about including it in their story lines.
More on the University World News site


AUSTRALIA: Tough visa rules for ‘high risk’ students
Indian students enrolling in higher education, postgraduate research and English language courses in Australia will now have to adhere to more stringent visa regulations, reports The Economic Times. India is one of nine countries that have had their immigration risk assessment levels upgraded from three to four on a scale of five beginning this month – the result of visa non-compliance by students. The other countries are Sri Lanka, Colombia, Egypt, Ghana, Jordan, N igeria, Romania and Zimbabwe.
More on the University World News site

US: ‘Wall of shame’ for costly colleges
Colleges beware: One more tuition hike and your name might just end up on a new federal Wall of Shame, writes Noah Grynberg in USA Today. The College Opportunity and Affordability Act, signed by President George W Bush on 14 August, will require the Department of Education to post online the colleges and universities with the highest percentage increases in tuition and fees in a three-year period. It also calls for the department to list the 5% of colleges with the highest overall sticker prices.
More on the University World News site

CHINA: MBAs on the rise
Strong demand for management expertise in China spurred many universities to begin offering MBAs either independently or in joint ventures with overseas institutions, reports China Daily. The first batch of MBA schools was launched in 1991 in nine institutions, and 86 students were enrolled. The burning thirst for advancement among the ranks of young executives in the corporate sector has since fuelled MBA mania.
More on the University World News site

BOLIVIA: Three indigenous universities to be created
While busy preparing for a national referendum vote, as well as negotiating energy accords and dealing with strikes, Bolivian President Evo Morales issued Supreme Decree 29664 last month authorising the creation of three indigenous universities where the courses will be taught in Aymara, Quechua and Guarani – the country's three most widely spoken native languages – reports Indian Country.
More on the University World News site

UK: Ready for the crunch?
As they prepare to open their doors to a new wave of students, college principals will be pondering whether the credit crunch will have the same impact on their business as the previous economic downturn of the early 1990s, writes The Guardian. Then, recession saw a boom in further education, as the unemployed and those concerned about losing their jobs turned to local colleges to up-skill, re-skill or take leisure courses to fill their time.
More on the University World News site

UK: Value of gaining a degree plummets
One-third of graduates are receiving no financial benefit from their degree as young people drawn in by Labour’s mass expansion of universities see the value of studying decline for the first time, writes Jack Grimston in the Sunday Times. A study has identified a widening gulf between the highest-paid graduates, whose degrees have brought them soaring returns over the past decade, and those at the lower end.
More on the University World News site

CANADA-SIERRA LEONE: Researching to re-build
To many in the west, Sierra Leone is a nation that is struggling to recover from 11 years of war and decades of autocratic rule, reports Express News of the University of Alberta. But to Mohamed Sesay, it is something entirely different. Sesay, a graduate student visiting from the University of Sierra Leone, where he is working towards his Master of Philosophy at Fourah Bay College, sees his country as being on the verge of a new beginning.
More on the University World News site

KENYA: Record number of students to enrol
Faced with strained facilities and concerns over falling quality of education, public universities are bracing to absorb 17,000 students later this year, the highest number of candidates ever, writes Mwaura Kimani in Business Daily.
More on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: University rooms for World Cup visitors
South Africa’s universities, colleges and boarding schools will play a key role in providing alternatives to more traditional forms of accommodation such as hotels and guesthouses during the 2010 World Cup, reports The Times. Major universities, including Wits, the University of Cape Town and the University of Johannesburg will provide thousands of beds, with UCT alone likely to provide between 2,000 to 3,000 beds.
More on the University World News site

IRELAND: Students protest against third-level fees
More than 30 student leaders protested last week at the Department of Education in Dublin to highlight their opposition to fees, reports the Irish Times. At the protest in the grounds of the department offices on Marlborough Street, student leaders carried posters stating ‘Public funding not fees”, and chanted “they say cut back, we say fight back”.
More on the University World News site

JORDAN: Student admission numbers up by 10%
The Higher Education Council has announced a 10% increase in the number of students accepted in public universities, reports the Jordan Times. The Unified Admission Committee announced the names of 26,361 students accepted in 10 state universities, which left about 1,800 seats vacant.
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
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