ISSN 1756-297XIssue No: 0047  05 October 2008
HE Events Diary

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Higher Education Marketing

Romania: Investment in higher education has increased 30-fold in the past seven years, but challenges remain. See the News section.

G47_Young scientists_NL2
Researchers from Poland, Slovakia and Britain walked off with the top prizes in this year’s EU Contest for Young Scientists. See the News section.

Italian researchers claim that looking at beautiful art works eases pain. See the Uni-lateral section.


Economic growth has boomed in China – but
the OECD says innovation is needed to make this wealth stick.
See the Business section. Credit: Wikimedia

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

US: Poor students miss out in some universities
A new study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, has found that selective institutions in America differ markedly in the number of low-income students they admit. John Douglass and Gregg Thomson investigated the divide between poor and rich students, comparing a group of selective institutions and their number and percentage of Pell Grant recipients.
Full report on the University World New site

UK: Widening participation debate heats up
Diane Spencer
The debate on widening participation in Britain’s universities heated up last week with the publication of a report on special schemes to encourage pupils from poorer backgrounds to enter higher education, and inflammatory remarks by the Chancellor of Oxford University. Lord (Chris) Patten told a conference of independent school heads that his university should not be treated “like a social security office” to help disadvantaged pupils from state schools.
Full report on the University World New site
More on Lord Patten’s remarks in the World Round-up section

ROMANIA: Investment boost for higher education
Karen MacGregor
Higher education in Romania has undergone huge changes in the past two decades, from a small and stifled sector during the communist era to a competitive system with seven times more students, more than 100 institutions and burgeoning research. There are challenges, including raising quality, but investment in higher education has increased 30-fold in the past seven years, says Professor Paul Serban Agachi, president of the academic council of Babes-Bolyai University and a member of a team that crafted reforms.
Full report on the University World New site

JAPAN: University crime experts on call
Gavin Blair
The second article in a special series on how universities are helping fight crime.
Though the number of academic spec ialists in commercial crime in the Asia-Pacific region may be fewer than in the US or Europe, many of the leading figures are willing to work with corporate clients and have a great deal of experience outside the ivory towers.
Full report on the University World New site

GERMANY: Bologna – still making slow progress
Michael Gardner
German students are still complaining about having their performance in courses abroad recognised at home. Credit transfer is a key aspect of the Bologna process, aimed at making European higher education systems more compatible. Nevertheless, reports of seemingly arbitrary recognition of credits from abroad appear to be discouraging many students from enrolling in foreign courses.
Full report on the University World New site

FRANCE: Higher education and research are budget priorities
Jane Marshall
Higher education and research are the government’s chief priority in the 2009 budget. Next year’s allocation will rise by €1.8 billion (US$2.57 billion) to a total of €24.16 billion, up 6.5% compared with 2008. But the sector has not escaped 900 job cuts although these are proportionally less severe than those imposed on other ministries.
Full report on the University World New site

UK: Teacher gender gap widens
Diane Spencer
Despite government efforts to attract men into teaching, the latest figures show the gender gap is widening. The Higher Education Statistics Agency found that males made up less than a quarter of all teaching qualifications obtained from higher education institutions in 2006-07, the lowest number for five years.
Full report on the University World New site

EUROPE: Young scientists promise a bright future
Alan Osborn
Three young researchers, from Poland, Slovakia and Britain, were awarded the top prizes in the EU Contest for Young Scientists in Copenhagen on 25 September, against competition from national scientific prize-winners from 39 European countries plus Brazil, Canada, China, Mexico, New Zealand and the US.
Full report on the University World New site


UK: £400 million for universities
The Higher Education Funding Council for England last week announced distribution of nearly £400 million (US$222.3 million) from the Higher Education Innovation Fund round four to universities following approval of their plans.
Full report on the University World New site

GLOBAL: Networking with recruitment agents
With exceptional growth rates, the ICEF Higher Education Workshop, which took place in Antwerp, Belgium last month showed there was a need for a spec ialised networking event where representatives of higher education institutions could meet student recruitment agents focused on sending students to universities.
Full report on the University World New site


ISRAEL-PALESTINE: Bomb attack on Israeli academic
Jonathan Travis*
A well-known Israeli critic of Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank has been slightly wounded in a bomb attack, BBC News reports. Professor Zeev Sternhell is a former professor of political science at Hebrew University who now writes commentary in the Haaretz newspaper. Sternhell, who was awarded the prestigious Israel Prize for Political Science earlier this year, has continuously opposed the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. The authorities believe ultra-nationalist Israelis were behind the attack.
More academic freedom reports on the University World News site


CHINA: Innovation needed to preserve economic gains
Alan Osborn
China has worked small wonders to lever itself into position as the world’s fourth largest economy, but its recent growth rates may not be sustainable. The key word now is “innovation”. The Chinese government recognises this and has launched a national strategy to build an innovation-driven economy and society by 2020.
Full report on the University World New site

EUROPE: Universities must address information security
Paul Cochrane
Information technology security training at European universities was an aspect of the university curriculum that institutions needed to address, participants were told at a conference organised by the European Network and Information Security Agency, Enisa, last month in Crete.
Full report on the University World New site

CZECH REPUBLIC: New scanner wins EU research award
Monica Dobie
A new explosives scanner, quick to use and able to probe tiny cracks, has won a European research award. The technology has been developed in a €760,000 (US$1.9 million) project by the Czech Republic Academy of Sciences, the Slovak Technical University, Bratislava, Czech high-tech company RS Dynamics with Spanish engineering company
SENER Ingenieria y Sistemas.
Full report on the University World New site


GREECE: University’s research policy pays off
Makki Marseilles
Emphasis on research at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki is beginning to pay rich dividends. It encourages staff, students and academics to develop research and development projects, and leads to successful collaborations with international research teams and institutions. It also attracts financial support from Greek and foreign organisations and industries as well as forging a strong link between the university and the society at large.
Full report on the University World New site


US: States must harness research of all institutions
Applied research and development activities at regional colleges and universities bolster their primary educational mission as well as contributing to local and state-wide economic growth, writes Daniel Hurley, director of state relations and policy analysis for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. In a Higher Education Policy Brief, Tapping State College Research and Development Capacity in Support of State Economic Development, he advocates that the research and innovation capacity of all public colleges and universities be harnessed as states boost efforts to fund and stimulate research as part of an integrated economic development strategy.
Full report on the University World New site

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

ITALY: Beautiful art eases pain
Monica Dobie
Pain is all in the mind. That’s what a hard taskmaster on a sports field might say. Of course it is true – pain is in the mind – as it is our brain that tells us something hurts. Recent Italian research claims to prove that patients looking at beautiful works of art really suffer less pain than those looking at a bare wall or water jug. Maybe they are on to something.
Full report on the University World New site

US: Strippers, armadillos inspire Ig Nobel winners
Deborah Anderson had heard the urban legends about the contraceptive effectiveness of Coca-Cola products for years, reports Associated Press. So she and her colleagues decided to put the soft drink to the test. In the lab, that is. For discovering that, yes indeed, Coke was a spermicide, Anderson and her team are among this year's winners of the Ig Nobel prize, the annual award given by the Annals of Improbable Research magazine to oddball but often surprisingly practical scientific achievements.
More on the University World News site

US: Giant tooth in wreck of paleontologist's home
A giant tooth was found by two paleontologists in the wreckage of a Texan home destroyed by Hurricane Ike, reports The Guardian. It is thought that the tooth probably belonged to a Columbian mammoth, which was common in North America around 10,000 years ago.
More on the University World News site


From Dr Andrew Ssemwanga
Regarding your recent article Study into training for the oil and gas industry (, we at Cavendish University Uganda – a new university – are interested in starting courses in oil and gas exploration and management to take advantage of oil discovery in Uganda.
Full letter on the University World New site


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US: Declining quality at Florida universities
A state-wide organisation that studies Florida’s higher education system issued a sombre report last week calling for reform in universities it says are too big, have crowded classrooms, are academically below schools nationwide, and are losing top researchers as budget cuts continue to threaten programmes, reports the Palm Beach Post. The report from Enlace Florida is its second this year critical of the state’s 11 public universities.
More on the University World News site

US: Higher education groups write to McCain, Obama
Six United States higher education organisations wrote a letter late last month to presidential candidates, Senators John McCain and Barack Obama, suggesting ways of strengthening the college and university system and outlining issues and opportunities it faces – including the importance of promoting international education.
More on the University World News site

US: Financial chaos threatens universities
Amid a deepening financial crisis that has sapped college endowments, college and university officials are grappling with the growing fear that the Wall Street turmoil could cast a shadow over nearly all their operations, writes Peter Schworm in the Boston Globe. Administrators at small colleges and large universities across the state huddled in tense meetings last week to discuss worst-case contingency plans and appraise their financial status after the market meltdown.
More on the University World News site

IRELAND: Universities angry over cuts
University presidents have reacted angrily to cuts in a €97 million access and innovation programme demanded last week by the Department of Education, reports the Irish Times. The department has ordered a spending “pause” in the Strategic Innovation Fund, or SIF. Colleges have been ordered not to enter into new SIF contracts.
More on the University World News site

UK: The long and the short of it
Britain’s one-year masters is proving a sticking point in the Bologna Process, but the equivalence issue is raising difficult questions about length of study for other degrees, too, writes Hannah Fearn in Times Higher Education.
More on the University World News site

UK: London universities merge
Two London universities are set to merge to create a new higher education and health research centre in south and west London, it was announced last week, reports The Guardian. St George’s and Royal Holloway will join forces to form a single education and research institution within the University of London.
More on the University World News site

IRAN: Minister’s Oxford degree a fake
An embarrassed Iranian minister has admitted a degree he said he received from Oxford University was a fake, reports BBC News. Interior Minister Ali Kordan said he believed he was granted an honorary degree by a representative of the university in Tehran in 2000.
More on the University World News site

UK: Middle-classes should pay more: Oxford’s Patten
Middle-class students should be prepared to pay higher university tuition fees, according to the chancellor of Oxford, writes Graeme Paton of The Telegraph. Lord Patten said they could have no objection to paying more than the £3,000-a-year currently levied by most universities and that it was a “mad world” in which affluent parents were prepared to pay thousands to send children to private school but not get them through higher education.
More on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Unrest at North West University (again)
North West University managers have challenged South African Education Minister Naledi Pandor's intervention at the unrest-torn institution, saying they were not consulted about the “drastic step” of a commission of inquiry, reports the Mail & Guardian. The university’s Mafikeng campus has been rocked by student unrest in the past month.
More on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Catch-up diploma for teachers studied
The national Department of Education’s widely criticised catch-up diploma programme for teachers will undergo a formal audit-type process by the South African Council for Educators next year, Sace CEO Rej Brijrai said last week. The programme is aimed at thousands of teachers whose qualifications fail to meet the department’s standards, writes Sue Blaine in Business Day.
More on the University World News site

SOUTH KOREA: Universities struggle to fill places
Universities are struggling to attract freshmen due to the declining number of young people, with new student enrolment at 20 universities falling, reports the Dong-A Ilbo. A total of 367,955 freshmen enrolled at universities nationwide, leaving 22,430 spots (5.7%) unfilled.
More on the University World News site

On October 29, 30 and 31, Social Research, the journal of The New School for Social Research in New York City, will host Free Inquiry at Risk: Universities in Dangerous Times in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the founding of the University in Exile at The New School. This three-day conference will feature leading scientists, academics, and university presidents in public dialogue about the trends facing universities around the world that put academic freedom and free inquiry at risk. The keynote event will be on 30 October at 6:00PM at which Aryeh Neier, President, Open Society Institute, will talk with endangered scholars from Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Belarus and China.
More information at or email

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