ISSN 1756-297XIssue No: 0049  19 October 2008
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We apply the notion of the butterfly effect to our stories - what impact might University World reports have on academics around the globe? See the story in our first anniversary special.

In this week's special report, we look at tertiary trends and consider how higher education institutions influence, and are influenced by, the news media.

European university researchers are developing special windscreens that make cars much quieter for passengers and drivers sitting inside. See the story in our Business Section. Photo: Wikimedia




Dear Reader

Welcome to the first anniversary edition of University World News.

In the following reports, Diane Spencer, our London-based Managing Director, looks back over our first year while Canadian correspondent Phil Fine considers the way stories published in University World News this year have affected events elsewhere.

Further on in this special issue, our picture editor John Gerritsen presents his selection of the best photographs we have published over the last 12 months, and then some of our notable readers offer their views on the occasion of our anniversary. Finally, we turn to our usual role of reporting on what has been happening in universities around the globe, starting with a special series of conference reports on trends in higher education by University World News co-editor Karen MacGregor, plus much more.

UWN: Something to celebrate!
Diane Spencer
It is not often that anyone can claim to be part of a revolution, especially in publishing, but the 21 founder members of University World News can make that assertion: University World News is the first global online weekly publication for higher education and a year on, we have made remarkable progress.

Our launch edition of 15 October 2007 had 13 news stories, two features and two off-beat stories in the Uni-Lateral slot. Recent editions have included more than 20 news stories, features and commentaries from our writers and contributors across the world, plus we have added fortnightly business, science scene and academic freedom sections.

The idea of producing an online newspaper arose after a group of journalists specialising in higher education realised there was a gap in an increasingly internationalised higher education world not filled by niche publications such as Britain's Times Higher Education or America's Chronicle of Higher Education. The former, with its new magazine format, had cut its global coverage while the latter was also largely focused on home territory.

So, with more optimism than cash, we formed a limited company based in London. Our website operates from Cape Town, our globe-trotting chairman is based in Denmark, and 16 journalist shareholders live as far apart as Wellington, Athens, Montreal and Barcelona. They work under the watchful eyes of our editors based in Melbourne and Durban.

Such was the initial success of the global edition of University World News that the Ford Foundation agreed to fund a fortnightly Africa edition of the paper which was launched in March. The Centre for Higher Education Transformation in South Africa is supporting the production of four special Africa editions over two years: the first focused on differentiation, the second on racism in South African universities.

University World News now has almost 13,000 registered readers with 120,000 visitors viewing the site's home pages during the last year. About 40,000 website visitors view more than 450,000 web pages on average each month. More than 3,000 academics receive the African editions in countries across the continent.

As we arrive at our first anniversary edition, the 49th, we can look back on some 750 news stories and features relating to events in more than 30 countries, confirming University World News' role as a genuinely global newspaper. We have placed great emphasis on international dimensions and developments in higher education and have published special reports on a range of topics, enabling comparisons to be made between countries.

Geoff Maslen, co-editor based in Melbourne, said: "The major policy decisions made by governments in those countries have been covered by our writers, who have also reported on individual academics and institutions, on students, on research and discoveries, and on the oddities of life in the various groves of academe."

The paper will shortly take on a new look with a redesign of the website by our designer Dane Wilson. This will make navigation clearer and result in a site we hope will be more attractive to readers and advertisers. Please continue to watch this space!

UWN: One university’s scandal is another’s lesson
Philip Fine
Call it the UWN effect. Just as chaos theorists ask if a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil can set off a tornado in Texas, we wanted to know if a different type of butterfly effect could happen with a publication such as University World News. What effect would a higher education story in one part of the world have on someone in another country’s university system?
Full report on the University World News site


Picture editor John Gerritsen has selected some of the top photographs published in University World News over the last 12 months. You can see the collection he has compiled here.


From Thomas D Parker
University World News entered the world unheralded a year ago and has quickly established itself as the indispensable source of information about the global higher education community. There are excellent university centres and stand-alone institutes that follow and study international issues in higher education policy, but they do not provide the scope or frequency of reporting UWN offers. On Sunday mornings when it arrives, the newspaper takes precedence in my reading over the Sunday New York Times! May it have many more anniversaries.
Thomas D Parker
Senior Associate and Director
Global Center on Private Financing of Higher Education, Institute for Higher Education Policy, Washington DC.

From Dr Svava Bjarnason
University World News is a unique source of information tracking higher education developments globally. The use of journalists who are local and aware of emerging issues means their coverage is immediate and addressing the issues of the day in countries globally.
Svava Bjarnason
Senior Education Specialist
International Finance Corporation

From Dr Jamil Salmi
The University World News newsletter and website have quickly established themselves as one of the most relevant information sources on international higher education. The balance between news items and in-depth articles is just right. This is an excellent tool for policy-makers, institutional leaders and researchers alike.
Jamil Salmi
World Bank Network of Tertiary Education Professionals

From Professor Brenda Gourley
I really like University World News. It keeps me up to date without taking significant amounts of my time. It's relevant, timely and concise. Just what I want.
Professor Brenda Gourley
Open University

From Simon McGrath
In these days of information overload, University World News quickly established itself as one of the few electronic resources that I always do make time to explore. Both for myself and my research students on international higher education, it is an invaluable resource that is provocative and informative. I have particularly welcomed the strong African focus of UWN's work, which is such a striking contrast to the neglect of African issues in both academia and journalism. With best wishes for your second year
Simon McGrath,
Professor of International Education and Development, and Editor-in-Chief, International Journal of Educational Development, Unesco Centre for Comparative Education Research, University of Nottingham

From Dr Jan Sadlak
There are things in life to which we get used to so fast that we wonder how we could function without them... No, this is not another commercial for a new mobile phone but a note of thanks to those few entrepreneurial individuals who one year ago asked if I was interested to receive University World News – of course a rhetorical question. UWN not only provides information about important developments in higher education but also ably demonstrates that the world of higher education is so diverse, subject to many changes... and just very interesting. Many thanks!
Dr Jan Sadlak
Unesco-European Centre for Higher Education, Bucharest, Romania

From Sir Peter Scott
University World News is the best of its class – timely, reliable and relevant news about developments in higher education worldwide written by leading journalists in the field.
Professor Sir Peter Scott
Kingston University, London

SPECIAL REPORT: Trends in higher education

Enormous changes in higher education in the past decade have raised new issues that require regular research, with the outcomes primarily presented in scholarly journals but also increasingly through less formal means. At the same time, rapid growth in higher education and in scientific knowledge have fuelled demand for speedily disseminated and easily accessible information which is being provided in new and diverse ‘digital’ ways, with profound implications for the production and distribution of higher education research – and for the way universities, academics and students operate.

These and other issues were debated at an international conference titled Enhancement of Knowledge on Higher Education and its Dissemination: Imperative for policy and practice, hosted by the Babeş-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, at the end of last month and supported by Unesco-CEPES and the Council of Europe. The conference also discussed the media’s role in providing information on higher education, with higher education journalists invited to participate. University World News’ co-editor, Karen MacGregor, reports on some of the conference presentations.

UNIVERSITIES: The information revolution
Universities are generally stable institutions but they are buffeted by new developments, such as rankings exercises and the ‘world class university’ concept that have grabbed the attention of academics, politicians and the media. Other new realities are a massive growth in research output and a digital revolution that is changing higher education’s relationship to information and knowledge, says Dr Jan Sadlak, Director of Unesco’s Bucharest-based European Centre for Higher Education.
Full report on the University World News site

PUBLISHING: World’s 200+ higher education journals
A study by Unesco’s European Centre for Higher Education has identified 210 journals on higher education worldwide, though the number fluctuates and could be an under-count. Half of the journals were published in North America while Europe produced 23% and Asia-Pacific 19%, according to Melanie Seto, editor and programme specialist for the Unesco-CEPES. Among them were 17 ‘international’ higher education publications.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Trends in higher education studies
The field of higher education studies is growing, driven by the practical needs of a post-school system that is expanding worldwide. Professor Philip Altbach, director of the Center for International Higher Education at Boston College in the US, predicts that the field will spread into more countries, and will increasingly focus on the process of teaching, learning and assessment and on training of university administrators. It will remain interdisciplinary but, unfortunately, large-scale research will be limited by lack of funds.
Full report on the University World News site

The position of higher education and its international dimension in the global arena are more dominant than ever before, says Dr Hans de Wit, editor of Journal of Studies in International Education. In a 2006 International Association of Universities survey, 73% of institutions gave internationalisation high priority, 23% medium priority and only 2% low priority. But despite an increase in studies on internationalisation, research on the topic is struggling to find a disciplinary, conceptual or methodological ‘home’.
Full report on the University World News site

MEDIA: Higher education in the news
Karen MacGregor
In most countries mass media reporting on higher education is primarily the preserve of newspapers, not of television or radio. Newspapers – print and electronic – report on news and developments in higher education, provide a platform for debate, and reflect current issues concerning the public, students, academics, tertiary organisations and governments – and, through this coverage, themselves influence the higher education agenda.
More on the University World News site
Full essay presented at the Cluj-Napoca conference

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

GLOBAL: Revealed: best producers of top universities
John Gerritsen*
New Zealand, Finland, Ireland and Australia are the most efficient producers of top universities, according to a University World News analysis of the latest THE-QS ranking of the world’s top 500 universities.
See our Research and Commentary section for a discussion on rankings
Full report on the University World News site

CHINA: Record numbers studying abroad
Jane Marshall
The number of students from China enrolling for the first time at universities in other countries is estimated to reach a record 200,000 this year compared with 144,500 who went abroad in 2007. That latter number represented a 170-fold increase on the 860 students who opted to go offshore 30 years ago. Since then, more than 1.2 million students have left China to study abroad although only 320,000 returned home after completing their studies.
Full report on the University World News site

ZIMBABWE: Nursing education abandoned
Clemence Manyukwe
Zimbabwean nursing colleges have abandoned specialised training for students because of a lack of medical equipment and poor funding. The latest development is likely to have a catastrophic effect on the country’s health delivery system, itself currently in the intensive care unit arising from the ‘brain drain’ and poor salaries for medical practitioners.
Full report on the University World News site


US: New clearing house for ranking systems
The Institute for Higher Education Policy in the United States has launched an online global resource centre pulling together information on university rankings systems worldwide. The IHEP Ranking Systems Clearinghouse, it says, “provides a road map of the complex ranking landscape for more than 30 countries”, and includes links to national and international rankings systems and a collection of thousands of rankings-related publications.
Full report on the University World News site

GERMANY: Chinese Minister awarded doctorate
Michael Gardner
China’s Minister of Science and technology, Professor Wan Gang, has been awarded the title of an Honorary Doctor by Berlin’s Technical University. Wan Gang, who was President of Shanghai’s Tongji University from 2004-07, has played a leading role in the development of environmentally friendly cars in China.
Full report on the University World News site

UK: Commonwealth scholarships restored
Commonwealth scholarships will be available to students in all Commonwealth countries to study in Britain next year. This follows a new partnership between British universities and the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills after a cut in funding by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in March meant that students in more developed Commonwealth countries would have been no longer be eligible to apply for the scholarships.
Full report on the University World News site


UK: Lecturers fear anti-terror laws
Jonathan Travis*
A senior member of Britain’s Higher Education Academy has noted that many academics teaching and researching terrorism-related subjects are including disclaimers in their course materials as a result of anti-terror laws. According to Times Higher Education, a senior coordinator at the Academy’s centre for sociology, anthropology and politics organised a workshop on ‘teaching terrorism’ at the University of Strathclyde last month in response to the new fears.
More academic freedom reports on the University World News site


EUROPE: Business backs new way to teach science
Alan Osborn
A group of European business leaders is backing a European Commission proposal to get students to take more interest in science and mathematics. The initiative has been spurred by a report from an expert group at the commission which last year urged primary and secondary schools to move away from traditional, mainly deductive, science teaching and bring in inquiry-based science education.
Full report on the University World News site

THE NETHERLANDS: Stopping windscreen noise
Keith Nuthall
Windscreens are not just something to look through, say European university scientists: they also act as loudspeakers, attracting and magnifying noise created by a car or lorry and reflecting the racket back at drivers and passengers alike. This fact has made researchers in the European Union-funded and University of Twente, Netherlands-coordinated InMAR (Intelligent Materials for Active Noise Reduction) project consider how to change the materials making windshields, so they absorb noise rather than amplify it. The project is likely to spur technological developments in the automobile industry.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Safety concern over nanoparticles
Mark Rowe
Nanotechnology can imbue textiles and other consumer products with eye-catching properties but university scientists and researchers worldwide are increasingly uncertain about the extent to which safety issues surrounding such developments have been explored.
Full report on the University World News site

FRANCE: Insurer funds innovative risk studies
Keith Nuthall
In a sign the credit crunch is not demolishing all long-term thinking in the financial sector, France’s AXA insurance group has continued providing funding for a five-year €100 million programme into innovative research exploring risk.
Full report on the University World News site


GLOBAL: Science for the developing world
Geoff Maslen
David Dickson’s baby will turn seven in December. For an infant online website conceived to bring informed news and opinion about science and technology to aid the whole of the developing world, SciDev.Net is doing remarkably well. Not only does it attract 80,000 visitors a month – and the number is growing week by week – it is also backed by funding agencies in five countries and includes among its earliest supporters the US Rockefeller Foundation. As might be expected, Dickson, a former news editor for Nature and European correspondent for the US journal Science, is immensely proud of his growing child.
Full report on the University World News site


Methodology, meaning and usefulness of rankings
Ross Williams
Globalisation, assisted by deregulation, has created demand for international rankings. The demand originates from a range of stakeholders: students, employers, supranational institutions, scholars, funding agencies and governments. In addition, there is public interest in rankings for their own sake, whether it be the world’s most liveable city or an international ranking of the quality of financial newspapers. At the same time as this expansion in demand, developments in technology, most noticeably the world wide web, have facilitated the supply of information to meet demand.
Extract from an article in Australian Universities’ Review
More on the University World News site

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

CANADA: Student residence going to the dogs
The 2008 version of Animal House is the real deal: less beer, more kibble, writes Caroline Alphonso in the Globe and Mail. Unlike the raunchy and rambunctious human cast of the three-decade-old National Lampoon campus comedy, the raciest antics of the four-legged cast of Mount Allison University’s Animal House include chasing their own tails and nibbling on house plants. In what is believed to be a unique partnership with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the university has opened a new student residence that provides a foster home for pets awaiting adoption.
More on the University World News site


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US: Peers, not profs, influence student views
On issues such as abortion, gay marriage and religion, college students shift noticeably to the left from the time they arrive on campus through their junior year, new research shows, reports Justin Pope for Associated Press. The reason, according to the University of California in Los Angeles’ Higher Education Research Institute, isn’t indoctrination by left-leaning faculty but rather the more powerful influence of fellow students. And at most colleges, left-leaning peer groups are more common than conservative ones.
More on the University World News site

US: In defence of Ayers
William Ayers has been trashed by conservative pundits and labeled “an unrepentant domestic terrorist” by Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee, writes Jack Stripling in Inside Higher Ed. But the University of Illinois at Chicago professor has garnered the support of a growing number of peers who admire his scholarship and see the attacks on him as an affront to academic freedom.
More on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Overseas postgraduate student numbers rise
International postgraduate research student numbers in Australia have increased more rapidly than those in other programmes, suggesting the country is finding traction in the global talent wars, new research has shown. The Australian reports that the number of overseas research students in the country has grown by 67% from 2002 to 2007, while the number of international students in higher education has increased 52%.
More on the University World News site

IRELAND: Universities still have lot to learn, says study
A report just published by an expert group of the Higher Education Authority, or HEA, has cast a cloud over celebrations which greeted news that Trinity College Dublin had for the first time broken into the top 50 of the world’s best universities, writes John O’Keeffe in the Independent. The report is damning in its indictment of universities in the Irish Republic, which it said had some leaders who had failed to engage with the Irish Universities Quality Board.
More on the University World News site

UK: Boost funds for elite universities
So what conclusions can we draw from this latest university league table? Should we celebrate the fact that four of the top 10 universities in the world are British? Or should we focus on the disappointing statistic that most UK institutions have slid down the world rankings? asks Chris Woodhead, a professor of education at the University of Buckingham, in The Sunday Times.
More on the University World News site

UK: Three steps to help improve university access
It was good to see widening participation in higher education as a theme of the political conference season this year, comments Keven Whitston, of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, in The Guardian. The issue still generates controversy, but few dispute the need to widen participation, and most believe that this must start early, be sustained, and integrated with learners' experience in schools and colleges.
More on the University World News site

VIETNAM: Universities slate financial autonomy scheme
Universities that have been implementing a financial self-control scheme on a trial basis for the last four years complain that they do not have real autonomy, reports VietNamNet Bridge. Universities said that while they were told they would be able to earn income by raising tuition fees, state officials were slapping limits on what could be charged.
More on the University World News site

EAST AFRICA: Project to harmonise universities
University education in East Africa will soon be harmonised, reports The Standard. Commission for Higher Education Secretary Everett Standa said the move would allow students to transfer credits between private and public universities in the region. A draft curriculum for selected programmes in agriculture, engineering, medicine and basic sciences is complete.
More on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Cape Town up in THE-QS rankings
The University of Cape Town has been ranked 179th in the world in the Times Higher Education-QS rankings, improving its position from 200th place last year. In 2007 the university became the first in Africa to achieve a spot in the top 200, reports Independent Online.
More on the University World News site

SAUDI ARABIA: Women win most postgraduate scholarships
The Ministry of Higher Education has selected all of the students who applied for and fulfilled stipulated conditions for the King Abdullah Foreign Scholarship Program, reports Arab News. A distinctive feature of this year’s selection is that women dominated the scholarships for master’s and research programmes.
More on the University World News site
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