ISSN 1756-297XIssue No: 0054  23 November 2008
HE Events Diary

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International university rankings? The European Union is planning another. See the the lead story in our News section.

A group of Asian nations is emulating Europe's Bologna reforms with plans to align their education systems.

Scientists are using nanotechnology to improve delivery of medicine to the brain and spinal cord. See the story in this week's Science Scene.


NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

EUROPE: New rankings scheme for universities
Jane Marshall
The European Union is planning to launch its own international higher education rankings, with the emphasis on helping students make informed choices about where to study and encouraging their mobility. Odile Quintin, the European Commission’s Director-General of Education and Culture, announced she would call for proposals before the end of the year, with the first classification appearing in 2010.
Full report on the University World News site

SOUTHEAST ASIA: Bold plan to duplicate Bologna
Geoff Maslen
Achieving for Southeast Asia what the Europeans have accomplished with the Bologna process – aligning the Asian region’s 6,500 higher education institutions and 12 million students in 11 vastly different countries, and making their systems compatible within a mere seven years – is ambitious to say the least. But a recent high-powered conference in Bangkok began the first steps to do just that.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Record numbers of foreign students
Geoff Maslen
More than 620,000 international students are now enrolled in American colleges and universities – a 7% increase on the number for the 2006-07 academic year and the highest total ever recorded. The latest rise more than doubles the 3% blip the previous year and exceeds the top enrolment figure of 586,300 set six years ago, according to the latest Open Doors report. The report says there was an even bigger increase in first-time students whose enrolments jumped by 10% after recording the same rise the previous year and an 8% increase the year before that – a healthy sign for US institutions as they confront their own financial crises.
Full report on the University World News site

FINLAND: Upheaval reshapes university sector
Ian Dobson
In just over 12 months, the form, funding and governance of Finland’s higher education system will undergo a radical makeover. Although final details have yet to be released, from 1 January 2010 three major changes will affect universities and involve funding, governance and the ownership and usage of buildings.
Full report on the University World News site

NEW ZEALAND: University’s $100m fundraising campaign
John Gerritsen*
In a country where donations to universities are still a relatively new concept, an unprecedented $100 million (US$55 million) fundraising campaign is expected to reshape attitudes and help one institution compete on the world stage.
Full report on the University World News site

NIGERIA: Vice-chancellors kidnapped in wave of violence
Tunde Fatunde
The former and current vice-chancellors of two universities have been kidnapped and the deputy registrar of a third institution murdered in a wave of violence that has hit campuses in the Niger Delta, the oil-rich region of Nigeria, in recent months. The spate of violence and atmosphere of fear has prompted the government to put security measures in place.
Full report on the University World News site

AFRICA: Conference calls for higher education fund
Jane Marshall
Delegates from 27 countries attending the Regional Conference on Higher Education in Africa have called for an endowment fund for higher education, and heard of African Union plans to establish a doctoral school in each of the six regions of Africa.
Full report on the University World News site

EGYPT: Universities vs academics on e-education
Ashraf Khaled
Egypt’s public universities have unveiled a plan to computerise their curricula and ways of instruction – but the online move has met with criticism from professors and students. The Ministry of Higher Education said months ago it would make lectures and syllabuses available on the internet as part of a scheme to develop education, and now e-education facilities have been set up in state institutions.
Full report on the University World News site

ZIMBABWE: Student protesters arrested and assaulted
Clemence Manyukwe
Zimbabwean students have staged nationwide demonstrations against President Robert Mugabe’s failure to form an all-inclusive government to extricate the country from economic and political crises that have caused educational standards to plummet. Five students were arrested in second city Bulawayo, while in the capital Harare two students were abducted, assaulted and dumped in bush outside the city by suspected state agents.
Full report on the University World News site


HUNGARY: Quality on the conference agenda
Nick Holdsworth
Europe’s top educational watchdogs were due in Budapest, Hungary late last week for the third annual International Trends in Quality Assurance conference. More than 500 higher education representatives, students, researchers in higher education and quality assurance spec ialists from across Europe and beyond gathered at Corvinus University of Budapest to discuss ways of better ensuring top grade education for all.
Full report on the University World News site

ZAMBIA: Angry students petition new president
Zambian students have petitioned newly elected President Rupiah Banda about their grievances, including low student allowances and industrial action by academics, which they say have been ignored for too long without being addressed.
Full report on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA-GERMANY: New funding for research
Australia’s Group of Eight research-intensive universities and the German Academic Exchange Service or DAAD have allocated an extra A$1 million (US$650,000) to support research collaboration between the two countries. The funding provides for a second round of applications for the Go8-Germany Joint Research Co-operation Scheme.
Full report on the University World News site


AUSTRALIA: Stone Age tool developments dated
New research has pinpointed the timing of innovation in Stone Age tool-making to periods associated with human population increase and movement out of Africa. Researchers led by academics at the University of Wollongong examined two separate groups of stone tools made during the Middle Stone Age to find out when they first appeared.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Genetics of cave bears and kangaroos
John Gerritsen*
Scientists have announced advances in understanding the genetic make-up of two very different species – the long extinct cave bear and the kangaroo. In Europe, a team of French and Dutch scientists has sequenced the mitochondrial DNA of the cave bear while in Australia, researchers have launched a map of the kangaroo genome.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Nanoparticles deliver spinal cord and brain medicines
Monica Dobie
Researchers from Purdue University in Indiana have developed a method of manipulating nanoparticles to better deliver medicines to treat damaged brain and spinal cord cells. They used nanotechnology manufacturing techniques to coat silica nanoparticles with a polymer – polyethylene glycol – and hydralazine, then targeted them at injured spinal guinea pig cells in tests.
Full report on the University World News site


UK: Bloggers welcome in new review
Diane Spencer
In an unprecedented move, the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills is living up to the innovative part of its name by encouraging stakeholders in higher education at home and abroad to post their comments on its website on nine discussion papers, commissioned by Secretary of State John Denham, as part of a major review of the sector.
Full report on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Moral education takes centre stage
Terry Lovat*
The Australian Values Education Programme took centre stage at recent moral education conferences in Moscow and Kiev. Professor Terry Lovat of the University of Newcastle, chief investigator of a number of research projects attached to the programme, was invited by the Russian and Ukrainian governments to present findings from these projects first in Moscow last year and again there and in Kiev earlier this month. The conferences were hosted jointly by the state ministries of education and the professional academies, signifying the interest in both countries in moral education and holistic education in general.
Full report on the University World News site


AFRICA: Researchers lag in science and technology
Karen MacGregor
African researchers produce only 1.8% of the world’s total scholarly publications – half as many as Latin America and substantially less than India – according to a forthcoming article in the journal Scientometrics on the state of science and technology across the continent. South Africa and Egypt produced half of all Africa’s internationally recognised publications between 2000 and 2004, while 88% of inventive activity was concentrated in South Africa.
Full report on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Not keeping up on research investment
Australia’s Group of Eight, a coalition of leading research-intensive universities, has just published a report, The International Tendency to Concentrate Research Capability, outlining strategies being adopted by a range of countries to focus their investment in areas of research excellence. It argues that while comparable countries have been intensifying investment in top research universities as a means of raising their competitiveness in the global knowledge economy, Australia has failed to take the necessary steps. While the available (lagged) measures of performance indicate that the country can punch above its weight, “we are not keeping up with the capacity improvements being made elsewhere”.
More on the University World News site

US: Exploring undergraduate research participation
The extent and potential consequences of undergraduate research participation among students at the University of California, Berkeley, is explored in a paper by Dr Elizabeth Berkes, a research associate at the university’s Center for Studies in Higher Education. She notes that although Berkeley “has increased efforts to involve undergraduates in scientific research, data does not exist regarding the number of students active in research projects”. The paper “offers a useful survey of the quantity and quality of undergraduate research”.
More on the University World News site

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

SCOTLAND: Fee-paying students becoming demanding
The traditional undergraduate experience of huddling for warmth around a one-bar heater and eating baked beans from the tin is being threatened by a new breed of student, reports The Times. University vice-chancellors are having to adjust to undergraduates who believe that their £3,000 (US$4,454) annual fees entitle them to a respectable standard of living.
More on the University World News site


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US: Chinese students flock to America
Chinese students are enrolling in American universities in record numbers, encouraged by aggressive recruiting combined with China's booming economy and growing middle class, reports the International Herald Tribune. Their enrolment grew by 8% in the fall of 2006 and by 20% last year, according to Institute of International Education figures released last week.
More on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Skills shortage cripples universities
South African universities are haemorrhaging lecturers and are being forced to pay professors in some departments huge salaries to get them to stay, writes Prega Govender in the Sunday Times. A snap survey, conducted by the newspaper found that there were almost 600 vacant posts for professors and lecturers in five universities.
More on the University World News site

TANZANIA: More varsities closed as crisis spreads
Two more universities were closed last week, bringing to four the number of public academic institutions shut following widespread student demonstrations against the government’s cost-sharing policy, reports The Citizen. Class boycotts started early this week in Dar es Salaam, and have since spread to other regions.
More on the University World News site

BRUSSELS: What are universities for?
Human capital is now the biggest factor in economic success, calling into question moves to create elite universities that generate high level research but neglect their role in education according to a new report, University Systems Ranking: Citizens and society in the age of the knowledge, by researchers Peer Ederer, Philipp Schuller and Stephan Willms of the Human Capital Centre at the Brussels think tank the Lisbon Council, reports Science/Business.
More on the University World News site

US: Many universities cut staff and spending
Shrinking endowments, state funding reductions and families struggling to pay tuition are forcing many colleges and universities to cut staff and spending or to delay construction and development plans, writes Tony Pugh of McClatchy. From well-heeled Ivy League schools such as Harvard and Dartmouth to large public institutions such as the California State University system, many institutions are facing difficult financial decisions stemming from the nation’s economic standstill.
More on the University World News site

US: Public university presidents’ pay on the rise
It’s official. E Gordon Gee of Ohio State University was the highest-paid public university president in America in the 2007-08 academic year, with a pay package worth nearly $1.4 million, according to a Chronicle of Higher Education survey released last week, reports The Columbus Dispatch. “Public university presidents are really beginning to catch up with private research university presidents,” said Jeffrey J Selingo, editor of The Chronicle. “There’s only a $100,000 difference between the median pay and benefits between the two.”
More on the University World News site

JAPAN: Ivy League universities fall victim to crisis
Japan’s top universities are falling victim to the global financial crisis that has caused $964.6 billion in write-downs and losses at financial institutions, reports Bloomberg.
More on the University World News site

VIETNAM: First university rankings due next year
For the first time in Vietnam, an education watchdog under the Vietnam National University-Hanoi will rank local universities, a representative told a conference in Hanoi, reports Thanh Nien. Data is being collected and the rankings are expected to be announced early next year.
More on the University World News site

UK: Taboo but true: PhD students ‘not up to scratch’
A drive by universities to increase research student numbers is leaving academics with weak candidates who need intense supervision to complete their PhDs, writes Zoë Corbyn in Times Higher Education. This ‘taboo’ issue was just one of a number of topics to be discussed in London at a conference on the UK PhD organised by, among others, the Higher Education Academy.
More on the University World News site

IRELAND: Higher education mobility to be encouraged
Measures to encourage more students to do part of their study abroad are to be considered by the Higher Education Authority, a conference has been told, reports the Irish Times. Michael Kelly, chairman of the policy and funding body, said he would like to see more students avail of opportunities provided by schemes such as Erasmus.
More on the University World News site

GHANA: Government to set up S&T development fund
The next government of the National Democratic Congress will set up a Science and Technology Development Fund to promote the study of science towards national development, reports Graphic Online. The fund will finance research in universities, other research institutions and graduate projects.
More on the University World News site
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