ISSN 1756-297XIssue No: 0055  30 November 2008
HE Events Diary

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Higher Education Marketing

Slow-motion film of bullets through glass and rare footage of liquid helium – it's all part of the attraction of YouTube for scientists and their students, argues Adam Micolich in University World News this week. Photo: Wikipedia.

UWN virtual reporter Belinda Blessed at the virtual campus of Texas State Technical College, which is using virtual world Second Life to host a digital media degree – see this week’s Business Section.

JANET has international ambitions. But don't ask who, ask what? See the story in our Feature Section.



The international financial crisis is affecting universities across the globe. See our lead stories.

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

EUROPE: Meltdown forces new look at university financing
Alan Osborn
The global credit crunch has focused attention on the financing of universities, especially in Europe where there is less public investment in higher education than in many other places around the world. At the same time, more and more is demanded of the universities in teaching and in research. As the European University Association says: “The financial sustainability of their missions will certainly be the primary issue of concern for universities in the 21st century.”
Full report on the University World News website

US: Call for a crisis commission
As America faces its worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, a distinguished American educator, Dr John Aubrey Douglass, has called on the new Obama administration to establish an exploratory Commission on Higher Education similar to that created by President Harry Truman in 1946 to avoid a projected steep post-World War II recession. But Douglass says the issue has more urgency today and a new commission would need an initial budget as well as “a larger vision to contemplate a range of options”.
Full report on the University World News website

GLOBAL: Fees converging – and rising
Diane Spencer
Fees in American and European research universities are showing signs of convergence and the start of a ‘big curve’ in pricing, say researchers at the Center for Studies in Higher Education at the University of California, Berkeley. John Aubrey Douglass and Ruth Keeling studied pricing trends among a sample group of 24 public and private research universities in the US, all with a wide array of graduate and professional programmes, and a smaller group of EU universities.
Full report on the University World News website

HUNGARY: University rankings rejected
Nick Holdsworth
Competitive university rankings have been rejected as an effective means of informing people about differing standards in higher education. A conference attended by delegates from European university and standards-setting associations in Budapest last week agreed that rankings had “perverse effects”.
Full report on the University World News website

GERMANY: Court rules on maintenance grants
Michael Gardner
Nationals of European countries may be required to have lived for several years in a foreign member state before being entitled to maintenance grants. This follows a decision earlier this month by the European Court of Justice after hearing an appeal by Jacqueline Förster, a German national settled in The Netherlands who enrolled for higher education courses there.
Full report on the University World News website

INDIA: Technology institutes face uncertain future
Shreesh Chaudhary
The scientific community in India is worried about the global image of Indian Institutes of Technology after the government created six new IITs earlier this year. Professor CNR Rao, principal scientific adviser to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, expressed surprise and dissent at the decision.
Full report on the University World News website

EGYPT: Politics gets short shrift on campuses
Ashraf Khaled
It is not uncommon to see scores of police vehicles and anti-riot soldiers stationed outside Egypt's government-run universities. In recent years, universities have been venues for vociferous student protests against local politics and anti-US acts in the Middle East. On several occasions, campus activists, particularly the Islamists, have been detained and questioned by the police. They may be dismissed from classes or even jailed.
Full report on the University World News website


ETHIOPIA: Academic freedom in East African universities
Jonathan Travis*
The Network for Education and Academic Rights (NEAR) and the Scholars at Risk (SAR) Network held a conference and workshop on academic freedom in Ethiopia last month. The event was organised in partnership with the Forum for Social Studies, the Organisation for Social Science Research in Eastern and Southern Africa and the British Council. Faculty members and researchers from 13 countries participated, including Ethiopia, Ghana, Jordan, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Ukraine, UK and the US.
More Academic Freedom reports on the University World News website


GLOBAL: College offers virtual world digital course
Kristan Hall*
The virtual world Second Life has become a focus of higher education by providing a remote forum in which to teach and hold seminars. Now a college in Texas is offering a certificate and degree course likely to be of interest to a large number of Second Life residents.
Full report on the University World News website

US: Chicago business school receives record donation
Jane Marshall
The University of Chicago Graduate School of Business is no more: in its place is the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. The change of name for the globally top-ranking institution is in honour of entrepreneur and alumnus David G Booth who made a record donation to the school where he learned the finance principles on which he built his fortune.
Full report on the University World News website

AUSTRALIA: Conductive plastics centre launched
Keith Nuthall
High technology plastics that act as conductors will be developed by a Centre for Organic Photonics and Electronics which opened at the University of Queensland in Australia this month. The US$7 million purpose-built centre will bring together almost 40 scientists specialising in chemistry and physics
Full report on the University World News website


AUSTRALIA: How I learned to stop worrying and love YouTube
Adam Micolich*
Once the gas helium is cooled below 2.2 Kelvin or minus 271 degrees Celsius, it becomes a superfluid: incredibly, it can flow without resistance, defy gravity by climbing up walls, slide through tiny pores that other liquids cannot penetrate and even produce a fountain that never stops flowing. Video footage of superfluid helium is quite rare and as a student the best I ever saw were some small black and white photographs in a textbook, something that hardly conveys the bizarre and fascinating behaviour of this liquid. Today, however, any physics students can see what few of their lecturers have ever seen, thanks to the wonders of YouTube.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Academic Freedom in the 21st century
Jonathan Travis*
Academics and students around the world at this very second are being subjected to infringements of their professional and human rights and most of these violations are going unnoticed. From surveillance to corruption, from torture to murder, educators and the educated stand little chance against the full force of corrupt regimes and repressive agents intent on stifling democracy.
Full report on the University World News website


UK: Widening a lady’s net
Diane Spencer
JANET is not the name of a respectable middle-class housewife, probably from Morningside, the posh part of Edinburgh, but it is the acronym for one of the world’s leading research and educational networks. It styles itself as “a mission critical asset for all involved in education, training and research” and has ambitions to work with other sectors beyond its 18 million users in the UK and to learn from the rest of the world. So it has appointed Steve Hogger as its first head of international relations.
Full report on the University World News site


EUROPE: Are higher education rankings reliable?
A recent study by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre has questioned the substance of statistics on which the Academic Ranking of World Universities conducted by Shanghai Jiao Tong University are based. The study, carried out by researchers at the Centre for Research on Lifelong Learning (CRELL), questions whether the Jiao Tong ranking serves its intended purpose, compares it with the Times Higher Education-QS rankings exercise, and concludes that neither system succeeds in effectively ranking Europe’s universities.
More on the University World News site

UK: How HE can help businesses during downturn
A brochure outlining how universities and colleges can help businesses during an economic downturn was published last week by Universities UK, the representative body for higher education, and GuildHE. Standing Together: Universities helping business through the downturn, describes the kind of support institutions can offer employers including practical support for small and medium sized enterprises, consultancy services, research support, staff development and training courses, and strengthened partnerships.
More on the University World News site


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US: University presidents to give back some pay
In the week after The Chronicle of Higher Education published its annual survey of university presidents’ pay – a week in which the nation’s economic troubles worsened – several of the highest-paid presidents said that they would give back part of their pay or forgo their raises, writes Tamar Lewin in the New York Times.
More on the University World News site

TANZANIA: Accept cost sharing or leave, students told
Following student protests that closed down several universities, the Tanzanian government last week directed public universities to readmit only students who agreed to pay for their education through its cost-sharing loan policy and lock out those demanding that government fully finances their fees and accommodation, reports The Citizen.
More on the University World News site

BANGLADESH: Campuses of foreign universities allowed
Despite opposition from Bangladesh’s university regulator, the country’s caretaker government passed a law last week allowing private individuals and institutions to establish campuses in the name of foreign universities – but only with prior permission from the government – reports The Chronicle of Higher Education.
More on the University World News site

NEW ZEALAND: Take cap off fees, say universities
The heads of New Zealand’s universities say the government is unfairly doling out money to students and forgetting universities themselves, reports the New Zealand Herald. They also want the cap on fees removed so universities can set the cost of courses.
More on the University World News site

WALES: Student grant shake-up plan unveiled
The Welsh Education Minister has unveiled proposals to scrap the £1,890-a-year (US$2,927) grant every Welsh student in Wales receives towards tuition fees, reports the BBC. Jane Hutt wants a “significant proportion” of funding, currently £61 million, to be redirected to helping students from lower income families from 2010.
More on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Physicist quits in academic freedom row
Appeals from international academic heavyweights to University of KwaZulu-Natal authorities were not enough to prevent the resignation last week of respected physicist Professor Nithaya Chetty, who faced what commentators have described as “unwinnable” internal disciplinary action, reports The Witness. The university has come under sharp criticism for what critics claim are infringements of academic freedom.
More on the University World News site

UK: University students focused on jobs
University students are more focused on gaining qualifications and getting a good job than going into higher education for the “experience”, according to a study commissioned by the National Union of Students, reports the Press Association. Online interviews with 3,135 students revealed that most undergraduates see university as a means to an end and less than a third (28%) say their main reason for going to university was “for the experience itself”.
More on the University World News site

UK: Science students from top universities earn most
Graduates earn hugely different salaries depending on what subject they study and which university they attend, new research has found, reports The Guardian. According to research into graduate employment and earnings by the 1994 group, science graduates from the old research-intensive universities will earn much more than graduates with arts and social science degrees from the newer teaching-led institutions.
More on the University World News site

N IGERIA: President seeks better global ranking for universities
President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua has urged universities to work toward attaining a more respectable position in world universities rankings in the next five years, reports This Day. He pledged the federal government’s commitment to improving learning facilities in universities, and asked institutional administrators to ensure that resources made available to them were judiciously used.
More on the University World News site

INDIA: Green light for two more universities
Two universities will be set up in Karnataka state after Governor Rameshwar Thakur, who is the chancellor of universities, gave the green light, reports the Times of India. He cleared an ordinance to this effect last weekend, according to higher education department officials.
More on the University World News site

IRELAND: IBM forms research partnership with universities
IBM has formed a multi-million euro partnership with Irish universities to research massively powerful super-computers which it expects to change the future of computing, reports The Irish Times.
More on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: University expels racist student
A North West University student has been expelled for bringing the institution into disrepute after he created a racist Facebook group, reports The Times. Another six students were found not guilty by a disciplinary committee because it could not find evidence that they actively associated themselves with the group.
More on the University World News site
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