ISSN 1756-297XIssue No: 0064 22 February 2009
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The Spanish National Research Council (pictured) has published its latest ranking of universities according to their internet presence. Once again, US and Canadian universities dominate higher education's cyberspace.

Charles Ungerleider probes the relationship between evidence-based research and public policy in the latest edition of Academic Matters. See HE News and Commentary.

A model of the new Chongqing University complex – high demand for university places is prompting some institutions to accept lower-performing students if they can afford fees. See the story in our News section.



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The editors

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

GLOBAL: Web ranking identifies regional leaders
Rebecca Warden
North American universities continue to lead in the latest edition of the Web Ranking of World Universities published by the Spanish National Research Council’s Cybermetrics Lab. US and Canadian universities between them account for more than 60% of the world’s top 200 universities. 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 website

CYPRUS: Belfast students aim to unite divided Nicosia
Makki Marseilles
A dozen sixth-year postgraduate students from the Queen’s University Belfast’ school of planning, architecture and civil engineering are designing ‘gluing schemes’ aimed at bringing together the Greek and Turkish communities in the Cyprus capital of Nicosia.
Full report on the University World News website

CHINA: Wealthier students have more options
John Richard Schrock
University students among China’s new middle and upper classes who fail to make the cut-off score in the national entrance examination, the gao kao, still have options to study in China and abroad. With limited capacity to meet the huge demand for places, and balancing the dilemma of fairness versus diluting the rigor of college education, universities are using a tier system to admit lower-performing students with money and even sponsoring programmes for improving the students’ English skills before sending them overseas.
Full report on the University World News website


JAPAN: UNU’s new research and education institute
The United Nations University has established a new research and education institute in Tokyo – the UNU Institute for Sustainability and Peace. A university release said the idea for an institute had been conceived by Rector Konrad Osterwalder and formally approved by the university’s governing council in December. The institute became operational on 1 January under the directorship of Vice-Rector Kazuhiko Takeuchi.
Full report on the University World News website

EUROPE: Effects of financial crisis vary
Geoff Maslen
European universities have been affected in varying ways by the impact of the global financial crisis, with those in some countries expected to suffer cuts and others elsewhere appearing to benefit. The European Universities Association has been seeking details from its 34 national rectors’ conferences and the EUA reports that while it is still too early to predict, it is clear that some higher education sectors face difficult times ahead.
Full report on the University World News website

SOUTH AFRICA: State funds for student expansion
Karen MacGregor
The number of university students in South Africa will grow by 53,000 to reach 837,000 in 2011 – and the government has allocated an additional R700 million (US$69 million) to accommodate the expansion – Minister of Finance Trevor Manuel announced in his 2009 budget speech this month. He also gave the student financial aid scheme a R330 million boost to enable more disadvantaged youngsters to secure university bursaries and loans.Full report on the University World News site
Full report on the University World News website

EGYPT: Researchers up in arms
Ashraf Khaled
Hassan Mahmoud, a researcher at a state-run centre, wonders if Egypt’s government is really serious about boosting national development through scientific research. “Who can believe that a professor at a research centre earns no more than LE3,800 (US$680) a month?” he said. “How can he support his family with this humble sum of money and still do a good job?” Mahmoud is one of 6,000 professors on the teaching staff at 12 state-run research centres who are angry that a government plan to raise academic salaries excludes them.
Full report on the University World News site

ZIMBABWE: University closed following protests
Clemence Manyukwe
Authorities in Zimbabwe closed the University of Zimbabwe, the country’s oldest, following violent demonstrations sparked by the government's decision to charge fees in foreign currency. The protests followed an official notice demanding that students pay an examination fee of US$400 and US$1,800 per semester, and quickly spread to other public institutions.
Full report on the University World News site

N IGERIA: Rejection of acting VC sparks controversy
Tunde Fatunde
Lecturers at the Federal University of Benin have rejected the appointment of an acting vice-chancellor in an action that has sparked legal and political controversies that could have far-reaching implications for the rule of law and due process in N igeria’s university system. Last week armed police were deployed at various campuses of the university.
Full report on the University World News site


NEW ZEALAND: Low dollar fuels foreign enrolments
John Gerritsen
The global recession may have a pay-off for New Zealand, with the low value of the country’s dollar apparently fuelling an increase in enrolments by international students.
Full report on the University World News website

MALAWI: Top university dumps quota system
The University of Malawi has dumped a controversial quota system for the selection of students that saw it being taken to court last year. A press statement released by the chancellor’s office said this year’s students had been selected on merit.
Full report on the University World News site


US: Call to action by scientists
The American Association for the Advancement of Science, the nation’s peak scientific body, has called on its members to work against climate change and to advance human rights around the world. At its annual meeting in Chicago, the association’s out-going President James J McCarthy warned that the Earth and its life might be entering a “new era where natural forces are being overwhelmed” by human influences on climate and habitat.
Full report on the University World News website

AUSTRALIA: Global warming hits cold-blood animals
Climate change is likely to overheat most ‘cold-blooded’ animals and survival is likely only for those in habitats that allow them to cool down, a new study indicates. The work by researchers from the universities of Melbourne, Sydney and Wisconsin, took into account animals’ ability to seek ideal conditions and regulate their body temperature.
Full report on the University World News website

US: Dog licks aren’t dirty say scientists
Monica Dobie
Dog owners who sleep with their dogs and allow their pooch to lick their face are no more likely to share strains of E. coli bacteria with their pets than other dog owners who shy from such contact according to new research from Kansas State University.
Full report on the University World News website


AUSTRALIA: Confidant to vice-chancellors
OBITUARY: John Mullarvey 23 May 1950 – 12 February 2009
Frank Hambly and Giles Cooper*
The John Mullarvey story is quite remarkable. With humble education beginnings and without a tertiary education qualification, not even John in his wildest dreams would have thought he would be involved at a high level in the development of Australian government policy on higher education, or that he would become an adviser to and confidant of Australian vice-chancellors.
Full report on the University World News website


GLOBAL: Structuring tertiary education
Gavin Moodie*
There are two broad patterns or tendencies in structuring tertiary education. Some countries meet the different needs of different students, employers and of society generally by structuring sectors and institutions to serve specific needs, most commonly to establish vocational institutes to spec ialise in developing skills for employment and higher education institutions to provide general education and education for the high-status, high-paying occupations.
Full report on the University World News website


CANADA: Strange bedfellows
Charles Ungerleider
The call for evidence-informed decisions makes strange bedfellows of researchers and politicians. Researchers and political decision-makers live in different worlds, respond to different norms, and speak different languages. Appeals for evidence-informed decisions received momentum when, in a fin de siecle effort “to get better government – for a better Britain”, Tony Blair’s government embarked upon efforts to modernise government, calling, among other things, for “better use of evidence and research in policy-making and better focus on policies that will deliver long-term goals”. These calls for evidence-informed decisions required a bridging of the chasm.
Full article on the University World News site
Originally published in the journal Academic Matters


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UK: Universities warn of stiff competition in recession
The recession has triggered a scramble for a place at university with a record-breaking 465,000 people applying to begin a degree this September and a significant increase in the number of older applicants, official figures suggest, writes Polly Curtis in The Guardian. Vice-chancellors warned last week that with a 7.8% increase in applications – 34,000 more than last year – students face the most intense competition in years.
Full article on the University World News site

ISRAEL: Universities lost heavily in global credit crisis
The global financial crisis has cost Israeli universities some NIS 900 million (US$219 million) so far, due to both a decline in contributions and losses by university research and development funds that invested in the capital markets, according to an initial estimate prepared by the Council for Higher Education, reports
Full article on the University World News site

PHILIPPINES: Almost all universities not hiking fees
Higher Education Chairman Emmanuel Angeles said last week that he is going around the country asking university and college officials to heed the government’s call for a moratorium on tuition increase for the next academic year, reports ABS-CBN. Angeles said he had talked to university and college officials from 13 regions and all had expressed support for his call for a moratorium on tuition increases.
Full article on the University World News site

US: Accepting a raise draws fire
College presidents who declined raises and bonuses this year may have lost money, but they gained goodwill and political capital. As might be expected, the opposite appears true for those who clung to their often generous rewards even as budgets were slashed, writes Jack Stripling in Inside Higher Ed.
Full article on the University World News site

US: Harvard delays expansion plans but increases fees
Harvard University President Drew Faust announced last week that the university will delay its expansion into Allston in response to the harsh economic reality, and may even pause construction on a massive $1 billion science complex that was slated for completion in 2011, reports The Boston Globe. Faust also announced a 3.5% tuition increase for next year, bringing tuition to $33,696 and the total cost of a Harvard education – including room and board – to $48,868.
Full article on the University World News site

US: Economic woes test historically black colleges
Historically black colleges and universities, which for decades have been educating students who cannot afford to go – or cannot imagine going – elsewhere, have been particularly challenged by America’s economic meltdown, writes Errin Haines for Associated Press. Enrolments at the schools have declined at the same time endowments have dropped and fundraising sources have dried up. The same is true at most universities, but often students at historically black institutions need more aid to stay on course.
Full article on the University World News site

US: African-American studies mature
Growing up, Rebecca Francis seldom saw anyone who looked like her in the history books. Few black men. Fewer black women, reports the Houston Chronicle. “It was a completely Eurocentric viewpoint,” she said. Francis, who is biracial, enrolled in African-American studies at the University of Houston to get the other side of the story. And she has, in classes where the topics range from the birth of civilization to hip-hop star Mos Def. But she and her classmates also have found that African-American studies is no longer just about social action and personal exploration.
Full article on the University World News site

US: Illinois shooting victims move on in different ways
When Maria Ruiz-Santana talks about the day a suicidal gunman shot her in the throat in her geology class at Northern Illinois University, she sounds as if she is describing a nightmare from long ago, reports The New York Times. “It feels like it happened to me years and years ago,” said Ruiz-Santana, 21, who was among the 25 people shot during the lecture, at Cole Hall. But it has been just one year. The university held activities last weekend to mark the anniversary, including a commemoration ceremony, candlelight vigil and memorial wreath laying.
Full article on the University World News site

US: The new reverse transfer
Stephanie Jamiot is a community college transfer student, but not the kind one might expect. Instead of following the steady flow of students who move from two-year institutions to four-year institutions, she is one of a growing number of so-called ‘reverse transfers’ who leave four-year universities to attend community college, reports Inside Higher Ed.
Full article on the University World News site

US: Family sues for return of Geronimo’s skull
It is the stuff of legends: an elite secret society that includes what would become some of the most powerful men of the 20th century allegedly invading the grave of an Apache chief to steal his skull for fraternal rituals. It's also the stuff of a new lawsuit filed last week by descendants of that Apache chief, reports Fox News.
Full article on the University World News site
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