ISSN 1756-297XIssue No: 0069 29 March 2009
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Canada's University of Alberta aims to be one of the world's top 20 universities and its leader says the time is right for Canada to make its mark on the international student market. See this week's feature article.

Columbia University has opened "global centres" in China and Jordan – but they are not the usual overseas outpost set up by a major university, our correspondent reports.

A new born baby glistens with natural fluids. Dutch researchers have shown how this can be turned into synthetic medical creams with powerful health properties – see our Business section. Photo: Wikimedia Commons



NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

EUROPE: Leaders highlight universities’ role in downturn
Five hundred university leaders who gathered in Prague this month called on European governments to invest in higher education during the economic and financial crisis. Meeting at the fifth convention of higher education institutions, organised by the European University Association, the rectors said universities had a key role as a ‘motor’ for economic recovery by providing the research-based education at all levels needed to promote creativity and innovation.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Columbia opens global centres
John Richard Schrock
Beijing in China and Amman in Jordan are the sites of the first two Columbia Global Centers, a markedly different departure from the standard branch campuses built by many universities around the world to promote exchanges and attract foreign students. Columbia University President Lee C Bollinger opened the Beijing centre last Friday week while the Middle East Research Center in Amman opened two days later.
Full report on the University World News site

TUNISIA: Higher education road to riches
Wagdy Sawahel
During the last decade, Tunisia has launched a higher education reform strategy to bring its universities and research institutions in line with international standards and the world revolution in science and technologies, says Hafedh Nasr, a researcher at the National Research Institute for Rural Engineering, Water and Forestry. Nasr says the strategy has mainly focused on expanding access to higher education, modernising the system, further decentralising universities and technology parks, and improving academic quality and institutional performance.
Full report on the University World News site

FRANCE: Strikes continue despite teacher-training concession
Jane Marshall
Striking lecturers and researchers are continuing their eight-week stoppage, despite a further concession by Education Minister Xavier Darcos over teacher-training reform. The biggest higher education union also rejected an amended decree modifying academics’ job status at a meeting with Higher Education and Research Minister Valérie Pécresse.
Full report on the University World News site

FINLAND: Quality – Finnish style
Ian Dobson*
In common with the rest of the higher education world, Finland has embraced ‘quality’ in its universities. Finns prefer to use the term ‘evaluations’ rather than ‘quality audits’ and their national university agency for such matters is the Finnish Higher Education Evaluation Council. Its audits began in the second half of 2005 and it is hoped that all 20 universities and 26 polytechnics will have been audited by the end of 2011.
Full report on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Brain economy – the elephant in the room
Politicians and the public are yet to realise that tangible support for the ‘brain industries’ is as critical for Australia’s future and for Australian jobs as support for the resources industries, says Tony Adams, Immediate Past President of the International Education Association of Australia.
Full report on the University World News site


FRANCE: Grants for international students
An agency that promotes French education abroad called CampusFrance has set up an online directory of grants available for international students who want to study in France.
Full report on the University World News site

EU: Masters in translation network
The creation of the European Masters in Translation network was the central theme of an international conference organised by the European Commission in Brussels on 16-17 March. More than 100 universities and other stakeholders involved in translator training met to agree on the criteria for training programmes to become part of a common EMT quality label.
Full report on the University World News site



CHINA: Imprisoned historian released but refused travel
Jonathan Travis*
Tohti Tunyaz, a Uighur historian and writer from China, was released last month after spending 11 years in prison. Tohti was sentenced for “illegally acquiring state secrets” after receiving a copy of a list of documents relating to the second East Turkestan Independence Movement and pre-1949 Xinjiang history. He was also convicted of “instigating national disunity” after allegedly publishing a book in Japan titled The Inside Story of the Silk Road that was claimed to promote ethnic separatism.
More academic freedom reports on the University World News site


UK: The greening of business schools
Diane Spencer
Business schools in the UK are gearing themselves up for new developments in sustainability. In a new report, the Association of Business Schools says business communities need to embrace environmental and sustainable ways of working and embed them into every day policies and procedures to ensure the future of the planet. The association also says students are more discerning about green issues including buildings, courses and content. They are aware of integrating sustainability into business practices and of the newly created ‘green collar’ jobs.
Full report on the University World News site

EUROPE: R&D wake-up call from European Commission
Alan Osborn
If the European Union wants to become the world leader in information and communication technologies as it frequently asserts, it should not expect to do it for nothing. As a start, the 27 EU member states should at least double their investment in ICT – both public and private – over the next 10 years, says the European Commission in launching a new ICT Research and Innovation Strategy.
Full report on the University World News site

THE NETHERLANDS: Soothing cream from baby film
Monica Dobie
Scientists from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands have developed a synthetic version of the natural protective cream found on newborn babies that they claim can be developed as a medical cosmetic. Its properties will in particular help protect babies born prematurely against temperature changes, dehydration and infection as well as providing adults with relief from skin disease.
Full report on the University World News site


CANADA: Alberta aims for global Top 20
David Jobbins
The time is right for Canadian universities to make their mark on the international student market, says University of Alberta President Dr Indira Samarasekera. And she is determined to win the university a place among the 20 leading comparable universities around the world.
Full report on the University World News site


US: The centrality of the academic profession
Philip C Altbach*
In 1992, Bill Clinton was elected president of the United States in considerable part by emphasising the importance of the economy. His mantra – “It’s the economy, stupid!” – focused this point. For higher education, the mantra should be “It’s the faculty, stupid!”. In fact, no university can achieve success without a well-qualified, committed academic profession. Neither an impressive campus nor an innovative curriculum will produce good results without great professors.
Full report on the University World News site

EU: What are universities for?
Geoffrey Boulton*
This title of this article should be a FAQ – that is, a frequently asked question. My contention is that the question, ‘What are universities for?’ is not asked enough, and that it tends not to be answered in a cogent and realistic way by those best placed to do so, that is by academics.
Full report on the University World News site

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

UK: Pay boost for university leaders
Diane Spencer
Many British vice-chancellors are paid as much if not more than the Prime Minister. But not, of course, as much as Premier League footballers – or failed bankers. Latest figures collated and audited by accountants Grant Thornton on behalf of Times Higher Education show the average university head earned £193,970 (including benefits but not pension contributions) in 2007-08, a 9% increase on the previous year, and a steeper rise than in the previous two years. Gordon Brown was paid £194,250 last year for running the country.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Quirky regional dictionary nears finish
If you don’t know a stone toter from Adam’s off ox, or aren’t sure what a grinder shop sells, the Dictionary of American Regional English is for you, writes Ryan J Foley for Associated Press. The dictionary team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is nearing completion of the final volume, covering ‘S’ to ‘Z’. A new federal grant will help the volume get published next year, joining the first four volumes already in print.
More on the University World News site


US: Pioneering historian John Hope Franklin dies
John Hope Franklin, a towering scholar and pioneer of African-American studies who wrote the seminal text on the black experience in the US and worked on the landmark Supreme Court case that outlawed public school segregation, died last Wednesday, writes Associated Press’ Martha Waggoner in The Washington Post. Franklin was 94.
More on the University World News site


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US: MIT academics vote for public access to research
Massachusetts Institute of Technology will make its research available to the public free of charge, becoming the first US university to mandate the policy, by faculty vote, across all departments, writes John Lauerman for Bloomberg. The unanimous vote, taken on 18 March, is effective immediately, the university said in an e-mail last week.
More on the University World News site

US: University of Michigan Press goes digital
University officials have announced plans to merge the University of Michigan Press with the university library in an effort to reinforce the institution’s mission to efficiently publish scholarly texts while transitioning into the digital age, reports The Michigan Daily. The announcement came about a month after the Association of American Universities and the Association of Research Libraries issued a call to action urging universities to take a more active role in producing and sharing academic works through digital technologies.
More on the University World News site

US: Supply, demand and foreign students
The fact that large numbers of international students enrol in doctoral programmes in the United States is no surprise, but their considerable presence represents “one of the most significant transformations in US graduate education” in the last quarter century, argues a new economic analysis of the supply and demand effects influencing student outflows from other countries and influxes into the US, writes Elizabeth Redden for Inside Higher Ed. The proportion of foreign-born PhD recipients in science and engineering nearly doubled from 27% percent in 1973 to 51% in 2003.
More on the University World News site

UK: Bursaries ‘must rise in line with fees’
Student bursaries will have to be increased if the government raises tuition fees, the government’s university access watchdog has warned, reports The Guardian. Sir Martin Harris, director of the Office for Fair Access, Offa, said he did not believe the introduction of £3,000 (US$4,350) top-up fees in 2006 had led to universities becoming more socially elitist. But in order to prevent students being excluded, universities would have to give them back more money if they are to be allowed to raise fees to £5,000 or more.
More on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Big research centre to tackle HIV and TB
A partnership between the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, or HHMI, in the US and the University of KwaZulu-Natal will establish an international research centre focused on contributing to the effort to control the ‘co-epidemic’ of tuberculosis and HIV, and on training African scientists, writes Sue Blaine in Business Day.
More on the University World News site

KENYA: Public universities sink into tribalism
Appointments to top administrative positions at public universities are undermining their image as national centres of academic excellence, lecturers and government officials have warned, writes Samuel Siringi in the Daily Nation. They said recent selections of principals for new colleges and campuses appears to have been based on ethnic considerations or regions where the institutions are located, rather than on merit.
More on the University World News site

US: Abortion debate dogs Obama visit to university
President Barack Obama’s planned visit to the University of Notre Dame in May has triggered a national debate over whether such a prominent supporter of abortion rights should be welcomed at one of America’s premier Catholic universities, writes John McCormick in the Chicago Tribune. Obama’s decision to speak at the university’s 17 May commencement is generating strong feelings on all sides, with supporters saying he should be welcomed as the nation’s leader and opponents saying he should be shunned because of his views.
More on the University World News site

N IGERIA: President tasks universities on funding
President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua has told N igerian universities to explore alternative sources of funding and stop depending solely on government funds for their operations, writes John Shiklam in the Daily Champion.
More on the University World News site

TAIWAN: Access to higher education widening
People with tertiary education were the largest group among Taiwan’s literate population in 2008, which indicated widening access to higher education by citizens of the country, according to a report released last week by the Ministry of the Interior, reports Taiwan News. The report showed that at the end of 2008, the number of Taiwan citizens with tertiary education levels of training accounted for 34.91% of the population aged 15 and over.
More on the University World News site

UK: Scottish higher education gets £20 million boost
Scottish universities and colleges have been given speeded up funding of more than £20 million (US$174 million) to pay for improved buildings and facilities, reports BBC News. The Scottish government said the move would give students the skills to make it in tough economic times.
More on the University World News site

CANADA: Winnipeg bans bottle water sales on campus
Following a decision by the student body, which voted to prohibit the sale of bottled water on campus, the University of Winnipeg made the ban official last week, reports All Headline News. The prohibition, which will be implemented in phases, will make Winnipeg the first university in Canada to endorse such a drastic pro-environment policy.
More on the University World News site
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