ISSN 1756-297XIssue No: 0070 05 April 2009
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This week, University World News launches the first of a series of electronic books, compiling our reports on issues facing higher education around the world. See this edition for more details.

Academics from around the world have joined to support a new university in the Sahara. See the story in this week's News section.

Don't fence me in. The rector of Albania's only film school hopes support from Hollywood film makers will help the school in a row with a government agency.



A global view of the key issues confronting higher education

This week University World News publishes the first in a planned series of electronic books under the title Reports from the Frontier.

The first volume comprises eight chapters with up-to-the-minute incisive accounts of how universities are coping with the challenges that confront them in an increasingly globalised world. The chapters range from the impact of the global financial crisis on institutions, declining university funding and the Bologna process, to women in higher education, international rankings and e-learning.

The 332-page e-book is available as a special offer to University World News readers. Academics and administrators anxious to know what is happening to higher education in other countries will find this book invaluable. So will those in charge of a department, a library, a faculty or a university – and anyone else interested in academe who wants an accurate record of university and government responses in a time of great change.

To see the contents page and to order your copy click here

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

GLOBAL: Demand for right to teach and study in safety
Brendan O’Malley
A global federation representing 30 million university academics and school teachers has urged those involved in armed conflicts to respect schools, colleges and universities as safe sanctuaries and zones of peace. In a declaration, Education International urged the international community, governments and leaders of armed groups to reaffirm their commitment to the principle of right to education in safety.
Full report on the University World News site

OECD: Research head attacks university 'conservatism'
Traditional university faculties are too conservative and are standing in the way of progress as Europe’s education system struggles to become more innovative, the head of the OECD’s Centre for Educational Research and Innovation, Professor Dirk Van Damme, told a European Policy Centre debate last Tuesday.
Full report on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Election turns ugly for universities
Karen MacGregor
Universities and students have become embroiled in controversies and chaos ahead of South Africa’s fourth democratic elections on 22 April. Last week, nine University of Zululand students were hospitalised after political tensions boiled over into violence while protests in Durban led to calls for the vice-chancellor of the University of South Africa to quit because of his perceived support for an opposition party.
Full report on the University World News site

SAHARA: An oasis of learning in the desert
Paul Rigg
Under the burning desert sun of the Sahara, academics from 10 Spanish universities recently joined with colleagues from Cuba, Algeria and the UK to pledge their support for the development of the “Saharawi University of Tifariti”, the first of its type in the world.
Full report on the University World News site

LIBYA: New era of higher education reform
Wagdy Sawahel
In a bid to promote human and sustainable development, Libya – the second largest oil producer in Africa – is working to reform its higher education and scientific research systems through a US$9 billion five-year national strategic plan and international cooperation – especially since its positive re-engagement with the international community following renunciation of weapons of mass destruction.
Full report on the University World News site

SINGAPORE: Recession adds to stress on campus
Colin A Sharp*
Singapore’s academic community has become increasingly concerned about a succession of deaths on the Nanyang Technology University campus, with at least two apparent student suicides in one week, one of them linked to the murder of an academic, as well as a fatal car accident – all in the space of three weeks and all from the same faculty.
Full report on the University World News site

FRANCE: Modernisation for elite civil service school
Jane Marshall
The Ecole Nationale d’Administration, or Ena, France’s elite school for training high-ranking civil servants, senior diplomats and industrial leaders, is to be brought up to date with reforms to make it more egalitarian and its programmes more practical.
Full report on the University World News site

EGYPT: Hard times ahead for private universities
Ashraf Khaled
Months after the government scrapped tax exemptions for them, Egypt’s private universities see even tougher times ahead. A decision by education authorities to reintroduce the sixth grade in Egyptian schools five years ago has produced a gap year. As a result, the estimated number of new students to attend public and private universities in 2011 will not exceed 5,000 – against around 200,000 usually admitted annually.
Full report on the University World News site

GERMANY-AFRICA: Partnership boosts African universities
Michael Gardner
The German Academic Exchange Service, DAAD, is running a major partnership programme that supports the training of academics at top-level African universities. Graduates are to assume executive roles in areas key to development. One of five spec ialist centres, the Tanzanian-German Centre for Law, opened last year, another in the Congo has just been launched and three others are being set up in Ghana, Namibia and South Africa.
Full report on the University World News site

ZIMBABWE: New government disappoints students
Clemence Manyukwe
Zimbabwe’s inclusive government will be two months old this month but students are failing to find comfort in the fact. They protest that students continue to be expelled, brutalised and arrested – and complain their plight is being ignored by the new prime minister.
Full report on the University World News site

N IGERIA: University councils established
Tunde Fatunde
After nearly two years of delays, the N igerian government has established governing councils in the country’s 27 federally owned universities. The move was greeted with enthusiasm by trade unions operating in tertiary institutions. The reconstituted councils will face a large backlog of issues to deal with as university operations have suffered from the long leadership vacuum.
Full report on the University World News site


KENYA: Violent protests close Kenyatta indefinitely
Dave Buchere
Kenyatta University in Kenya was closed indefinitely last Monday after students went on the rampage, destroying property worth millions of shillings hardly three days after its re-opening. One student died and several were injured after riot police were called in.
Full report on the University World News site

TUNISIA-ALGERIA: Closer university and research cooperation
Tunisian and Algerian universities have signed 19 agreements for closer scientific cooperation, exchanges of expertise, and joint education programmes and research projects with the aim of bringing the higher education systems of the two countries closer, reported La Presse of Tunisia.
Full report on the University World News site

MAURITIUS: Country aims to become ‘knowledge hub’
The University of Mauritius is set to double its student capacity with the building of a second campus, reports L’Express from Port Louis. Planned for completion in five years, it will be able to cater for up to 10,000 additional students. The expansion is part of a development plan for Mauritius to become a ‘knowledge hub’ in the region.
Full report on the University World News site


PORTUGAL: Olive oil – research reveals the good bits
A study of the major antioxidants in olive oil has pinpointed the one that has the most health benefits.
Full report on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Astronomers discover galactic ‘freak’
The biggest dwarf for miles around has been discovered in the night sky. The so-called ‘dwarf galaxy’ is only the size of a star cluster, but may contain 10 times as many stars as a cluster, making it particularly bright.
Full report on the University World News site

UK: Vinegar cleans toxic waste
Monica Dobie
British scientists have found there’s a lot more to vinegar than splashing it on your chips: it could help cleanse polluted groundwater and prevent disease.
Full report on the University World News site


UNITED NATIONS: Stopping attacks on education
Last month, University World News correspondent Brendan O’Malley gave an address in New York to the UN General Assembly thematic debate on education in emergencies. In his speech, O’Malley called for action by the UN to prevent political and military attacks against students, teachers, education officials and education trade unionists.
The address can be read on the University World News site

ALBANIA: Student movies at risk, says rector
Nick Holdsworth
The row over ownership of Albania’s only film school, the Marubi academy in Tirana, has entered its fifth week with renewed attempts to cut off access to its premises by staff and students. The academy – set up five years ago as a public institution in part of a 59,000 square metre spread of former state film studios – is embroiled in a row over rights to the studios and classrooms used by its staff, 25 international visiting professors and 30 students.
Full report on the University World News site

GREECE: Under attack from within
Makki Marseilles
For more than two weeks the administration headquarters of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, the largest in the country, has been occupied by youths, members of non-parliamentary leftwing organisations and sundry other anarchist groups. They have prevented staff from carrying out their duties and are causing serious disruption in the management of the institution.
Full report on the University World News site


CANADA: Reflections on university press publishing
Bill Harnum
Developments over the last few decades have changed some of the primary concerns of scholarly book publishers within university presses. The enterprise of publishing remains a vital part of the ecology of the academy, but the future direction of book publishing is unclear. The future is less apocalyptic than some may believe, but there is no question that there are challenges that need to be addressed by the publishing community.
Full article on the University World News site
First published by the journal Academic Matters

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

US: Threat to academic freedom
When a US university decided to require its tenure and promotions committees to pay special attention to an applicant’s “involvement in diversity initiatives”, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education took strong exception and fired off a missive to the president.
Full report on the University World News site

US: California admissions gaffe dashes students’ hopes
Cole Bettles had been rejected by a raft of universities when he received an e-mail from the University of California, San Diego, last week congratulating him on his admission and inviting him to tour the campus. His mother booked a hotel in San Diego, and the 18-year-old high school senior arranged for his grandfather, uncle and other family members to meet them at the campus for lunch during the Saturday orientation, reports the Los Angeles Times.
More on the University World News site

UK: New masters in social networking
Britain’s Birmingham City University is to offer a masters degree teaching students about social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Bebo, reports The Telegraph. The one-year masters in social media will also explain how to set up blogs and publish podcasts.
More on the University World News site


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PAKISTAN: Concern over 73% cut in universities’ budget
Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Associations General Secretary, Professor Badar Soomro, has expressed shock and dismay over a more than 73% cut in the budget of universities by the Higher Education Commission, reports The News. He said the government was cutting university budgets on the one hand, while on the other it was paying hefty amounts to Tenure Track System faculty.
More on the University World News site

INDIA: Panel proposes more autonomy for universities
In an effort to do away with government’s interference in higher education institutions, a high-level committee has suggested that universities should be made self-regulatory bodies and recommended a new governing structure to help them preserve their autonomy, reports the Economic Times.
More on the University World News site

US: Libraries must turn crisis into opportunity
Librarians and their institutions must use current disruptions, economic and technological, as an opportunity to radically reinvent themselves, says an Association of College and Research Libraries report, Strategic Thinking for Academic Librarians in the New Economy, released during the organisation’s national conference last month, reports the Library Journal.
More on the University World News site

US: Paying in full as the ticket into colleges
Facing fallen endowments and needier students, many colleges are looking more favourably on wealthier applicants as they make their admissions decisions this year, writes Kate Zernike in The New York Times. Institutions that have pledged to admit students regardless of need are finding ways to increase the number of those who pay the full cost in ways that allow colleges to maintain the claim of being need-blind – taking more students from the transfer or waiting lists, for instance, or admitting more foreign students who pay full tuition.
More on the University World News site

PHILIPPINES: Flexible tuition fee scheme ordered
Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has ordered education authorities to craft a “flexible socially-sensitive” tuition fee payment plan in state universities and colleges to allow more students to enrol and graduate, reports the Manila Bulletin. She has also directed expansion of the Students Assistance Fund for Education, or SAFE, that includes transport subsidies, book allowances, and other benefits for poor students.
More on the University World News site

JAMAICA: Student aid to focus on key development areas
Jamaica’s government is to steer the Students’ Loan Bureau, or SLB, in a direction where it would be inclined to support areas of study deemed critical to national development, reports The Gleaner.
More on the University World News site

POLAND: Higher education boom
The number of students in higher education in Poland has grown from 394,000 in the 199-91 academic year to almost two million today, reports The participation rate among 19 to 24-year-olds has reached 48% – one of the highest in Europe – according to the latest Central Statistical Office report, Students in Higher Schools of Education in Poland in the 2007-2008 Academic Year.
More on the University World News site

UK: Take quality concerns seriously, universities told
Universities must take public concern over degree standards seriously if they want to make the case for more investment by the taxpayer, the new head of the higher education funding body warned last week, writes Donald MacLeod in The Guardian.
More on the University World News site

UK: Rise in university gender pay gap
The number of women lecturers and researchers at British universities rose more slowly last year and the pay gap with men widened slightly, according to figures published last week by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, writes Anthea Lipsett in The Guardian.
More on the University World News site

KENYA: Bill governing universities to be implemented
Public universities in Kenya will be subjected to inspections by the government’s quality assurance body, writes Sam Otieno in The Standard. Among other recommendations in a Bill being formulated by the Ministry of Higher Education is the introduction of a University Act to govern all existing and emerging universities.
More on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Law degrees to be cross-examined
University law deans have approached the Council on Higher Education to probe the relevance and adequacy of the LLB degree, writes Monako Dibetle in the Mail & Guardian. The investigation into the qualification is in response to ongoing concerns among top legal minds about the declining quality of law graduates. Experts have proposed reintroducing a five-year LLB degree at all law faculties. Some institutions offer a four-year qualification.
More on the University World News site

US: Middle Easterners unhappy being ‘white’ or ‘other’
Nicole Salame, 19, was filling out an application to the University of California in Los Angeles last year when she got to the question about race and ethnicity. She thought a mistake had been made, writes Raja Abdulrahim in the Los Angeles Times. “I read it five times and was like, where is Middle Eastern?” the freshman recently recalled. “Is it on the other page, did it get cut off? I thought they forgot.”
More on the University World News site
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