ISSN 1756-297XIssue No: 0077 24 May 2009
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Need a world class university in your nation? A new book from the World Bank might be helpful – we review the book in this week's Higher Education Research and Commentary section.

Higer education and research form a critical part of a new regional plan for social and economic development in the Middle East, our correspondent reports.

Australian researchers may have found an environment-friendly way to fight the common cold – see this week’s Business section. Photo: CDC.


A global view of the key issues confronting higher education

Reports from the Frontier is the first in a planned series of electronic books to be published by University World News. The initial volume comprises eight chapters that range from the impact of the global financial crisis on universities, declining funding, and the Bologna process, to women in higher education, international rankings and e-learning.

The 337-page e-book includes an index listing the chapters and article headings, and is available as a special offer to University World News readers. To see the contents page and to order your copy click here

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

SOUTH AFRICA: Communist takes charge of higher education
Karen MacGregor
In his first day in office, South Africa’s new President Jacob Zuma announced the creation of a Ministry of Higher Education and Training with a Communist leader, Dr Blade Nzimande, as Minister. Universities welcomed the news. By the week’s end, the outspoken former academic had clashed with radical students and had promised vice-chancellors he would respect university autonomy – if it was not used to block transformation.
Full report on the University World News site

CANADA: PhD offers little salary difference
Philip Fine
Earning a PhD does little to boost earnings compared with those who graduate with just a masters degree, according to a national survey. Canada’s student lobby pinned the blame for the relatively low earning power of the PhD on what they see as the casualisation of the university labour force.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Establishing world-class universities
Jamil Salmi, the World Bank’s tertiary education coordinator, has written a new book, The Challenge of Establishing World-Class Universities. In our Higher Education Research and Commentary section this week, reviewer Tony Sheil describes the book as a scholarly contribution that will signal “a turning point in a sometimes divisive debate over an issue of enormous concern to governments”.

US: Rankings can trigger innovation, new study finds
Much has been written about the pitfalls of ranking systems and their negative impacts on universities. A new study of four countries with high-profile rankings – Australia, Canada, Germany and Japan – is more upbeat. The Institute for Higher Education Policy in the US argues that nuanced approaches to rankings may prompt institutions to work in innovative and more productive ways.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Vice-chancellors sign sustainability agreement
Vice-chancellors and presidents from Universitas 21, the international network of 21 research-intensive universities in 14 countries, on Friday signed a statement on sustainability at their annual meeting held in Seoul, South Korea. The statement emphasises the important role universities play in facing the challenges of climate change, the decline of biodiversity, the need for energy, food and water security, and of economic sustainability and of human health.
Full report on the University World News site

FRANCE: Why dropouts drop out
Jane Marshall
One in five students who enrol in French higher education quit without qualifying, according to Ove, the National Observatory of Student Life. The organisation says these thousands of young people without a university diploma or degree have “escaped investigation”. Now it has decided to fill the research gap and find out why they gave up their studies and how they fared afterwards
Full report on the University World News site

AUSTRALASIA: Chinese numbers on the rise
John Gerritsen and Geoff Maslen
The ongoing impact of past declines in the number of Chinese students has masked a rebound in enrolments by new international students in New Zealand’s universities this year while increasing numbers of Chinese continue to flood into Australian universities.
Full report on the University World News site

MIDDLE EAST: Regional reform for economic crisis
Wagdy Sawahel
In a bid to enhance the impact of educational reforms on social and economic development in the Middle East, a new regional reform roadmap has been developed that combines higher education, research and private investment for promoting innovation-based development.
Full report on the University World News site


EUROPE: New Secretary-General for research universities
Leah Germain
The new Secretary-General for the League of European Research Universities, Professor Kurt Deketelaere, has urged European governments and industries to continue investing in university research and development, despite the current global economy.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Mobility and swine flu
Francisco Marmolejo*
The recent H1N1 virus outbreak is a phenomenon with important implications for international higher education, especially regarding student and faculty mobility. The challenges associated with the recent virus outbreak are not exclusively Mexican but are more appropriately viewed as phenomena with North American and international dimensions as well.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Bill to boost study abroad
American Senator Paul Simon introduced a Study Abroad Foundation act to the US Senate earlier this month. The act is intended to provide a dramatic increase in the number of American undergraduates who go abroad to undertake part of their studies in other countries.
Full report on the University World News site


GLOBAL: Higher education world conference
Jonathan Travis*
The World Conference on Higher Education will be held in July at Unesco headquarters in Paris on the theme of The New Dynamics of Higher Education. It follows the 1998 World Conference, which was important for recognising higher education as a key factor in the progression of nations and their people, for sustainable development and for human rights as well as for democracy, peace and justice.
Full report on the University World News site


GLOBAL: Chemists find cough medicine secret
Geoff Maslen
It is not surprising that after 12 years, organic chemists Associate Professor Andrew Smallridge and adjunct research fellow Associate Professor Maurie Trewhella at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia were thrilled to have discovered a relatively simple, environmentally friendly method of making ephedrine – the key ingredient in cold, cough, asthma and hay fever medicines.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Flu research could improve vaccines
Emma Jackson
A team of researchers at Princeton University in New Jersey, US has made a breakthrough that could affect the way pharmaceutical companies produce vaccines for flu and other viruses.
Full report on the University World News site

EUROPE: Recession encourages education push
Alan Osborn
The 27 European Union member countries have taken a symbolically important step to provide a pan-European character to their education and training systems, a policy area traditionally reserved for national governments in the EU.
Full report on the University World News site


AUSTRALIA: Outcomes of the Bradley review
Vin Massaro*
I found the Bradley report disappointing and short-sighted. Reading it in the context of the federal government's promised education revolution, and early suggestions that the review team was proposing to make some bold suggestions, one had to ask whether we were seeing the first Revolution to achieve the status quo.
Full report on the University World News site


GLOBAL: Establishing world-class universities
Tony Sheil*
Most nations want one but few can seriously entertain the thought of establishing a world-class university, let alone sustain the resources and results needed to hold their position. That is the take-away message from Jamil Salmi, the World Bank’s tertiary education coordinator, in his impressive monograph, The Challenge of Establishing World-Class Universities. This scholarly contribution will surely signal a turning point in a sometimes divisive debate over an issue of enormous concern to governments, both industrial and developing. The conclusions might not be to everyone’s liking but Salmi would have performed no favours by gilding the lily.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Academic manager or managed academic?
Richard Winter*
The relationship between values and academic identity has received scant attention in the higher education literature with some notable exceptions. This paper contends that the perceived need to align all academics around corporate values and goals has given rise to academic identity schisms in higher education.
Full report on the University World News site


CORRECTION: In responses to an article by Dr John Richard Schrock last week, we incorrectly stated that Stuart Hamilton was Chief Executive of Universities Australia, the vice-chancellors’ national organisation. Hamilton is, in fact, Chief Executive of Open Universities Australia which provides distance education and online courses to students around the world. We apologise to Mr Hamilton and both organisations for the error.

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

US: Google CEO tells graduates to turn off computers
The head of the world’s most popular search engine urged college graduates last Monday to step away from the virtual world and make human connections, writes Kathy Matheson for Associated Press. Speaking at the University of Pennsylvania’s commencement, Google chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt told about 6,000 graduates that they need to find out what is most important to them – by living analog for a while.
More on the University World News site

US: Dope lovers urge colleges to mellow out
Marijuana advocates who say pot is safer than alcohol want colleges to wade into a hazy debate over whether schools’ tough pot penalties are actually worsening their drinking woes, writes Rick Callahan for Associated Press. They argue that stiff punishments for being caught in a campus dorm with pot steer students to booze and add to binge drinking, drunken brawls and other booze-soaked troubles.
More on the University World News site


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VENEZUELA: Thousands of students protest funding cuts
Thousands of university students marched through Venezuela’s capital Caracas on Wednesday demanding more state financial aid for public universities after President Hugo Chavez’s government reduced funding by 6%, reports Fabiola Sanchez for The Associated Press. The crowd – comprising students, professors and university workers – chanted anti-Chavez slogans as they marched to the education ministry, where they raised their concerns with Higher Education Minister Luis Acuna.
More on the University World News site

UK: More overseas students ‘found’
There are many more international students at UK universities than previously thought, a study by the British Council suggests, reports Liz Lightfoot for BBC News. The figures suggest there were 513,570 international students in the past academic year not 389,330 as previously thought. The increase means the UK rivals the US as the top destination for overseas students, the council says. The US has 623,805 international students.
More on the University World News site

INDONESIA: Universities defend foreign med students
Several state universities have hit back at comments from controversial Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari that medical schools should limit the number of foreign students studying medicine in Indonesia to make way for more local students, reports the Jakarta Globe.
More on the University World News site

CHINA: Graduates downgrade dreams in slump
Sun Yizhen considered her university degree in international trade the ticket to a prestigious career with a state-owned enterprise like Bank of China Ltd. in Beijing. Instead, she found herself huddled against a freezing wind in a middle school parking lot in Huai’an, waiting to interview for a job with the local tax collector, writes Michael Tighe for Bloomberg.
More on the University World News site

CHINA: Vice President: Universities must tackle corruption
Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping has told universities to reform and punish academic corruption, reports the official Xinhua News Agency. Universities are supposed to produce “qualified builders and reliable successors of soc ialism with Chinese characteristics,” Xi said while touring major Beijing-based universities last week.
More on the University World News site

VIETNAM: Asia-Europe higher education links boosted
Asian-European countries have agreed to boost education cooperation following a second ministerial meeting on education held in Ha Noi, reports Vietnam News. They agreed to set up a university business forum to exchange views, good practice and information, to organise higher education meetings, conferences, fairs and joint marketing and information activities, and to establish an education secretariat to strengthen the Asian-European meeting process.
More on the University World News site

SINGAPORE: President announces new universities
The Massahusetts Institute of Technology is to partner Singapore’s planned fourth university, Education Minister Ng Eng Hen has confirmed. The Straits Times added that a Chinese partner for the university will be announced later this year.
More on the University World News site

US: Amid protests, Obama speaks at Catholic university
US President Barack Obama called for “open hearts, open minds, fair-minded words” as he accepted an honorary degree from the University of Notre Dame amid angry protests over his support for abortion rights, writes Michael D Shear for The Washington Post.
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US: Higher education may be next bubble to burst
The public has become all too aware of the term ‘bubble’ to describe an asset that is irrationally and artificially overvalued and cannot be sustained. The dot-com bubble burst by 2000. More recently the overextended housing market collapsed, helping to trigger a credit meltdown. The stock market has declined more than 30% in the past year, as companies once considered flagship investments have withered in value. Is it possible that higher education might be the next bubble to burst? ask Joseph Marr Cronin and Howard E Horton in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Some early warnings suggest that it could be.
More on the University World News site

US: Google pact to give libraries input on price
In a move that could blunt some of the criticism of Google for its settlement of a lawsuit over its book-scanning project, the company signed an agreement with the University of Michigan that would give some libraries a degree of oversight over the prices Google could charge for its vast digital library, writes Miguel Helft for The New York Times.
More on the University World News site

US: Islamic college planned for Berkeley
The proposed Zaytuna College would be a first: a four-year, accredited Islamic college in the United States, writes Elizabeth Redden for Inside Higher Ed. “Part of the process of indigenising Islam in America is for the community to begin to develop its own leadership from inside the country, develop its own scholars,” said Hatem Bazian, chair of the management board for Zaytuna College and a senior lecturer of Near Eastern studies at the University of California at Berkeley.
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UAE: Market forces to decide on university numbers
The government will let market forces decide how many universities the UAE should have and will not limit the total number, according to the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, reports Daniel Bardsley for The National. Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak said that in a free market there would still be controls on the quality of universities, and that below-par institutions would struggle to attract students.
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UK: Funding cuts could undermine strong HE reputation
After 10 years of growth under Labour, Britain's universities are facing the prospect of retrenchment as a result of government cuts, writes Lucy Hodges in The Independent. Last week Surrey University, which is highly rated for science and technology, announced that it was making 65 staff redundant – and that it could not rule out compulsory job losses.
More on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: No academic freedom risk at university
A University of KwaZulu-Natal investigation has found no evidence of a threat to academic freedom at the institution, even though certain sections of its community still feared that their freedom of expression was being curbed, writes Sue Blaine for Business Day. Earlier this year, the South African university appointed a seven-member council committee to probe whether it upheld academic freedom, following two years of repeated criticism locally and abroad.
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EU: Call for proposals on industry-academia partnerships
The European Commission Directorate-General for Research has issued a call for proposals under the 2009 work programme ‘people’ of the Seventh Framework Programme, reports Cordis News. The budget amounts to €65 million and the deadline for proposals is 27 July.
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