ISSN 1756-297XIssue No: 0079 07 June 2009
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Attacks on Indian students studying in Australia feature among our news stories this week, and also prompt a reader to reflect in our Uni-Lateral section on attacks on students on Delhi's Metro.

The Saharwi people – living in the territory of Western Sahara and in Algeria – are set to get their own university thanks to the efforts of a group of universities from around the world. See the story in this week's News section.

Hong Kong University has topped a new ranking by British company QS of institutions in Asia, but Japanese institutions also performed strongly.


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A decade after the first World Conference on Higher Education in 1998, this year's event on 5-8 July will provide a global platform for forward-looking debate on one of the most rapidly changing fields within the global learning landscape. The conference will identify concrete actions aimed at ensuring higher education meets national development objectives and individual aspirations. It will provide an occasion for key stakeholders to make a new commitment to the development of higher education and agree on action-oriented recommendations to enable higher education and research to respond better to changing labour market needs and to the growing and multiple demands of society.

UWN will be reporting on depth in the issues and the debates.Click here to find out more.

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report


SAHARA-SPAIN: University of the Desert
Paul Rigg
The universities of Berkeley, Managua, Leeds and Pretoria have joined forces with more than a dozen others in Algeria, Cuba and Spain to support a unique ‘University of the Desert’ in the Sahara. For the first time, the planned University of Tifariti has a multi-institution commitment to the Saharawi cause. Read the full story in our Features section.

US-ISLAMIC WORLD: Obama's cooperation plan
Wagdy Sawahel
US President Barack Obama has announced a plan for promoting cooperation between the US and Islamic States in higher education, science, technology and innovation in a bid to promote the development of a knowledge-based society in the Muslim world.
Full report on the University World News site

ASIA: Japan dominates regional rankings
Karen MacGregor
The first rankings of Asian higher education institutions by the British company QS has sparked intense interest across the region. Universities in Hong Kong emerged at the top – the tiny territory has four institutions in the top 20 – while Japan dominates in numbers and quality with nine universities in the first 20 and 33 in the top 100.
Full report on the University World News site

BRUSSELS: Europe to launch new global rankings
Karen MacGregor
A global university ranking exercise, rivalling those of China’s Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Britain’s QS-Times Higher Education, is set to be launched in 2011. This follows a European Commission decision last week to award a four-country consortium of institutions a contract to design and test “a new multi-dimensional” rankings system.
Full report on the University World News site

EUROPE: Major policy shift in ERC advanced grants
Jan Petter Myklebust*
Over the last three years, researchers and their institutions in Europe, along with many others elsewhere, have been preparing for the announcement of the latest European Research Council research grants programme. As recently as January, ERC officials were proposing an expansion of the scheme but at a Tubitak conference in Istanbul in March this picture changed abruptly, to the alarm of those planning to apply for grants.
Full report on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Racial attacks hit billion-dollar industry
Geoff Maslen
Violence against foreign students has created a crisis for Australia’s federal and state governments with India and now China warning they will not allow their nationals to be subject to racist attacks. As selling education to foreigners is Australia’s third largest export industry, said to be worth $15.5 billion a year (US$12.5 billion) to the national economy, the threat of sanctions from the two largest source countries is alarming.
Full report on the University World News site

ZIMBABWE: Looted money returned to universities
The Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, Gideon Gono, has reimbursed foreign currency looted from university accounts in a development that has also seen him fall out with the country’s Finance Minister Tendai Biti. Gono accused Biti of being behind threats to have his children expelled from foreign universities.
Full report on the University World News site


GLOBAL: Gender perceptions hold back students
In most countries, girls and boys now show similar results in the OECD’s PISA tests of 15-year-olds. But systematic assessment of gender differences reveals that students are still being held back by their own gender-related perceptions. A new study released by the OECD notes that the choices that boys and girls make about higher education and careers can reflect social stereotypes more than student ability.
Full report on the University World News site

SWEDEN: New EU research strategy
Jan Petter Myklebust*
Sweden is assuming the European Commission presidency from the Czech Republic in July and the first major initiative to put a new stamp on European research policy is a huge research conference in Lund on 7-8 July. Several European research ministers will be present along with 400 guests. The title of the conference is “New Worlds – New Solutions: Research and innovation as a basis for developing Europe in a global context”. The Swedes have found an interesting punchline: Future Shocks and World Outlooks 2025.
Full report on the University World News site

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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


MEXICO: Academic censored and threatened
Jonathan Travis*
Florencio Posadas Segura, a professor at the Autonomous University of Sinaloa in Mexico, has been censored after speaking on the university radio station, Radio UAS. On 13 and 15 May, he commented on the topic of new university regulations, including the issue of succession of the rector, saying that they had not passed democratic and academic tests. Segura was then severely reprimanded by the university authorities.
More Academic Freedom reports on the University World News site


GLOBAL: Unlocking secrets to trade success
Leah Germain
Too much paperwork and other transporting delays can seriously affect a country’s profit margin when exporting goods, reports a new Australian university study written with World Bank officials. By improving trade techniques and reducing the time it takes to transport goods from the factory to the ship, a country’s trade performance increases, with developing nations especially prospering.
Full report on the University World News site

FRANCE: Backing for bio-software
Jane Marshall
The French government has received the go-ahead to grant nearly EUR50 million to the nation’s BioIntelligence research and development programme. The green light came from the European Commission, which has a potential veto over such large grants to ensure they comply with fair competition rules for the European Union.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Roadmap for robotics industry
Emma Jackson
A consortium of universities, institutes and think tanks has warned the US it needs to invest in progressive robotics technology to remain competitive with other global powers.
Full report on the University World News site


SAHARA-SPAIN: University of the Desert
Paul Rigg
The universities of Berkeley, Managua, Leeds and Pretoria have joined forces with more than a dozen others in Algeria, Cuba and Spain to support a unique ‘University of the Desert’ in the Sahara. For the first time, the planned University of Tifariti has a multi-institution commitment to the Saharawi cause. As a result of war, the Saharawi people have been split between a territory occupied by Morocco and a refugee camp in the Algerian desert. A small strip of land in between is under their control and is the proposed site of the university.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Problems teaching science online
John Richard Schrock*
The internet provides convenience in dissemination of science information but there is substantial research documenting problems with replacing face-to-face teaching and traditional paper publishing. In this article, I describe 10 such problems.
Full report on the University World News site


SOUTH AFRICA: What’s an idea worth?
Sue Blaine
A bitter argument is being waged among some of South Africa’s published thinkers. It all began, really, in March, when University of the Witwatersrand Vice-Chancellor Professor Loyiso Nongxa decried the “impoverishment of the national intellectual project”. He ascribed it, in part, to low remuneration for intellectual endeavour that had some academics seeking to augment their salaries and resorting to private consultancy, “producing lower-quality work for greater financial rewards, while others become public intellectuals peddling personal opinions and biases as expert knowledge”.
Full article on the University World News site
First published by The Weekender

US: Decoding learning gains
Throughout the world, interest in gauging learning outcomes at all levels of education has grown considerably over the past decade. In higher education, measuring ‘learning outcomes’ is viewed by many stakeholders as a relatively new method to judge the ‘value added’ of colleges and universities. The potential to accurately measure learning gains is also viewed as a diagnostic tool for institutional self-improvement, write Gregg Thomson and John Aubrey Douglass in a new paper for the Center for Studies in Higher Education at the University of California Berkeley.
More on the University World News site

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

GLOBAL: Racism is often a two-way street
Akash Arora
It’s quite refreshing to wake up in London with Australia making headlines on BBC News. But if the country is coming under attack for being racist, for not one but three separate incidents involving assaults on Indian students in a matter of a week, it's quite something else. Going through the reports, it amused me to think of how many Indian students are bashed on Delhi Metro, the Indian capital’s new rail network, and how they never make news.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Academic benefits of choral singing
Children who sing in choruses have greater academic success and more advanced social skills than children who don’t sing, a national study by Chorus America has found. Large majorities of parents and educators surveyed for the study attributed a significant part of a child’s academic success to singing in a choir.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Harvard creates g ay professorship
Harvard University is creating an endowed professorship in l esbian, gay, bis exual and transs exual studies, the first of its kind in the United States and reflecting a rise in s ex-related academia nationwide, writes Erin Kutz for Reuters. The Ivy League school will invite visiting scholars to teach on s exuality and issues related to s exual minorities for one semester each, a Harvard official said last week.
More on the University World News site


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INDIA: New national higher education council
Heralding greater cohesion in higher education, Indian President Pratibha Patil said a National Council for Higher Education would be set up to reform regulatory institutions, reports The Economic Times. Along with the formulation of a ‘brain gain’ policy, work on the council will be initiated in the next 100 days.
More on the University World News site

UK: Mandelson takes charge of universities
The British prime minister on Friday scrapped the two-year-old Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, Dius, and awarded all of its responsibilities to a new Department for Business, Innovation and Skills designed to help the UK out of recession, reports Polly Curtis for The Guardian.
More on the University World News site

UK: Universities over-claiming millions
Universities are over-claiming millions of pounds of public funding for students who they fail to recruit or who drop out, reports Julie Henry for The Telegraph. Almost £100 million has been overpaid over the last eight years, with some institutions claiming in excess of £1 million more than they are entitled to because of miscalculations in student numbers.
More on the University World News site

UK: Female students beating men at almost everything
Women outperform men in almost every single aspect of higher education, according to research published last Sunday, writes Richard Garner in The Independent. The number of women at university began to exceed the number of men for the first time 16 years ago. A new study by the Higher Education Policy Institute, an independent university think-tank, found that women are more likely to get a good degree pass and less likely to drop out.
More on the University World News site

MALAYSIA: Probe into university blunder begins
Malaysia’s Higher Education Ministry has sent a team of officers to investigate a blunder which led to 4,574 Universiti Sains Malaysia entrance applicants being mistakenly accepted, The Star/Asia News Network reports. While the investigation is taking place, the affected students hoped that they would be given priority to enrol into the university of their choice.
More on the University World News site

INDONESIA: Special scheme's growth impedes access
Students from poor families will likely find it increasingly difficult to enter state-owned universities in Indonesia in the coming years, as the number of seats offered through special entrance schemes – which require higher admission fees – are steadily increasing, writes Yuli Tri Suwarni for The Jakarta Post.
More on the University World News site

CHINA: More students opting for overseas study
While her classmates are toiling away in preparation for the cut-throat college entrance exam, Chen Ruqian is sitting idly at home. Bored. The 18-year-old from the famous Shanghai Foreign Language School was offered a full scholarship from Amherst College in the US, thanks to her outstanding academic performance and community work, writes Tan Yingzi for China Daily. “All the best students in our school go for American universities,” she said.
More on the University World News site

CHINA: Tiananmen anniversary amid tight security
China imposed a security clampdown to stop any event marking the 20th anniversary of the crushing of the Tiananmen pro-democracy protests, as it faced renewed calls to account for the bloodshed, Marianne Barriaux reports for AFP. Tens of thousands of people were expected to rally in cities around the world to remember the military’s action on 4 June 1989 against demonstrators – many of them students – in the heart of the Chinese capital.
More on the University World News site

US: Under 55% of college students graduate on time
A new study says fewer than 55% of four-year college students graduate with a degree within six years, writes Donna Gordon Blankinship for Associated Press. The report by the conservative think-tank American Enterprise Institute found college completion rates vary widely. But in general, graduation rates are better at more competitive schools.
More on the University World News site

US: Split over open access
In the debate over ‘open access' to scholarly research, the Association of American University Presses has weighed in on the ‘anti’ side of things, backing legislation that would end a federal requirement that work supported by the National Institutes of Health be available online and free within 12 months of publication, writes Scott Jaschik for Inside Higher Ed.
More on the University World News site

US: CUNY’S programme for immigrant elites
City University of New York’s Macaulay Honors College is reviving a New York tradition of giving opportunities to ‘diamonds in the rough’ – immigrants and their sons and daughters – writes Geraldine Baum for the Los Angeles Times. Some 1,200 students are receiving a first-rate education, for free, at the nation’s largest public university.
More on the University World News site

US: Texas scales back access programme
The Texas Legislature voted last weekend to scale back a programme under which Texans who graduated in the top 10% of their high schools were given automatic admission to the state university of their choice, writes James C McKinley for The New York Times. The action put limits on a 10-year-old experiment to increase diversity in the colleges.
More on the University World News site

UGANDA: Tele-education for East Africa students
Makerere University has devoted two lecture rooms to tele-education, allowing students from different geographical locations to learn from better-resourced education institutions through satellite technology, writes Frederick Womakuyu for New Vision. Students from more than a dozen universities in East Africa are being linked to learn from lectures broadcast from India.
More on the University World News site

WALES: Five universities break away
In the old days, all Welsh higher education came under one umbrella. Now that unity has been shattered, writes Lucy Hodges for The Independent. On St David’s Day, 1 March, the biggest five of the Welsh universities announced they were forming an alliance that would be strong in research and put Wales on the map.
More on the University World News site
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