ISSN 1756-297XIssue No: 0008  02 December 2007
HE Events Diary

University World News is the first high quality, truly international newspaper dedicated to providing news, features and commentary on higher education issues around the globe. Our network of dozens of correspondents include many of the world's most experienced higher education journalists.

Rulers Newsletter1
Measuring research: the focus of this week's edition of University World News. Our correspondents report on research assessment systems from around the world.

Confucius1 Newsletter2
Confucius Institutes could compromise academic freedom, our feature article reports.

SPECIAL REPORT: Assessing research quality

The world's nations have different approaches to assessing the quality of research undertaken by universities: some do not bother while others take to the task with deadly earnestness. Where research is regularly assessed, the demands on universities and their staff are enormous and academics inevitably question whether the benefits of possibly increased funding are not far outweighed by the costs in time, effort and money. Our correspondents report:

UK: Research assessment set to change
Diane Spencer
The 2008 research assessment exercise in Britain's universities will be the last of its kind. The RAE, whose results determine how much funding a university gets for its research budget, will be replaced by the REF – Research Excellence Framework – to be introduced gradually between 2010 and 2014.
Full report on the University World News website

AUSTRALIA: Research quality scheme scrapped
Geoff Maslen
Plans to introduce a national research quality assessment scheme for Australian universities have been abandoned following the election of a Labor government last week. The cost, however, will be high as tens of millions of dollars have already been spent by the government and universities preparing for the introduction of the controversial scheme next year.
Full report on the University World News site

NEW ZEALAND: Focus on individuals irks union
John Gerritsen
A performance based research fund stirred talk of civil disobedience and refusal to cooperate when it was raised at the annual conference of New Zealand's main university staff union last week.
Full report on the University World News site

RUSSIA: Universities face scrutiny
Nick Holdsworth
As the year draws to a close, Russian universities are bracing themselves for the results of the latest round of higher education inspections. Some face a loss of their teaching licences if they are not up to scratch.
Full report on the University World News site

FRANCE: New agencies aim to revitalise research
Jane Marshall
The French government has created new national agencies for research assessment and funding, in line with reforms passed last year that aim to revitalise French research, adapt it to fit European requirements and make it internationally competitive.
Full report on the University World News site

NEWS: Our journalists worldwide report

CHINA: Rivalry relaxing in South Asia
Michael Delaney
Emerging superpowers China and India have long been wary of each other. Now universities in the two countries are taking the first steps towards closer cooperation, reflecting a wider Chinese policy of engaging with regional neighbours.
Full report on the University World News site

MALAYSIA: Protesting students may be expelled
David Jardine
Malaysia's Ministry of Higher Education has issued warnings to university students who may be arrested in demonstrations within the country that they will automatically lose their national student status and be dismissed.
Full report on the University World News site

SINGAPORE: Boost for biotech
David Jardine
Singapore's ambitions to become a leading biotechnology research centre have been boosted with the expansion of its state-of-the-art Biopolis project.
Full report on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Wanted – 100,000 more students
Karen MacGregor
To achieve a target of one in five young people in higher education, South Africa is to expand its university system and attract an extra 100,000 students. The plan is to increase student numbers from the current 740,000 and to achieve a 20% participation rate by 2015.
Full report on the University World News site

EUROPE: Europeans and Australians to cooperate
Ard Jongsma
Bologna and postdoctoral research were on the agenda when a delegation from the European University Association visited Australia last month to discuss closer cooperation.
Full report on the University World News site

EU: Ministers approve budget for technology institute
Keith Nuthall
A launch budget of €308 million (US$454 million) for the planned European Institute of Innovation and Technology has been formally approved, triggering preparations for launching this sometimes controversial institution next year.
Full report on the University World News site

GERMANY: State steps in for students
Mike Gardner
Student support in Germany is to rise by 10% next year, and more students will be entitled to grants because the government is raising the parent income threshold. But the measure has met with a ‘too little too late’ response among opposition politicians and the German Student Welfare Service.
Full report on the University World News site


AUSTRALIA: Warning – be wary of Confucius institutes
Geoff Maslen
Academic freedom in universities around the world could be threatened by accepting grants from the Chinese government to create Confucius institutes, a former senior Australian diplomat has warned.
Full report on the University World News site


CANADA: Universities party-poopers
The third largest brewer in the US, Molson Coors Brewing Co, ended a Canadian photo contest on the social networking website Facebook a week early after university administrators complained that it glorified excessive drinking, Bloomberg reports.
More on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Oz not a 'sun, s ex and surf' holiday
Australian higher education was increasingly being linked in some key export markets with a "beer and beaches holiday" rather than a valuable learning experience, the Group of Eight research universities have warned in a tough critique of the $10 billion (US$8.8 billion) export industry’s direction and focus, reports
More on the University World News site


US: The Immigrant University – new study
The startling number of students from different ethnic, racial, cultural, and economic backgrounds in the University of California system – where 54% of undergraduates have at least one parent who is an immigrant – points to the need for an expanded notion of diversity, says a new report by the Center for Studies in Higher Education at Berkeley. Discussions about race, ethnicity and diversity are “severely handicapped” without a greater understanding of demographic changes in the US and other regions experiencing forces of globalisation, writes John Aubrey Douglass, one of the authors of The Immigrant University.
More on the University World News site

UK: Enhancing the student experience
Britain's 1994 Group of research-intensive universities has recommended that institutions find ways of accrediting skills-imparting student extracurricular activities, to build recognition among employers of "well-rounded" graduates. In a policy statement titled Enhancing the student experience, the group argues that "employability skills acquired through volunteering, part-time work, sport, and student union activity are highly prized by government and employers, when they are coupled with high academic achievement", and outlines a seven-point plan of action aimed at improving the student experience.
Full policy statement on the University World News site


CUBA: Activists demand independent universities
Cuban students and young professionals have collected 5,000 signatures petitioning the government to allow universities that would operate independently of the state while encouraging freedom of speech and demonstration, reports the International Herald Tribune. The University Students Without Borders Project hopes to collect the 10,000 signatures necessary to formally present its cause to Cuban lawmakers.
More on the University World News site

INDIA: University fees may be increased
Students enrolling for higher education in India may have to pay higher fees on a par with school fees, reports Hindustan Times. The University Grants Commission has constituted a committee to examine a proposal to charge fees to meet up to 20% of university expenses.
More on the University World News site

INDIA: Most graduates unemployable, says Kalam
Skills deficiencies among graduating students is higher education’s biggest challenge, according to former President APJ Abdul Kalam, reports The Hindu. He said that only 25% of graduating students were employable, and that students were lacking in areas such as technical knowledge, English proficiency and critical thinking.
More on the University World News site

KENYA: Student loans go to the rich
University loans do not benefit deserving students, a minister has claimed. Assistant Education Minister Dr Kilemi Mwiria said 97% of students who applied for loans were successful – but many came from rich families, while Kenya’s loans scheme was supposed to support students from impoverished families, reports The Nation.
More on the University World News site

UK: Challenge extremism in debate, says Rammell
Universities must challenge violent extremism through open debate but accept that security requires limits to personal freedom, Higher Education Minister Bill Rammell has urged, reports Education Guardian.
More on the University World News site

UK: Clashes as Holocaust denier appears at Oxford
Angry protesters clashed with police on Monday before an Oxford University student debate on free speech at which convicted Holocaust denier David Irving had been invited to speak, reports Reuters.
More on the University World News site

US: Calm down the intellectual rights frenzy
“Universities frequently spend considerable time (and enrich plenty of lawyers) worrying about the intellectual property implications of collaborations with businesses. Elaborate deals are drawn up. When things go bad, lawsuits are filed,” reports Inside Higher Ed. Bill Destler, the new president of Rochester Institute of Technology, says it is time to calm down, “to stop focusing on intellectual property, and to start doing more research for businesses”.
More on the University World News site

US: Professor pleads guilty to wife manslaughter
An Ivy League professor has pleaded guilty to manslaughter, for beating his wife to death with a chin-up bar as she wrapped Christmas presents last year, telling a judge he "just lost it" during an argument, reports Associated Press.
More on the University World News site

CANADA: Strikers reject university offer
Despite striking union members voting 85% to reject a University of Saskatchewan contract offer, university president Peter MacKinnon says he still believes workers’ pay increases should be tied to performance on the job, reports The Star Phoenix.
More on the University World News site

SAUDI ARABIA: Malaysians to help set up open learning
The Ministry of Higher Education has sought the collaboration of a Malaysian company in setting up an open university in the Kingdom, reports Arab News. Also, around 600 Saudi students are expected to pursue higher education in Malaysian universities by the end of this year.
More on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Law degree quality questioned
Concerns over the declining quality of law graduates are fuelling calls from top legal minds to probe the reintroduction of a five-year LLB degree, reports the Mail and Guardian. A leading judge said there had been many complaints, including from the judiciary, that “standards are not as they used to be”.
More on the University World News site
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