ISSN 1756-297XIssue No: 0080 14 June 2009
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The rise of Chinese academia has created a boom for a key support service for those wanting to publish in top journals – English proofreading.

Greek researchers are going to extremes in the name of science. See the article in our Uni-Lateral section.

Pakistan's higher education reform has won recognition from the World Bank, our correspondent reports.


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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.

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NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

UK: Universities disappear in super-ministry
David Jobbins
Lord Mandelson, Britain’s second most powerful minister, used last week’s Science Museum's 100th birthday celebrations to argue that the new Department for Business, Innovation and Skills would put science at the centre of the government's economic recovery plans for a prosperous, sustainable future. Attacked in the House of Lords, Mandelson, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, was equally assertive about the high priority that would be attached to the universities.
Full report on the University World News site

CHINA: Publishing in English creates western industry
John Richard Schrock
China’s adoption of English as a universal academic language, combined with western-style publishing requirements for university promotion, has led to a proliferation of foreign companies offering proofreading services to the nation’s academics.
Full report on the University World News site

EGYPT: First female vice-chancellor appointed
Ashraf Khaled
More than a century after the first public university opened its doors to both s exes in this conservative Muslim country, Egypt last week named its first woman university president. Hend Hanafi was appointed by President Hosni Mubarak as head of Alexandria University in Egypt’s second biggest city.
Full report on the University World News site

EUROPE: Joint PhDs becoming popular
A major two-year project undertaken by the European University Association, with the support of the European Commission and involving 33 universities in 20 European countries, has found that collaborative doctoral programmes are growing in importance and offering real value to universities and industry.
Full report on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Plan to protect foreign students
Geoff Maslen
As violence against international students continues and Australia faces increasingly strident criticism from India, the vice-chancellors’ organisation – Universities Australia – has released a “10-point action plan” for student safety. Among the recommendations, the plan calls for strong law enforcement and “necessary complementary actions”.
Full report on the University World News site

INDIA: Outcry over “racist” attacks
Shreesh Chaudhary
The spate of attacks on Indian students in Australia has attracted unprecedented media and public attention. The issue has been discussed in parliament, on television and has hit the headlines of most English language newspapers since the first attack last month.
Full report on the University World News site

EGYPT: American University suspends classes over swine flu
Ashraf Khaled
The detection of swine flu in a dormitory has prompted the American University in Cairo – a prestigious private institution that has been operating in Egypt for 95 years – to suspend classes, university officials and the Egyptian health authorities said. Last week swine flu was detected among seven American exchange students residing in a university dormitory in Cairo’s upmarket Zamalek quarter.
Full report on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Monitoring university transformation
Karen MacGregor and Munyaradzi Makoni
South Africa’s new Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande, has announced the creation of a monitoring group to deal with university transformation, following a damning report into lingering racism on campuses. At a meeting with vice-chancellors last week, Nzimande called on universities to expand opportunities for more affordable, quality higher education for poor students – especially for black students to obtain scarce and critical skills.
Full report on the University World News site

FINLAND: Student support high but inadequate
Ian Dobson
Despite the apparently strong government financial aid they receive, most university students in Finland have to work to support themselves. Statistics from the Eurostudent Project indicate that, on average, state support provides students with about 40% of their personal income needs, 18% comes from parents or spouses and 42% by way of paid employment – but 12% of the state support must be repaid.
Full report on the University World News site

PAKISTAN: Reform model for developing countries
Wagdy Sawahel
Pakistan has been recognised by the World Bank for its innovative reform to higher education. Besides having some of its universities among the top 600 in the world, Pakistan was given "Rising Star" status in five scientific disciplines last year for the first time by Science Watch, a Thomson Reuters publication.
Full report on the University World News site

BOTSWANA: Limits on enrolments cancelled
A special correspondent
A decision by the Botswana government in April to restrict new enrolments in university-level institutions has been cancelled. The original move sparked a public outcry and it was quickly realised that limiting the intake of sponsored students to fewer than 5,000, and to students who had scored an aggregate of 40 points or better in the 2008 O-level examinations, would not work.
Full report on the University World News site

NIGERIA: University reforms ex-militants
Tunde Fatunde
The Federal University of Port Harcourt in Nigeria’s oil and gas city has opened its doors to former rebels to receive training. Young militants took up arms in the Niger Delta region to fight against poverty, under-development and environmental degradation. Many of these young men and women have signalled their intention to abandon guerrilla life in mosquito-infested creeks and take advantage of the university’s vocational ‘crash’ courses.
Full report on the University World News site

ZIMBABWE: Lecturer shortages threaten mining
Zimbabwe’s mining industry has been hit by a crippling skills shortage and the flight of lecturers from institutions of higher learning threaten mining and exploration activities, according to the Chamber of Mines. Local universities have become producers of high-level skills for neighbouring countries.
Full report on the University World News site


DR CONGO: Skills bank plans to combat brain drain
In a move to help combat the effects of the country’s brain drain, the Democratic Republic of Congo government is setting up a skills bank of its expatriates to benefit from their training and expertise, reports Le Potentiel of Kinshasa.
Full report on the University World News site

MALAWI: Peace through civic education
The University of Malawi may have averted political violence during last month’s presidential elections, where President Bingu Wa Mutharika was elected for another five-year term, by offering civic education to its students. Ugly scenes on campus that marred previous polls did not materialise despite the presence of political party branches where students with different affiliations have clashed in the past.
Full report on the University World News site

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EUROPE: Genes that calm the savage beast
Thirty-seven years of rat-breeding in Russia have provided the basis for new research identifying genetic regions responsible for animal tameness. A team of scientists from Germany, Russia and Sweden studied genetic information from rats that had been bred for their tameness or aggressiveness and have published their findings in the June edition of the journal Genetics.
Full report on the University World News site

UK-US: Keeping space missions clean
Imagine the excitement. A space mission to Mars discovers microbial life! Scientists are beside themselves with anticipation. They pore over the first information sent back by their Mars rover. And then their excitement is replaced by disappointment, not to mention a little embarrassment. There's life all right but it's from Earth – someone didn't disinfect that Mars rover properly. Oops.
Full report on the University World News site

SWEDEN: European neutron facility secured
Jan Petter Myklebust*
Sweden has beaten Hungary and Spain with a bid to host a EUR1.4 billion neutron research facility, the European Spallation Source or ESS. The Swedish Ministry of Education recently announced the ESS would be built in Lund, with the Swedish government covering 30% of the installation costs.
Full report on the University World News site

AFRICA: Deadly ‘Lujo’ virus discovered
Scientists have discovered a deadly new virus whose first victim was from Zambia. The virus spread to South Africa where the patient sought better health care. It has been named Lujo in recognition of its geographical origin – Lusaka and Johannesburg. Dr Ian Lipkin, a Columbia University epidemiologist, and colleagues published their discovery in the journal PLoS Pathogens.
Full report on the University World News site


US: I'll never teach online again
Elayne Clift*
I trained for it, I tried it, and I'll never do it again. While online teaching may be the wave of the future (although I desperately hope not), it is not for me. Perhaps I'm the old dog that resists new tricks. Maybe I am a technophobe. It might be that I'm plain old-fashioned. This much I can say with certainty: I have years of experience successfully teaching in collegiate classrooms and online teaching doesn't compare.
Full report on the University World News site


RWANDA: Improving S&T key to speeding up development
Romain Murenzi*
Rwanda urgently needs to develop both economically and socially but its natural resource base is very low – virtually non-existent. Improving Rwanda’s science, technology and innovation capability is essential for the country’s development and will reduce its poverty.
Full report on the University World News site
Article first published by

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

GREECE: Falling from a great height for science
Makki Marseilles
University professors are no longer white-haired, bespectacled, elderly gentlemen; they are young, fit, well versed in the use of computers and state of the art laboratory equipment, have left the campus and carry out experiments in the most unlikely places under extraordinary conditions including inside an airplane cascading towards the earth from a height of 10 kilometres with its engines switched off.
Full report on the University World News site

CZECH REPUBLIC: A ‘shoe-in’ for a film festival
Nick Holdsworth
The Tomas Bata University in Zlin in the Czech Republic is something of a ‘shoe-in’ when it comes to film festivals. Home to Europe’s oldest children and youth film festival, Zlin – a small town deep in the Moravian countryside in the county’s south-eastern forested hills and rolling farmland – is more famous for its footwear than films.
Full report on the University World News site


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SOUTH KOREA: Intellectuals in war of ideologies
A democratic revolt or populist agitation? During the past week, more than 3,300 professors from Seoul to Jeju have issued statements criticising South Korea’s Lee Myung-bak administration for oppressing democracy and civil liberties, reports the Korea Herald.
More on the University World News site

PAKISTAN: HE Commission publishes university ranking
A report by Pakistan’s Higher Education Commission has ranked universities on the basis of publications in peer-reviewed journals indexed by the Thomson-Reuters ISI Web of Knowledge during 2007 and 2008, Ali Usman writes for the Daily Times. Quaid-e-Azam University topped the list with 544 publications in 2008 and 409 publications in 2007.
More on the University World News site

INDIA: Ministry may allow private universities
The Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) may allow private players to set up universities instead of going the ‘deemed to be university’ route, writes Urmi A Goswami for The Economic Times. The ministry will also push for firm regulations which would demand transparency and accountability of players in the education sector.
More on the University World News site

INDIA: Focus on undoing higher education wrongs
There is vast scope to undo wrongs done to higher education in India and to innovate in terms of improving studies and inclusion, said Narendra Jadhav, a newly-appointed member of the Planning Commission and outgoing Vice-chancellor of the University of Pune (UoP), writes Vishwas Kothari for The Times of India.
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CHINA: Mass accords with Saudi Arabian universities
The presidents of nine Saudi Arabian universities last week signed 24 agreements with Chinese universities in the presence of Higher Education Minister Khaled Al-Anqari and his Chinese counterpart, Arab News reports from Beijing.
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THAILAND: Concern over falling university take-up
The Education Ministry is planning to launch a study into why one in four students who win university places fail to take up their seats, writes Sirikul Bunnag for the Bangkok Post. A report from the Ministry’s Office of Higher Education Commission, OHEC, says more than 20,000 youngsters in each of the past two years have turned their backs on university spots.
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KAZAKHSTAN: Economic crisis knocks HE plans
Kazakhstan’s higher education system is taking a battering from the global financial crisis, jeopardising ambitious plans to turn the country into an Asian tiger economy, writes Joanna Lillis for EurasiaNet. Thousands of young people face expulsion from universities as they find themselves unable to pay tuition and fees.
More on the University World News site

US: Californian universities in budget hell
California’s universities are reeling from unprecedented budget cuts that have been triggered by the state's financial crisis, writes Rex Dalton for Nature. The 10-campus University of California expects to see a cut of US$800 million from the $3.2 billion in state funds it was due to receive over the next year. And with 23 campuses that provide mainly undergraduate degrees, the California state university system anticipates that at least $580 million will be sliced from its $2.7-billion state award.
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US: Not-so-secret agents
American colleges seem increasingly willing to at least try out the use of agents in recruiting international students, and a series of events at the recent NAFSA: Association of International Educators conference only reinforced that reality, writes Elizabeth Redden for Inside Higher Ed. However, a serious debate still simmers about whether the use of agents best serves the interests of students, and a schism exists between those in international education who promote the practice and those in admissions who continue to reject the notion of incentive- or commission-based overseas recruiting on ethical grounds.
More on the University World News site

US: Despite odds, cities race to bet on biotech
Where a textile mill once drove the economy of the blue-collar town of Kannapolis northeast of Charlotte, an imposing neoclassical complex is rising, filled with fine art, Italian marble and multimillion-dollar laboratory equipment. Three buildings, one topped by a giant dome, form the beginnings of what has been nicknamed the Biopolis, a research campus dedicated to biotechnology, writes Shaila Dewan for The New York Times.
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US: Summer flu, fall headaches?
As college students begin leaving for summer vacation, the H1N1 virus, also known as swine flu, is cropping up on a surprising number of campuses across America, write Stephanie Lee and Ben Eisen for Inside Higher Ed. Some national experts say the trend could be an ominous sign for students and health centres in the Autumn, when flu season traditionally intensifies.
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PHILIPPINES: Classes postponed to thwart swine flu
The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) in the Philippines announced last week that the opening of classes in colleges would be postponed until 15 June, writes Rainier Allan Ronda for the Philippine Star. Commission chair Emmanuel Angeles said the postponement was a precaution against the possible spread of the A(H1NI) influenza virus. The one-week period would allow the self-quarantine of foreign and Filipino students coming from abroad.
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SOUTH AFRICA: Cap higher education pay, say unions
Capping the pay of top managers at public higher education institutions was a step in the right direction, but all salaries at these institutions should be subject to government guidelines, two higher education staff unions said last week, reports Sue Blaine for Business Day.
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UK: Why boys can’t keep up with girls
Is the future female? asks Lee Elliot Major in The Guardian. Ten years ago I wrote an article for the New Statesman magazine predicting as much, on the back of figures showing women for the first time making up the majority of university admissions – a transformation from the exclusive preserve of white, middle- and upper-class males that made up academe as little as 50 years ago.
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GULF: Wider higher education cooperation with Europe
With social and human development through education having emerged as national priorities among Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states, a new report suggests that better and stronger institutional cooperation with the European Union could provide tangible benefits, reports AMEInfo.
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SINGAPORE: New chair for international university body
Professor Tan Chorh Chuan, President of the National University of Singapore, has been unanimously endorsed as the new chair of the International Alliance of Research Universities, Ascribe Newswire reports. He takes over the leadership from Australian National University Vice-chancellor, Professor Ian Chubb.
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