ISSN 1756-297XIssue No: 0089 16 August 2009
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This week's feature article examines the increasing desire of many nations to have world class universities.

Mice may have contributed to finding a cure for epilepsy, the little understood mental condition that mars the lives of millions of people. See this week’s Business section. Photo: US National Institutes of Health.

Space studies and research will get a boost in the Middle East thanks to the United Arab Emirates. See the story in our News section.


University World News is taking a brief northern hemisphere summer break next week. Following this week's bumper newspaper, our next edition will appear on 30 August 2009.

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

CANADA: University accused of blaming rape victim
Philip Fine
A university in Ottawa is being accused of putting undue blame on a woman who was sexually assaulted in one of its laboratories after it argued that the woman should have better protected herself. Carleton University’s views were revealed in a statement of defence for a forthcoming civil lawsuit the woman has launched against the institution.
Full report on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Shocking results from university tests
Karen MacGregor
South African vice-chancellors warned the government last week to expect more students to drop out, as the shocking results of pilot national benchmark tests revealed that only 7% of first-year students are proficient in mathematics, only a quarter are fully quantitatively literate and fewer than half have the academic literacy skills needed to succeed without support.
Full report on the University World News site

NEW ZEALAND: Finances tight for universities
John Gerritsen*
New Zealand’s universities have reported their poorest financial performance in five years and it appears that worse is to come.
Full report on the University World News site

FINLAND: Students face housing shortage
Ian R Dobson
The start of the new academic year in Finland is imminent with new and returning students soon heading to campus. This brings with it a spike in demand for housing every September, particularly for smaller flats and houses.
Full report on the University World News site

NIGERIA: Strike paralyses public universities
Tunde Fatunde
Industrial action launched in early July by the three registered trade unions in Nigerian universities has paralysed teaching, research and administration. Staff grievances include low salaries, lack of university autonomy and more money for research. There are ongoing negotiations between government and the unions in an effort to end the crippling strike.
Full report on the University World News site

EGYPT: Lifting curbs on open learning attacked
Ashraf Khaled
A recent decision by the Egyptian higher education authorities to remove curbs on applying for open and distance learning has drawn vociferous criticism and lawsuits. “This move undermines the principle of equal opportunities,” said Ahmed Ismail, whose son scored 95% in pre-university examinations. Ismail, a lawyer, has filed a lawsuit against the “unfair” decision.
Full report on the University World News site

MIDDLE EAST: Plans for space education and research
Wagdy Sawahel
The United Arab Emirates has announced plans to enhance space science in higher education, as well as research and development in the country and the Middle East region.
Full report on the University World News site

KENYA: Crackdown on bogus tertiary institutions
Dave Buchere
Kenya’s Higher Education, Science and Technology Minister Dr Sally Kosgei has called on the country’s quality assurance body, the Commission for Higher Education, to crack down on bogus training institutions in an effort to improve the university system and make it more competitive.
Full report on the University World News site

ZIMBABWE: Top student leader arrested
Zimbabwean police arrested 12 students at the country’s top higher education institution just two days after it reopened, as the state’s attack on academic freedoms continues. Police said four of the students – including the President of the Zimbabwe National Students Union, Clever Bere – would appear in court on public disorder charges.
Full report on the University World News site

SENEGAL: University project left to sheep, goats and cows
The University of Future Africa, a grand project launched five years ago by Senegal’s President Abdoulaye Wade at an estimated cost of 24 billion FCFA (currently US$52 million), is a “vast, abandoned building site” occupied by sheep, goats and cattle although African heads of state paid for buildings to be erected in their or their countries’ names. The construction company has disappeared, taking all the machinery.
Full report on the University World News site

DR CONGO: Promoting development, not growth
Research in the human and development sciences has been in crisis for many years in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Now should be the time to promote it, according to Professor Alphonse Mbuyamba Kankolongo of the University of Kinshasa.
Full report on the University World News site


MALAWI: Lecturer shortage stops intakes
Malawi’s Mzuzu University has frozen student intakes into two programmes, apparently because of a dire lecturer shortage. In a press statement issued by the registrar’s office ahead of the university’s 31 August opening, Mzuzu said it regretted having to make the decision.
Full report on the University World News site

KENYA: Entry points lowered to boost access
Dave Buchere
The number of new students who will access Kenya’s seven public universities next academic year has been increased to a record 20,000, following a decision by the Joint Admissions Board to lower the entry grade.
Full report on the University World News site

SENEGAL: Police condemned for invading campus
The University Gaston Berger in Saint-Louis, Sentgal, has condemned an after-midnight incursion into its campus by the national gendarmerie earlier this month which it said flagrantly violated the university’s constitutional freedom.
Full report on the University World News site

FOR SALE: University World News e-book

Reports from the Frontier: 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.


ZAMBIA: Police assault peace researchers
Two Zambian academics were allegedly nearly beaten to death by police while on a research trip in one of the country’s remote districts, forcing them to abandon their project midstream. The academics were researching the role of Zambia in peace brokering in Southern Africa.
More Academic Freedom reports on the University World News site

HONDURAS: Police and students clash
Jonathan Travis*
Riot police responded harshly on 5 August to growing student rallies outside the National Autonomous University in the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa. Tear gas and water cannons were used to disperse 3,000 students rallying in support of the country’s ousted President, Manuel Zelaya.
More Academic Freedom reports on the University World News site


EUROPE: EU to step up agricultural research
Alan Osborn
EU agriculture ministers and officials will return to Brussels from their August summer break to push ahead with developing a plan from the European Commission to create what amounts to a supranational agricultural research organisation.
Full report on the University World News site

US: University sells digital titles on Booksurge
Emma Jackson
The University of Michigan library has partnered with Booksurge, a print-on-demand service owned by Internet retailer Amazon, to make thousands of rare and out-of-print books available for one-off printing through digitisation.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Breakthrough in epilepsy treatment
Leah Germain
An international team of scientists has made breakthrough progress in diagnosing and treating epilepsy in mice, an important discovery that promises potential development of a major drug for this common condition. According to the research team, mice share an almost identical version of a gene with humans, which they have linked to epilepsy.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Don’t text and drive
Emma Jackson
The development of voice-activated in-car phone systems is likely to be boosted by research at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. The researchers found that texting on a mobile phone while driving significantly increased risk of a crash.
Full report on the University World News site


GLOBAL: Aspiring to world-class universities achievable
Rahul Choudaha*
The prestige seeking behaviour of universities is ever increasing as the global war for talent intensifies and education’s role in the knowledge economy becomes more critical. In this process, the quest for world-class status among universities has become more prominent.
Full report on the University World News site

BOTSWANA: Review of loan scheme underway
A special correspondent
Nearly 100,000 students have been sponsored through Botswana’s controversial grant/loan scheme. But a review has found that fewer than one in 10 studied in areas of critical skills shortages, a high proportion of beneficiaries were unaware of what they owed, and it was not known how much had been loaned but could have been close to US$1 billion. The review suggested alternative models for a new scheme.
Full report on the University World News site


UK: The economic contribution of PhDs
Bernard H Casey*
Examination of the education process suggests ways in which the production of highly qualified people might raise the abilities of all people. The social dimension of learning might well be important. Moreover, university teachers (who are often PhD holders) might contribute to this process. The production of PhDs can be argued to contribute to a pool of knowledge from which all can draw. PhD holders might also be better at drawing from this pool of knowledge and transferring it into the production of goods and services. Last, clusters of highly qualified people, and of high-technology firms, might generate their own spill-overs and members of the cluster might benefit. Evidence is reviewed.
Full article on the University World News site
Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management

US: American students must be fully funded
In July, President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers reported that new job growth in the coming decade would be highest in occupations that require a postsecondary education, outpacing those that require just a high school diploma by a two-to-one margin, writes Joseph McGowan, president of Bellarmine University and chairman of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, for Forbes. Yet as the nation’s need for highly educated workers grows even more critical, it’s becoming even harder to pay for college.
More on the University World News site

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

US: Harvard launches menswear fashion line
Something fishy seems to be going on at Harvard, reports The Cut, New York Magazine’s fashion blog. The university is trying to be hip, possibly even chic. How else to explain Harvard’s cameo in an episode of “NYC Prep”? And its new men’s fashion line, Harvard Yard? And by fashion line, we don’t mean maroon sweatshirts with crests on them. The university has inked a 10-year licensing deal with clothing manufacturer Wearwolf Group for a line of contemporary men’s apparel.
More on the University World News site


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SOUTH KOREA: Push for mergers of public universities
South Korea’s government is proposing a phased amalgamation of state universities as its efforts to restructure ailing institutions have been faltering in the face of stiff resistance, reports The Korea Herald. Under the plan, three or more universities in the same region will form an alliance with a single decision-making system but maintain separate campuses before fully merging within three years.
More on the University World News site

INDIA: Concept note on ‘innovation universities’
India’s 14 proposed ‘innovation universities’, aiming to achieve world class standards, will set new benchmarks for higher education in the country in terms of academics and autonomy, writes Akshaya Mukul for The Times of India. In a concept note the Human Resources Development Ministry said undergraduate admissions to the universities will be open to students from around the world and will involve screening and selection testing.
More on the University World News site

IRELAND: More than 20% quit S&T courses
Large numbers of university students are dropping out of science and technology courses after their first year in college, according to new figures obtained by The Irish Times. At Dublin City University, regarded as a leading ‘hi-tech’ university, 39% of students who began a science and technology degree course failed to progress to second year in their chosen course, report Sean Flynn and Grainne Faller.
More on the University World News site

TAIWAN: Low enrolments for new academic year
Latest figures show that Taiwan’s colleges and universities will suffer their lowest enrolment and highest vacancies in years when the new semester begins in September, reports Taiwan News. Eighteen college and university departments in Taiwan failed to recruit any students for the coming semester, according to official figures.
More on the University World News site

US: Study shows rise in average student borrowing
Although about a third of American students who earned bachelor degrees in 2007-08 graduated with no debt, nearly the same as four years earlier, the average amount students borrow has increased, according to a policy brief released last week by the College Board, writes Tamar Lewin for The New York Times.
More on the University World News site

US-CHINA: American graduates flock east
Shanghai and Beijing are becoming new lands of opportunity for recent American college graduates who face unemployment nearing double digits at home, reports Hannah Seligson for The New York Times. Even those with limited or no knowledge of Chinese are heeding the call. They are lured by China’s surging economy, the lower cost of living and a chance to bypass some of the dues-paying that is common to first jobs in the United States.
More on the University World News site

CHINA: Scientists call for fossil regulation revision
Reseachers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Peking University, Nanjing University and the China University of Geosciences are petitioning for exemption from a draft regulation aimed at curbing fossil smuggling, the official Xinhua news agency reports. While accepting the need to stamp out illegal fossil smuggling, the scientists want more freedom to excavate fossil sites and carry out research cooperation with overseas partners.
More on the University World News site

UGANDA: Government universities raise fees by 40%
All public universities in Uganda have increased tuition fees by 40%, reports Conan Businge for New Vision. The new fees apply to private students enrolling this academic year. The last time public universities increased fees was in 1991.
More on the University World News site

UK: Universities face tighter scrutiny
The British government’s university funding board is planning to ramp up its checks on the information supplied by institutions, after a report into London Metropolitan University's receipt of more than £30 million in excess investment criticised both the board and the university, writes Lucy Tobin in The Guardian.
More on the University World News site

UK: 4,500 bright teenagers 'missing out on university'
At least 4,500 bright teenagers from comprehensive schools are missing out on places at top universities after being let down at school, according to a government-backed study, reports Graeme Paton for The Telegraph. They fail to apply for sought-after courses despite gaining a string of good A-levels. Researchers said pupils were deterred by poor career advice and an attitude that leading institutions were “not for the likes of us”.
More on the University World News site

CANADA: Virtual textbooks transforming education
The sound of students flipping through textbook pages may soon be a thing of the past, writes David Wylie for Canwest News Service. Instead, university and college students may be using their index fingers to silently scroll through virtual textbooks they've downloaded to their iPhone or iPod Touch. More than 7,000 post-secondary textbooks from 12 large publishers can now be downloaded though CourseSmart LLC for about half the cost of printed versions.
More on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Crackdown on student recruitment
The failure of Australia’s states to properly regulate the troubled college sector is putting at risk the AUD$15 billion (US$12.7 billion) export education industry and the federal government should consider a takeover, according to former immigration minister Philip Ruddock, report Guy Healy and Andrew Trounson for The Australian.
More on the University World News site

VIETNAM: Universities ignore brand building
Vietnamese universities are reluctant to build brands, according to Dr Vu Thi Phuong Anh of the Vietnam National University-Ho Chi Minh City’s Center for Educational Testing and Quality Assessment, reports Thanh Nien Daily. She believes this resistance could be the kiss of death for institutions in an increasingly globalised and commerc ialised world.
More on the University World News site
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