ISSN 1756-297XIssue No: 0098 25 October 2009
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Women are dominating higher education around the world. In this week's Special Report we consider the gender divide and its causes.

A dying breed? Men are in the majority in a handful of subject areas, our correspondents report.

The push for sustainable energy is likely to result in a lot of research funding for European institutions. See this week's Business section for more. Photo: U.S. Department of the Air Force.


University World News was the official media partner to the Unesco World Conference on higher education, held in Paris from 5-8 July.


SPECIAL REPORT: Women in higher education

When Jan and Dean sang the lyrics “two girls for every boy” in their hit Surf City, they were certainly not talking about the gender make-up at nearby campuses. But look to many universities around the world in 2009 and you’ll see women outnumbering men.

In this special report we explore the rise in female enrolments. A beach boy’s fantasy has tuned into a job-seeking woman’s reality. Whether it be a career driving so many women to higher education or something about higher education that is driving men away, the numbers are there to see.

As our US correspondent Sarah King Head reported last month in an article on graduate enrolments stateside, autumn 2008 saw nearly 64% females among all domestic graduates. Head noted that among African American graduate students, the numbers went as high as 73%. With rising female enrolments in the Arab states and parts of Latin America, higher education is proving to be the hope for many women who still see plenty of inequality in the workforce. With more and more education on their CVs, things may just change.

GLOBAL: Women no longer the second sex
Philip Fine, Wagdy Sawahel and Maya Jarjour
Women outnumber men in worldwide university enrolments and graduation rates, according to Unesco’s 2009 Global Education Digest. The number of female students in tertiary education rose six-fold between 1970 and 2007 compared with a quadrupling of male enrolments during the same period. In terms of graduation, women outnumber men in 75 of the 98 countries, the Digest reports.
Full report on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Gender divide breached
Karen MacGregor
Women have made remarkable gains in South African higher education – a situation that began in 1995, the year after first democratic elections when, for the first time, more women enrolled at university than men. Today, that has become an established trend with nearly 56% of all students female, more women postgraduates and overall they are considerably more successful in their studies, according to a new report from the Council on Higher Education.
Full report on the University World News site

CANADA: School the cause of male minority?
Philip Fine
For the last 10 years, Canadian women have enrolled in university at a greater rate than their male counterparts. That steady climb seems to have abated slightly but their numbers are still so high questions are being asked why so many men are not enrolling.
Full report on the University World News site

IRELAND: Engineering the last male bastion
John Walshe
The majority of Irish lawyers, pharmacists, dentists, doctors and physiother apists in the future will be women. Nursing and primary-school teaching have long been dominated by women and now other professions are heading the same way. The latest figures show that females now outnumber males 59% to 41% in Ireland’s seven universities and this is the case in every discipline except engineering and science. On current trends, however, science will also have a female majority by the end of the decade.
Full report on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Male decline continues
Geoff Maslen
For the past 20 years, the Australian higher education student population has been dominated by women who have increased their numerical superiority over males year by year until now they comprise nearly 58% of the total student body. A mere four of the 12 fields of university study now enrol more men than women and that could soon be reduced to two, leaving engineering and IT the only places on campus where males are in the majority.
Full report on the University World News site



NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

UNESCO: Education a priority for new DG
Yojana Sharma
Irina Bokova, Director General-elect of the UN education, science and cultural organisation Unesco, and its first woman head, has said her priorities will be education, Africa and gender equality when she takes over on 15 November.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Top business schools to be recognised
Leah Germain
This week, Cape Town in South Africa will host representatives from the world’s top business schools to receive global rankings at the second annual Eduniversal World Convention. The Paris-based education spec ialists have ranked the best 1,000 business schools from 153 different countries. Its conference, from 26-28 October, will provide an opportunity for business school deans to meet and discuss the future of business education from an international perspective.
Full report on the University World News site

EUROPE: EU research programme under fire
Alan Osborn
Sharp criticism of European Union research funding has been made by the union’s Court of Auditors. The court has called into question the long-term viability of research networks, the efforts made to channel funds to small and medium-sized enterprises and many of the administrative procedures.
Full report on the University World News site

FRANCE: President suspended over ‘false diplomas’
Jane Marshall
The president and two vice-presidents of the University of Sud Toulon Var have been suspended from their duties by Valérie Pécresse, Minister for Higher Education and Research, following an inspector’s report that they had obstructed an inquiry into alleged trafficking of false diplomas.
Full report on the University World News site

UK: Consultation begins on research assessment
Diane Spencer
Britain’s funding councils are planning to change the way they decide how much money out of a yearly allocation of £1.76 billion (US$2.86 billion) universities get for their research budgets. The government flagged changes to the Research Assessment Exercise late in 2007, announcing that the 2008 RAE would be the last of its kind. Consultations have now started to formulate the Research Excellence Framework to replace it.
Full report on the University World News site

GERMANY: State ministers urge Bologna changes
Michael Gardner
Germany’s state education and science ministers are to put more pressure on higher education institutions to revise the structure of new masters and bachelor courses, following angry student protests last summer. Federal Education Minister Annette Schavan welcomed the move, saying it would boost the Bologna process while simultaneously creating greater acceptance of the new degrees by everyone involved.
Full report on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Racist student ‘pardon’ sparks uproar
Karen MacGregor
Two years ago a racist video showing four white Afrikaner students humiliating black cleaners at the University of the Free State caused outrage in South Africa and abroad. Last week a move by the university’s new black vice-chancellor to promote racial reconciliation and transformation by (among other bold moves) pardoning the expelled students, backfired – sparking another controversy. Students threatened to make the university “ungovernable” tomorrow, when the trial of the ‘Reitz Four’ is due to begin.
Full report on the University World News site

INDONESIA: Discrimination against foreign students
David Jardine
A series of un-neighbourly spats that has gone on between Indonesia and Malaysia this year has extended to Indonesian higher education. A leading Indonesian university has talked openly of excluding its Malaysian students from campus in protest against an unrelated move by a Malaysian government ministry.
Full report on the University World News site


FRANCE: Sorbonne or not Sorbonne?
Jane Marshall
The question of who may, or should not, adopt the name of France’s most celebrated university has been raised by Paris’ chief education officer. Patrick Gérard has asked three institutions to “re-examine the question of the designation” of a higher education and research cluster they are jointly setting up which they propose to call La Sorbonne.
Full report on the University World News site

FRANCE: Students unworried by radical reputations
John Mullen*
During the three month-long lecturer strikes and student movements last spring and summer, which seriously affected more than half of France’s universities, the press and the government frequently claimed the strikes were suicidal for universities. Students, they said, would boycott universities and instead would choose private institutions that were relatively little affected by the strikes. Lecturers were shooting themselves in the foot, we were told.
Full report on the University World News site

DEVELOPING WORLD: TWAS aims to boost science fund
Munyaradzi Makoni
The developing world’s academy of sciences, TWAS, is looking to double its endowment fund to support more scientists and researchers. The academy, which held its 11th general meeting in the South Africa city of Durban last week, said it wants to improve its assistance for scientists in countries with poor scientific resources, SciDev.Net learned.
Full report on the University World News site

EUROPE: Digital library launched
Thousands of EU publications have been made available to the public for free following the launch in Frankfurt of a new digital library, the EU Bookshop. The website hosts an electronic library containing 12 million scanned pages from more than 110,000 historical publications while a further two million pages from more recent documents are also included.
Full report on the University World News site

FINLAND: Helsinki drops out of top 100
Ian R Dobson*
Finland no longer has a university in the world's top 100. The country’s highest ranked university, the University of Helsinki, has slipped from 91st to 108th in the 2009 Times Higher Education-QS ranking.
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.


EUROPE: Clean energy ambitions unveiled
Alan Osborn
The European Commission’s recent publication proposing massive spending by the 27 European Union countries on wind and solar energy, carbon capture and nuclear power, among other things, could put billions of dollars in the hands of European universities and research institutions over the next 10 years.
Full report on the University World News site

CROATIA: New mechatronics centre of excellence
Emma Jackson
Croatian businesses are to be helped by a new mechatronics centre of excellence that has been established with the assistance of Britain’s University of the West of England in Bristol, two Croatian technical schools and funding from the European Union.
Full report on the University World News site

SWEDEN: Environmental risks of transgenic fish
Leah Germain
Environmental groups have often criticised the farming of genetically engineered fish because of the environmental risks, human health impacts and welfare of breeding certain forms of unnaturally fast-growing fish. But scientists at Sweden’s University of Gothenburg are now working to determine whether these risks are outweighed by the benefits of a new strand of ‘super-transgenic’ fish.
Full report on the University World News site


AUSTRALIA: Higher education in 2029
Marcia Devlin*
What will Australian universities look like in 20 years? I was asked this question recently after giving a keynote address at a conference where I outlined the federal government’s agenda for higher education. It’s a difficult question to answer. Twenty years from now, in 2029, I’ll be in my mid-60s and still working, thanks to changes to Australian superannuation laws. My children, now entering their teens, will be in their 30s. That’s hard to imagine.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Luring the foreign student
Liz Lightfoot
The commercials are ludicrous but no-one is really surprised when Foster’s claims people who drink its lager can withstand hurricanes and tame violent tribesmen. The idea that “getting some Australian in you” can move mountains is considered acceptable for a national advertising campaign, despite the fact the drink is brewed in the EU and not that popular in Australia.
Full report on the University World News site


US: It’s the learning, stupid
Jamie P Merisotis*
We live in a world where much is changing, quickly. Economic crises, technology, ideological division and a host of other factors have all had a profound influence on who we are and what we do in higher education. But when all is said and done, it is imperative that we not lose sight of what matters most. To paraphrase the oft-used maxim of the famous political consultant James Carville, it’s the learning, stupid.
Full report on the University World News site

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

AUSTRALIA: Lighting Christmas tree with grass clippings
Students at RMIT University in Melbourne have designed an innovative biological fluorescent lighting system that can use garden waste to power multi-coloured Christmas tree lights. The project is as an entry in a competition running this week at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Full report on the University World News site


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PAKISTAN: Colleges and schools closed after attacks
Schools in Pakistan were shut down on Wednesday, a day after two suicide attackers struck an Islamic university in the capital Islamabad, setting off a wave of shock and panic across the country, writes Salman Masood for The New York Times. The suicide attacks ripped through the campus of the International Islamic University, killing at least six people, including three female students.
More on the University World News site

CHINA: Army to recruit 130,000 graduates
A total of 130,000 graduates from Chinese universities and colleges are expected to join the army this winter – a record number. China wants to improve the quality of servicemen while grappling with the graduate job crisis, reports the official news agency Xinhau.
More on the University World News site

ISRAEL: Perks for professors to stymie brain drain
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told cabinet ministers last Sunday that Israel needed to work hard to create a “vacuum” to keep academics from travelling abroad to pursue their careers or studies, writes Barak Ravid for Haaretz. During a cabinet meeting, ministers presented data on the brain drain, showing that a high number of lecturers and researchers at top universities in the US were Israeli expatriates.
More on the University World News site

US: Online education’s great unknowns
Distance learning has broken into the mainstream of higher education. But at the campus level, many colleges still know precious little about how best to organise online programmes, whether those programmes are profitable, and how they compare to face-to-face instruction in terms of quality, writes Steve Kolowich for Inside Higher Ed.
More on the University World News site

US: Scientists hope to network Facebook-style
Cornell University and six other institutions will use a US$12.2 million federal stimulus grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop a Facebook-style professional networking system to link biomedical researchers across America, writes William Kates for The Associated Press. Participants say by making it easier for scientists to find each other, researchers will be able to improve their ongoing studies and forge collaborations that could lead to new discoveries. The new network will be called VIVOweb.
More on the University World News site

INDIA: More foreign students for top institutes
The first Indian Institutes of Technology council meeting under the chairmanship of Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal last week was expected to frame a multi-pronged policy, including introducing scholarships and reducing fees, to attract more foreign students at postgraduate level to the institutes, reports The Hindu.
More on the University World News site

UK: Universities could face fines as admissions soar
British universities could face multi-million pound fines after breaking a government-imposed cap on student numbers, as the number of new undergraduates rose by nearly 6% this year, figures released last Wednesday reveal, writes Jessica Shepherd for The Guardian.
More on the University World News site

UK: Higher education rich-poor gap widening – report
The gap in educational success between Britain’s rich and poor is growing, despite investment of millions of pounds each year, according to research published last week, writes John O’Leary for The Times. A report by the University and College Union (UCU) shows that the gulf between rich and poor areas in the numbers completing a degree has widened over four years.
More on the University World News site

UK: Universities ‘betraying’ foreign languages
UK Universities are being forced to “dumb down” foreign language degrees because of a dramatic drop in the number of teenagers studying French and German at school, according to an official report, writes Graeme Paton for The Telegraph. Standards have been “betrayed” in recent years as institutions attempt to attract students from a rapidly “diminishing field”, it is suggested.
More on the University World News site

US: Adios to Spanish 101 classroom
After several years of experimenting with ‘hybrid’ Spanish courses that mix online and classroom instruction, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has decided to begin conducting its introductory Spanish course exclusively on the web, writes Steve Kolowich for Inside Higher Ed.
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US: Most expensive colleges for 2009-2010
For the second year in a row, Sarah Lawrence College is the most expensive college in the US for the 2009-2010 school year, while New York University edges out The George Washington University to come second in the CampusGrotto ranking.
More on the University World News site
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