ISSN 1756-297XAFRICA: 0014 28 September 2008
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Scientists have won funding to study the fossilised stools of birds including the extinct moa, a group of flightless birds up to 3.5 metres in height and hundreds of kilograms in weight. See this week's Research section.

University of Johannesburg: deputy vice-chancellor, Adam Habib, argues that funding should reward strong research rather than just strong research universities. See the Research and Commentary section.

AFRICA: News from across the continent

N IGERIA: Panic grips students in illegal universities
Tunde Fatunde
The National Universities Commission of N igeria recently published a list of 31 ‘illegal’ universities – including offshore campuses of foreign universities – that it has not approved, prompting panic in the affected institutions. Students face a bleak future if their qualifications are not recognised, teachers are no longer sure of their jobs while governing councils fear being prosecuted and have been lobbying key people in the legislative and executive arms of N igeria’s 36 states to have their universities recognised and accredited.
Full report on the University World News site

N IGERIA: Clipping the wings of degree mills
Peter Okebukola
International Higher Education
The N igerian higher education system, which has 297 institutions (universities, polytechnics and colleges of education) and enrols more than 3.5 million students, is the most expansive in Africa. Highly respected in the past, the system is now sadly paled – among other quality-depressing factors by activities of degree mills.
Full report on the University World News site

ZIMBABWE: Academics and students doubt power deal
Clemence Manyukwe
Academics and students in Zimbabwe have greeted a political power-sharing deal struck earlier this month with caution. Students see little chance of the settlement between long-ruling Zanu-PF party and the rival Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) succeeding, mainly owing to mistrust of autocratic President Robert Mugabe. But lecturers hope it will deliver academic freedom and a return of donors who cut support as oppression deepened.
Full report on the University World News site

AFRICA: Unesco conference discusses quality assurance
Jane Marshall
How to achieve the Millennium Development Goals through higher education and how to improve the quality of higher education in Africa came under discussion in Dakar this month. Delegates gathered in the Senegalese capital for the Third International Conference on Quality Assurance in Higher Education in Africa, organised by the Unesco Bamako Cluster Office and Unesco’s regional bureau for education Africa (Breda).
Full report on the University World News site

ZAMBIA: University offers free Aids treatment
Clemence Manyukwe
The University of Zambia is offering anti-retroviral treatment to students and staff free of charge to reduce the impact of the HIV-Aids pandemic on the African country’s oldest institution of higher learning and the skilled graduates it produces.
Full report on the University World News site


SENEGAL: Anti-brain drain computing grid installed
Cheikh Anta Diop University (UCAD) in Dakar is the first university in sub-Saharan Africa to benefit from installation of a computing grid under the Reversing Brain Drain into Brain Gain for Africa project jointly run by Unesco, Hewlett-Packard and the CNRS, France's national scientific research centre. The new infrastructure will make it easier for researchers at the university to collaborate with colleagues abroad, and give them access to considerable information technology resources (see University World News, 22 June 2008).
Full report on the University World News site

ANGOLA: Launch of ‘knowledge and research’ portal
The Ministry of Science and Technology has launched a ‘knowledge and research’ portal, accessible to the public, on which postgraduate works may be logged, researchers can contact one another, and academic and scientific information will be published.
Full report on the University World News site

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

EUROPE: EIT starts work with first board meeting
Keith Nuthall
The often controversial European Institute of Innovation and Technology has begun operations, with its newly appointed governing board having its first meeting and the European Commission claiming it will help close Europe’s research spending gap compared with the United States.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Experts tackle commercial criminals
Monica Dobie
Companies fighting commercial crime are always on the lookout for new resources and tools to deal with the problem. Where better to look than the world’s best universities in America?
Full report on the University World News site

INDIA: Big grant for biomedical research
Subbiah Arunachalam
Biomedical research in India is in for good times. The UK-based Wellcome Trust, the world’s largest private sector funding agency for biomedical research, has joined with India’s Department of Biotechnology to create a new biomedical research career programme. The £80 million (US$148.3 million), five-year partnership will not only boost cutting-edge biomedical research but also complement the recent Wellcome Trust investment to support public health research in the country.
Full report on the University World News site

RUSSIA: Study into training for oil and gas industry
Nick Holdsworth
Russia’s ability to produce spec ialist graduates for the oil and gas industries will be put under the spotlight in a new European Union-funded comparative study. The six-month investigation, Building Capability in Russian Educational Institutions, is being put out to tender and is expected to be ready to start next year.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Investigating collaboration in graduate education
The American Council of Graduate Schools* is to investigate international collaborations in graduate education, following the award of a $200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. The study will include joint and dual degrees, and student and faculty exchange programmes.
Full report on the University World News site


SOUTH AFRICA: Escaping an academic quagmire
While some top black academics publish ground-breaking studies, many PhDs can’t even construct a sentence, writes Solani Ngobeni, an academic book publisher and 2007 finalist in the International Young Publisher of the Year Award, in The Sunday Times.
More on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Universities must earn their funding
The formula for awarding money for research ought to encourage inter-varsity competition, writes Adam Habib, deputy vice-chancellor of the University of Johannesburg, in The Sunday Times. He was responding to a recent article arguing that South Africa’s government should focus more money on strengthening its five institutions able to compete globally and should recognise the country’s comparative strengths in the humanities and social sciences.
More on the University World News site

US: Too many rungs on the ladder?
An aging professoriate, a swelling corps of part-time and non-tenure-line academics, and students qualifying and entering academia later in life are believed to be fuelling a dearth of young permanent faculty who have the time and opportunity to rise into higher education leadership positions, according to a new Issue Brief by the American College of Education’s Center for Policy Analysis, Too Many Rungs on the Ladder? Faculty demographics and the future leadership of higher education. Among other things the study finds that only 3% of academics at four-year institutions aged 34 years or younger are working in tenure-track positions and the proportion only rises to 15% among faculty aged 35 to 44 years – and the figures for women and people of colour are even worse.
More on the University World News site


US: Academic globalisation
Without comment:
Call for papers/abstracts and invited sessions proposals for the second International Symposium on Academic Globalization: AG 2009 ( The symposium will take place in Orlando, Florida, on 10 - 13 July 2009.
More on the University World News site

NEW ZEALAND: Researchers probe past with pooh
John Gerritsen
Scientists have won funding to study the fossilised stools of birds including the extinct moa, in a bid to find out what impact the giant bird and its avian peers had on New Zealand’s forests.
Full report on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Caffeine helps athletes recover faster
Geoff Maslen
Athletes competing at the Olympic Games and in the Tour de France were taking performance enhancing substances. But swallowing sports drinks and Coca Cola or coffee is not against the rules because sugary liquids and caffeine are not on the banned list, say RMIT University researchers.
Full report on the University World News site


From: Michael J McFadden
I refer to your article on research into the effects of smoking (see John Banzhaf, a lawyer who has arguably made millions from promoting smoking bans and suing tobacco companies, said: "I don't think any reputable organisation today will accept tobacco industry money."
Full letter on the University World News site


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SCOTLAND: Pay hikes suck universities into £50m crisis
Scotland’s universities are facing a £50m-a-year funding crisis which could force job cuts on staff and lead to major cutbacks in new projects, reports Eddie Barnes in The Scotsman. All 15 universities are set to pay out 5% increases to lecturers, costing an extra £10m a year, after they agreed last year to match inflation in wage packets from this October.
More on the University World News site

IRELAND: Universities want fees paid by student loans
University presidents lobbied for the introduction of an Australian-style student loan system when they met Minister for Education Batt O'Keeffe last week, reports The Irish Times. The seven college heads decided to oppose the return of the old fees regime, abolished in 1995, as problematic and inequitable.
More on the University World News site

US: Dramatic challenge to SAT and ACT
Calling on colleges to “take back the conversation”, a special panel convened by the National Association for College Admission Counseling last week encouraged colleges to consider dropping the SAT or ACT as admissions requirements, reports Scott Jaschik in Inside Higher Ed. A panel report called on all colleges to consider more systematically whether they really need testing to admit their students. If there is not clear evidence of the need for testing, the commission urged colleges to drop the requirement.
More on the University World News site

US: I’ll take my lecture to go, please
It looks like students can be open-minded after all: when provided with the option to view lectures online, rather than just in person, 82% of undergraduates said they would be willing to entertain an alternative to showing up to class and paying attention in real time, writes Andy Guess in Insider Higher Ed. A new study released suggests not only a willingness but a “clear preference” among undergraduates for “lecture capture”, the technology that records, streams and stores what happens in the classroom for concurrent or later viewing.
More on the University World News site

UK: Loughborough named University of the Year
Loughborough University has been named the Sunday Times University of the Year, reports The Times. The university saw off competition from Imperial College London to win the title after being short-listed three times – more than any other university.
More on the University World News site

UK: Elite universities fail the student happiness test
Some of Britain’s most prestigious universities have the unhappiest students, with widespread dissatisfaction over poor teaching and lack of support from staff, according to the new Sunday Times University Guide league table. The Sunday Times reports that Bristol, Edinburgh, Imperial College London, the London School of Economics and Manchester are all among the bottom 25 universities for student satisfaction, despite achieving high overall rankings in the new Sunday Times University Guide league table.
More on the University World News site

UK: Admissions must be more transparent, says Denham
The government will push universities to produce admission procedures that deliver what they say “on the can” as it presses to widen participation in higher education, says Universities Secretary John Denham, reports The Guardian. Denham ruled out telling universities how to run their admission procedures, but insisted that the government had a role to play in encouraging more young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to access elite universities by encouraging more transparent admissions criteria.
More on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Team to probe Mangosuthu university
South Africa’s Education Minister Naledi Pandor has appointed a crack team to investigate the running of Durban’s Mangosuthu University of Technology after its vice-chancellor, Aaron Ndlovu, was sent on forced leave, comments the Mail & Guardian. Former council chair of the University of KwaZulu-Natal and academic, Vincent Maphai, will serve as an independent assessor after “discrepancies” in Ndlovu’s leadership were uncovered.
More on the University World News site

CANADA: Asian immigrants’ kids most likely to get degrees
Children of Asian immigrant parents have the highest rate of university completion in Canada, more than double the rate of other ethnicities, Canadian-born or otherwise, says a Statistics Canada study. CBC News reports that university completion rates were 65% for youth of immigrant parents from China and India. Among children of Canadian-born parents, the rate was about 28%.
More on the University World News site

CANADA: Ministers launch new foreign student effort
Provincial education ministers are banding together under one national brand in a bid to attract more foreign students to study and possibly stay in Canada, reports Canada Press. The brand – a stylised red maple leaf with a bilingual slogan that says “Imagine education in Canada” – was revealed last week at a meeting of education ministers in Fredericton.
More on the University World News site

SINGAPORE: Plans to attract 150,000 international students
Singapore has chalked out an ambitious plan to attract over 150,000 international students to its universities and educational institutions by 2015, reports The Hindu. There are currently 90,000 foreign students from 120 countries in in Singapore.
More on the University World News site

On October 29, 30 and 31, Social Research, the journal of The New School for Social Research in New York City, will host Free Inquiry at Risk: Universities in Dangerous Times in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the founding of the University in Exile at The New School. This three-day conference will feature leading scientists, academics, and university presidents in public dialogue about the trends facing universities around the world that put academic freedom and free inquiry at risk. The keynote event will be on 30 October at 6:00PM at which Aryeh Neier, President, Open Society Institute, will talk with endangered scholars from Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Belarus and China.
More information at or email

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