ISSN 1756-297XAFRICA: 0015 12 October 2008
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A nanostructured thin film comprised of stacked platelets of zinc oxide assembled into pyramids. See our News section. Photo: Dr James Bendall

The opening of Cameroon’s seventh public university represents a process of decentralising higher education under reforms that began in 1993. See the Feature section. Credit: iStock

The humble house mouse is being studied in Britain and New Zealand, with scientists using DNA to trace their origins. See the News section. Credit: iStock


AFRICA: News from across the continent

SOUTH AFRICA: OECD urges university funding changes
Karen MacGregor
A just-published review by the OECD of South African education has praised “impressive forward thinking” and reform post-apartheid, but has also called for improved management of change in higher education and a reappraisal of university funding. It suggests studies into factors affecting student performance in the face of high drop-out rates, a proactive approach to preparing and integrating new students, and junior pedagogical training for academics.
Full report on the University World News site

ZIMBABWE: Desperate universities launch income projects
Clemence Manyukwe
The Zimbabwean government last week cancelled the academic year as universities and schools found it impossible to continue operating with the collapse of the country’s economy. At the University of Zimbabwe, the country leading tertiary institution, a notice on a faculty building told students lectures would begin “on a date to be advised”. But university vice-chancellor Levy Nyagura was quoted as saying the university had no water, no electricity and no funds.
Full report on the University World News site

US-AFRICA: Donors recommit to African higher education
Karen MacGregor
The seven big United States donors that comprise the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa have announced that they will continue support for universities across the continent beyond their original 10-year commitment – but the form of their collaboration after 2010 has still to be firmed up. By then the Partnership will have made grants worth $350 million to universities, institutions and programmes in nine African countries.
Full report on the University World News site

ALGERIA: Start of new academic year
Nearly 1,160,000 students have started the new academic year in Algeria, including 260,000 freshers, according to the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. But despite the assurances of the Minister, Rachid Haraouabia, La Tribune of Algiers questioned whether universities had the capacity to cater for so many students.
Full report on the University World News site

N IGERIA: Top medical college rejects PhD directive
Tunde Fatunde
The governing council of N igeria’s National Postgraduate Medical College has rejected moves by the National Universities Commission to undermine its autonomy on the issue of academics needing doctoral qualifications. Many lecturers at the country’s only postgraduate medical college possess post-degree fellowship qualifications from the institution rather than PhDs.
Full report on the University World News site


CAMEROON: New university part of tertiary reforms
Emmanuel T Nwaimah
The latest of Cameroon’s public universities opens this month at a temporary site while construction work continues on its main campus. The University of Maroua was created by a presidential decree on 9 August and is located in the city of Maroua in Far North Province. It represents the continuation of a process of decentralising the country’s public university system away from the capital Yaoundé under higher education reforms that began in 1993.
Full report on the University World News site


CAMEROON: Libraries need digital updating
Universities in Cameroon need to make more progress in updating their libraries and digitising their documentation. Earlier this month, Jacques Fame Ndongo, Minister of Higher Education, and university presidents met for the presentation of a feasibility study carried out on the country’s Inter-university Centre of Documentary Resources, or CIRD, project.
Full report on the University World News site

WEST-CENTRAL AFRICA: University of Cotton opens
The University of Cotton, a unique initiative set up by the Association of African Cotton Producers (Aproca) to provide managerial and business expertise to the industry, has held its first course, a five-day seminar at the University-Polytechnic of Bobo-Dioulasso in the heart of the cotton-growing area of Burkina Faso.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Giving adult learners more information
In an effort to improve student learning and provide stakeholders with greater access to data, the American Public University System has boosted its survey and assessment processes. APUS is an accredited online university system with more than 30,000 adult learners studying in 50 states and more than 100 countries.
Full report on the University World News site

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

GLOBAL: Vast rise in student mobility
Geoff Maslen and Jane Marshall
More than 2.5 million university students are now estimated to be studying outside their own countries – a 70% increase in the past decade and the number looks set to continue rising. A new report confirms that students from China dominate those studying abroad, far exceeding young people from India, South Korea, Germany and Japan – the top five nations with the most students in other countries.
Full report on the University World News site

UK: US universities top the charts – again
Geoff Maslen
Daily newspapers in cities around the world were celebrating, or deploring, the status of their universities on Friday with publication of the latest rankings by the Times Higher Education and British publisher QS World Rankings. Reactions from vice-chancellors outside the US, whose universities again dominated the charts, were much the same: how can we compete against America's hugely wealthy Ivy League institutions when our universities are under-funded?
Full report on University World News site

EUROPE: A better life for EU researchers?
Alan Osborn
The 27 European Union governments have moved to improve the working conditions and career prospects of their researchers by approving measures designed to provide them with “real social recognition and a satisfactory standard of living”.
Full report on the University World News site

INDONESIA: Deregulation of higher education
David Jardine
Renewed debate has begun in Indonesia over a proposed bill to further deregulate the nation’s universities. Privatisation of leading universities is controversial and seen by critics as a form of ‘classism’ that effectively excludes the children of less well-off families. Currently under consideration is a bill that Minister of National Education Bambang Sudibyo says will “change all state and private universities into corporate-like institutions”.
Full report on the University World News site

GERMANY: New semester plans spark debate
Michael Gardner
Germany’s semester structure in higher education has been under review for some time now, the magic word once again being the Bologna process. A new structure, it is widely felt, could bring the system more into line with other European countries and facilitate student mobility. Critics claim, however, that no uniform international structure of semesters or trimesters exists anyway and they point to difficult obstacles that across-the-board reform would confront.
Full report on the University World News site

EUROPE: Academics: an anti-crime resource
Alan Osborn
Many European academic experts in the study of commercial crime are more than happy to discuss the state of play in the sector in an informal way with outsiders, although others may be more cautious.
Full report on the University World News site
This is the final article in our special series on how universities help fight crime.

UK-JAPAN: International nanomaterials research
The Japanese government has located a new research offshoot at The Nanoscience Centre at the University of Cambridge. The British university is one of four institutes located outside Japan to host a satellite of the Japanese International Center for Materials Nanoarchitectonics, known as MANA.
Full report on the University World News site

UK: Norse legacy includes humble house mouse
John Gerritsen*
When Vikings came to Britain they brought fear, fire and… the house mouse. New research led by the University of York has used DNA to trace the origins of house mice in the British Isles while a companion study has looked at their relatives in New Zealand.
Full report on the University World News site


US: Generational gains stall, says new ACE report
The tradition of young adults in the United States achieving higher levels of education than previous generations “appears to have stalled”, a new report by the American Council on Education concludes. Minorities in Higher Education 2008 Twenty-third Status Report also found that “for far too many people of colour, the percentage of young adults with some type of postsecondary degree compared with older adults has actually fallen”.
More on the University World News site

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

UZBEKISTAN: Interns write dissertations – for others
A blogger writes*: Each year, 20 Uzbek university students who have been studying for nine semesters over four-and-a-half years, undertake internships at the Uzbekistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is a dream of thousands of students as the MFA is considered one of the prestigious places where students can gain experience. But not everything is as good as it seems.
Full report on the University World News site

SWEDEN: Glowing pigs help clinch Nobel prize
The discovery of a green glowing protein from jellyfish has netted two Americans and one Japanese scientists the Nobel prize for chemistry, reports The Guardian. Each will take an equal share of the 10 million Swedish kronor ($1.4 million) award. Among the controversial spin-off uses for Green fluorescent protein, or GFP, have been pigs and fish that glow.
More on the University World News site


Violence against Africans in Malaysia
From Wilfred Lema
I refer to your article on higher education in Malaysia, Foreign student numbers soar. We value the contribution Malaysia is making to the rest of the world, especially to Africa, in providing a cheap western-equivalent level of education. However, one issue has remained unattended and of late has evolved into a catastrophe.
Full letter on the University World News site

Romania problems no surprise
From George Tillman
Ottawa, Canada
Regarding your article last week, Romania: Investment boost for higher education, as a consultant who helped design and shake down Romania's competitive grants system, I am encouraged by this report. But that corruption, ‘academic clans’ and lack of self-criticism continue to be problems is unfortunately no surprise.
Full letter on the University World News site


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ISRAEL: Universities prepare to strike
The Committee of University Heads in Israel launched a mass email last week to 150,000 students across the country, in which it states that “unfortunately under the current circumstances following negotiations with the Ministry of Finance, we cannot begin the academic year”, reports Yaheli Moran Zelikovitch in Ynetnews.
More on the University World News site

US: The SAT inches its way to oblivion
“Society likes to think that the SAT measures people's ability or merit. But no one in college admissions who visits the range of secondary schools we visit, and goes to the communities we visit – where you see the contrast between opportunities and fancy suburbs and some of the high schools that aren't so fancy – can come away thinking that standardised tests can be a measure of someone's true worth or ability.” When I saw that quote in my morning newspaper the other day, I did a double-take to make sure I wasn't in some odd parallel universe, writes Peter Sacks, author of Tearing Down the Gates: Confronting the class divide in American education, in News Day.
More on the University World News site

US: Do-it-yourself transcripts
An admissions change announced at Rutgers University last week is being called the “honour system” for college admissions (even if it’s got too much verification to be a true honour system), writes Scott Jaschik in Inside Higher Ed. Starting with those applying this fall for admission to all three Rutgers campuses, high schools will no longer be asked to submit applicants’ transcripts. Instead, applicants will themselves enter all of their grades and high school courses in an online application form. An official transcript will eventually be reviewed for every applicant who is admitted and indicates a plan to enrol.
More on the University World News site

ASIA: HE summit calls for public-private partnerships
An Asia regional higher education summit has called for stronger partnerships among public and private institutions across the globe to face emerging challenges, reports China View. The three-day summit, the first of its kind in Asia, began in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka last Monday with participation by around 150 university presidents and vice chancellors, senior business executives, foundations and government officials.
More on the University World News site

WALES: Student fees shake-up is proposed
A report has recommended scrapping the assembly government’s support for all Welsh students to pay lower fees than in England, reports BBC News. Welsh students studying in Wales pay £1,200 (US$2,077) in fees – rather than £3,000 (US$5,193) for students from other parts of the UK – at a total cost of £61 million (US$105 million) per year.
More on the University World News site

UGANDA: Two illegal universities closed
Uganda’s National Council for Higher Education has ordered the closure of Luweero University and Central Buganda University, reports New Vision. Both universities have more than 2,000 students studying business administration, social work, social administration and computer science. The council also said two other institutions, Namasagali and Fairland Universities, have until December to improve their facilities or face closure.
More on the University World News site

N IGERIA: Conduct of examinations probed
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has begun a review of the conduct of examinations in N igeria’s universities, reports This Day. It is hoped that the review will help to fashion a new examinations agenda able to improve quality and reduce exams malpractice.
More on the University World News site

TURKEY: Board seeking foreign students
The Higher Education Board, or YÖK, has been developing measures to make the Turkish system of higher education more appealing to students from abroad, reports Today’s Zaman. One of the measures has been encouraging private universities to lower tuition costs for foreign students, and another has been asking state universities to boost admissions of foreign students.
More on the University World News site

INDIA: Process started for 12 central universities
The Indian government has initiated the process of establishing 12 new central universities by starting to select their sites, reports The Hindu. Several government committees have started visiting sites offered by state governments to assess their “suitability”. States are supposed to provide about 500 acres of land free for the setting up of a central university.
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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