ISSN 1756-297XAFRICA: 0024 08 March 2009
Support University World News - Click here to donate

Ford Foundation

HE Events Diary

Opportunities Jobs

Higher Education Marketing

Cairo University – Egypt's academics are preparing to strike, our correspondent reports.

N igeria-Open-Uni_A24_NL2
The National Open University of N igeria has graduated its first cohort of students. Despite the milestone, it faces a range of problems.

Kenya's government has decided to allow polytechnics to become universities. See the story in our news section.


AFRICA: News from across the continent

EGYPT: Academics warn of new strike over wages
Ashraf Khaled
Months after going on strike for the first time, professors at Egypt’s public universities have threatened to take “escalatory measures” unless the government releases performance-related bonuses owed to them. Last December, academics in state-run universities received the first part of bonuses approved after gruelling negotiations with the government. They reacted angrily last week when they learned that universities would have to pay for the bonuses from their resources.
Full report on the University World News site

ZIMBABWE: Universities forced to slash forex fees
Clemence Manyukwe
Zimbabwean universities have been forced to reduce their foreign currency-denominated fees following crippling student demonstrations that resulted in the country’s biggest and oldest institution, the University of Zimbabwe, being shut down. Universities were charging fees ranging from US$700 to US$1,500 per semester, starting in January, following the ‘dollarisation’ of the economy to escape the devastating effects of world record inflation.
Full report on the University World News site

N IGERIA: Open University produces first graduates
Tunde Fatunde
After three decades of controversy and debate, the state-supported National Open University of N igeria admitted its first students in 2002. Now its first graduates have been capped in a colourful ceremony in Lagos. Despite initial remarkable progress, the institution faces a range of problems although they are surmountable if the government and private sector show greater commitment.
Full report on the University World News site


SOUTH AFRICA: Top journals to go open access
Munyaradzi Makoni and Christina Scott
A new scheme aims to put African research on the map by providing free access to a range of South Africa’s top academic journals. The South African Journal of Science will lead the way, becoming the first high profile open access journal by the end of March in a pilot project lasting two years.
Full report on the University World News site

KENYA: Polytechnics being upgraded
Denis Anadye
With an ever-increasing number of pupils graduating from high school in Kenya, competition for places in public higher education institutions is getting tougher by the year. One of the government’s responses has been to upgrade some colleges, especially polytechnics, into universities in an effort to expand the number of higher education places.
Full report on the University World News site

BOTSWANA: National university reopens after protests
The University of Botswana, which closed on 4 February because of student protests, reopened last Monday – though many of the issues that caused the disturbances remain unresolved. There is a threat of further disturbances by a minority of students who want to take action in solidarity with Student Representative Council leaders who have been suspended or expelled.
Full report on the University World News site

A Message to Readers

University World News is produced by a team of top journalists who contribute their time largely for free because we believe in the project. Our Africa Edition is sponsored by the Ford Foundation, but we need your support to continue the global newspaper. We are appealing to readers to spread the word about University World News as a valuable source of news and comment, and as an advertising vehicle. We also ask you to consider making a contribution via the Donate button on our newsletter and website, or by clicking here


ANGOLA: Reorganisation of higher education
The Angolan government has approved reorganisation of the higher education system “for the strategic aims of economic, social, technological and community development”. The move involves the creation of seven academic regions to define the operations and expansion of institutions. Meanwhile, the University Agostinho Neto reports increasing numbers of students, although many more young applicants will miss out because there are not enough places.
Full report on the University World News site

ALGERIA: University signs digital campus agreement
The Algerian Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research has signed an agreement with the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF) for the creation of a French-language digital campus at the University of Oran.
Full report on the University World News site

MADAGASCAR: Lost academic year could follow crisis
The political crisis that has engulfed Madagascar over the past two months has led to fears of a lost academic year, with no date fixed for universities to reopen and thousands of students waiting to enrol.
Full report on the University World News site

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

UK: Role of professors mired in confusion
Geoff Maslen
Professors in Britain are not alone in seeing their role very differently from the universities that employ them. But a new report, based on a survey of 200 UK professors, confirms what many in the professoriate around the world privately believe: significant ‘expectation gaps’ exist between them and their universities regarding the importance of income generation versus mentoring staff and the leadership of their departments or faculties. In an exclusive commentary on our webpage this week, survey author Professor Bruce Macfarlane says the lack of clarity about the role of a professor is partly a symptom of the way appointment criteria at the professorial level have broadened in recent years. Almost one in 10 UK academics is now a full professor.
Full report on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Bold plan to reshape higher education
Geoff Maslen
Australia’s 38 public universities face an upheaval on a scale they have not experienced in 20 years under bold new government plans. The main goal in a set of wholesale reforms to the nation’s higher education system is the government’s intention to boost the number of Australians aged 25 to 34 with bachelor degrees from 32% of the population to 40% over the next 15 years – an enormous challenge given it would mean producing an additional 550,000 graduates by 2025 – and perhaps require more than 20 new universities.
Full report on the University World News site

FRANCE: Lecturers vote to continue strike
Despite negotiations last week between lecturers’ unions and the Minister for Higher Education and Research Valérie Pécresse, the universities’ national strike committee voted on Friday to continue industrial action against government reforms. The decision came after a week of renewed protests, including nationwide demonstrations on Thursday in which tens of thousands took to the streets.
Full report on the University World News site

IRELAND: Victory for academic freedom
John Walshe
An important victory for academic freedom has been struck by the Irish Federation of University Teachers which successfully brought a case against Trinity College Dublin to the Labour Court. It’s believed to be one of the few cases in the world where an issue of academic freedom ended up in an industrial relations forum and its progress has been monitored by trade unions internationally.
Full report on the University World News site

GREECE: Unprecedented attacks on academic
Makki Marseilles
After an uneasy lull following the riots at the end of last year an unprecedented wave of violence has swept the country recently mainly against universities, academic teachers but also against mass media, journalists and intellectuals.
Full report on the University World News site

SPAIN: Young researchers wary of new proposals
Rebecca Warden
Young researchers in Spain are not convinced a draft Law of Science published recently will improve their working conditions or career prospects. Gathered at the seventh Young Researchers Days in Barcelona on 25-27 February, many had more questions and criticisms of the proposed law than they did praise.
Full report on the University World News site

EUROPE: Student declaration on Bologna
A meeting of more than 100 representatives from 49 student unions across Europe was held in Prague last month to draw up a declaration leading to a Ministerial Conference of the Bologna Process in April. The declaration provides an analysis of the progress made on Bologna over the last 10 years and calls for changes during the decade to 2020. The key element of the declaration says that the vision of a European Higher Education Area the Bologna process was intended to create is still a long way from being delivered.
Full report on the University World News site

INDONESIA: Tackling graduate unemployment
David Jardine
Indonesia’s Ministry of National Education has announced a sizeable fund to finance entrepreneurship programmes at university level that it hopes will enable more graduates to quickly enter the jobs market. The most recent figures released by the manpower ministry show some 1.15 million unemployed graduates nationwide.
Full report on the University World News site

JAPAN: Change reformed tertiary system, says OECD
John Gerritsen
Institutional mergers, a revised student loan scheme and more performance-based funding are among changes an OECD review team has called on Japan to make to its tertiary education system. The recommendations come less than four years after Japan reformed the system to give greater autonomy to the country’s more than 4,000 tertiary institutions.
Full report on the University World News site


EUROPE: Coimbra Group position paper on Bologna
At their annual conference last year the Coimbra Group, an association of 37 long-standing and internationally respected European universities, reflected on the European higher education landscape in view of the 2010 deadline for the Bologna Process. The universities enthusiastically embraced Bologna and the increased trans-national transparency it promotes, but highlighted critical issues that need to be addressed in the years to come. Last week the association published a freely accessible Position Paper The Coimbra Group and European Higher Education after Bologna 2010
More on the University World News site

US: The ‘black box’ of peer review
Countless decisions in academe are based on the quest for excellence. Which professors to hire and promote, writes Scott Jaschik for Inside Higher Ed. Which grants to fund. Which projects to pursue. Everyone wants to promote excellence. But what if academe actually doesn’t know what excellence is? Michèle Lamont decided to explore excellence by studying one of the primary mechanisms used by higher education to, in theory, reward excellence: scholarly peer review. The result is How Professors Think: Inside the curious world of academic judgment, just published by Harvard University Press, which aims to expose what goes on behind the closed doors where funds are allocated and careers can be made.
More on the University World News site


US: University bans Christian group from campus
Robert L Shibley
A Dayton, Ohio, university has banned a Christian group from meeting on campus because of the group’s requirement that voting members be Christian and its refusal to accept “non-discrimination” language that would eliminate faith-based standards. The Campus Bible Fellowship at Wright State University sought help from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, known as FIRE.
Full report on the University World News site


UK: Buried Antarctic lake to be explored
An international group of scientists is preparing to explore an ancient lake hidden deep beneath Antarctica’s ice sheet – but it will take them five years just to develop the equipment they will need for the job.
Full report on the University World News site

QATAR: Launch highlights research focus
The growing role of research in the Gulf States will be highlighted with the official launch of Qatar’s multi-million dollar science and technology park next week. The region’s nations are acutely aware of the need to ready themselves for life after their oil resources run out, and research and higher education are playing a key role in those preparations.
Full report on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Endangered animals face lower fertility
The world’s endangered species face a double whammy of threats to their survival – as their numbers reduce, the chances of inbreeding increase and a new study now shows that this in turn reduces their fertility.
Full report on the University World News site


The Facebook group of University World News is the fastest growing in higher education worldwide. Almost 700 readers have joined. Sign up to the University World News Facebook group to meet and communicate directly with academics and researchers informed by the world’s first truly global higher education publication. Click on the link below to visit and join the group.
Visit the University World News group on Facebook


US: Visa trouble could drive foreign students away
When Dr Alena Shkumatava opens the door to the ‘fish lab’ at the Whitehead Institute of MIT, she encounters warm, aquarium-scented air and shelf after shelf of foot-long tanks, each containing one or more zebra fish, writes Cornelia Dean in the New York Times. She studies the tiny fish in her quest to unravel one of the knottiest problems in biology: how the acting of genes is encouraged or inhibited in cells. The work, focusing on genetic material called micro-RNAs, is ripe with promise. But Shkumatava, a postdoctoral researcher from Belarus, will not pursue it in the US, she said, partly because of what happened last year, when she tried to renew her visa.
More on the University World News site

US: Job forecast for college seniors grimmer than ever
Smith College’s career office sent its jittery job-hunting seniors a letter last month with a reassuring message: “There ARE jobs, and you can find employment.” Unfortunately, there are far fewer jobs than anticipated, according to a new report from the National Association for Colleges and Employers, reports Yahoo News. The companies surveyed for the group’s spring update are planning to hire 22% fewer graduates from the class of 2009 than they hired from the class of 2008, a big letdown from the group’s projections in October that hiring would hold steady.
More on the University World News site

CHINA: Higher education inaccessible to rural people
According to a report released by the Institute of Social Science Survey at Peking University, the proportion of rural residents in China with a bachelor degree is only 0.7%. The report has attracted the attention of a number of law makers who have been in Beijing attending the annual session of the National People’s Congress, writes Their view is that the equitable distribution of education resources will be key to solving this problem.
More on the University World News site

ASIA: Crisis won’t deter spending on higher education
Countries in South, South-West and Central Asia have decided to increase public spending on higher education notwithstanding the global financial crisis, reports The Hindu. This resolve to ensure that it does not suffer for want of funds was made at the conclusion of a two-day, sub-regional conference last week.
More on the University World News site

UK: Universities socially engineer intakes
In a move that critics claim filters out middle class students, admission tutors at leading institutions are being told to give interviews and make offers to working class candidates who have attended low performing schools or who live in postcodes where few go on to higher education, writes Julie Henry in The Sunday Telegraph. It comes as more universities, including Suss ex, Worcester, Dundee and the University of East Anglia, have decided not to use the new A* grade at A-level in offers from 2010 amid fears that independent school pupils will win more places.
More on the University World News site

US: Obama’s call for college for all – is it possible?
In his address to a joint session of Congress recently, President Barack Obama called for every American to pursue some form of education beyond high school, write Justin Pope and Libby Quaid for Associated Press. It is an ambitious goal – some might say impossible. Currently, only two of every five American adults have a two- or four-year college degree. Millions struggle even to complete high school, with one in four dropping out. And even a high school degree is no guarantee a student is ready for college.
More on the University World News site

US: Tight leash
Just when they need money most, some colleges and universities are incapable of tapping their rainy day funds, reports Inside Higher Ed. Currently, 21 states are still governed by decades-old laws that restrict endowment spending, according to the Uniform Law Commission. With revenues drying up for many colleges, these regulations are likely to result in fewer scholarships being awarded next year at some institutions, according to fund raisers and legal analysts.
More on the University World News site

US: Return on investment – public schools rock
Few measures of a business school’s performance hit home quite like return on investment, or ROI. In an era when salary freezes and layoffs are the order of the day, a school that can deliver the goods – decent-paying jobs for the vast majority of graduates – is golden. If it can do so without charging an arm and a leg, well, so much the better. That's why BusinessWeek undertook an extensive analysis of ROI for the 50 top schools in its 2009 Best Undergraduate Business Schools ranking. The results were enlightening: while the top-ranked private schools such as Notre Dame and Wharton get all the attention, it is the big state schools (and their lower tuition costs) that fare the best on this measure.
More on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Wannabe teachers fill universities
For the first time in years South African universities are seeing a marked increase in the number of students opting to become teachers, writes Prega Govender for the Sunday Times. In response to burgeoning student numbers this year, several universities have hired extra teaching staff while others are building new lecture halls to cope with the increased demand.
More on the University World News site

EAST AFRICA: Moving towards harmonised education
Until the late 1960s education in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya served as a unifying force across the three states of the East African Community, or EAC, reports The Independent. Curricula and examinations were the same at almost all levels of education, as determined by the examination council of East Africa. In 1970, after the collapse of the EAC, the University of East Africa was split into the three national universities of Makerere, Dar es Salaam and Nairobi. Today, the revival of the EAC means there is a greater need for academic cooperation between the three universities.
More on the University World News site

MALTA: Wide skills gap presents ‘major challenge’
Malta’s workforce will need to undergo a paradigm shift if Malta is to remain competitive within the European Union, a report published by the National Commission for Higher Education found, writes David Lindsay for the Malta Independent.
More on the University World News site

WALES: Universities unite over recession
Five universities are pledging to work together in an attempt to help drive the Welsh economy out of the recession, reports BBC News. Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff, Glamorgan and Swansea universities say closer cooperation will help Wales create an “innovative and dynamic economy”.
More on the University World News site
Copyright University World News 2007-2009