ISSN 1756-297XAFRICA: 0027 19 April 2009
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Scholarship is a dangerous business in many countries. In this edition's News and Feature sections, we report on the issue in light of a new report by the Scholar Rescue Fund.

Is the international goldrush over? The number of students travelling to other countries for study is nearing the 3 million mark – but how long can the good times last?

Is this the future of research? Adam recently became the first robot to make a discovery. See the story in this week's Science Scene.

AFRICA: News from across the continent

AFRICA: Academics offer peace building ideas
Philip Fine
At the end of 2005, the United Nations created an important meeting place for the growing number of activist academics working to help states involved in strife make a smooth transition to civil societies. The UN Peacebuilding Commission, an advisory body of 31 governments, currently focuses on four African countries and is giving experts who know what it takes to rebuild conflict zones a means of delivering their ideas to policy-makers. Now, if only those member countries can stop squabbling, the thinkers can get their work taken seriously.
Full report on the University World News site

KENYA: Loan defaulters to be blacklisted
Dave Buchere
Kenya’s Higher Education Loans Board, HELB, has entered into a data sharing partnership with Metropol East Africa Limited in a bid to tackle the problem of student loan defaulters. Metropol will collate information on the credit histories of beneficiaries of HELB loans and pass the information on to banks. Students who fail to repay loans on completing their degrees could be barred from accessing loans from banks and other credit facilities.
Full report on the University World News site

N IGERIA: Radio stations for tertiary institutions
Tunde Fatunde
The N igerian government has awarded licences to 27 tertiary institutions to operate community radio on their campuses. Institutions with licences use the radio stations for teaching, research and entertainment. Radio remains the best medium of mass communication in Africa because of the continent’s long-standing oral tradition.
Full report on the University World News site

COMMONWEALTH: States should contribute to scholarships
Karen MacGregor
Commonwealth governments should contribute to the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan, South African Minister of Education Naledi Pandor told a conference of the multilateral body at Oxford University recently. A permanent central fund to support the scholarships in developing countries on a shared-cost basis should also be seriously considered, Pandor said.
Full report on the University World News site

ZIMBABWE: Proposed higher education act condemned
Clemence Manyukwe
Zimbabwe is drafting a new higher education Act aimed at enhancing the quality of education and training after years of neglect. But the proposed legislation has been condemned by student representatives, who say its provisions show that the country’s new inclusive government is not serious about tertiary reform.
Full report on the University World News site

ZAMBIA: Plans for new qualifications authority
Clemence Manyukwe
Plans to introduce a new higher education qualifications authority in Zambia have reached an advanced stage and the government is working on opening three new university colleges next month. Education Minister Professor Geoffrey Lungwangwa told parliament that large construction projects were also underway at universities in an effort to improve the learning environment for students and staff.
Full report on the University World News site


GLOBAL: Scholar persecution widespread says study
Brendan O’Malley
Scholars are being harassed, attacked, jailed and even targeted for assassination in a wide range of countries across the world, according to a new study published by the Institute of International Education. The persecution occurs at all levels of scholarship, in many different fields, and among men and women although women are targeted most. Sub-Saharan Africa is the region worst affected, followed by the Middle East and North Africa.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: A deadly silencing of scholars
Brendan O’Malley
When Felix Kaputu returned to his home country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, after lecturing in Japan’s Nanzan University as a visiting professor, the Director of Provincial Security asked to meet him. It was not long before Kaputu was in jail and held incommunicado.
Full report on the University World News site

How the Scholar Rescue Fund Works
Academics, scholars and intellectuals from any country and any discipline may apply for a fellowship to support temporary relocation to institutions in any safe country, in any part of the world. Applications are accepted at any time.
Full report on the University World News site


AFRICA: African Union announces science awards
The African Union is calling for applications for national young scientist, regional women scientist and continental top scientist awards. The awards, the AU announced last week, aim to celebrate the achievements of African scientists, promote efforts to transform research into entrepreneurship, attract investments to Africa and create research centres of excellence.
Full report on the University World News site

GHANA: IFC supports university expansion
The International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group, is investing Us$2.5 million in Ashesi University College in Ghana to support expanded access to higher education in the West African country, the IFC announced last week.
Full report on the University World News site

CAMEROON: Grants to benefit university research
Finance Minister Essimi Menye has signed an order for the first Fcfa1 billion (US$2 million) for a new appropriation account for university research. The decision should mean more finance for the sector and easier access to the funds, says the Cameroon Tribune of Yaoundé.
Full report on the University World News site

ALGERIA: Industry must join in research effort
With 40,000 researchers working abroad, and research representing only 1% of GDP, academics say Algeria should involve private and public industries in research funding, according to Amirouche Yazid in La Tribune of Algiers, commenting on the sector’s research crisis.
Full report on the University World News site

FRANCE: Claims that Chinese given false degrees
The University du Sud Toulon-Var has defended its integrity following allegations of trafficking of false degrees supposedly awarded to hundreds of Chinese students at its Institut d’administration des enterprises, or IAE.
Full report on the University World News site

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

GLOBAL: End of the education gold rush?
Geoff Maslen
Up until the onset of the world financial crisis, selling higher education to foreign students had become the new global gold rush for universities across the developed countries. Whereas 600,000 students went abroad to study for their degrees in 1975, by 2000 the number had hit 1.8 million, five years later it reached 2.7 million. This year, the number may even pass the three million mark – a 66% rise in less than a decade – unless, that is, the gold rush is about to end…
Full report on the University World News site

ARAB STATES-SOUTH AMERICA: Technology university plan
Wagdy Sawahel
The 12 South American and 22 Arab countries have pledged to increase cooperation in higher education and science and technology by creating an Arab-South American technology university. Joint research and education programmes will also be established between the two regions’ leading universities and research institutions.
Full report on the University World News site

CHILE: Call for more funding, more reform
John Gerritsen
Chile should double its public spending on tertiary education and research, a review of the country’s tertiary education system has concluded. But the nation should also reform its universities to admit a greater range of students to study degrees that are more applicable and take less time.
Full report on the University World News site

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


US: Tackling higher education’s leadership scarcity
David Mead-Fox
Higher education leadership search committees are faced with an uncomfortable reality: it is increasingly difficult to find superior candidates. In addition, once a position is filled, another pain point often emerges – the average number of years that a leader stays in a particular position continues to decline. What was once considered questionable or marginal tenure in a role is becoming increasingly common and accepted. It is no less concerning, however – three years, for example, remains a very short time to demonstrate substantive leadership impact.
More on the University World News site

EUROPE-US: Governance and performance of universities
A new report by the National Bureau of Economic Research, titled The Governance and Performance of Research Universities: Evidence from Europe and the US, investigates how university governance affects research output, measured by patenting and international university research rankings.
More on the University World News site


US-CHINA: Cornell returning prized mushrooms
Shu Chun Teng travelled halfway around the world on a scholarship to study mycology at Cornell University in 1923, writes Ben Dobbin for Associated Press. He left five years later with a knowledge of fungi unequalled in China, then spent the next decade travelling on horseback gathering up moulds, lichens, yeasts, rusts and morels in the forests, fields and marshes of his homeland.
More on the University World News site


UK: Robot scientist makes discovery
Scientists could have been forgiven for starting last week’s Easter break with concerns about job security – just before the holiday started, Aberystwyth University in Wales announced that a robot had for the first time independently discovered scientific information.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Climate change to fan wild-fires
The advance of climate change will bring not only higher temperatures, but also rapid changes in the distribution of wild fires, new research from the University of California, Berkeley, in collaboration with scientists at Texas Tech University, shows.
Full report on the University World News site

INDIA: Mangroves save lives in super storms
Mangrove forests shelter villages from the worst impact of storms, and the more mangroves the better the protection, a study of storm-related deaths in coastal India has found.
Full report on the University World News site


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UK: Possible fraud unit to thwart bogus applications
Universities are considering establishing an anti-fraud unit to identify falsified applications from overseas students, amid concerns that most of those arrested in the north-west of England earlier this month over an alleged terror plot were Pakistanis in the UK on student visas, writes Polly Curtis in The Guardian.
More on the University World News site

IRELAND: Students denied expertise of star researchers
Students in Irish universities are being denied the expertise of talented staff because they have been recruited on non-teaching contracts, the Higher Education Authority has claimed, writes Stephen O’Brien in The Times. The policy body has advised universities to remove clauses from contracts which keep ‘stellar’ researchers in the laboratory and out of the classroom.
More on the University World News site

AFRICA: Will the humanities survive?
In the heart of the University of Ghana’s Legon campus, in a gully alongside a road, sits a one-story building, three basketball courts long. More recently constructed than the surrounding structures this building, divided into three equal spaces, houses lecture halls built to accommodate an explosion in the student population. On any given weekday, up to 1,000 students crowd into each room – sometimes spilling out onto the grassy knoll outside, where they have to strain to hear the lectures, writes Kenneth Walker in The Carnegie Reporter.
More on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Youth leader threatens Cape Town management
When president-in-waiting Jacob Zuma comes to power following this week’s general elections, lecturers and managers will be replaced at the University of Cape Town – the country’s top research university – because it remains a hotbed of counter-revolutionaries. So says Julius Malema, president of the ruling African National Congress’s Youth League, writes Quinton Mtyala in the Cape Times.
More on the University World News site

US: Matches and mismatches in producing PhDs
In theory, these days, everyone agrees that attrition in PhD programmes is a real problem, writes Scott Jaschik for Inside Higher Ed. Graduate students don’t want to spend years in programmes from which they will never graduate, and universities don’t want to support those who won’t complete their programmes. Also in theory these days, most academics agree that it’s crucial to expand the diversity of the PhD pipeline so that the candidates for faculty positions represent a broader demographic than the current professoriate. Research presented last week at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association challenged higher education a bit on both of these supposed consensuses.
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US: Plan to change student lending sparks fight
The private student lending industry and its allies in Congress are manoeuvring to thwart a plan by President Barack Obama to end a subsidised loan programme and redirect billions of dollars in bank profits to scholarships for needy students, writes David M Herszenhorn in The New York Times. The plan is the main money-saving component of Obama’s education agenda, which includes a sweeping overhaul of financial aid programmes.
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US: Professor stands up to animal rights activists
As soon as he heard his car alarm blare and saw the orange glow through his bedroom window, University of California, Los Angeles, neuroscientist J David Jentsch knew that his fears had come true – he had become the latest victim in a series of violent incidents targeting scientists who use animals in biomedical research. But unlike most scientists, Jentsch decided to push back, writes Larry Gordon in the LA Times.
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US: Facebook students underachieve in exams
An American study has found that students who spend their time adding friends, chatting and ‘poking’ others on the website may devote as little as one hour a week to their academic work, writes Urmee Khan in The Telegraph. The study by Ohio State University showed that students who used Facebook had a “significantly” lower grade point average than those who did not.
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INDIA: Graduates look to study abroad during downturn
The economic downturn is making it difficult for colleges to place their students, but they are ready with a damage-control plan, writes Sameer Kumar Sharma for Express India. Colleges are inviting foreign universities and colleges to hold education fairs, facilitating and encouraging students to opt for higher studies.
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GLOBAL: IBM, universities push for ‘smarter planet’
IBM announced last week that it is collaborating with 250-plus universities in 50 countries to promote the Service Science Management and Engineering curriculum, with the ultimate goal of creating solutions for a ‘smarter planet’, writes Mary Grush in Campus Technology.
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