ISSN 1756-297XAFRICA: 0029 17 May 2009
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Africa's agricultural training and research institutions need to change, a new report says. See our News section.

The new head of the Association of African Universities has accused the continent's leaders of lacking the will to make education a priority.

Morocco is trying to speed up education reform, but unemployed graduates are unhappy, our correspondent reports.

AFRICA: News from across the continent

AFRICA: Leaders fail education’s needs
Primarashni Gower*
African leaders lack the political will to make education a priority. While the continent has resources and skills, it does not have the willpower to have education on the top of the agenda, N igeria”s University of Ilorin Vice-chancellor Professor Is-haq Oloyede said during his inauguration as the new President of the Association of African Universities.
Full report on the University World News site

AFRICA: Agricultural institutions must improve
Radical changes need to be made to curricula at agricultural institutions of higher learning in Africa, a recent survey has concluded. The survey report also calls on universities to lobby for funds to support facilities and improve practical teaching and learning.
Full report on the University World News site

EAST AFRICA: Boosting higher education access
Dave Buchere
At least three higher education agencies in Africa have joined to share information and experiences to increase students’ access to higher education within and outside the region.
Full report on the University World News site

MOROCCO: Problems remain despite reforms
Wagdy Sawahel
In a move to speed up educational reforms, Morocco launched new initiatives aimed at building infrastructure and to raise standards in higher education. But in recent months, Morocco's unemployed graduates have embarked on a series of protests and some have even threatened suicide.
Full report on the University World News site

ZIMBABWE: Call to prevent sector collapse
Student leaders and academics have called on the government to implement educational and political reforms to attract much needed donor funding which could save the education sector from collapse.
Full report on the University World News site

MAURITANIA: Political crisis overshadows reform
Wagdy Sawahel
The north-west African nation of Mauritania has been gripped by political crises for decades and there have been two military coups in the past three years. Instability has hindered efforts to establish a knowledge-based society. But academics hope that the upcoming 9 June presidential election will restore stability and stimulate higher education reform.
Full report on the University World News site


CAMEROON: Yaoundé-2 updates facilities
The modernisation of facilities at the University of Yaoundé-2, SOA, has marked a new phase of development at the institution, reports the Cameroon Tribune. Innovations include a teaching block with 2,400 places, a digital campus for distance learning and a computerised administration unit.
Full report on the University World News site

GUINEA: Students demand better conditions
Students went on strike at the end of April at two of the Guinea’s higher education institutions – the Institut Supérieur des Mines et de la Géologie de Tamakéné-Boké (Géo-Mines) and the Ecole Maritime de Kaloum, in Conakry – reported of Conakry.
Full report on the University World News site

CONGO: Quality higher education for ‘elite’
Léonard Mashako Mamba, Minister for Higher Education and Universities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, called on academics throughout the country to provide high quality education suitable for the nation’s elite during a speech to mark national education day, reported Le Potentiel of Kinshasa. The minister also had some good news for students – they would at last receive their grants for the academic year which will soon be over.
Full report on the University World News site

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

GLOBAL: Swine flu epidemic spreads
Geoff Maslen
More than a third of foreign students studying in Mexico's universities have fled the country as teams of researchers work around the globe on the rapidly spreading virus first known as swine flu but now called the type-A H1N1 virus. China, with the world's biggest population, last week became the latest country to report that a student recently returned from the US was its first confirmed case.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Academic migration no easy ride
John Gerritsen
A range of changes await academics who move countries – different languages, different cultures, new environs. But no matter where they go in the world, there is one thing they are unlikely to escape and that’s the neoliberal audit culture that underpins university management.
Full report on the University World News site

INDONESIA: Dispute over foreign students
David Jardine
An inter-ministerial battle has broken out over the number of foreign students taking up places in the country’s university medical faculties. The row involves the Ministry of National Education and the Heath Ministry with the Health Minister claiming the number of foreign medical students disadvantages Indonesians.
Full report on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Billions more for universities – but when?
Geoff Maslen
Before the government handed down its budget last week, its spin-merchants had persuaded the nation’s higher education leaders they could expect little. So when the money appeared to be gushing towards them last Tuesday they were overjoyed and only later did they realise it would be years before they saw the flood of cash – if then.
Full report on the University World News site
See also AUSTRALIA: Dirt poor PhDs live below the breadline in our Research and Commentary section this week

FINLAND: Reform law to be amended
Ian Dobson*
Aspects of a new law to reform Finland’s university sector will have to be amended because they were judged as being unconstitutional.
Full report on the University World News site

FRANCE: Sarkozy rejects retreat on university reforms
Jane Marshall
As France's strike by lecturers and researchers passed its 15th week, it looked possible that students' examinations could be postponed until September. But President Nicolas Sarkozy rejected any government retreat on the planned reforms, despite a call by university presidents for a moratorium; and the national coordination of universities reaffirmed its determination to continue the protests and reiterated that withdrawal of the reforms was "necessary to re-establish conditions for dialogue".
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: An MSc to stop building collapse?
Bill Holdsworth*
Redundancies among engineers in recession-ravaged countries have been on the rise as major infrastructure projects, many related to practical ways and means to reduce the impacts of climate change, were put on hold. But a fight back is happening as national governments and technical universities across the world are seeking to improve student numbers in degree courses in the fields of environmental, energy, electronics, transport and construction engineering with all its many facets.
Full report on the University World News site

GREECE: Politics or culture?
Makki Marseilles
Two major events monopolise the interest of large sections of the Greek academic community, politicians and the wider public this time of the year, each for their own particular reasons. They are student elections throughout the country’s higher education institutions and the Students Week at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
Full report on the University World News site

GERMANY: Humboldt award to boost research
Michael Gardner
The first eight Alexander von Humboldt Professorships were awarded in Berlin by Federal Research Minister Annette Schavan and Humboldt Foundation President Helmut Schwarz last Thursday week. The new Humboldt Professorship, Germany’s most highly-endowed research prize, is aimed at giving excellent researchers from around the world the opportunity to work in Germany on a long-term basis.
Full report on the University World News site


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AUSTRALIA: Dirt poor PhDs live below breadline
Rebecca Smith*
In the last quarter of 2008, a significant group of Australians was living below the poverty line. For a single person, this meant living on less than A$415.06 a week. These people were working full-time 40 hours a week, and probably much more. They received no employer superannuation and weren't entitled to concessions or pensions. Who were they? Illegal migrant workers? Sweatshop employees unaware of their rights? No – they were some of Australia's best and brightest minds: PhD students.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Students benefit from online chat room
A. R. Mubaraka, A. Rohdeb and P. Pakulski*
The social environment prevailing within higher education institutions has seen many changes in recent years. Information technological tools such as internet chat rooms could be one of the cheapest and student-friendly tools universities could use to meet the social and psychological needs of their students.
Full report on the University World News site


Last week’s article by Dr John Richard Schrock, No jobs for online degrees, drew a strong reaction. We publish two responses in this edition, along with Dr Schrock’s reply, and others can be seen as comments with the original web story.

From Stuart Hamilton
Dr Schrock’s article, while making a fair point about the hypocrisy of universities offering online degrees and then not accepting them for staff appointments, mixes up different issues – the bogus qualifications offered by 'degree mills' (which may be online but need not be) with a reasonable debate about the use of online pedagogy and the continuing value of the face-to-face experience.

From Steve Foerster
As a distance learning spec ialist, I read John Richard Schrock's recent diatribe against distance learning with sad amusement. Has this old-fashioned view really not yet died its final death? There is voluminous evidence that the mode of instruction alone produces no significant difference in students’ ability to learn. Those interested in the subject may, for example, wish to consult Thomas L Russell’s book, The No Significant Difference Phenomenon, which is an excellent review of the relevant literature.

Dr Schrock replies:
Criticism of distance-learning has been dismissed by the very argument Director Foerster presents: since Kansas and Emporia universities offer online degrees, the faculty must therefore be fully behind them and I am a lone "old-fashioned" hold out. To the contrary, many "traditional" faculty nationwide are critical of these programmes, as can be read in articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education each month. The broader issue of online programmes being on a slippery slope to diploma mills is discussed just last week.
Full response on the University World News site

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

US: Over-eating alone explains obesity epidemic
The rise in obesity in the United States since the 1970s is virtually all due to increased food intake, a public health expert at Deakin University in Melbourne has revealed. Professor Boyd Swinburn worked with researchers from Pennington Biomedical Research Center in the US to determine how much of the obesity epidemic was caused by excess calorie intake and how much by reductions in physical activity.
Full report on the University World News site


US: First clues to pandemic not medical
Health authorities could get more warning of emerging pandemics from internet hits and pharmacy sales, rather than official notifications of disease from health practitioners, two researchers suggest.
Full report on the University World News site

CANADA: Brain hard at work when daydreaming
Goofing off might give you a rest, but the same is not true of the brain – new research shows brain areas associated with complex problem solving are highly active while we daydream.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Rules proposed to save coral reefs
Connections between coral reefs are among six measures an international team of scientists has suggested governments should adopt in order to save the endangered ecosystems from destruction. They launched their proposal at the World Ocean Conference 2009 in Manado, Indonesia, last week.
Full report on the University World News site


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SOUTH AFRICA: Universities of shame
South Africa’s universities are so rife with racism that all students must in future study a compulsory course on ‘Africanness’, reports Rowan Philip in the Sunday Times. This is one of the recommendations of a government report into discrimination in higher education launched after the emergence last year of a video of white University of the Free State students forcing black cleaners to run and drink urine.
More on the University World News site

JAPAN: MBAs on the rise, firms not convinced
In Japan, it has never been easier to find an MBA programme, say Hiroko Tahiro and Ian Rowley in Business Week. Twenty years ago, only a few universities offered business administration courses, so most aspiring students headed to the US to study. Even as business school degrees gained in popularity around the world, the number of domestic courses edged up only slowly. However, in the last five years the number of Japanese universities with business schools has more than doubled, to 55.
More on the University World News site

KOREA: Business schools go global
Under a campaign to globalise curriculums, staff, and ways of thinking by students, top universities in the country have rebuilt their programmes by modelling themselves largely on leading business schools in the US, writes Moon Lhlwan in Business News. "Globalisation is our new mission," says Jang Hasung, dean of Korea University’s business school.
More on the University World News site

UK: Bristol to get Rough Guides archive
A treasure trove of material relating to the groundbreaking Rough Guides series of travel books has been given to the University of Bristol by the series’ founder Mark Ellingham, an English graduate of the University, the university announced this week. The collection was assembled and kept by his mother, Barbara Ellingham, who died last year.
More on the University World News site

VIETNAM: The Japanese emperor’s fish
Can Tho University, in the Mekong Delta, recognised a scientific research project written by the Japanese Emperor Akihito on a special type of fish – a goby – which originated from the Mekong Delta. As Prince Akihito, he began his doctoral thesis in 1976 on the different types of fish in south Vietnam, writes Tien Trinh in
More on the University World News site

UK: Poet withdraws from professorial race
The Nobel Prize-winning poet Derek Walcott has withdrawn from the election to become professor of poetry at Oxford University after "low tactics" were used to smear his campaign. Anonymous letters were sent to more than 100 Oxford professors detailing an allegation of s exual harassment made against the poet by a former student in 1982, writes Genevieve Roberts in The Independent.
More on the University World News site
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