ISSN 1756-297XAFRICA: 0030 31 May 2009
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Mali has launched a 10-year research and higher education reform plan to haul itself out of the list of the world’s 10 poorest countries.

The United Nations Children’s Fund, Unicef, is working to resurrect water and sanitation provision at Zimbabwe’s oldest university.

A weak currency and a steady decline in foreign reserves are hitting international students from Nigeria.


China has begun copying the west by recruiting top scholars for its universities from around the globe. See our story in this week's international news list.

AFRICA: News from across the continent

SOUTH AFRICA: Push to graduate more PhDs
Karen MacGregor
Hundreds of postgraduate students gathered in Johannesburg this month for the annual conference and fair of the South African PhD Project, an initiative supporting a planned five-fold increase in the number of doctoral graduates by 2025. The present graduation rate in South Africa is 27 PhDs per million of the population – far fewer than Brazil and a ninth that of Australia.
Full report on the University World News site

MALI: New minister to push reform agenda
Wagdy Sawahel
In an effort to recapture its old standing as the Empire of Gold and the land of ancient civilizations, as well as to haul itself out of the list of the world’s 10 poorest countries, Mali has launched 10-year research and higher education reform plan. On 10 April the former rector of the University of Bamako was appointed as Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, tasked with pushing implementation of the reform plan forward.
Full report on the University World News site

NIGERIA: Weak currency hits students abroad
Tunde Fatunde
A weak currency and a steady decline in foreign reserves are hitting international students from N igeria. Parents are finding it increasingly difficult to remit money to children studying abroad, some students are considering continuing their studies at home, and many parents are shelving plans to send their kids to foreign universities.
Full report on the University World News site

EGYPT: University prepares for Obama
Ashraf Khaled
Cairo University, one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the Middle East, is being spruced up for the first time in more than two decades ahead of this week’s visit by US President Barack Obama, where he will deliver a promised address to the Islamic World.
Full report on the University World News site

AFRICA: Technology for education and development
Africa must work to apply technology to education and training and must use it to boost social and economic development across the continent, Senegal’s President Abdoulaye Wade told the fourth eLearning Africa conference held in the capital Dakar last week. More than 1,300 people from 85 countries attended the gathering.
Full report on the University World News site

ZIMBABWE: UN agency turns on taps at shut university
The United Nations Children’s Fund, Unicef, is working to resurrect water and sanitation provision at Zimbabwe’s oldest university, according to Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education Stan Mudenge. The University of Zimbabwe was shut indefinitely in February due to fears of a cholera outbreak arising from lack of clean water, among other things.
Full report on the University World News site

ZAMBIA: University access limited
Access to higher education in Zambia remains limited and unsatisfactory as a result of growing pressure on the existing infrastructure, poor maintenance and an increase in the school-going population, according to University of Zambia Vice-chancellor Professor Steven Simukanga. But Simukanga says progress is being made.
Full report on the University World News site


DR CONGO: Ministries close sub-standard institutions
Six university institutions in Katanga-Kalemie have been declared ‘non-viable’ after a visit by the Minister for Higher Education, and 16 technical medical training institutes have been closed following a health ministry audit, according to newspaper reports.
Full report on the University World News site

SENEGAL: Private higher education boosts the economy
Private higher education contributes nearly CFA13 billion (US$27.7 million) a year to the economy, according to Abdou Samb, former president of Cesp, the cooperative representing the sector. But he said the high costs made higher education inaccessible to many young Senegalese, a situation which could be alleviated if the government entered an agreement with the private sector, reported Wal Fadjri of Dakar.
Full report on the University World News site

TUNISIA: Student discovers simpler proof
A 19-year-old student, Karim Ghariani, has discovered a new way of mathematically proving Bernoulli’s theorem, an equation applied to calculations about speed and pressure of fluids.
Full report on the University World News site

MAURITIUS: New faculty of pharmacy opens
With French cooperation, the Louis Pasteur School of Medicine in Port-Louis is opening a new faculty of pharmacy, reports L’Express of Port-Louis.
Full report on the University World News site

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

CHINA: Ministry recruits 2,000 foreign scholars
John Richard Schrock
In a bold move to rapidly expand the research capacity of its universities, China’s Ministry of Education is helping underwrite the costs of recruiting and retaining 2,000 foreign experts. About 70 select universities, as well as 211 schools that comprise an elite 100+ universities, can apply to the ministry’s university section with proposals to expand key research positions.
Full report on the University World News site

UNESCO: Race for the leadership
Yojana Sharma*
Nominations for leadership of Unesco closed today – 31 May – and the organisation’s Paris headquarters was abuzz last week with talk about who will become its new Director-General when Japan's Koïchiro Matsuura bows out in October after 10 years in charge.
Full report on the University World News site

FRANCE: Out of puff or more protests to come?
Jane Marshall
After four months of fighting the government’s higher education and research reforms, meantime disrupting universities and bringing lecturers, researchers and students out on strike and onto the streets, the national protest movement appears to have run out of steam. Even the most radical universities, including the Sorbonne, have voted to reopen. But activists say action will resume until demands are met.
Full report on the University World News site

CANADA: Academics call for greater transparency
Anne Kershaw*
The Canadian Association of University Teachers has called on the country’s universities to open their books so the causes and extent of the financial difficulties facing institutions can be better understood.
Full report on the University World News site

NEW ZEALAND: Poor budget for universities
John Gerritsen
New Zealand’s universities are counting the costs of last week’s government budget, which took with one hand and gave just a little with the other. The budget, the first by the new conservative National Party-led government, was aimed at dealing with the economic recession and securing New Zealand’s international credit rating against a possible downgrade.
Full report on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Alarm at exploitation of foreigners
The federal government last week vowed to take action against training colleges that breach regulations and provide false certificates for money to foreign students to enable them to remain as permanent residents. In a ministerial statement in parliament, Education Minister Julia Gillard warned that Australia could not afford to allow the reputation of its $15 billion-a-year education industry to be harmed by the actions of some colleges, or by racist attacks on students.
Full report on the University World News site

GREECE: President urges more university support
Makki Marseilles
The state’s lack of responsibility for higher education has been severely criticised by Greek President Karolos Papoulias who also censured academics for the current condition of the nation’s universities.
Full report on the University World News site

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AUSTRALIA: New quality and standards watchdog
David Woodhouse*
As part of its 2009 budget statements, the Australian government announced its intention to create a Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency. This was the result of a recommendation from a review of higher education to create a single national regulatory body.
Full report on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: International education’s contribution
Julia Gillard*
International education has made a significant contribution to Australia. It has grown to become our third largest source of overseas earnings, generating $15.5 billion in 2008 and supporting more than 125,000 jobs. In 2008, nearly 500,000 students came to Australia and it is the lead sector in terms of export earnings in Victoria and the second largest in New South Wales.
Full report on the University World News site


CANADA: Is medical science for sale?
Are medical researchers and journals too close to the pharmaceutical industry for comfort – or patient safety? Sergio Sismondo, a professor of philosophy at Queen’s University, interrogates this pertinent and controversial issue in an article titled “Medical Publishing and the Drug Industry: Is medical science for sale?” in the current edition of the Canadian journal Academic Matters.
Full article on the University World News site

US: The business of higher education
Timothy McGettigan*
In recent years, colleges and universities have encountered increasing pressure to operate like businesses. As the logic goes, businesses must survive in a cut-throat climate of unfettered competition and thus their organisations need to be leaner, more efficient and more responsive to the needs of their customers than not-for-profit organisations, such as colleges and universities.
Full report on the University World News site


Our report: US: No job if you only have an online degree by John Richard Schock continues to attract comment. Here is the latest:

From Scott Stallings

I am astounded at the lack of research and the ignorance of this author. Loose generalisations are no way to prove a point. Speaking from the perspective of an “online graduate", I can attest that I have easily found employment. I can also attest that my income has increased as a result of completing my degree. GASP!
Full letter on the University World News site

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

US: Research identifies problem drinkers on campus
Binge-drinking by university students is a problem in many countries but new US research has highlighted the characteristics of those most at risk of alcohol-related injuries. The findings by University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers suggest that university managers who want to minimise the incidence of alcohol-related injuries should focus on a relatively small group of students.
Full report on the University World News site

COLUMBIA: Irish scientist in search for ‘disappeared’
A geoscientist from Queen’s University Belfast has been advising police and legal professionals in Bogota on techniques to recover the bodies of Columbia’s ‘disappeared’, the victims of violence, many related to illegal trade in drugs, buried in unmarked graves.
Full report on the University World News site

CANADA: ‘Second Life’ can be good for health
Researchers at the University of Toronto and the University Health Network’s Centre for Innovation in Complex Care have found that a wide array of health-related activity – including fund-raising for medical research – occurs in the three-dimensional virtual world of Second Life, reports ScienceDaily.
More on the University World News site


GLOBAL: Sea horse and insect among top 10 new species
A pea-sized seahorse, caffeine-free coffee and bacteria that live in hairspray are among the top 10 new species described in 2008, according to the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University. The institute and an international committee of taxonomists announce a top 10 each year on 23 May to commemorate the 1709 birth of Carolus Linnaeus, who initiated the modern system of plant and animal names and classifications. The event aims to raise awareness of biodiversity, the field of taxonomy, and the importance of natural history museums and botanical gardens.
Full report on the University World News site

UK: Leader of the pack?
Dog owners who seek to win obedience from their hounds by exerting dominance are barking up the wrong tree, new research shows. The study by academics at the University of Bristol’s department of clinical veterinary sciences found that dogs do not seek to dominate one another in order to keep their place in a pecking order.
Full report on the University World News site

GERMANY: Green genetic engineering essential
Michael Gardner
The German Research Foundation has released a joint memorandum with the German Agricultural Society calling for a change in current policy on research into genetic engineering. The two organisations complain that research in this field is being hampered more and more by “misguided political decisions”, referring to the current ban on growing genetically modified crops, but also by the illegal destruction of field tests.
Full report on the University World News site


US: Nobel winner Robert F Furchgott dies at 92
Robert F Furchgott, one of three American scientists awarded the 1998 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for their discovery that nitric oxide transmits signals within the human body, died on 19 May in Seattle, reports Henny Ray Abrams for AFP. He was 92.
More on the University World News site


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UGANDA: State halts search for new Makerere head
The Ugandan government has stopped the search process for a new vice-chancellor for Makerere University, Minister for Higher Education Mwesigwa Rukutana told Parliament this month, writes Gerald Bareebe for the Daily Monitor. He told the social services committee that the process would await amendments in the Universities and other Tertiary Institutions Act, in which the government proposes advertising higher education leadership positions and the independent selection of candidates.
More on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Bad management cost university millions
A forensic audit of South Africa’s embattled Mangosuthu University of Technology found major problems in its administration and management, reports Rivonia Naidu for the Daily News. Interim administrator, Professor Jonathan Jansen, said there were major deficiencies in the approval of salaries and expenditures at executive level and serious irregularities relating to the employment of students that had lost the university millions of Rand.
More on the University World News site

CHINA: Tiananmen protests a distant memory for youth
While two decades ago, China’s youth were at the forefront of a movement to bring democracy to the world’s most populous nation in demonstrations bloodily put down around Beijing’s central Tiananmen Square, today’s students are more pro-government, more suspicious of the West and genuinely proud of China's achievements, such as the Beijing Olympics, making a repeat of 4 June 1989 unlikely, writes Ben Blanchard for Reuters.
More on the University World News site

CHINA: Student suicide concerns grow
Studies from the Beijing Suicide Research and Prevention Centre show that suicide among young adults (aged 18 to 35) in China is becoming a major concern, with a record number of deaths among university students in one province, China Daily reports. The Guangdong Education Department confirmed that last year 63 students from 38 universities killed themselves, in the worst year on record.
More on the University World News site

INDIA: Call for common HE systems in Commonwealth
India will press for a common course structure and higher education system among Commonwealth countries when the education ministers of member states meet in Kuala Lumpur next month, reports Fresh News.
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VIETNAM: Ministry tightens doctoral admissions
Vietnam’s Ministry of Education and Training has issued new doctoral admission requirements, including letters of recommendation, set to take effect by next February, reports Thanhnien News. All PhD candidates must submit two letters of recommendation from two professors or PhD holders in relevant subjects, said Tran Thi Ha, head of the Ministry’s higher education department. Currently, PhD applicants only need to take an examination and submit two scientific reports.
More on the University World News site

US: Tenure in a digital era
Among the ‘horror stories’ Rosemary Feal has heard: assistant professors who work in digital media and whose tenure review panels insist on evaluating them by printing out selected pages of their work. “It's like evaluating an Academy Award entry based on 20 film stills,” said Feal, executive director of the Modern Language Association, writes Scott Jaschik for Inside Higher Ed. Even as the use of electronic media has become common across fields for research and teaching, what is taken for granted among young scholars is still foreign to many of those who sit on tenure and promotion committees.
More on the University World News site

US: States might base funding on graduation rates
States fund public colleges primarily based on how many students are enrolled. But a number of legislatures are considering policies that would link funding to whether students graduate, writes Beth Marklein in USA Today.
More on the University World News site

US: Hispanic academic to be Vatican ambassador
A Hispanic Roman Catholic theologian who was an adviser to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign will be nominated to serve as the next US ambassador to the Vatican, the White House announced last Wednesday, reports Eric Gorski for the Associated Press. Miguel H Diaz, 45, a Havana-born associate professor of theology at St John's University and the College of Saint Benedict in Minnesota, would be the first Hispanic to serve as ambassador to the Vatican since the US and the Holy See established full diplomatic ties in 1984.
More on the University World News site

PAKISTAN: US supports new financial aid programme
The United States will provide US$4 million to expand the Higher Education Commission financial aid programme, which was launched at a national conference on public-private partnership for higher education in Islamabad last week, reports Dawn. The programme aims to expand and improve financial aid for higher education in Pakistan.
More on the University World News site

PAKISTAN: Policy guidelines on s exual harassment
Pakistan’s Higher Education Commission has drafted policy guidelines to curb the menace of s exual harassment in institutions of higher education and to ensure an atmosphere free from all forms of harassment, exploitation and intimidation, reports Mansoor Malik for Dawn.
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TURKEY: World universities seek foreign students
International universities that have experienced a decrease in the size of their student body due to the ongoing global financial crisis have carried out various campaigns to attract Turkish applicants, according to a report published by the Ministry of Education, reports Today’s Zaman. According to the report, 150 universities from 22 countries are offering special incentives to attract Turkish students.
More on the University World News site

UK: Oxford poetry prof quits after smearing rival
The University of Oxford’s Professor of Poetry resigned last week, only nine days after she was elected to the post after a smear campaign against her main rival, writes Patrick Foster for The Times. Ruth Padel, the first woman to be elected to the position, admitted that she had e-mailed journalists about s exual harassment claims made against Derek Walcott, the Nobel laureate.
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UK: Language degree review announced
The Higher Education Funding Council for England has confirmed that it will examine modern foreign language provision amid concern about university budget cuts, reports BBC News. Several universities have had reduced funding for languages following an assessment of research by the funding council.
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AUSTRALIA: Research hogs ‘rip-off’ the system
Top universities in Australia were using marriages of convenience with medical research institutes to inflate their research income and prestige and to secure an unfair slice of sought-after block funds for infrastructure, university chief Ross Milbourne said, reports Bernard Lane for The Australian. Milbourne, chairman of the Australian Technology Network of universities, sharply criticised the practice as a “rort” and a “rip-off”.
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NEW ZEALAND: Canterbury sets research standards
Slack academics will be in the spotlight under research standards being developed at Canterbury University in New Zealand, reports Rebecca Todd for The Press. Vice-chancellor Rod Carr said the university aimed to set minimum research output levels for academics. Those not performing could not reasonably expect to continue their work at the university.
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SERBIA: Preserving tradition under Bologna
Despite a 200-year tradition, Serbia is facing challenges in its higher education sector – chiefly the adoption of European standards and accession to a common European education system – writes Bojana Milovanovic for the Southeast European Times.
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