ISSN 1756-297XAFRICA: 0032 28 June 2009
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African scientists have asked for help in fighting the continent's brain drain, saying investment in higher education and research is needed.

A new fibre optic cable linking Africa with Europe is bringing fast broadband to South Africa, our correspondent reports. Photo: Seacom.

Harvard University's selection as the provider of training for Nigeria's state governors has prompted outrage among the nation's academics. They say the training should be done at home.

University World News: official media partner of the 2009 Unesco World Conference

A decade after the first World Conference on Higher Education in 1998, this year's event on 5-8 July will provide a global platform for forward-looking debate on one of the most rapidly changing fields within the global learning landscape. The conference will identify concrete actions aimed at ensuring higher education meets national development objectives and individual aspirations. It will provide an occasion for key stakeholders to make a new commitment to the development of higher education and agree on action-oriented recommendations to enable higher education and research to respond better to changing labour market needs and to the growing and multiple demands of society.

UWN will be reporting on depth in the issues and the debates.Click here to find out more.

AFRICA: News from across the continent

AFRICA: Scientists call for brain drain help
Leading African scientists have urged rich nations to help fight the brain drain by investing in rebuilding Africa’s higher education sector and supporting research efforts by young scientists. In a statement to heads of state and governments attending the G8+5 summit in Italy next month, the Network of African Science Academies said a third of all African scientists now lived and worked in developed countries.
Full report on the University World News site

KENYA: Higher education braces for reforms
Dave Buchere
Kenya’s higher education, science and technology sector is set for major legislative and institutional reforms aimed at promoting a knowledge-based economy to improve national prosperity and global competitiveness. Three new bills are being developed to ensure quality, equity and reliability in the delivery of post-secondary education.
Full report on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Fast broadband for universities
Bill Corcoran
Confirmation that critical portions of the new Seacom 17,000 kilometre under-sea fibre optic cable linking Africa to Europe and India have been completed marked a momentous occasion for higher education in South Africa. As universities around the world became used to fast and affordable internet that handles large volumes of data, South Africa’s universities were left to languish in the connectivity dark ages because they lacked a telecommunications infrastructure.
Full report on the University World News site

NIGERIA: Lecturers slam Harvard training deal
Tunde Fatunde
An agreement struck between Harvard University and the Governors’ Forum in Nigeria for the world-leading US university to teach governors of states in the African country the fundamentals of good governance has been rejected by lecturers. They have described the agreement as wasteful and unproductive, called for its cancellation and suggested governance training take place at home.
Full report on the University World News site

ZIMBABWE: Academics clash over new constitution
Zimbabwe’s leading intellectuals have clashed over the crafting of a new democratic constitution, as a survey revealed that the majority of people want the unity government to treat education as the top priority among numerous pressing problems facing the African nation following a decade of international isolation and sanctions.
Full report on the University World News site

AFRICA: Spotlight on internationalisation
The African Network for Internationalisation of Education, ANIE, is holding its first annual conference at Moi University in Eldoret in Kenya from 3-6 September. University leaders and officials will speak at the event to provide insights into current goals, rationales, policies and challenges facing internationalisation in African higher education.
Full report on the University World News website


GHANA: Private higher education on the rise
Kajsa Hallberg Adu
Private universities have sprung up like mushrooms in Ghana. In 1999, there were just two but since then 11 new private universities and 19 private polytechnics or colleges have opened their doors. In 2006, private universities enrolled 9,500 students or about 8% of all tertiary students, while the polytechnics had 24,660 students or 20% of total enrolments.
Full report on the University World site


AFRICA: Deeds, not words, for higher education
Primarashni Gower
Less talk, more action. That is the message from former University of Cape Town vice-chancellor, Professor Njabulo Ndebele, who shared his concerns about higher education in Africa with the Mail & Guardian at the end of his four-year term as president of the Association of African Universities.
Full report on the University World News site



AFRICA-US: 40 universities win partnership awards
Dave Buchere
Twenty US universities and 20 institutions in 15 African countries have won Africa-US Higher Education Initiative Planning Grants of US$50,000 each for capacity-building partnerships. There were nearly 300 applications for the grants that pair US and African higher education institutions and are supported by USAID and the US-based Higher Education for Development.
Full report on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Early evidence of symbolic behaviour
Jan Petter Myklebust*
Recent archaeological findings of engraved ochre pieces from the Blombos Cave 300 kilometres east of Cape Town look set to stimulate further scientific debate on the origins of human behaviour. In a forthcoming article in the Journal of Human Evolution Christopher Henshilwood, Francesco d’Errico and Ian Watts describe substantial evidence that 19 pieces of ochre were engraved with abstract designs between 75,000 and 100,000 years ago.
Full report on the University World site

DR CONGO: ‘Deplorable’ teaching in private universities
Qualified lecturers rarely do the teaching in the Congo’s private universities. Instead, unqualified assistants take courses that are often obsolete, theoretical and useless for finding a job, says Le Potentiel of Kinshasa.
Full report on the University World site

MADAGASCAR: Student discontent rising
Discontent over living conditions has been mounting for several weeks among students at the University Cité de Soleil in Maninday, Madagascar. Earlier this months students occupied university buildings after authorities failed to listen to their grievances.
Full report on the University World site

SENEGAL: Conference discusses migration problems
Migration, globalisation and associated problems such as illegal immigration and forced repatriation came under discussion at a meeting held in preparation for a symposium to take place later this year, reported Wal Fadjri of Dakar. The meeting at Ucad, the University Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar, aimed to offer PhD students from Senegal’s universities the opportunity to develop exploratory methodological approaches to the problems of migration.
Full report on the University World News site

UK: London students win Commonwealth awards
Six students from UK universities have been selected for the prestigious Round Table Commonwealth Awards for Young Scholars. As part of the Round Table’s centenary celebrations, the six will each receive a £1,000 award, a three-week research grant to another Commonwealth country, and the opportunity to have their final work published in Britain’s oldest international affairs journal.
Full report on the University World site

GERMANY – Post-Soviet researcher launches new Facebook site
Nick Holdsworth
A new Facebook community of academics and researchers with interests in post-Soviet higher education, social sciences and humanities teaching has attracted more than 110 members within days of being set up. It has been launched by Andreas Umland, an historian and assistant professor at Germany’s Eichstaett Institute for Central and East European Studies, part of the Catholic Univeristy of Eichstaett-Ingolstadt, which Umland describes as “a small, yet active research centre in Upper Bavaria”.
Full report on the University World site

AUSTRALIA: Support for University of L’Aquila
The Group of Eight research-intensive universities is offering up to eight scholarships to early career researchers in the Italian city of L’Aquila to help them continue their research in Australia while the University of L’Aquila is rebuilt.
Full report on the University World site

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

GLOBAL: On-line forum prior to world conference
In the run-up to next week’s Unesco World Conference on Higher Education*, a series of regional meetings refined the themes to internationalism, regionalism and globalisation, as well as equity, access and quality and, finally, learning, research and innovation. Officials regarded the consultative process as highly productive but they also wanted to broaden the debate while ensuring the discussions reached the broadest consensus on practical solutions proposed. As part of this process, Unesco organised a three-week online internet forum ahead of the conference so the issues raised could be fed into conference debates.
Full report on the University World site

GLOBAL: New research report from Unesco Forum
Karen MacGregor
The Unesco Forum on Higher Education, Research and Knowledge is publishing a Research Report, Systems of Higher Education, Research and Innovation: Changing dynamics, that explores rapid changes in global knowledge systems and describes nearly a decade of ‘research on research’ by the Forum. The report will be the subject of a University World News Special Edition, to be published next Wednesday 1 July and sent to all readers.
Full report on the University World News site

COMMONWEALTH: New agency to aid university development
David Jobbins
A new agency to aid Commonwealth states in building stronger higher education systems has come a step nearer as Commonwealth education ministers agreed to back further investigation of the plan. The 17th Commonwealth Conference of Education Ministers in Kuala Lumpur welcomed the findings of a working group which had investigated the possible establishment of a Tertiary Education Facility for the Commonwealth, and agreed that work should begin.
Full report on the University World site

CHINA: Making graduates employable
Liz Lightfoot*
Universities in China are facing similar demands to improve the employability of their graduates as those in the UK, new research among employers has revealed.
Full report on the University World site

NEW ZEALAND: Debate over Maori access to university
John Gerritsen*
A call to waive university entry requirements for New Zealand’s Maori ethnic minority has sparked accusations of racism and highlighted Maori educational under-achievement.
Full report on the University World site

GERMANY: Students strike for education
Michael Gardner
Students at secondary and higher education institutions staged campaigns throughout Germany last week calling for a better education policy. The ‘education strike’ focused on new, six-semester bachelors’ courses and plans to shorten secondary education without any substantial reform of contents in either sector.
Full report on the University World site

INDONESIA: Plans for ‘world’s largest library’
David Jardine
The University of Indonesia, the country's leading higher education institution, has announced spectacular plans to build “the largest library in Asia, possibly the world”, according to a spokesperson. Work is to begin on the library later this year.
Full report on the University World site

ISLAMIC STATES: Network to improve quality assurance
Wagdy Sawahel
The Islamic States has approved the creation of a network for quality assurance and accreditation of higher education institutions to promote creativity, innovation and research and development.
Full report on the University World site


EUROPE: More money key for Commission research efforts
Jan Petter Myklebust
An Expert Group’s assessment of the European Commission’s Sixth Research Framework Programme 2002-2006, or FP6, has concluded that its impacts were substantial but not sufficiently far-reaching – and that two to three times more funding will be needed if the EU is to achieve its ambition of establishing a European Research Area.
Full report on the University World News site

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

US: What recession? Valet service arrives
When the concept of starting a valet parking service came up at a recent Florida Atlantic University Board of Trustees meeting, it seemed less out of place than one would think, writes Ben Eisen for Inside Higher Ed. With the number of students growing, and the number of convenient parking spaces on campus unchanged, the idea to charge students and faculty for such a convenience did not seem unreasonable. Florida Atlantic is just talking about valet service. Other colleges have implemented it.
Full report on the University World News site

CHINA: Universities open doors to baseball players
Several universities in China have agreed to add baseball to their lists of sports that offer a passport to a tertiary education – a move that baseball insiders greeted as instantly increasing the country’s potential to produce stars in future, the China Baseball Association announced on PR Newswire.
Full report on the University World News site


SPAIN: Stem cells cure disease – but only in lab
Rebecca Warden
Spanish researchers have cured a disease using pseudo-embryonic stem cells for the first time. The team, led by scientists from Barcelona’s Centre for Regenerative Medicine, has corrected a genetic defect in cells belonging to three sufferers of Fanconi’s anaemia, a serious blood disease.
Full report on the University World site

US: Malaria resistance in baboons and humans
On the face of it, baboons and human do not seem to have a lot in common. They are hairy, have long snouts and big bottoms and most of us do not. But researchers at Duke University have found a surprising similarity at a genetic level – humans and baboons have separately evolved an identical means of resisting malaria.
Full report on the University World site

UK: Taste dialects identified
From Cornwall to Scotland, Britain's regional dialects are well known in the English-speaking world. Now researchers have found that Britons differ not only in the way they speak but also in the way they taste food.
Full report on the University World site


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IRAN: Security tightened amid university exams
With post-election unrest continuing in Iran, thousands of police officers have been tasked with maintaining public security as students prepare to take university entrance exams, reports Press TV. Tehran's deputy chief of police, Hossein Sajedi-Nia, said more than 10,000 security officials would be kept on duty to tighten security and keep a sharp lookout for civil unrest until the end of university exams.
More on the University World News site

US: Keeping connected with Iran
Iran’s universities have historically been sites of protest. Now is no exception – except the students are not alone – writes Elizabeth Redden for Inside Higher Ed. “Iranian students have always been politically active. It’s nothing new. What’s new is it has engulfed so many sectors of society,” said Ervand Abrahamian, a professor of history at Baruch College who has written extensively on modern Iran.
More on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: ‘Knowledge in the Blood’
For a long time, Jonathan Jansen lived between two worlds. As the first black dean of education at South Africa’s conservative and marginally integrated University of Pretoria, the scholar writes that he gravitated between two different cultures, embracing and disengaging from his black identity and white colleagues. Charged with the task of helping the university to integrate, Jansen worked with both students and faculty to overcome their fears and racist tendencies. Now a professor at the University of Witwatersrand, Jansen spoke to Inside Higher Ed about his new book, Knowledge in the Blood: Confronting race and the apartheid past, published by Stanford University Press.
More on the University World News site

SOUTH KOREA: 13% of Chinese students stay illegally
Thirteen percent of the estimated 60,444 Chinese students in Korea are in the country illegally, the Justice Ministry said last week. The Dong-a Ilbo reports that as of 30 April, Chinese students accounted for 77.7% of the estimated 77,743 foreign students in Korea from 130 countries. Mongolia was a distant second with 3,152 students, Vietnam third with 2,096, Japan fourth with 1,827, and the United States fifth with 1,101.
More on the University World News site

CHINA: Stricter enforcement of plagiarism rules needed
A Chinese academic who pioneered software to detect and prevent plagiarism in university papers is calling for stricter enforcement of regulations to curb plagiarism. “We need a law to counter plagiarism in academic papers,” Shen Yang, an associate professor in the Information Management School of Wuhan University, told Xinhua.
More on the University World News site

INDIA: Radical reform of higher education to start soon
In an ambitious blueprint for reform of the education sector, the high-powered Yashpal Committee has recommended scrapping a cluster of powerful bodies – the University Grants Commission, All India Council for Technical Education, National Council for Teacher Education and Distance Education Council – reports The Times of India. Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal said government would try to implement the Yashpal recommendations within 100 days, according to Indian Express.
More on the University World News site

INDIA: Universities must perform or perish
A sub-committee of the Planning Commission headed by Nasscom chief Som Mittal has drawn up accreditation guidelines for all 378 universities in the country, reports The Times of India. Also, new colleges will not be permitted to begin admissions if they do not obtain accreditation – and institutions that do not become accredited within a stipulated time will be closed.
More on the University World News site

MALAYSIA: Polytechnics might soon award degrees
Standards of polytechnics in Malaysia might be raised to enable them to offer degree courses to students, reports The Star. Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said he had requested a study be conducted on the issue as soon as possible.
More on the University World News site

ASIA: Universities collaborate on teacher education
Presidents and representatives of 40 universities in Asia, including many universities of education, have pledged to collaborate to improve teacher education and promote educational research and development, reports The Jakarta Post.
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US: Ebola infection blocked in cell-culture experiments
Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have discovered two biochemical pathways that the Ebola virus relies on to infect cells, reports ScienceDaily. Using substances that block the activation of those pathways, they have prevented Ebola infection in cell culture experiments – potentially providing a critical early step in developing the first successful therapy for the deadly virus.
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KENYA: Lack of degrees threaten ministerial jobs
At least five Kenyan government ministers will be affected if a new proposal requiring people in the Cabinet to be degree holders is effected, reports Lucas Barasa for The Zimbabwean.
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SOUTH AFRICA: New media initiative a national first
The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) became the first in South Africa to use podcasting as an educational tool when it launched a new media initiative this month, reports Caitlin Smythe for The Skills Portal.
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WALES: Higher education funding rise defended
Welsh Education Minister Jane Hutt has said £31m extra per year was being put into higher education in Wales after a report urged more investment, reports the BBC. The review, led by Bangor University Vice-chancellor Professor Merfyn Jones, warned that the economic success of Wales could be at risk without extra money.
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IRELAND: Free college places for unemployed
Thousands of unemployed workers hit by the economic downturn will be able to retrain on free college places from September, it was announced last week, reports The Independent. Education Minister Batt O’Keeffe said the 2,500 spaces on part-time undergraduate and postgraduate courses would be part of the government’s efforts to up-skill the labour force.
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