ISSN 1756-297XAFRICA: 0040 01 November 2009
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Academics and students in the US have greater protection of their intellectual property, Dr Renee Kaswan, founder of IPAdvocate, says in the wake of a court decision.

A commitment to tackling extreme poverty and hunger saw Kassel University's International Center for Development and Decent Work win a development award recently. See the story in our Feature section.

South Africa's journey from apartheid isolation to international inclusion was mirrored in its science community. Now that change has been captured in a new book, our correspondent reports.

University World News was the official media partner to the Unesco World Conference on higher education, held in Paris from 5-8 July.


AFRICA: News from across the continent

NIGERIA: Universities reopen after strike
Tunde Fatunde
Nigerian universities have reopened after three months of paralysing strikes by unions. Three staff unions signed a memorandum of understanding with the government and called off the industrial action after weeks of complex negotiations. A stumbling block, however, may be a lack of funds to implement the core areas agreed on by the parties because of the country’s economic crisis.
Full report on the University World News site

EGYPT: Swine flu drives private tuition boom
Ashraf Khaled
Commerce student Ihab Lutfi stands in a queue outside a shop in eastern Cairo, waiting to have a bundle of papers he is carrying photocopied. “These are notes compiled by my private teacher to help me study business administration,” said Lutfi, who admitted depending heavily on fee-paying private tuition as he has barely attended Ain Shams University since the spread of swine flu.
Full report on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Benchmark book on the state of science
Munyaradzi Makoni
South African science has come of age. It has moved from isolation during apartheid to a boom of international inclusiveness in today’s world. This route – steeped in social, political and global ethos – is captured in a new book, The State of Science in South Africa, published by the Academy of Science of South Africa, ASSAf.
Full report on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Vice-chancellor faces death threat
Karen MacGregor
The vice-chancellor who was slated by South Africa’s rulers for ‘pardoning’ four white students who filmed a racist video at the University of the Free State, last week reopened the issue for further discussion. Meanwhile, the official opposition laid a charge against a ruling party leader for saying the vice-chancellor should be “shot and killed because he is a racist”.
Full report on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Five-year engineering degree for Pretoria
Munyaradzi Makoni
The University of Pretoria will next year implement an augmented five-year engineering degree that includes compulsory life skills, in an effort to stop students switching from science and technology-related courses to other fields perceived to be simpler – or ultimately dropping out of the university.
Full report on the University World News site

KENYA: Students repay loans using cell phones
Dave Buchere
Students and graduates can now repay loans received from the Higher Education Loans Board using their cell phones. The phone option is among initiatives aimed at making repayment easier and enhancing student loan recovery.
Full report on the University World News site

ALGERIA: ICT innovation start-up initiative
Wagdy Sawahel
Algeria has launched a start-up initiative to help university graduates and hi-tech entrepreneurs transfer ideas into innovative information and communications technology-based enterprises in the hope of establishing a Silicon Valley-style zone and a “Google – made in Algeria”.
Full report on the University World News site


AFRICA: Scholars, locals collaborate on environment
Louise Tickle
“There needs to be a mental shift: people need to realise that they themselves are often the cause of environmental problems,” says Elsie Kariuki, 30, from Nairobi. An environmental studies graduate employed as project officer for Community-based Biodiversity Conservation Films, Kariuki is determined that training she is undertaking to create environmental film ‘shorts’ helps educate her fellow Kenyans to understand “that our natural resources are not infinite, that they must make a conscious effort towards their regeneration and sustainability”.
Full report on the University World News site


AFRICA: New AVU online education centres
The African Virtual University, in partnership with the African Development Bank, has launched a centre of online learning and distance education in Zambia, the first of 10 scheduled to open in universities throughout Africa in the next five months, reported the Agence de Presse Sénégalaise.
Full report on the University World News site

ALGERIA: New business schools to boost competitiveness
The government is planning to set up five new business schools to improve Algeria’s management skills, as part of its industrial strategy to increase competitiveness and raise public and private businesses to international standards, reported La Tribune of Algiers.
Full report on the University World News site

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

GLOBAL: US again leads world rankings
Geoff Maslen
American universities again dominate the latest Shanghai Jiao Tong rankings as they have for the past six years. Released last Friday, almost a week earlier than expected, the rankings place US universities in all but three of the top 20 spots with Harvard, Stanford and the University of California at Berkeley in first, second and third spot, and the universities of Cambridge, Oxford and Tokyo the only outsiders at fourth, 10th and 20th. The top 10 universities are unchanged this year from the rankings drawn up in 2008.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: 2009 global top business school ranking
Karen MacGregor
More than 300 deans from around the world voted Harvard the best in the 2009 Eduniversal global top 1,000 business school rankings, announced at the French company’s convention in Cape Town last week. London Business School earned the second highest vote and Copenhagen Business School came third. Next year Eduniversal will launch a global ranking of masters programmes.
Full report on the University World News site

IRAN: Misconduct prompts call for ethical standards
Wagdy Sawahel
As a result of plagiarism and academic misconduct scandals associated with the country’s newly appointed Science Minister, Iranian professors in US-based universities and research centres have called on their peers at home to uphold high ethical standards, including safeguarding the integrity of the academy, curriculum, scholarly contributions and publications.
Full report on the University World News site

RUSSIA: Arrest of historian sparks outcry
Nick Holdsworth
The arrest and seizure of research notes of a Russian historian investigating the wartime imprisonment of German troops and Russians of German descent has sparked outrage among academics and human rights activists. Figures from higher education internationally as well as within Russia have condemned what they see as part of a Kremlin-backed move to suppress discussion of the country’s darker historical episodes.
See also “Professors chafe at scholarly screening” in World Round-up
Full report on the University World News site

NEW ZEALAND: University attracts investors with bonds
John Gerritsen*
In a nation with a weak tradition of philanthropy to universities, the University of Canterbury has launched an innovative scheme to raise funds: a bond issue that gives investors the opportunity to donate to the university.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Academics, not universities, own their inventions
Geoff Maslen
A Federal Circuit Court judge has ruled that US universities cannot automatically claim ownership of a researcher’s federally funded invention. The judgement could protect academic inventors and students across America from being forced by universities to sign away the rights to their life’s work, according to Dr Renee Kaswan, inventor of the billion-dollar drug Restasis and founder of the non-profit organisation
Full report on the University World News site

FINLAND: Less pay but happy in their work
Ian R Dobson*
Even though Finnish academics are less well paid than their colleagues in some countries, two-thirds are satisfied with their academic life. This fact – and much more – arises from an international Changing Academic Profession survey of academics and their perceptions of their work. Finland is one of more than 20 countries participating in the survey and a seminar on the Finnish results, organised by the University of Tampere, has revealed the results.
Full report on the University World News site

DENMARK: Report angers universities
Jan Petter Myklebust
A report by the international consulting firm McKinsey on Denmark’s higher education system that was commissioned by the government earlier this year has attracted widespread criticism. Of particular concern was the report’s querying of the fact that the country’s universities spend 31% of their total resources on ‘administration’, thereby costing up to DKK8 billion (US$1.6 billion) a year.
Full report on the University World News site

UK: More studying engineering and physical sciences
More students have been accepted into science and engineering-related degree courses this autumn, Britain’s University and Colleges Admissions Service says. Science is also now the most popular subject at school according to a new poll of children aged five to 18.
Full report on the University World News site

UNESCO: Virtual campus for Iraq
Wagdy Sawahel
The Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research has launched a three-year Avicenna Virtual Campus project with Unesco to expand access and improve the nation’s higher education system.
Full report on the University World News site

FRANCE: Student job prospects
Jane Marshall
Universities are to carry out a vast survey to find out how their former students have fared finding employment. The aim is to give freshers an indication of which courses are most – and least – likely to lead to a job. Starting in December, about 100,000 graduates will be contacted by their alma maters in the inquiry ordered by the Ministry of Higher Education and Research.
Full report on the University World News site


GREECE: Government makes education a priority
Makki Marseilles
The new soc ialist leadership at the Greek Education Ministry has exhibited more purpose, energy and willingness to come to grips with education’s problems than the former conservative government showed in the last five and a half years – which bodes well for the future.
Full report on the University World News site

GERMANY: It isn’t just about being in work
Stephan Weidt*
The International Center for Development and Decent Work at Kassel University is one of five winners in the German competition EXCEED – Excellence for Development. Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger is the Millennium Development Goal the centre wishes to contribute to, as well as the more general millennium goal of developing a global partnership for development. For this purpose, Kassel is cooperating with institutions in India, Brazil, South Africa, Kenya, Pakistan and Mexico.
Full report on the University World News site


US: New report on learning outcomes assessment
A national study published last week reveals that most US universities and colleges gather information about what students learn during their studies – but mostly do not use and report the results in ways that could improve student accomplishment and inform the public about institutional performance. The report from the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment, NILOA, based on information from more than 1,500 degree institutions, found among other things that most institutions conduct learning outcomes assessment “on a shoestring” and one in five devote less than one person to the activity.
More on the University World News site

ARAB WORLD: Reforms key for knowledge society – Report
Arab societies need nurturing institutions and supportive policies to experience a significant boost in knowledge production and creation, according to The Arab Knowledge Report 2009. Launched on Thursday, it is the first publication of a partnership between the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation and the United Nations Development Programme. The report argues that political, institutional, cultural and intellectual reforms, as well as reform of the media and information technologies, are vital if Arab societies are to bridge the knowledge gap.
More on the University World News site


CHINA: Academic imprisoned for criticising government
Daniel Sawney and Jonathan Travis*
A former professor at Nanjing Normal University and leader of a campaign for competitive multiparty democracy has been sentenced to 10 years in prison by Chinese authorities for alleged ‘subversion of state power’, the Financial Times has reported. Guo Quan was sentenced on 16 October in Suqian, a city in the eastern province of Jiangsu, four months after the case was filed with the court in June.
More Academic Freedom reports on the University World News site


NEW ZEALAND: $1mllion in prizes for science
John Gerritsen*
Want to raise the status and public perception of science? Give away $1 million. That’s the formula being followed by the New Zealand government, which has just announced a new suite of science prizes in a bid to attract young people into science careers and raise the sector’s reputation.
Full report on the University World News site

EU-US: Research collaboration encouraged
The European Union hopes to strengthen links with the US and improve the research expertise of both continents with two new projects.
Full report on the University World News site

INDONESIA: $29 million nanotech initiative
Wagdy Sawahel
Indonesia will spend US$29 million to foster communication between industry and universities to encourage the use of nanotechnology and improve the nation’s industrial competitiveness.
Full report on the University World News site


From Maree Conway*
I refer to Professor Marcia Devlin’s article last week and would offer a few comments. One, nowhere in this article is there a reference to the majority of staff in institutions – the professional staff – and how their roles and functions may change over the next 20 years. By then, I hope, we will have ‘university staff’ as the accepted terminology so there will be no more nonsensical conversations about ‘academic’ and ‘general’ staff, and who runs universities.
Full letter on the University World News site

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

US: DNA swab for your job
Many colleges now require criminal background checks of all new employees. But the University of Akron – in what some experts believe is a first – is not only requiring a criminal background check, but is stating that new employees must be willing to submit a DNA sample, writes Scott Jaschik for Inside Higher Ed.
More on the University World News site

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RUSSIA: Professors chafe at scholarly screening
Word spread this month among faculty members of St Petersburg State University: according to a document signed on 1 October, they have to submit their work to administrators for permission before publishing it abroad or presenting it at overseas conferences, writes Ellen Barry for The New York Times.
More on the University World News site

ISRAEL: Student planner ad warns ‘anti-Israeli’ dons
Haifa University’s students union is distributing a daily planner containing an ad branding left-wing lecturers in universities as “anti-Israeli” and a “fifth column”, writes Or Kashti for Haaretz. The full-page ad, titled “Warning! Academic fifth column! Meet the anti-Israeli lecturers in Israel”, was posted by the IsraCampus organization and refers readers to its website, which monitors allegedly left-wing lecturers.
More on the University World News site

ISRAEL: Gaza students stuck in Strip
With the 2009-10 academic year underway, 838 Palestinian university students were still waiting for the authorisation that would enable them to leave the Gaza Strip to study overseas, reports Yaheli Moran Zelikovich for Ynet News. The Legal Centre for Freedom of Movement said on 21 October that the students had not been able to leave the Strip because of the Israeli blockade on Gaza.
More on the University World News site

INDIA: Sibal visits US to woo leading universities
After Europe, India’s Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal is reaching out to the United States to develop partnerships with universities of global repute, reports The Economic Times. In a first-of-its-kind effort, Sibal is in the US meeting members of the Obama administration, university officials and industry representatives, to build education partnerships. He will also firm up the contours of the proposed India-US Education Council.
More on the University World News site

CHINA: Students shop for university courses abroad
More than 20,000 visitors packed the Shanghai East Asia Exhibition Hall last weekend during an annual education fair by overseas universities, writes Liang Yiwen for Shanghai Daily. More than 300 institutes from 14 countries displayed booths at the China Education Expo 2009.
More on the University World News site

CHINA: Ministry supports formation of an ‘Ivy League’
China’s Ministry of Education last Monday voiced its support for the formation of C9, an academic conference comprising nine prestigious domestic universities and referred to as China’s Ivy League by some experts, reports the official agency Xinhau.
More on the University World News site

AFGANISTAN: Students lead protest over ‘burnt’ Koran
There were protests last weekend in the Afghan capital, Kabul, over allegations that foreign troops in the country burnt a copy of the Koran, writes Andrew North for BBC News. Hundreds of Kabul University students led the protest, burning an effigy of US President Barack Obama.
More on the University World News site

US: Seeking tenure ‘conversion’
In discussions about the use and abuse of adjunct academics, ‘conversion’ is a controversial topic, writes Scott Jaschik for Inside Higher Ed. Typically it refers to a decision by an institution to convert a number of adjunct positions into a (usually smaller) number of tenure-track positions. The idea of conversion has been key to reform proposals of national faculty groups. Some colleges have bucked the trends and converted slots to the tenure track in various ways. Last week the American Association of University Professors entered the conversion debate in a significant way with a new draft policy on the treatment of adjunct faculty members.
More on the University World News site

UK: Universities told to make fees deal with banks
Universities have been urged to strike a deal with banks to stop another rise in tuition fees for all students, writes Jessica Shepherd for The Guardian. Some university leaders want tuition fees to rise from the current cap of £3,225 (US$5,350) a year in England to more than £7,000. But the government may not be able to afford this because it subsidises loans that allow students to pay fees upfront and then repay the loan after graduation.
More on the University World News site

SOUTH KOREA: Cloning scientist guilty of embezzlement
Disgraced South Korean cloning scientist Hwang Woo-suk was found guilty last Monday of embezzling from his stem cell research fund and illegally buying human embryos, reports Ju-min Park for the Los Angeles Times. The Seoul court also ruled that Hwang, 56, who became a national hero after he claimed to be the first to successfully clone human stem cells, had partially fabricated the results of his research.
More on the University World News site

US: University of California to up fees, increase aid
As the University of California seeks to sharply increase student fees, its president Mark G Yudof has announced plans to soften the impact with an ambitious campaign to raise $1 billion for financial aid and a policy change widening aid eligibility for more middle-income families, reports Larry Gordon for the Los Angeles Times.
More on the University World News site

US: Six at Harvard poisoned by tainted coffee
Six medical researchers at Harvard University were poisoned in August after drinking coffee tainted with a chemical preservative, university officials say, reports The Associated Press. In an internal memorandum, the university said the coffee came from a machine near the researchers’ laboratory that later tested positive for sodium azide, a common preservative used in laboratories.
More on the University World News site
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