ISSN 1756-297XAFRICA: 0047 14 February 2010
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More than 3 million foreign students are studying overseas but Britain and Australia have tightened restrictions on who can stay on. See our news story.
Police confront South African students protesting over fees hikes and lousy accommodation. See our news story. Photo: Thuli Dlamini - the Sowetan.
Iceberg and ice-shelf but no sea ice in Baffin Bay. See our Science Scene story. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Dan Rea)

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


Unesco report on education under attack


AFRICA: News from across the continent

ZIMBABWE: Brain drain bites, academics strike
Science departments in Zimbabwe’s universities have been hardest hit by a brain drain that has been blamed mostly on poor salaries. Last week low pay prompted lectures at all state-run higher education institutions go on strike as part of wider civil service industrial action.
Full report on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Cost woes spark student protests
Munyaradzi Makoni
Two things never disappear from the grievance lists of South African students – fees and accommodation. No sooner had the 2010 academic year begun than students at some universities clashed with administrations and the police over fee hikes and lousy residences. Students renewed their call for free higher education while universities reported that student debt now tops R2.8 billion (US$363 million).
Full report on the University World News site

ZAMBIA: Top university rocked by protests
The University of Zambia was rocked by violent protests last week over the government’s failure to pay student allowances. Riot police were called in as students’ barricaded roads and stoned vehicles, and had to seal the institution to restore order. The country’s oldest university has been disrupted by unrest every year for the past decade.
Full report on the University World News site

MALAWI: Controversial quota system partly applied
The government of Malawi has bowed to pressure against its controversial quota system by allowing partial implementation of it. The University of Malawi said last week that resident students had been selected using district quotas but non-resident students had been admitted purely on merit – and that it had achieved gender parity among students.
Full report on the University World News site

NAMIBIA: Government snubs new degree courses
Moses Magadza
The academic futures of 73 students who registered for two newly-introduced degree programmes at the Polytechnic of Namibia last year are uncertain after the government refused to recognise the degrees or provide the students with loans. New applications for the same courses this year have also been thrown into confusion amidst conflicting reports from the polytechnic and the Ministry of Education.
Full report on the University World News site

EGYPT: New schools at oldest private university
Ashraf Khaled
This month has been action-packed for the American University in Cairo, Egypt’s oldest independent higher education institution founded 90 years ago. At high profile ceremonies attended by Egyptian and foreign dignitaries, the university launched three new schools – of global affairs and public policy, business, and graduate education.
Full report on the University World News site

EU-EGYPT: €20 million fund for research and innovation
Wagdy Sawahel
The European Union will offer €20 million (US$27.3 million) to Egypt to promote research and innovation initiatives as well as establish technology-based industries. This was announced by the Ambassador of the European Delegation in Egypt Marc Franco at the first Euro-Mediterranean Innovation Marketplace held in Heliopolis, Egypt, from 26-28 January.
Full report on the University World News site

NIGERIA: Call for trade unions in private universities
Tunde Fatunde
Private universities began to be established in Nigeria about a decade ago. They have refused to permit trade unionism among students and staff, allowing only loose associations with very strict guidelines. But there is a growing call for unions to be able to operate in private higher education, to promote democratic governance. Opponents are preparing to resist such a move.
Full report on the University World News site


SOUTHERN AFRICA: Regional integration and higher education
Sharon Dell
In a recent report, the Southern African Regional Universities’ Association, Sarua, has started on the complex subject of regional integration and what it means for higher education. The Challenges of Regional Integration and its Implications for Higher Education aims to “set the background for engagement” around regional integration rather than provide definitive answers or proposals.
Full report on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Universities cash in on soccer World Cup
Cornia Pretorius, Primarashni Gower and Munyaradzi Makoni*
Universities are set to cash in on the 2010 Fifa World Cup with some institutions expected to earn up to R20 million (US$2.6 million), primarily from renting accommodation to some of the participating teams, their fans and media contingents following the competition. Universities have ploughed substantial investments into student residences and sporting facilities to take advantage of the huge event, and ultimately students will benefit.
Full report on the University World News site

AFRICA: Scientists scoop African Union awards
Munyaradzi Makoni
Professor Diane Hildebrandt was one of two South African winners of the inaugural African Union Scientific Awards for basic science, technology and innovation, announced during an African Union summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa recently. Hildebrandt said she represented “scientists and engineers in Africa – men and women – who are doing research in often very difficult conditions and always with too few resources”.
Full report on the University World News site


CAMEROON: Student housing and security problems
Students in Douala are facing increasing housing problems as landlords prefer to rent to more lucrative tenants, as well as burglaries when they do find student accommodation, according to newspapers.
Full report on the University World News site

ARAB STATES: Grants to encourage women’s studies
The Arab Women Organization has announced five research grants for young researchers in women’s studies, and a prize for higher academic and scientific research into questions related to women. Candidates must be nationals of one of the organisation’s member states.
Full report on the University World News site



NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

GLOBAL: Education under increasing attack
Around the world, schools and universities have faced brutal military and political attacks in an increasing number of countries over the past three years, according to a new report published by Unesco. The report, Education under Attack 2010, was written by University World News correspondent Brendan O’Malley and he says the sheer volume of incidents demonstrates that attacks on education are “by no means limited to supporters of the Taliban fighting in the hills of Afghanistan”. Education and those involved have been subject to attacks in at least 31 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe.
Full report on the University World News site
See O’Malley’s commentary in the Features section

UK: Crackdown on student visas
Diane Spencer
The Home Office has introduced stringent new rules for overseas students seeking to study in the UK. Alan Johnson, Labour’s Home Secretary, announced last Sunday that applicants would have to speak passable English and those on short courses would not be allowed to bring in dependants. Those on non-degree courses would be allowed to work 10 hours a week instead of 20. Visas for non-degree courses would be granted to institutions that are on a new register, The Highly Trusted Sponsors List.
Full report on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: 20,000 applications cancelled
Geoff Maslen
At least 20,000 applications by foreign students for permanent residence have been cancelled because of their poor English and qualifications considered no longer in demand. In the biggest shake-up of what had become an education-migration industry, Immigration Minister Senator Chris Evans announced an overhaul of Australia’s independent skilled migration system to break the link between students studying a trade in short supply and remaining in the country.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Tighter visa restrictions but students still enrol
Sarah King Head
In spite of tightened security and controls governing the issuing of student visas, no significant change has occurred in the percentage of foreign students enrolled at US colleges and universities since the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. Indeed, the proportion – as a percentage of total US higher education enrolment figures – remained steady at around 3.5% between 2002 and 2009, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Full report on the University World News site

DENMARK: Sackings create confusion and anger
Jan Petter Myklebust
More than 80 scientific staff in the departments of geology and biology at Copenhagen University were sacked last month with immediate notice. Altogether 110 staff will lose their jobs and another 30 who accept early retirement will not be replaced.
Full report on the University World News site

THE NETHERLANDS: Students protest against grant cuts
Jan Petter Myklebust
Education Minister Ronald Plasterk has proposed substituting the monthly student grant of €266 (US$367) with a loan system. More than 1,000 students protested at the move, occupying lecture halls and university buildings in Amsterdam, Nijmegen, Utrecht and Rotterdam.
Full report on the University World News site

NZ: Government promises education reforms
John Gerritsen
Universities look set to benefit but students could face a tougher financial support regime after the government announced that education would be one of its priorities for reform this year.
Full report on the University World News site

CANADA: Troubled First Nations’ funding halved
Philip Fine
After five years of being mired in financial scandals and dragging its feet on commitments to solve its governance problems, the small but symbolically important First Nations University of Canada has lost the confidence of the federal and provincial governments.
Full report on the University World News site

FINLAND: When the going gets tough….
Ian R Dobson*
One rarely hears talk about redundancies in the Finnish university sector but the University of Oulu in the country’s north-west is thinking along those lines. It finds itself in a financial bind largely because of cutbacks in government funding to the tune of nearly €9 million a year (about US$12,4 million). The university aims to get its budget back into the black by 2012.
Full report on the University World News site

EUROPE: ERC supports the EU 2020 strategy
Jan Petter Myklebust
The scientific council of the European Research Council has put a submission to the European Commission’s 2020 strategic planning regarding the framework 8 research programme 2014-2020. The document is well-argued and simply-presented, recommending spec ialisation and concentration of research between the commission and member states.
Full report on the University World News site

EUROPE: EUA examines university quality culture
The European University Association has launched a new project to examine the internal ‘quality culture’ within universities across Europe, and how this has developed within the framework of the Bologna process.
Full report on the University World News site


VENEZUELA: Police break up anti-Chavez protest
Daniel Sawney and Jonathan Travis*
On Thursday 4 February, police used tear gas, plastic bullets and water cannons to disperse hundreds of university protesters. Students started marching after the government pressured cable and satellite TV providers to drop an opposition channel. Demonstrations have appeared in cities across the country, accusing President Chavez of forcing Radio Caracas Television International off the airwaves to silence his critics.
More Academic Freedom reports on the University World News site


GLOBAL: More academics and students suffer attacks
Brendan O’Malley
Unesco’s new global study, Education under Attack 2010, reports that in a hard core of countries, academics and students are suffering serious human rights violations, ranging from assassination, to torture and death threats, mainly at the hands of government or government-backed forces. The study was launched in New York last week and presented to US policy makers in Washington. A new alliance of education, human rights and child protection agencies, held in New York at the offices of Human Rights Watch, sought a common agenda of co-operation to prevent attacks on education and ensure that perpetrators are punished.
Full report on the University World News site
* See also a case study from the Unesco report of a Zimbabwean academic who escaped death threats from the Mugabe regime.

EUROPE: Leading the world in innovation
Mark Dodgson*
European research and innovation policy has always promoted collaboration between and within university and business sectors but recent developments point to improved outcomes. This is indicated by the recent announcement of three Knowledge and Innovation Communities or KICs – in climate change, sustainable energy and the information society – with the espoused objective to become world leaders in their fields.
Full report on the University World News site


US: Higher education’s new global order
John Aubrey Douglass
Governments are having an epiphany. They are increasingly recognising that their social and economic futures depend heavily on the educational attainment of their population, and as a corollary, on the size and quality of their higher education institutions and systems. Within this relatively new policy and economic environment, the command economy approaches to creating and regulating mass higher education that once dominated most parts of the world are withering. What is emerging is what I call ‘Structured Opportunity Markets’ (SOM) in higher education – essentially, a convergence, in some form, in the effort of nation-states to create a more lightly regulated and more flexible network of public higher education institutions, including diversified and mission-differentiated providers, new finance structures, and expanding enrolment and programme capacity.
More on the University World News site
Paper from the Center for Studies in Higher Education, Berkeley

GLOBAL: The Rise of Asia’s Universities
Richard C Levin*
At the beginning of the 21st century, the East is rising. The rapid economic development of Asia since the Second World War has altered the balance of power in the global economy and hence in geopolitics. The rising nations of the East all recognise the importance of an educated workforce as a means to economic growth and understand the impact of research in driving innovation and competitiveness. In the 1960s, 70s and 80s the higher education agenda in Asia’s early developers – Japan, South Korea and Taiwan – was first and foremost to increase the fraction of their populations provided with postsecondary education. Their initial focus was on expanding the number of institutions and their enrolments, and impressive results were achieved. Today, the later and much larger developing nations of Asia – China and India – have an even more ambitious agenda.
More on the University World News site
Yale President’s lecture to The Royal Society, UK

GLOBAL: Plagiarism dilemmas in university management
Wendy Sutherland-Smith*
Universities face constant scrutiny about their plagiarism management strategies, policies and procedures. A resounding theme, usually media inspired, is that plagiarism is rife, unstoppable and university processes are ineffectual in its wake. This has been referred to as a ‘moral panic’ approach and suggests plagiarism will thwart all efforts to reclaim academic integrity in higher education. However, revisiting the origins of plagiarism and exploring its legal evolution reveals that legal discourse is the foundation for many plagiarism management policies and processes around the world. Interestingly, criminal justice aims are also reflected in university plagiarism management strategies.
More on the University World News site
Paper in the Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management


UK-NETHERLANDS: The long and short of ageing
British and Dutch scientists have identified the genetic variation that makes some people age faster than others and could also make them more susceptible to age-related diseases. The variation is related to telomeres – parts of the chromosome that shorten as cells divide and age and are considered a marker of ageing. In some people, the telomeres are shorter and they therefore appear to be older biologically than they are chronologically.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Little warning for climate tipping points
As scientists around the world monitor the effects of climate change, many are on the look out for early signs of changes that might worsen the problem even further. But new research indicates it will be difficult to spot such ecological tipping points before they happen. In fact, in some cases dramatic changes to natural systems are likely to happen with little to no warning at all.
Full report on the University World News site

DENMARK: Ancient human genome rebuilt
Scientists have reconstructed the nuclear genome of a man who died in Greenland 4,000 years ago – the first time an ancient genome has been reconstructed in detail – revealing traits including a tendency to baldness, his eye and skin colour and his blood type.
Full report on the University World News site


From Michel Rose,
Paris-based journalist

Thanks for your story in the excellent University World News newsletter, which I read every Sunday. I wanted to let you know my utter confusion as to this new ‘4ICU’ ranking which seems even more biased and useless than other rankings. My observations concern the position of French institutions in this ranking system.
Read the full letter on the University World News site

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

AUSTRALIA: Boomerang kids return home
Moving back home with mum and dad is not necessarily a negative step for the ‘boomerang generation’, a study by Deakin University researchers in Melbourne has found. Rather than being considered a step backwards, the young adults who took part in the study saw such a move as one small, mostly positive, step sideways on life’s long journey.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Barack Obama, Professor in Chief
Barack Obama has been called a lot of things since he hit the national stage: celebrity, elitist and even one who ‘pals around with terrorists’, writes Jack Stripling for Inside Higher Ed. But as his poll numbers come back down to earth, and an emboldened conservative movement sharpens its attacks, the label that seems to be sticking to Obama as much as any lately is that of ‘professor’.
More on the University World News site

NEW ZEALAND: 600 Otago University students disciplined
More than 600 University of Otago students were disciplined last year for criminal or disorderly behaviour and dishonesty, writes Allison Rudd for the Otago Daily News. Their offending included electronically altering exam results, falsifying documents, plagiarism, stealing other students’ work or possessions, setting couches on fire, assault, trespass, wilful damage and offensive behaviour, discipline reports released by the university showed.
More on the University World News site


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UK: Thousands to lose university jobs as cuts bite
Universities across Britain are preparing to axe thousands of teaching jobs, close campuses and ditch courses to cope with government funding cuts, write Jessica Shepherd and Owen Bowcott for The Guardian. Other plans include using postgraduates rather than professors for teaching and the delay of major building projects. The proposals have already provoked ballots for industrial action at a number of universities in the past week raising fears of strike action that could severely disrupt lectures and examinations.
More on the University World News site

IRAN: Profs write letter slamming expulsions, threats
A group of professors at Tarbiat Modares University, which spec ialises in training university staff and researchers, wrote an open letter to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warning him that the continuation of fear tactics in universities will have “destructive effects”, reports Radio Zamaneh. On Wednesday, Kalameh website published the letter signed by 116 professors expressing grave concern over arrests and expulsion of students and sackings of academics.
More on the University World News site

IRAN: Court cuts jail term for US-Iranian scholar
An Iranian appeal court has reduced to five years the jail sentence for an Iranian-American scholar detained after last year’s disputed election and accused of espionage, an Iranian news agency reported on Wednesday, according to Reuters. In October, official media said Kian Tajbakhsh was sentenced to more than 12 years in jail.
More on the University World News site

NETHERLANDS: Court rebukes policy on Iranian scientists
A court in The Hague dealt a blow to the Dutch government’s controversial attempts to keep sensitive nuclear technology out of the hands of Iran, writes Martin Enserink for Science Insider. Its policy to ban Iranian-born students and scientists from certain masters degrees and from nuclear research facilities in The Netherlands is overly broad and a violation of an international civil rights treaty, the court ruled earlier this month.
More on the University World News site

UK: Iranian tensions shake Durham’s ivory towers
It’s a long way from Iran to north-east England, but anger about the crushing of opposition protests by the Islamic regime has generated a furious row at Durham University, where one academic has condemned the British government for turning “the slaughter of innocent teenagers in Iraq and Afghanistan into an art form”, writes Ian Black for The Guardian.
More on the University World News site

UK: University applications reach record levels
More than 200,000 would-be students are likely to be left without a place at a UK university this year as undergraduate applications reach record levels for the fourth year running, write Anna Bawden and Warwick Mansell for The Guardian. Applications are almost a fifth up on last year, according to the latest figures from the university admissions service, Ucas.
More on the University World News site

MALAYSIA: New bill to regulate higher education sector
A bill to empower the Higher Education Ministry to govern the institutions of higher learning is being promulgated, said Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin, reports the official news agency Bernama. He said although there were provisions under six acts to regulate the management of higher education sector, they were piecemeal in nature and not comprehensive.
More on the University World News site

TAIWAN: Exchanges with US universities encouraged
Taiwan will encourage local universities to seek out and expand exchanges with their US counterparts in the hope of giving Taiwan a voice in public policy debates in the United States, Minister of Education Wu Ching-ji said, Lin Szu-yu and Elizabeth Hsu report for the Central News Agency.
More on the University World News site

US: Call for better treatment of non-tenured academics
A coalition of academic associations last week issued a joint statement calling on colleges to recognise that they have ‘one faculty’ and to treat those off the tenure track as professionals, with pay, benefits, professional development and participation in governance, writes Scott Jaschik for Inside Higher Ed.
More on the University World News site

US: Outspoken hurricane expert sues over dismissal
Last April Ivor van Heerden, an internationally known hurricane expert, was told he was losing his job at Louisiana State University, writes John Schwartz for The New York Times. He and other experts said it was because of his outspoken criticism of the federal government’s flood protection of New Orleans; the university would not comment. Now Van Heerden, the former deputy director of the university’s Hurricane Center, is suing the university to get his job back.
More on the University World News site

US: Private colleges looking to rein in financial aid
In the last year, America’s private colleges have laid off staff, shelved construction projects, slashed sports teams and turned down thermostats to cut costs. But student financial aid has kept flowing, writes Eric Gorski for Associated Press. Now the weak economy is forcing some institutions to limit their generosity after many of them doubled or even tripled financial aid over the last decade to attract more applicants and reduce student debt.
More on the University World News site

US: 11 students held for disrupting Israeli’s speech
Soon after Israeli ambassador to the US Michael Oren began his speech last Monday night at the University of California, Irvine, the first student rose, writes Raja Abdulrahim for the Los Angeles Times. “Michael Oren, propagating murder is not an expression of free speech,” the student in a gray hoodie yelled. The remainder of his words were drowned out by an uproar of cheering and clapping from students before he was led away by university police. It was the first of 10 interruptions throughout the speech, and by the end of the night, 11 students had been arrested and cited for disturbing a public event.
More on the University World News site

US: University of California’s Commission on the Future
With California’s public university system shackled to a shrinking budget, a group of chancellors, students and others considers ideas – from banal to radical – to keep quality up and costs down, writes Larry Gordon for the Los Angeles Times.
More on the University World News site

PAKISTAN: Expanding ties with China key – Zardari
Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari said last week that he wants to take the Pak-China bilateral trade and commercial ties to new heights, Dawn reports. Talking to a Chinese delegation led by the Vice-Governor of Sichuan Province, Zardari reiterated that strengthening and expanding cooperation with China in all fields was one of the key objectives of Pakistan’s foreign policy.
More on the University World News site
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