ISSN 1756-297XAFRICA: 0052 25 April 2010
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Ejyafjallajokull and the plume that has cut off Western Europe. See our news article whether the disruption was necessary, our Science Scene story on Academics and Volcanoes, and a Uni-Lateral tale of frustration. Photo: Henrik Thorburn
Fang Shimin, the biochemist whose New Threads site highlights plagiarism and fraud in China's universities. See our news story.
While overseas universities whether to open branch campuses in giant India, London's Middles ex University has opened a branch-campus in tiny Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. Read our feature article.

University World News was the official media partner to the Unesco World Conference on higher education, held in Paris from 5-8 July 2009.


SOUTH AFRICA: Higher education summit

South Africa held its first higher education stakeholder summit in more than a decade last week, focusing on the transformation of universities. Government officials, university leaders and experts, academics and representatives of students, support staff and the private sector converged on Cape Peninsula University of Technology for two intensive days of debate to take stock of the sector 16 years after democracy and to chart an agenda for the future.

Despite fears that it would deteriorate into a clash of stakeholders, perhaps particularly between perpetually-protesting students and weary university managers, the summit was a success. All agreed that higher education had notched up significant achievements and the best in the system must be preserved, but also that much more transformation was needed – especially to tackle lingering racism and resource inequalities between universities.

University World News covered the conference. See our news stories below. Next week we will feature an in-depth article on the differentiation debate.

Higher education summit endorses stakeholder forum
Karen MacGregor
South Africa’s higher education summit agreed on Friday to create a stakeholder forum to improve communication in the sector. It vowed to seek redress funding for disadvantaged universities, revitalise the academic profession, improve working conditions and student-centredness, strengthen postgraduate studies and research, and take forward an institutional differentiation framework developed at the meeting.
Full report on the University World News site

Higher education still inaccessible
Munyaradzi Makoni
Sixteen years after attaining political democracy, South African higher education was still inaccessible to most potential learners because of a combination of hurdles, South African Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said as he opened the Stakeholder Summit on Higher Education Transformation in Cape Town on Thursday.
Full report on the University World News site

The ‘Soudien Report’: Deny racism at your peril
Alison Moodie
High on the agenda of last week’s Stakeholder Summit on Higher Education Transformation was the ‘Soudien Report’, a damning government-commissioned probe that brought to light discrimination – especially racism and s exism – still endemic at South African universities.
Full report on the University World News site

Higher education is a shambles, say academics
Alison Moodie
South Africa’s higher education system is in a shambles, according to leading academics who met last week to discuss transformation in the sector. An aging profession, pitiful salaries and discrimination across the board were just some of the grievances aired during a commission for academics at the two-day Stakeholder Summit on Higher Education Transformation.
Full report on the University World News site

South African students speak out at summit
Munyaradzi Makoni
Few people came more prepared for the higher education stakeholder summit than Sandile Phakathi, president of the South African Union of Students. He said there was no excuse for students who intimidated people or destroyed property during the frequent protests that pepper the academic year, but stressed that change cannot take place without students.
Full report on the University World News site

Transformation is "not for sissies"
Munyaradzi Makoni
“Transformation is not for sissies”, Professor Michael Burawoy, a sociologist at the University of California Berkeley and Vice-president of the World Sociological Association, told the Stakeholder Summit on Higher Education Transformation held in Cape Town last week. “This is tough stuff.”
Full report on the University World News site

AFRICA: News from across the continent

ZIMBABWE: Academics dominate new human rights body
From a special correspondent
Zimbabwe has sworn in its first human rights commission, led by and comprised mainly of academics – at a time when academic freedoms are being violated and students have protested against a visit to the country by hard-line Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Full report on the University World News site

MAURITANIA: Students clash over language policy
Tunde Fatunde
Violence broke out on the University of Nouakchott campus, in the Mauritanian capital, among students divided over the use of Arabic and French as the country’s common languages. University authorities called security agents to subdue the violence, which left several students seriously wounded.
Full report on the University World News site

SENEGAL: Professional university to open in 2012
Minister for Technical Education and Professional Training Moussa Sakho has launched a project to create a new university in the Saint-Louis region. The Université des Métiers et du Développement Durable (University of Professions and Sustainable Development), due to open in 2012, is a joint public-private venture.
Full report on the University World News site




MADAGASCAR: Impecunious students protest
Students at the University Nord d’Antsiranana took to the streets to protest against non- payment of a 10% increase in grants and other benefits promised by the Minister for Higher Education three weeks before, reported l’Express de Madagascar of Antananarivo.
Full report on the University World News site

DR CONGO: Striking lecturers return to work
Lecturers at Unikin, the University of Kinshasa, have returned to work after a strike lasting nearly two months, following an agreement between the government and Apukin, the union representing the university’s teaching staff, reported Le Potentiel of Kinshasa.
Full report on the University World News site

ALGERIA: Researcher urges revival of Arabic
Algeria’s access to the knowledge society depended on developing the Arabic language so it could compete with other languages, according to university researcher Ammar Bouhouche, reported La Tribune of Algiers.
Full report on the University World News site

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

GREECE: Was the volcano disruption really necessary?
Makki Marseilles
A small amount of money spent on research and development might have prevented the huge economic consequences and social chaos caused by the eruption of the Icelandic volcano, Greek geologists say.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Boost graduate ratio to 60%
Geoff Maslen
A private US foundation has proposed increasing the proportion of Americans with “high-quality degrees and credentials” to 60% of the population within 15 years. President and CEO of the Indianopolis-based Lumina Foundation, Jamie Merisotis, told a conference in Miami the goal was to boost the proportion of higher-education qualified Americans from the current 40% to 60% by 2025.
Full report on the University World News site

CHINA: Universities fail to tackle plagiarism
Yojana Sharma
China’s universities are failing to crack down on plagiarism despite an unprecedented education ministry circular sent to them a year ago making them responsible for investigating and dealing with rampant cheating. Of more than 900 cases of academic corruption highlighted in recent years, only 20 have resulted in punishment by universities.
Full report on the University World News site

IRAN: Purge of independent-minded professors
The Iranian government continues to dismiss prominent university professors on political grounds, the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said in a statement last week. The human rights organisation called on the international university community to stand in solidarity with Iranian professors and scholars who it said were being ruthlessly separated from their students, their colleagues and their institutions on the basis of their peaceful political views.
Full report on the University World News site

INDONESIA: Supreme Court annuls university autonomy law
David Jardine
A controversial university autonomy law sponsored by the Ministry of National Education has been annulled by Indonesia’s Supreme Court. Opponents of the legislation claimed it gave unfair assistance to the offspring of wealthy families.
Full report on the University World News site

THE NETHERLANDS: Call for significant reforms
Jan Petter Myklebust
Dutch higher education institutions need to diversify more and promote more ways for students to switch between vocational and academic courses, according to a major report on the future of higher education.
Full report on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: UA and IAU collaborate
The vice-chancellors’ organisation, Universities Australia, has signed an agreement with the Association of Indian Universities affirming the commitment of Australian universities to ongoing partnership and collaboration with Indian universities through the AIU.
Full report on the University World News site


UK: International branch campuses
From The UK Higher Education International Unit*
In October 2009, The Hindu newspaper reported that “nearly 50 foreign universities” were in a queue to open campuses in India, pending passage of the Foreign Education Providers Bill. This enthusiasm peaked at the time of Minister Sibal’s visit to the US that same month but it was based on a misunderstanding of the intentions of the great majority of foreign universities and was bound to be deflated.
Full report on the University World News site

FINLAND: Students: Too old and too slow?
Ian R Dobson
Finland is repeatedly praised for topping secondary education league tables but a recent OECD report criticised aspects of its universities. The report said higher education students were “insulated from labour market signals by not having to repay the cost of their tuition”, and suggested introducing tuition fees would reduce the time students take to complete their degrees.
Full report on the University World News site


CANADA: University networks and the Global South
After World War II, international networks of nation-states such as the United Nations and other Bretton Woods organisations and later the OECD, EC, ASEAN and others exploded onto the world stage. Given these precedents, formal networks of universities should have followed. With a few exceptions, however, their rapid rise did not occur until the 1990s, after the end of the Cold War. Indeed, ‘networking’ was one of the key words in higher education for the 1990s, writes Qiang Zha in the Academic Matters blog, The Global University.
Full report on the University World News site


US: Haiti trip provokes academic freedom argument
Jonathan Travis*
An unauthorised trip by two students to Haiti in the wake of the recent earthquake has sparked an academic freedom row in the US, Times Higher Education reports. Jon Bougher and Roman Safiullin, students in the Documentary Institute at the University of Florida, returned to Haiti after a university ban to complete a thesis documentary about aid workers. They paid for the trip themselves and worked without any input from the university.
More academic freedom reports on the University World News site


ICELAND: Volcano puts academics to the fore
The eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano this month provided an active subject for many of the world’s volcanologists. As ash from the volcano grounded planes across much of Europe, scientists were studying the eruption and fielding news media inquiries about it.
Full report on the University World News site

US: AAAS supports ‘right to benefits of science’
The world’s largest scientific society has thrown its weight behind efforts to figure out just what is meant by the human right to the benefits of science.
Full report on the University World News site

EU: Seeking bacterial solution to oil spills
Universities in the UK, Germany and Denmark are part of a team that has won EU funding to research a novel way of cleaning up oil spills. The scientists will investigate the use of bacteria to break down a group of toxic hydrocarbons particularly common in heavy oil and crude oil.
Full report on the University World News site

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

GLOBAL: Volcano leaves academics stranded
Among the hundreds of thousands of travellers stranded after the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano, Freysteinn Sigmundsson can claim to be more frustrated than most. Sigmundsson, who was stuck in Paris, is an Icelandic vulcanologist who has been studying Eyjafjallajokull’s fiery belches and magma movements for nearly two decades.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Medical professor moved by art exhibit of cadavers
Surrounded by red-wine-sipping artists and art students on a recent evening Ashraf Aziz, who has spent half his life cutting open cadavers and initiating medical students at Howard University, has tears in his eyes. An exhibit, “Anatomical Art: Dissection to illustration”, is just one outcome of an unusual year-old collaboration between Howard’s College of Medicine and the Art Institute of Washington, writes David Montgomery in the Washington Post.
Full report on the University World News site


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TAIWAN: Lawmakers clash over students from China
A legislative committee meeting descended into a fight last week as Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers clashed over two proposed bills that would recognise Chinese diplomas and allow Chinese students to study in Taiwan, Flora Wang and Vincent Y Chao report for the Taipei Times.
More on the University World News site

PAKISTAN: University of the Punjab faces Taliban tactics
A student group Islami Jamiat Talaba that has been terrorising the University of the Punjab, Pakistan’s premier institution of higher learning with about 30,000 students, has help from a surprising source – national political leaders. They have given it free rein, because they sometimes make political alliances with its parent organisation Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan’s oldest and most powerful religious party, writes Sabrina Tavernise in The New York Times.
More on the University World News site

DUBAI: Foreign universities to be scrutinised
Dubai, with the highest number of international branch campuses in the Middle East, has set up a quality review process, writes Afshan Ahmed in the Khaleej Times. Universities hope the process adopted in the emirate will raise student confidence in branch campuses, with the education authority’s University Quality Assurance International Board aiming to remove the rotten eggs from the basket of higher education institutions.
More on the University World News site

CANADA: Alumni acquires un-naming rights to biz school
Facing the prospect of a corporate title on the doorway, graduates of the University of Alberta School of Business started a campaign that raised more than C$20 million (US$19.9 million) to keep the name just as it is, writes, Elise Stolte in the Edmonton Journal.
More on the University World News site

US: Report looks at campus shootings
A new report jointly issued by the Secret Service, the Department of Education and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) examines targeted violent incidents on higher education campuses in the United States, writes Genevieve Long in the Epoch Times.
More on the University World News site

US: Professors fight for their right to fail students
Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge has set off a debate about grade inflation, due process and a professor’s right to set standards in her own course after they removed a lecturer from teaching, mid-semester, and raised the grades of students in the class, writes Scott Jaschik for Inside Higher Ed.
More on the University World News site

MALAYSIA: Prime Minister invites US universities
Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has invited American universities to set up branch campuses in Malaysia, The Malaysia Star reports. The Prime Minister said the US had some of the finest higher education institutions in the world and was an important resource in fulfilling Malaysia’s needs in higher education.
More on the University World News site

CHINA: Lack of top-ranking universities, says academic
China has no global top-ranking universities, said Xu Zhihong, a member of the Chinese Academy of Science and ex-president of Peking University, at a lecture in the Huazhong University of Science and Technology, The People’s Daily reports.
More on the University World News site

IRAN-UK: Scholarship for protest victim brings rebuke
Iran has complained to Britain’s Oxford University over a scholarship programme in memory of Neda Agha-Soltan, the young woman whose on-camera death during a protest earlier this year made her a global icon of Iranian opposition, writes Barry Neild on the CNN website.
More on the University World News site

UK: Cash-starved university almost missed pay day
The University of Cumbria, which is nearly £30 million in debt, had to receive a cash advance from the Higher Education Funding Council for England, reports the BBC. The university is one of several institutions on an Hefce watch-list of vulnerable universities.
More on the University World News site
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