ISSN 1756-297XAFRICA: 0065 31 October 2010
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6th Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning

Online Educa Berlin

Ford Foundation


HE Events Diary

Higher Education Marketing

President Robert Mugabe, a man of many degrees. See Zimbabwe in the News.
In our Commentary section, Alex Usher debates whether Bologna will kill diversity in higher education.
Ken Steele probes the changing character of Canadian students in the latest edition of the Canadian journal Academic Matters. See our Commentary section.

University World News was a media partner to the OECD's Institutional Management in Higher Education conference in Paris in September 2010, and to the Unesco World Conference on Higher Education in 2009.

This week’s highlights

Zimbabwe is in the news this week, and in South Africa SHARON DELL writes about a government initiative to strengthen the social sciences and humanities and DEBBY DERRY looks at a university’s new refugee legal rights centre. Moving abroad, ZOFEEN T EBRAHIM interviews the former chairman of Pakistan’s Higher Education Commission, Atta-ur-Rahman, about heavy pressures facing the sector and its primary regulator. In Features, BRENDAN O’MALLEY reports on the European Universities Association annual conference in Italy. In the Commentary section, ALEX USHER contemplates the impacts on higher education diversity of the Bologna process, and KEN STEELE probes how and why universities are diversifying their appeal to students.

AFRICA: News from across the continent

EGYPT: Universities in fix over police removal
Ashraf Khaled
As advocates of university independence celebrate a landmark court ruling ordering the removal of police guards from campuses in Egypt, leaders of government-run universities are considering the costs of recruiting civilian guards.
Full report on the University World News site

NIGERIA: Universities hit by accreditation crisis
Tunde Fatunde
The withdrawal by Nigeria’s National Universities Commission of the accreditation status of some academic departments in several universities, effectively closing many courses with immediate effect, is set to affect hundreds of students. The move has prompted universities to contemplate measures that would save them from further sanctions from the government regulatory agency.
Full report on the University World News site

KENYA: Major dispute could lead to lecturer strike
Gilbert Nganga
Kenya’s 5,000 lecturers in public universities are locked in a major dispute with the government over the sacking of a union boss by one of the institutions and growing tribalism in employment in state universities. The tussle threatens to erupt into a strike next week, which could paralyse learning in the country’s seven public universities.
Full report on the University World News site

AFRICA: Continent-wide data centre by next year
Linda Nordling
South Africa is spearheading activities to collect and curate research data about the African continent in an effort to shrug off its data-poor image.
Full report on the University World News site

AFRICA: Universities get US$130 million for health
The US recently announced awards worth US$130 million to universities in a dozen African countries that seek to train at least 140,000 health workers over five years.
Full report on the University World News site

KENYA: $12.5 million PEPFAR grant for Nairobi
Gilbert Nganga
The US government has extended a US$12.5 million grant to the University of Nairobi to boost medical training, potentially plugging the country’s biting shortage of qualified health sector personnel. The funding will help strengthen medical training and increase the number of trained health workers in East Africa’s biggest economy.
Full report on the University World News site

NAMIBIA: Parliament seeks partnerships with academics
Moses Magadza
The chief whip of Namibia’s governing SWAPO party in the national assembly, Professor Peter Katjavivi, has called on academics to work with parliamentarians in select committees as the country moves to confront a myriad of social problems. He called for a multidisciplinary approach, given scarce resources.
Full report on the University World News site

BURKINA FASO: ‘Solidarity’ distance MSc in finance
Jane Marshall
People who have missed out on education have a new opportunity to catch up through a free distance education course in finance, under the ‘Projet transmission solidaire du savoir’ initiated by the French Euromed Management school in collaboration with Ouagadougou University.
Full report on the University World News site


AUSTRALIA: Monash denies Mugabe invitation
Geoff Maslen
Monash University Vice-chancellor Professor Ed Byrne was forced to deny a Melbourne newspaper report last week that one of his senior executives at the university’s South African campus had extended an invitation to Zimbabwe’s notorious president, Robert Mugabe, to give a lecture to students at Monash’s Johannesburg campus.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Mugabe – Man of many degrees
Geoff Maslen
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has been awarded a dozen or more honorary degrees from universities around the world, only to have at least three belatedly removed following widespread protests. Doubts have now surfaced whether he received an honorary doctorate last month from a university in Ecuador, or indeed whether it was bestowed by a ‘bogus’ bishop.
Full report on the University World News site

ZIMBABWE: Plans for two new private universities
Kudzai Mashininga
Two new private universities are on the cards in Zimbabwe, and the projects have been lauded by the government in a country facing a critical shortage of human capital in various sectors of the economy.
Full report on the University World News site

ZIMBABWE: Manhunt for ‘wanted’ student
Kudzai Mashininga
Zimbabwean police have launched a manhunt for a University of Zimbabwe student who faces the death penalty for allegedly plotting a coup against long-time autocratic ruler President Robert Mugabe in 2007. The student was previously released from prison when not tried within the required six months, but a judge has now said he is still a wanted man.
Full report on the University World News site


SOUTH AFRICA: Initiative to strengthen liberal arts
Alison Moodie
The South African government has launched an initiative to revive and strengthen the social sciences and humanities in universities. A charter of recommendations, to be published in mid-2011, will put these oft-neglected areas back on the higher education agenda so that students who want a true liberal arts education can get a good one.
Full report on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: University advances refugee rights
Debbie Derry
The rights of refugees in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province are being safeguarded through a recently-launched refugee legal rights centre at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) in Port Elizabeth. The goal is to assist foreigners seeking asylum.
Full report on the University World News site


CAMEROON: Unpaid teachers, homeless students
Teachers in the arts and social sciences faculty at the University of Douala, who went on strike this month in support of pay claims, some dating back a decade, ‘provisionally’ suspended their action after receiving payment for 2009, reported Quotidien Mutations of Yaoundé.
Full report on the University World News site

SENEGAL: Freshers take up university places
About 30,000 freshers are starting their studies in Senegal’s public and private higher education institutions, announced Amadou Tidiane Bâ, Minister for Higher Education and Scientific Research, at a ministerial meeting.
Full report on the University World News site

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

GLOBAL: Finland top for affordability, accessibility
Ian R Dobson*
Finland has both the most affordable and accessible system of higher education, according to a study of 17 countries undertaken by Canadian research group Higher Education Strategy Associates (HESA). Norway is a close runner-up.
Full report on the University World News site

FRANCE: University ranking by job success causes stir
Jane Marshall
A ranking of French universities according to their graduates’ job prospects has been published by the Ministry for Higher Education and Research and welcomed by Minister Valérie Pécresse. But the exercise has been criticised by a spec ialist in graduate employment rates, the body representing university presidents, and by a national students’ federation.
Full report on the University World News site

PAKISTAN: Commissions lock horns over fake degrees
Ameen Amjad Khan
The Higher Education Commission (HEC) and the Election Commission of Pakistan have locked horns over the verification of fake university degrees held by members of the federal and provincial assemblies, as the scandal spread to qualifications obtained at high school.
Full report on the University World News site

INDIA: Central universities agree to credit transfer
Alya Mishra
In a move that could significantly enhance the mobility and choice of students, central universities across India have agreed to create an inter-university credit transfer system.
Full report on the University World News site

IRAN: Humanities and social sciences growth freeze
Yojana Sharma and Ramin Namvari
Many Iranian students hoping to stay on to study masters degrees in the humanities and social sciences could be prevented from doing so after the Iranian authorities announced a freeze on approvals for new courses in 12 disciplines, seen by experts as a move to curb university growth in these areas.
Full report on the University World News site

ISLAMIC STATES: Boosting higher education cooperation
Wagdy Sawahel
The 57 member states of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, or OIC, have adopted resolutions for promoting a culture of knowledge, scientific research and innovation, according to a declaration made in Kuala Lumpur in October.
Full report on the University World News site

GREECE: Academia rejects government reforms
Makki Marseilles
Government proposals for wholesale reform of higher education have generated angry opposition among university rectors and students.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Study abroad continues despite Mexican violence
Sarah King Head
While continued updates to the US State Department’s travel advisory were not enough to dissuade American universities and colleges from offering study abroad programmes in Mexico, the tragic death of University of Texas at Brownsville (UTB) freshman, Jonathon William Torres Cazares, on 30 September might yet ring their knell.
Full report on the University World News site


PAKISTAN: Lack of higher education vision – Rahman
Pakistan’s Higher Education Commission is facing the toughest time in its eight-year history, embroiled in the country’s fake degrees scandal, facing major government cutbacks to higher education, and dealing with rampant academic plagiarism. ZOFEEN T EBRAHIM talks to the commission’s founding chairman, Professor Atta-ur-Rahman, about the unprecedented pressures.
Full report on the University World News site


EUROPE: Universities agree to sharpen profiles
Brendan O’Malley
Universities across Europe are trying to sharpen their distinctive profiles in response to an era of reforms and deep cuts in state spending. But the pursuit of diversity is hindered by simplistic rankings and the Bologna process, the European Universities Association annual conference concluded.
Full report on the University World News site

EUROPE: U-Multirank pilot study underway
Jan Petter Myklebust
While universities were digesting the results of the three major world rankings, the European U-Multirank consortium launched a study into a new multi-dimensional global ranking aimed at comparing similar institutions and programmes in terms of their missions and profiles. This month it announced that 107 institutions from more than 40 countries had joined the study.
Full report on the University World News site


EUROPE: Bologna doesn’t have to kill diversity
Alex Usher
Those who fear that diversity in higher education in Europe is under threat from massification, accountability regimes and globalisation have missed the point. More choice can be on offer, but in most cases universities will have to provide it by operating like hypermarchés rather than niche shops.
Full report on the University World News site

CANADA: Knowing your undergraduates
With career-oriented students seeking variety in their university experiences, universities are diversifying their appeal. The downsides are often talked about, but this evolution could well help universities in regions of population decline survive, while offering students clearer choices among a broader range of educational options, writes KEN STEELE in the latest edition of the Canadian journal Academic Matters.
Full report on the University World News site


UK: Academic-industry engagement on the rise
Debbie Derry
Academics in the United Kingdom are becoming increasingly engaged with industry, with research activity and funding among the leading motivating factors for the growing and more widely spread involvement. These are among the key findings of surveys of more than 6,000 academics. Respondents had been involved in creating nearly 700 companies in recent years.
Full report on the University World News site


INDIA: University book ban sparks free speech fears
Roisin Joyce*
Writers, filmmakers and social commentators have expressed fear for freedom of speech after the withdrawal of an award-winning book from a university syllabus following pressure from hard-line Hindu activists, AFP reported on 20 October.
More Academic Freedom reports on the University World News site


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MEXICO: Universities face bankruptcy over pension crisis
Nearly two-thirds of Mexico’s 33 public universities could face bankruptcy because of a combined $35-billion shortfall in their pension plans, according to a government study obtained by the newspaper El Universal, writes Marion Lloyd for The Chronicle of Higher Education.
More on the University World News site

CANADA: Universities bowed to pressure from private donor
It was a clash at the intersection of private money and public education, with a big-name cast of characters: BlackBerry titan Jim Basillie, Governor General David Johnston and Dr Ramesh Thakur, a former United Nations diplomat renowned as one of the world’s leading scholars on peace and security studies, writes Michael Valpy for The Globe and Mail.
More on the University World News site

SCOTLAND: University chiefs push for graduate fee
A policy paper published last week by Universities Scotland, which represents university principals, calls on the Scottish government to take urgent legislative action to introduce a graduate contribution scheme by 2012-13, writes Andrew Denholm for The Herald Scotland.
More on the University World News site

IRELAND: Moves to identify cheating scientists
Ireland must protect against the “corruption of the scientific literature” caused by researchers who might cheat when delivering their results. Failure to do so could put people at risk and also damage the country’s reputation abroad for high quality scientific work, reports Dick Ahlstrom for The Irish Times.
More on the University World News site

ETHIOPIA: Ministry lifts ban on distance education
Ethiopia’s Federal Ministry of Education has lifted its ban on distance education, after a one-and-a-half month long negotiation with private institutions ended last week in agreement, reports Daily Ethiopia.
More on the University World News site

MALAYSIA: Public universities to have more PhDs
The Malaysian government will increase the number of academic staff with doctoral qualifications in public institutions of higher learning to enable easier recognition abroad, reports New Straits Times.
More on the University World News site

MALAYSIA: Indian provider to set up global university
India’s Manipal Education will invest about RM650 million (US$209 million) over the next five years to establish the Manipal International University (MIU) in Kuala Lumpur, reports Malaysia’s official news agency Bernama.
More on the University World News site

CANADA: Large group of university chiefs to visit India
The largest delegation of Canadian university presidents ever to travel abroad – and the largest delegation of university presidents ever welcomed by India – will undertake a seven-day mission in India in November, writes Paul Davidson for The Vancouver Sun.
More on the University World News site

INDIA: Urgent need to deregulate higher education
India’s National Knowledge Commission chairman Sam Pitroda last week stressed the need to deregulate education, calling it the need of the hour, reports India Edunews.
More on the University World News site

UK: LSE raises spectre of private universities
Some of Britain’s leading universities could consider going private if the government decides to retain a cap on tuition fees – potentially pricing students out of the market, writes Richard Garner for The Independent.
More on the University World News site

UK: Record rush to beat fees rise
An unprecedented 74,234 candidates had completed applications for courses beginning in the autumn of 2011, more than ever before at such an early stage, writes Tim Ross for The Telegraph. Up to 220,000 candidates could be left without places next summer if the 4.2% year-on-year rise in applications continues, topping the record 210,000 students who missed places this year.
More on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Elite universities warn of threat to quality
The academic integrity and international competitiveness of Australia's universities face being seriously compromised, writes Julie Hare for The Australian. This would occur if the government goes ahead with plans to approve thousands of additional student places without a corresponding boost to the sector’s funding.
More on the University World News site

EAST AFRICA: Low quality universities hinder growth
The poor quality of university education in the East African Community (EAC) is eating away the region’s skills base, adding a fresh layer of challenge to the bloc’s quest for faster growth and the dream of integration, writes Mwaura Kimani for Business Daily.
More on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Student body calls for free tuition in 2011
All school-leavers should have free university education from 2011, the South African Students Congress (Sasco) said last week, reports Sapa. “There must be no students that will be excluded on the basis that they cannot afford or they owe fees,” Sasco president Mbulelo Mandlana told reporters in Johannesburg.
More on the University World News site

INDIA: University mulls centre for Pakistan studies
The Panjab University (PU) in north India is considering setting up a centre for Pakistan studies for the systematic study of India’s relations with its neighbour.
More on the University World News site
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