ISSN 1756-297XAFRICA: 0072 27 February 2011
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Protests in Yemen continue to intensify despite the deaths of three students and wounding of several others.

Monash University archaeologist Dr Bruno David talks about the discovery by an international team of the world's oldest ground-edge axe. See the Features section.

Richard Yelland reports on the OECD's Higher Education in Cities and Regions conference held in Seville this month. See the Features section.

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


This week’s highlights

This week we publish the first of a series of articles on the major HERANA initiative’s research into higher education and development in Africa. In Africa Analysis, SEAN ARCHER contends that the South African government’s plans for large-scale skills development are unrealistic. In Features, RICHARD YELLAND reviews the OECD conference on Higher Education in Cities and Regions held in Seville, MICHAEL GARDNER examines accusations of PhD plagiarism against Germany’s defence minister Karl-Theodor Freiherr zu Guttenberg, and GEOFF MASLEN reports on an international team’s ‘eureka’ discovery of the world’s oldest ground-stone axe in Australia. In Commentary, ALAN RYAN looks at lessons to be learned from the US approach to tuition fees, and GEORGE READINGS argues that universities around the world have failed to do enough to confront Islamism on campus.

HERANA – Universities and development in Africa

Three years ago a major research initiative into higher education in Africa kicked off, aimed at exploring the complex relationships between universities and development. The first phase of the project is nearing completion. This is the introductory article to a series that will be published in University World News in the coming months, reporting on the research and its considerable implications for higher education in Africa – and elsewhere.

AFRICA: Connecting higher education and development
Karen MacGregor
The Higher Education Research and Advocacy Network in Africa, HERANA, has gathered the most comprehensive and systematic data on a group of Sub-Saharan African universities ever compiled. Research over three years in eight countries uncovered urgent needs for a ‘pact’ on the important role of higher education in development, strengthening the ‘academic core’ in universities, and greater coordination among higher education actors.
Full report on the University World News site

AFRICA: News from across the continent

EGYPT: Minister reinstated amid winds of change
Ashraf Khaled
Six years after he was inexplicably sacked from his post as Egypt’s education minister, law professor Ahmed Gamal Moussa was sworn in last week as the new minister of education and higher education. As part of a major cabinet reshuffle days after unprecedented protests swept aside long-serving President Hosni Mubarak, the ministries of education and higher education were merged.
Full report on the University World News site

ZIMBABWE: Mugabe arrests scholars as regimes topple
Kudzai Mashininga
A University of Zimbabwe lecturer and dozens of students were this week charged with treason for allegedly plotting an Egypt-style uprising against President Robert Mugabe’s government. The country has been gripped by political violence and arrests have escalated as Mugabe moves to silence dissent while autocratic regimes elsewhere on the continent fall.
Full report on the University World News site

ZIMBABWE: State cuts funding of Mugabe scholarships
Kudzai Mashininga
Zimbabwe’s Finance Minister Tendai Biti has blocked the state funding of President Robert Mugabe’s scholarship scheme – which is used to send young people to study at foreign universities, especially elsewhere in Africa – on the grounds that it is a personal initiative of the country’s autocrat.
Full report on the University World News site

UK: LSE to review Libyan payment after protest
Brendan O’Malley
Following a student occupation in protest at the receipt of funds from the regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, the council of the London School of Economics is to review a £300,000 (US$483,000) payment for its North Africa Programme. The funding comes from the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation.
Full article on University World News site

AFRICA: New plan for graduate employment
Munyaradzi Makoni
Higher education leaders meeting in Ghana last month agreed that Africa needs to enhance the employability of graduates by supporting students in their attempts to prepare themselves for the labour market. The 150 delegates from 14 African countries produced a draft 10-point plan aimed at ensuring industry absorbs the growing numbers of graduates on the continent.
Full report on the University World News site

NIGERIA: Diaspora academics to head up universities
Tunde Fatunde
The Nigerian government recently created six new federal universities to cater for the huge demand for higher education. And following a recent trend, three of the institutions are to be headed by distinguished Nigerian academics who are currently professors in American universities. The appointments have mostly been welcomed by academics in Nigeria and the Diaspora.
Full report on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: New space era lifts off
Jacquie Withers
The recent launch by government of the South African National Space Agency marked the dawn of a new space era in the country’s history. The agency will begin operating in April. Meanwhile Africa’s bid to host the global science initiative, the Square Kilometre Array telescope, was boosted this month with an announcement of significant breakthroughs.
Full report on the University World News site

KENYA: Expanding access via private sector stalls
Gilbert Nganga
Kenya’s plan to admit at least 40,000 extra students to higher education by partnering with private institutions, in order to help clear a decades-long backlog of places, has stalled amid financial strain and faltering political will.
Full report on the University World News site

NAMIBIA: ICT centre of excellence launched
Utaara Hoveka
The gap between academia and industry in Namibia’s telecommunications, information and technology sector looks set to be narrowed with the establishment of a centre of excellence at the University of Namibia by telecommunications giant Telecom Namibia.
Full report on the University World News site

ZAMBIA: Universities call for improved connectivity
Zambia’s three public universities have put proposals before government for the installation of a framework to improve internet access and inter-connectivity between local and regional universities. They are also lobbying for a review of ICT policies that would among other things facilitate research and access to US and European library and digitised resources.
Full report on the University World News site

AFRICA: Initiative to strengthen nutrition research
Munyaradzi Makoni
A project to develop a new and sustainable nutrition research agenda for Sub-Saharan Africa has been launched, involving four African and five European institutions. SUNRAY – Sustainable Nutrition Research for Africa in the Years to come – will use research as a weapon against deep and continuing malnutrition in the region.
Full report on the University World News site




SOUTH AFRICA: Skills training reform unrealistic
The South African government has launched a controversial New Growth Path and hopes to boost skills and the economy through skills training, developing knowledge-intensive industries and creating a higher education hub for Africa. But, SEAN ARCHER argues, its aims are unrealistic since governments have little, if any, leverage with employers – no matter how commendable their policy intentions.
Full report on the University World News site


AFRICA: Study probes media reporting of science
A new study is underway in nine African countries to improve the dissemination of scientific knowledge on the continent by establishing the status and quality of media reporting on science and technology.
Full report on the University World News site

AFRICA: Virtual University boosts science teaching
The first Senegalese graduates have emerged from an African Virtual University e-earning pilot programme to train school teachers in mathematics and science.
Full report on the University World News site



NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

EUROPE: Universities face looming funding crisis: EUA
David Haworth
The rise in Europe’s student population and public funding cuts across the continent are combining to produce an unprecedented higher education crisis which can only be met by much greater diversifying of income sources, experts heard in Brussels on Tuesday at the launch of a major European Universities Association survey of 27 countries.
Full report on the University World News site

YEMEN: Student protests gather strength after deaths
Ahmed Mohamoud Elmi
Student sit-ins in front of Sana’a University have increased in size despite the killing of three students and wounding of several others in the past week. About 50,000 protestors gathered on Thursday to await Friday prayers, and their numbers swelled to hundreds of thousands on Friday.
Full article on University World News site

NEW ZEALAND: Foreign students feared dead in quake
John Gerritsen
Students from around the world have been caught up in New Zealand’s devastating earthquake, with one confirmed dead and 37 others believed to be trapped in the rubble of a collapsed building.
Full report on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Quality assurance bill up for debate
Geoff Maslen
The federal government has released a draft of legislation establishing Australia’s first tertiary education quality and standards agency. Known as TEQSA, the agency will combine regulations currently applied by the states with activities at present undertaken by the Australian Universities Quality Agency – thereby cutting the number of federal, state and territory regulatory and quality assurance bodies from nine to one.
Full report on the University World News site

CHINA: Crackdown on sub-standard journals
Yojana Sharma
A number of academic journals and magazines have been ordered to cease publication by the Chinese authorities in a new crackdown on sub-standard academic papers in China.
Full report on the University World News site

HUNGARY: Historians resist return of spy files
Jan Petter Myklebust
A decision by the Hungarian government to return secret service files to people investigated by communist regimes before 1990 has drawn international protests from archivists and historians on the grounds that it is a threat to archival integrity.
Full article on University World News web site

INDIA: Ancient university resurrection a step closer
Alya Mishra
India’s dream of resurrecting one of the world’s oldest seats of learning, Nalanda University, came a step closer on Tuesday with the first meeting of the board of governors. The governing body announced that the university, which has lain in ruins for 800 years since being razed by foreign invaders, will be functional (tentatively) by 2013.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: WikiLeaks spawns a university copycat
Geoff Maslen
It took five years before Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks organisation attracted worldwide attention. Whether the former university student who started a copycat version called UniLeaks this month will wait that long to be noticed is far from certain – especially given the fact that much of what is on the site has been plagiarised from WikiLeaks.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Low-tech lecture goes the distance for IT prof
Sarah King Head
In the era of complex electronic meeting systems for distance education, a simple live-streaming of a lecture can be an effective learning tool, says Andrew Wasser, associate dean of the school of information systems and management at Carnegie Mellon University. He will be speaking at a conference next month on using technology efficiently in the classroom.
Full report on the University World News site




GLOBAL: Higher education in cities and regions: OECD
Richard Yelland*
What better setting for the OECD conference Higher Education in Cities and Regions – For stronger, cleaner and fairer regions, than Seville, city capital of Andalusia in Spain. A melting pot of cultures and an ancient learning centre, the region is today suffering the consequences of the economic crisis. In Andalusia it is estimated that 28% of the workforce and 52% of the youth population are currently unemployed.
Full report on the University World News site

GERMANY: ‘Cheating Baron’ allegation dogs minister
Michael Gardner
German public opinion is divided over allegations of plagiarism levelled at the country’s Minister of Defence, Karl-Theodor Freiherr zu Guttenberg. While political opponents have called for his resignation for a ‘cut and paste’ doctoral thesis, zu Guttenberg accepts that he made mistakes and that the paper was “rubbish”, generating a wave of popular sympathy.
Full article on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Global team finds oldest ground-stone axe
Geoff Maslen
The oldest ground-edge stone tool in the world has been discovered in Arnhem Land by an international team of experts. The fragment, a mere four centimetres long, was dug up in a large rock-shelter in northern Australia on Aboriginal land in south-western Arnhem Land.
Full report on the University World News site


US: What can the US approach to fees teach the world?
The US higher education system is often cited by those seeking to raise tuition fees while still encouraging equality of access. As the UK government says it is to limit how much universities can charge in tuition fees based on their plans to widen access, professor ALAN RYAN, a former warden of New College Oxford now based at Princeton, assesses if any lessons can be learnt from the US.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Universities need to challenge Islamism
Universities around the world have failed to do enough to confront Islamism on campus when they are one of the prime targets for recruitment. GEORGE READINGS argues that universities need to ensure they treat Islamist intimidation of students as similar to racism or other forms of abuse.
Full report on the University World News site


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US: Texas universities to allow guns on campus
A new law that looks certain to pass through the Texas legislature would mean that its 38 public colleges, which are attended by half a million students, must permit concealed handguns on site, writes Jon Swaine for The Telegraph.
More on the University World News site

UK: Universities fail to fight extremism – watchdog
The government’s counterterrorism watchdog believes Britain’s universities are reluctant to deal with radicalisation on campus and says a report by vice-chancellors that rejects demands to ban controversial speakers is “weak”, write Allegra Stratton, Patrick Wintour and Jeevan Vasagar for The Guardian.
More on the University World News site

SUDAN: Universities to re-open amid challenges
South Sudan continues to move on after its successful independence referendum, announcing that its universities will reopen in mid-May this year. However, the south’s universities need a lot of work before opening, reports Matt Richmond for the Voice of America.
More on the University World News site

WALES: Universities plan alliances to cut costs
Bangor and Aberystwyth universities are planning a “strategic alliance” as institutions around Wales look to work more closely, reports the BBC. A decision to form a “super university” in Wales was also recently announced.
More on the University World News site

RUSSIA: Minorities complain of racism in universities
There is increasing concern about the high levels of discrimination which ethnic minority students face if they study at Russian universities. Insults, beatings and official harrassment are among the complaints, reports Deutsche Welle.
More on the University World News site

DUBAI: University shutdowns fall in saturated market
The number of academic institutions being shut down due to falling below international standards has drastically decreased over the past decade, reports the UAE’s Commission for Academic Accreditation (CAA), writes Rania Moussly for Gulf News.
More on the University World News site

US: Policy to manage politically controversial dons
The political views of academics should not be used as the bases to hire, fire, promote or demote them. That idea – not terribly disputed – is at the centre of draft policies released last week by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) on how to handle personnel issues involving politically controversial academics, reports Inside Higher Ed.
More on the University World News site

US: New commission to put humanities on the agenda
A new blue-ribbon commission has been assembled in a bid to put the humanities and social sciences on an equal footing on the public agenda with science, technology, engineering and mathematics, writes Dan Berrett for Inside Higher Ed.
More on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Students flood education faculties
The calibre of teachers in schools looks set to drastically improve as scores of South Africa’s top students sign up for the embattled profession, writes Prega Govender for The Times. Universities across the country confirmed being flooded with applications from first-year students wanting to study the four-year teaching degree.
More on the University World News site

UK: Students ‘could shun high-fee universities’
Universities that rush to charge £9,000 (US$14,532) a year tuition fees will end up looking ‘silly’ if students abandon them for cheaper alternatives, Higher Education Minister David Willetts has warned, writes Gerri Peev for The Daily Mail.
More on the University World News site

SCOTLAND: Secret plans to charge students £12,000
Scottish universities want to charge students fees of £12,000 (US$19,376) for a four-year degree under confidential proposals, writes Andrew Denholm for The Herald. A leaked circular from Universities Scotland, which represents university principals, proposes setting a graduate contribution for the first time at roughly the same level charged in England – currently £3,290 a year.
More on the University World News site

UK: ‘Leftist’ lawyer under fire for fee hike challenge
A human rights lawyer has come under fire for pursuing a “leftist agenda” after challenging the coalition government’s higher education tuition fees increase and library closures, reports The First Post.
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INDIA: Green light for foreign technical schools
India’s technical education regulator has come up with a policy that allows foreign institutions to set up campuses anywhere in the country even before a law to allow them entry has been enacted, writes Basant Kumar Mohanty for The Telegraph.
More on the University World News site

DUBAI: Mobile phones to be used as study tools
Students at Abu Dhabi University will soon be able to register for courses, check their grades, take quizzes and contribute to classroom discussions on their mobile phones as the university launched its pilot of an application called Blackboard Mobile last week. As many as 75 students will participate in the trial before it is rolled out to other regional universities in September, writes Erin Conroy for The National.
More on the University World News site
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