ISSN 1756-297XAFRICA: 0083 28 August 2011
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HE Events Diary

Scientists estimate that there are some 8.7 million species on earth, the most precise calculation ever offered. See the News section

The United State's preservation of Pell grants comes at the expense of graduate students. See the Features section.

A project to identify, digitise and archive South Africa's research in the Antarctic is underway. This is Sanai IV, the country's Antarctic base. See the Features section.

University World News was a media partner to the Talloires Network Leadership Conference in 2011, the OECD’s Institutional Management in Higher Education Conference in 2010, and the Unesco World Conference on Higher Education in 2009.


This week’s highlights

In Africa Features, SHARON DELL looks at moves by the South African government to encourage universities to transform curricula to become more ‘Afro-centric’, and MUNYARADZI MAKONI describes a project to identify, digitise and archive the country’s research in the Antarctic. In Global Features and Commentary YOJANA SHARMA writes that a new ‘world-class’ university in Vietnam will need autonomy – a major cultural shift. In the United States ALISON MOODIE writes that the government’s preservation of Pell grants comes at the expense of graduate students, and BRUNO DENTE and NADIA PIRAINO outline a new framework for assessing the effectiveness of student loan schemes.


AFRICA: News from across the continent

KENYA: Higher education minister fired
Gilbert Nganga
Kenya last week fired Higher Education Minister William Ruto, who had been suspended from cabinet last year following allegations of graft. His axing ends uncertainty that has engulfed the ministry for a year.
Full report on the University World News site

GHANA: Growing role for private higher education
Francis Kokutse
Ghana’s government is considering more private participation in the provision of tertiary education, which is facing a funding squeeze due to huge demand on the national budget and pressure from increasing student enrolments, Education Minister Betty Mould-Iddrisu said last week at a national dialogue on sustainable funding for the tertiary sector.
Full report on the University World News site

NIGERIA: Staff to down tools over retirement clause
Tunde Fatunde
Leaders of Nigeria’s Academic Staff Union of Universities have begun mobilising lecturers to embark, once again, on indefinite strike action. The main gripe is the failure of the national assembly to pass into law the voluntary retirement of professors at the maximum age of 70, rather than the current 65. The country’s president and vice-president have reportedly now called for the retirement bill’s speedy enactment.
Full report on the University World News site

MALAWI: Collapsed dialogue, campuses stay closed
Students in Malawi have embarked on a vigil to force the authorities to open campuses that were closed in April, as dialogue efforts launched in June have so far failed to yield results. The vigil is the latest twist in the academic freedom saga that started in February and continues in what many report to be an increasingly autocratic climate.
Full report on the University World News site

WEST AFRICA: New two-year project to boost quality
Wagdy Sawahel
The West African Economic and Monetary Union will shortly launch a two-year project to catalyse improvements in the quality of higher education in its eight member states. The project will focus on strengthening the capacity of higher education institutions in the region to implement the Licence-Master-Doctorate system, which was introduced four years ago.
Full report on the University World News site

TANZANIA: Funding boost for science, maths students
Sylivester Ernest
In an effort to increase numbers of health professionals, the Tanzanian government will from the next academic year grant full scholarships to new medical students. First-year students of science teaching and maths will also be fully-funded. And to speed up disbursement, student funds are to be channeled through universities rather than the government’s loans board.
Full report on the University World News site

MADAGASCAR: Student protests hit universities
Student protests have disrupted universities during the past weeks, with student strikes and demonstrations hitting the Ecole Polytechnique of Vontovorona, the University of Fianarantsoa and the University of Toliara, where students took members of staff hostage for three days at the end of July.
Full report on the University World News site

KENYA: Groundbreaking online MBA on the cards
Reuben Kyama and Naftali Mwaura
One of Kenya’s fastest growing private universities has signed a memorandum of understanding with a Malaysian higher education institution to develop a world-class online MBA programme. But experts worry that the projected high fees could exclude all but the financially elite.
Full report on the University World News site


SOUTH AFRICA: Grappling with curriculum ‘relevance’
Sharon Dell
Seventeen years after the end of white rule and against the backdrop of persistent high unemployment levels, South Africa’s universities continue to grapple with the issue of a ‘relevant’ curriculum and how best to achieve it.
Full report on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Antarctic Legacy Project takes shape
Munyaradzi Makoni
The considerable role South African researchers have played in scientific, biological and meteorological discoveries in the sub-Antarctic Ocean lacks full recognition. But memories that lay scattered in national archives, personal diaries and mementos will now be accessible through a project to identify, digitise and archive this historical heritage online.
Full report on the University World News site


TANZANIA: More food allowances for students
Moses Magadza
The Tanzanian government has increased food allowances for university students by 50%, to help them afford to buy meals.
Full report on the University World News site

AFRICA: Pan-African University to open first centres
The Pan-African University will start operations in September with the opening of three centres of excellence in Kenya, Nigeria and Cameroon, Amadou Lamine Ndiaye, president of the high-level panel overseeing the university’s creation, announced in an interview with SudonLine of Dakar.
Full report on the University World News site

SENEGAL: UGB prepares for expansion – and fees hikes
Senegal’s University of Gaston Berger in Saint-Louis is expanding, with the opening of new departments and courses, an increased intake of students – and enrolment fees that will more than double for students taking their first degree, say press reports.
Full report on the University World News site

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

RUSSIA: Universities face student shortage crisis
Eugene Vorotnikov
Russian universities face a shortage of students for state-funded places this year, due to the economic crisis and an emerging population hole which economists predict could lead to 100,000 university teachers losing their jobs by 2020.
Full report on the University World News site

JORDAN: Plan to raise bar for university admission
Wagdy Sawahel
The proportion of Jordan’s secondary school graduates to be admitted to university is to be cut by up to a third in an effort to improve the quality of university education and outcomes, under new national reform plans.
Full report on the University World News site

CANADA: Boosting higher education links with Brazil
Sarah King Head
Canada has announced a series of programmes between Brazilian and Canadian universities in the hope of strengthening ties with the world’s fifth largest economy.
Full report on the University World News site

CHINA: Compromises for new ‘autonomous’ university
Mimi Leung
The embattled president of the new South University of Science and Technology of China, intended to be the country’s first ‘autonomous’ institution able to carry out world-class teaching and research, has made a rare media appearance to defend his methods of bypassing the rules that currently govern universities in China.
Full report on the University World News site

FRANCE: Student living costs ‘rising sharply’
Jane Marshall
Students’ living costs for the new academic year have risen by more than 4% compared with 2010-11, twice the rate of inflation, France’s two biggest student organisations claim. But Laurent Wauquiez, Minister for Higher Education and Research, said the increases were “without doubt” among the lowest for the last five years.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Nine million species on Earth?
Some 8.7 million species, give or take 1.3 million, is the new estimated total number of species on Earth. Said to be the most precise calculation ever offered, 6.5 million species are on land and 2.2 million, or about 25% of the total, dwell in the ocean depths. Census of Marine Life scientists say the estimates are based on an innovative, validated analytical technique that dramatically narrows the range of previous estimates.
Full report on the University World News site


US: Pell saved, but graduate students suffer
Alison Moodie
The preservation of a federal loan programme for low-income undergraduate college students earlier this month provided an unexpected last-minute boon for higher education in the United States. But the decision to save Pell grants, hammered out as part of the debt reduction deal, came at the expense of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal subsidies and loans for graduate students around the country.
Full report on the University World News site

VIETNAM: Major new university heralds culture change
Yojana Sharma
If Vietnam is to follow China in becoming a low-cost manufacturing centre for the world it needs good universities geared towards ‘world-class’ research and innovation. The new University of Science and Technology Hanoi (USTH) could cater to that need. But attracting the best students and academics requires institutional autonomy – a major cultural shift.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Are student loan policies effective?
Student loan policies have been adopted in several countries in the last decade as a means of funding increasing numbers of students going into higher education. But are they effective? In an article for the Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, BRUNO DENTE and NADIA PIRAINO outline a new framework for assessing the effectiveness of student loan schemes in particular contexts.
Full report on the University World News site


GLOBAL: Academic freedom reports worldwide
Noemi Bouet*
In Iran former university chancellor Mohammad Maleki, charged with being an “enemy of God”, has accused the court hearing his case of being illegal, and theological scholar Ahmad Ghabel has been re-incarcerated to serve a 20-month sentence. In Tajikistan, authorities have opened criminal cases against 22 students who have returned from abroad, apparently to discourage them from contacting extremist Islamist groups. US academics who wrote a book on China’s Xinjiang region and were banned by the authorities from entering China, have expressed shock at lack of support from their universities. And in Burkina Faso, three police officers have been jailed for their involvement in the death of a student.
Full report on the University World News site

UNI-LATERAL: Off-beat university stories

CANADA: Bunnies bounced from college campus
A Canadian university has “officially declared the campus to be rabbit-free” after years of occupation by enthusiastically breeding bunnies and over-feeding by students, reports FM World.
More on the University World News site


Last Sunday we ran a round-up item from the Times of India, titled "US: Eleven universities to join India partnership". The original Times of India article was inaccurate. The Institute of International Education's International Academic Partnership Program complements projects funded by the US and Indian governments, but it is not part of the Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative. Rather, it is a private effort to support US-India educational partnerships.


EGYPT: Four university heads resign before elections
The president of Cairo University, Hossam Kamel, and the presidents of Helwan, Fayoum and Al-Wadi Al-Gadeed universities resigned last week before the end of their term ahead of the first ever elections to choose new leaders, writes Tamim Elyan for Daily News Egypt.
More on the University World News site

GREECE: Students march over university reform
Hundreds of Greek students protested outside parliament last week against a proposed shake-up of higher education that would introduce more competition into universities. Planned legislation would also curb the student role in university administration and set a four-year deadline for obtaining a degree, writes Kerin Hope for the Financial Times.
More on the University World News site

UKRAINE: Fears over university centralisation plans
Leading academics warn that Ukraine Education Minister Dmytro Tabachnyk’s attempts to centralise control over universities is hindering their work and dragging Ukraine away from European standards in higher education, writes Rina Soloveitchik for the Kyiv Post.
More on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Airport officials cancel 159 student visas
More than 150 overseas students returning to Australia in the last financial year were intercepted by immigration authorities at the airport over visa breaches and put on a plane home within 72 hours, writes Bernard Lane for The Australian. And of 470,221 people who arrived on a student visa, nearly 9,000 were questioned by officials.
More on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA-US: Red tape thwarts Kaplan plan
Kaplan, the education arm of The Washington Post, has dumped plans to establish a university in Adelaide, blaming complex regulatory approvals in Australia and the US. The decision is a setback for departing Premier Mike Rann’s ambition to make Adelaide a ‘university city’, writes Andrew Trounson for The Australian.
More on the University World News site

US: Hispanic gains push US college enrolment
A surge in Hispanic enrolment brought the number of US college students aged 18 to 24 to a record high last year even as the number of young whites at universities fell, writes John Lauerman for Bloomberg.
More on the University World News site

US: Tighter rules on conflicts of interest in science
The Obama administration announced last week the final form of new rules governing financial conflicts of interest in federally sponsored medical research, saying it hoped to boost public confidence after years of scandals tied to corporate influence, writes Paul Basken for The Chronicle of Higher Education.
More on the University World News site

US: Climate scientist exonerated over research
A climate scientist at the centre of the climate-change debate has been exonerated of allegations of research misconduct, reports UPI.
More on the University World News site

THAILAND: Student loans to depend on employability
Thailand’s Education Minister Woravat Au-apinyakul has proposed changing the student loan fund to make loans contingent on an applicant’s employment prospects, reports the Bangkok Post.
More on the University World News site

UK: Student debt set to match welfare bill
The crippling legacy of the coalition’s new system of tuition fees was laid bare recently with a government analysis that shows Britain will be loading almost £200 billion (US$327.44 billion) of debt onto students of the future, write Sarah Morrison and Brian Brady for The Independent.
More on the University World News site

SCOTLAND: Bid to outlaw full fees for English
A bid is to be made in the House of Lords to make it illegal for Scottish universities to charge only English students full tuition fee costs, writes David Maddox for The Scotsman. The amendment to the Scotland Bill is to be placed by Scottish Labour peer Lord Foulkes.
More on the University World News site

UK: Anger at axing of student support scheme
Critics have condemned the closure of a higher education outreach programme amid evidence that poorer students are likely to be put off by the trebling of tuition fees next year, writes Daniel Boffey for the Guardian.
More on the University World News site

UK: Academics ‘afraid to criticise students’ – study
Academics are afraid to give negative student references or put candid remarks on exam scripts because of an overbearing risk-management culture in universities, according to a researcher who has undertaken a two-year study of the issue, writes David Matthews for Times Higher Education.
More on the University World News site

TURKEY: University departments face closure
Departments in Turkish universities with low or no enrolment are facing closure in the future, reports Hurriyet Daily News.
More on the University World News site

GHANA: New campus for IT visionary’s university
It took a bit longer than expected, but the university in Ghana started a decade ago by a visionary Microsoft engineer finally has its own campus. Ashesi University is moving from rented space in the city of Accra to a 100-acre suburban campus due to formally open this weekend, writes Brier Dudley for The Seattle Times.
More on the University World News site

UGANDA: Council proposes 300% university fee hike
Uganda’s National Council for Higher Education has designed a new fees structure for public universities, raising tuition by more than 300% for most courses, write Francis Kagolo and Siki Kigongo for The New Vision.
More on the University World News site

EAST AFRICA: Call for harmonisation of student fees
The president of the Inter-University Council for East Africa, IUCEA, Professor Silas Lwakabamba, has called on higher education institutions in the East African Community to charge citizens from member states the same tuition fees as local students, reports The New Times.
More on the University World News site

KENYA: Gulf African bank to open university
The Gulf African Bank will set up a university in Malindi to boost higher education standards in the area, reports Alphonce Gari for the Nairobi Star. Chairman Suleiman Shakhbal said design and architectural work was complete and the bank was currently waiting for a letter from the Ministry of Higher Education, which is expected soon.
More on the University World News site

NORTH KOREA: Defectors get US scholarships
Three young North Korean defectors living in South Korea have won scholarships offered by the US federal government for study and internships at American universities, reports Yonhap News Agency.
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SCOTLAND: Student expelled for Israeli flag abuse
A student at St Andrews University in Edinburgh was convicted last week by a Scottish court for a racist breach of the peace for abusing an Israeli flag belonging to a Jewish student, who said he felt “violated and devastated” by the incident, writes Jonny Paul for the Jerusalem Post.
More on the University World News site
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