ISSN 1756-297XAFRICA: 0087 18 December 2011
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Editorial Board

Ford Foundation


HE Events Diary

South Africa's Protection of Information Bill, passed by majority vote in the national assembly, has raised the ire of researchers, who have slammed it as a threat to democracy and academic freedom. See the Features article.

Although likely to be overlooked because it does not declare an overall winner, the Leiden Ranking 2011-12 is probably more informative about publications and citations than any other ranking, writes Richard Holmes in Commentary.

A close look at Chinese higher education institutions shows that the government has been balancing efforts to create world-class universities with national policies that support institutional diversity. See the Commentary article.

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.


ANNOUNCEMENT: Festive season break, new website, new sections

University World News is taking a short break over the year-end festive season. Our next weekly edition will be published on Sunday 8 January, although breaking news stories will continue to be posted on the website. We will kick off 2012 with a special report looking ahead at likely developments and challenges facing higher education around the world.

The new year will herald a new look for University World News, with the launch in January of a redesigned website with a newsy feel and a more flexible structure that will lift the Features and Commentary sections higher up the page, among many other things. We will also be launching blogs, which will boost the academic voice in University World News over and above the Commentary section, and a new article series titled "Thoughts and Experiences of African University Leaders", funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.


This week’s highlights

In Africa Features, JUMA SHABANI writes that West Africa’s higher education harmonisation process could serve as a model for other sub-regions. MUNYARADZI MAKONI reports on a controversial bill in South Africa that has been slammed as a threat to academic freedom, SHELDON G WEEKS says that after years of delays, Botswana’s second public university and a fourth college are set to open next year, and MAMADOU MIKA LOM describes how foreign universities are setting up in Senegal. In Global Features, AMEEN AMJAD KHAN says concern is growing in Pakistan that most university courses are irrelevant to the country’s socio-economic needs, and in Vietnam HIEP PHAM reports that universities are struggling to attract international students. In Commentary, RICHARD HOLMES says the new Leiden Ranking contains a wealth of data and other rankers should pay attention, and RUTH HAYHOE and JUN LI examine how China has balanced support for world-class universities with policies promoting institutional diversity.

AFRICA: News from across the continent

AFRICA: Pan-African University officially launched
Mamadou Mika Lom
The Pan African University was officially launched last Wednesday in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, headquarters of the African Union, which has been driving the initiative. The event transformed into reality the dream of creating centres of excellence across Africa to conduct research and train the high-level professionals desperately needed for development.
Full report on the University World News site

NIGERIA: Striking academics close public universities
Tunde Fatunde
Striking academics have once again shut down Nigeria’s public universities, and students have been sent home. Leaders of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, or ASUU, have accused the federal and regional governments of deliberately failing to execute a memorandum of understanding on funding, salaries and conditions signed two years ago.
Full report on the University World News site

CÔTE D’IVOIRE: President closes universities for 2012
Jane Marshall
A decision by President Alassane Ouattara to close Côte d’Ivoire’s two universities until at least September 2012 has caused consternation in the higher education community and provoked condemnation by human rights organisations, according to press reports.
Full report on the University World News site

TANZANIA: Protests at universities, students expelled
Sylivester Ernest
Protests at Tanzania’s institutions of higher learning appear to be far from over. There have been demonstrations at three universities in the past two weeks over issues ranging from lack of practical training to the disbanding of a student group and non-payment of allowances.
Full report on the University World News site

EGYPT: Tough challenges face new universities minister
Ashraf Khaled
He is Egypt’s fourth higher education minister in 10 months. His predecessor held the post for four months and was forced to quit along with the rest of the government after clashes between pro-democracy protesters and security forces left 45 people dead. When named universities minister this month, Dr Hussein Khaled said he would handle the job regardless of when he might leave it.
Full report on the University World News site

KENYA: Universities in talks with private investors
Gilbert Nganga
Kenya is in talks with three South African investors to construct facilities in one of its public universities, as institutions seek private funding to expand facilities against a background of soaring student numbers. Another major university is also seeking private investment in academic and residential infrastructure.
Full report on the University World News site

MAURITIUS: State might cancel ‘useless’ courses
Guillaume Gouges
The Ministry of Tertiary Education announced last week that it might cancel some humanities and social sciences courses at the University of Mauritius. The news sparked an uproar among students and intellectuals on the Indian Ocean island.
Full report on the University World News site


GLOBAL: Leaders need better understanding of science
David Dickson
A Ugandan report suggests that policy-makers’ interest in science and technology is growing. But they need support to turn it into action. The lessons of the report are significant, and not only for Uganda.
Full report on the University World News site

AFRICA: West African higher education reforms
Since the mid-2000s, the regional communities in Africa have been involved in implementing higher education harmonisation processes, writes JUMA SHABANI in the latest edition of International Higher Education. The strategy of West African Economic and Monetary Union countries, based on the use of information and communications technologies to build the capacity required for effective implementation of bachelor-master-doctorate reform, could lead to meaningful results and should serve as a model for other sub-regions.
Full report on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: Bill is a threat to democracy, research
Munyaradzi Makoni
The Protection of Information Bill, which was passed by South Africa’s national assembly with a majority vote on 22 November, has raised the ire of researchers, who have slammed it as a threat to democracy and academic freedom.
Full report on the University World News site

BOTSWANA: Two stalled institutions to open in 2012
Sheldon G Weeks
After years of delays, both the Botswana International University of Science and Technology and the Oodi College of Applied Arts and Technology are to open next year. The new institutions will give a major boost to the country’s ability to produce high-level skills.
Full report on the University World News site

SENEGAL: Western universities’ presence on the rise
Mamadou Mika Lom
The phenomenon of European, American and Canadian universities, or some of their programmes, setting up campuses in Senegal is one that keeps on growing, for a number of reasons. Some argue that one driver of the trend is an attempt on the part of Western nations to curb immigration of young people eager to pursue studies abroad.
Full report on the University World News site


TOGO: Protests against ‘merit’ grants shut universities
The government of Togo “temporarily” closed the universities of Lomé and Kara last week following student protests against a new system of grants that will be paid to students on merit, rather than to everyone as previously.
Full report on the University World News site

TUNISIA: Universities disrupted by niqab protests
Some universities in Tunisia have been disrupted by religiously motivated protesters, outsiders as well as students, demanding the right of women students to wear the niqab, the full-face veil, in class and during examinations, according to press reports.
Full report on the University World News site

TUNISIA: European innovation partnership set up
A four-year partnership funded by the European Union has been set up to promote the development of technological innovation in Tunisia, reported La Presse.
Full report on the University World News site

ALGERIA: Aim to strengthen scientific research
A national forum on scientific research will take place in Algeria in 2012, aimed at finding solutions to problems such as the lack of highly qualified researchers and managers in the sector. The government has said 1,200 research places will open for recruitment next year.
Full report on the University World News site

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

EUROPE: Block Belarus bid to join HE area - Students
Brendan O’Malley
The European Students Union says Belarus should not be allowed to join the European Higher Education Area because it denies academic freedom.
Full report on the University World News site

SWEDEN: Living costs and fees deter foreign students
Jan Petter Myklebust
A government survey of the impact of the introduction of tuition fees on international students in Sweden this autumn has revealed that one in three of those accepted into universities did not take up the places because living costs are too high. Only 29% of 4,600 fee-eligible students accepted for a study place actually registered, compared to 79% of Swedish students.
Full report on the University World News site

GERMANY: Foreign students need special support
Michael Gardner
The success rate of foreign students who go on to universities in Germany after attending school there is improving, but fewer of them complete higher education than German students and many are faced with problems that require special support, according to a new survey.
Full report on the University World News site

NORWAY: State to fund more study abroad in BRICs
Jan Petter Myklebust
The Norwegian parliament's committee on education has asked the Ministry of Education to fund more Norwegians to study in Brazil, Russia, India and China – the four original BRIC countries – from 2012. Kyrre Lekve, junior education minister, said funding would be focused on attendance at “good quality” institutions listed in international rankings.
Full report on the University World News site

US: Risks and opportunities for multi-state campuses
Alison Moodie
Creating campuses in multiple US states carries both risks and opportunities for private colleges, according to a report by Moody’s Investors Service. Northeastern University in Boston recently opened regional campuses across America. The move reflects a new trend that may well spread to other private not-for-profit universities as enrolment continues to decline and revenues dwindle in a weak economy, says the study.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Plan to grow Arab-South American links
Wagdy Sawahel
A three-year plan to increase higher education cooperation between 12 South American and 22 Arab countries is to start next year. The aim is to improve the quality of education in both regions, enhance cooperation and exchange of experience, and build an educational and scientific database.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Business schools turn to Islamic finance
Leigh Thomas
As unemployment levels remain high in the West, finance students are being encouraged to gain expertise in Islamic banking so that they will be able to work in the Gulf states and in the wider Islamic world.
Full report on the University World News site


PAKISTAN: Universities must tackle national problems
Ameen Amjad Khan
Pakistan has been hit by massive floods many times and once by a severe earthquake that killed more than 100,000 people. These, and numerous other problems the country faces, have raised questions about the role of universities. Concern is growing that most courses taught at universities are irrelevant to Pakistan’s social and economic needs.
Full report on the University World News site

VIETNAM: Struggling to attract international students
Hiep Pham
Vietnam is changing university enrolment requirements to make it easier for foreign students to study at its universities. The new rules are part of a strategic plan to internationalise universities, produced earlier this year, which also includes more courses delivered in English and inviting foreign scholars to Vietnam to conduct research.
Full report on the University World News site


GLOBAL: Leiden Ranking: Many ways to measure research
The just-published Leiden Ranking adds to the panoply of global university rankings. It is likely to get little attention because no overall winner is declared, argues RICHARD HOLMES. But Leiden contains a wealth of data and other rankers using citations should pay careful attention. The problem is how to choose among all the data and how to combine it.
Full report on the University World News site

CHINA: World-class universities in a diverse system
China has been able to maintain a certain amount of institutional diversity within its higher education system despite moves to achieve world-class universities, say RUTH HAYHOE and JUN LI. How it has balanced support for world-class universities with policies promoting diversity and national economic redistribution, could provide useful lessons for other developing countries.
Full report on the University World News site


GLOBAL: Academic freedom reports worldwide
Noemi Bouet
In Uzbekistan, a female Uzbek student on vacation from studies in Germany has committed suicide after four days of police interrogation. In Turkey, 22 of 28 leftist youths detained for six months over accusations of terrorist links have been released after a court rejected the accusations against them. Professor Nasser bin Gaith of Abu Dhabi’s Sorbonne University, along with four others detained for eight months for signing an online pro-reform petition, has been freed after a presidential pardon. In Iran, an imprisoned rights activist has been denied leave to write a graduate admissions test. And in Tunisia, Islamic fundamentalist groups have disrupted university classes and exams and have targeted female professors.
Full report on the University World News site


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UK: Oxford agrees to reprint controversial Indian work
In a bow to pressure from scholars worldwide, Oxford University Press has said it will immediately reprint The Collected Essays of AK Ramanujan, an Indian scholar, poet and translator, and another book containing his work, writes Jennifer Howard for The Chronicle of Higher Education.
More on the University World News site

INDIA: State funds to help local universities compete
India’s national government would give financial support as a protective measure to state universities, as envisaged in the 12th five-year plan, Association of Indian Universities president Prakash T Chande said last week. It would enable Indian universities to withstand competition from foreign universities, writes Sudha Nambudiri for The Times of India.
More on the University World News site

US: Top Indian students to pay in-state fees
There’s good news for meritorious Indian students aspiring to pursue higher education in the US. American institutions have started charging foreigners with top academic records in-state tuition fees – the fees US students pay, which are less than those fixed for international students, writes N Arun Kumar for the Deccan Chronicle.
More on the University World News site

US: Apology and defence at Davis pepper-spray hearing
State lawmakers grilled University of California officials last Wednesday over the controversial pepper-spraying of student protesters at UC Davis, only to be warned by those administrators, however conciliatory, that more protests are inevitable if the legislature keeps cutting funds for higher education, writes Michael J Mishak for the Los Angeles Times.
More on the University World News site

US: Berkeley enhances aid for middle-class families
The University of California, Berkeley, is offering a new financial aid programme to help families whose gross annual income is $80,000 to $140,000, amid tuition increases and state funding cuts, writes Janet Lorin for Bloomberg.
More on the University World News site

US: For-profit college lobby blitz diluted new rules
Last year, the Barack Obama administration vowed to stop for-profit colleges from luring students with false promises, writes Eric Lichtblau for The New York Times. In an opening volley that shook the $30 billion industry, officials proposed new restrictions to cut off the huge flow of federal aid to unfit programmes. But after a ferocious response, the Education Department produced a much-weakened final plan that almost certainly will have far less impact as it goes into effect next year.
More on the University World News site

US: Universities block triple-X domain names
New .xxx addresses became available to the public last week, but some universities did not wait that long to secure important addresses, as a way to prevent adult content providers from profiting off them, writes Mike Snider for USA Today.
More on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Africa the loser in medical brain drain
Sub-Saharan African countries that train, and invest in, their doctors end up losing billions of dollars as the clinicians leave to work in developed nations, new research has found, reports IT-Online. South Africa and Zimbabwe have the greatest economic losses in doctors due to emigration, while Australia, Canada, the UK and the US benefit most from the recruitment of physicians educated in other countries.
More on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Chinese students learn vice of the dice
Chinese student Sai Meng arrived in Australia as a promising young scholar: captain of the best high school in Nanjing, two-time winner of the municipal essay competition and dux of his graduating class, writes Peter Cai for The Age. But Sai Meng (not his real name) did not finish his learning journey on the podium of a sandstone graduation hall. Instead, he spent his last days in Australia in a hospital ward under suicide watch.
More on the University World News site

UK: Cambridge University puts Newton papers online
The notebooks in which Sir Isaac Newton worked out the theories on which much classical science is based have been put online by Cambridge University. More than 4,000 pages have been scanned, including his annotated copy of Principia Mathematica, containing Newton’s laws of motion and gravity, reports the BBC.
More on the University World News site

UK: Reading hopes Malaysia branch will bear fruit
The University of Reading aims to open a campus in Malaysia, becoming the latest in a growing band of UK universities to establish overseas offshoots, writes Sarah Cunnane for Times Higher Education. Reading’s plans follow recent announcements from Lancaster University, which will partner with Guangdong University of Foreign Studies to open a campus in China, and the University of Nottingham, which has begun talks on a Shanghai branch that would be its third overseas campus.
More on the University World News site

UK: Universities risk aggressive marketing
Until recently, Britain’s University of Kent prided itself on its friendly image. Not any more. Over the past few months it has been working hard, with the help of media consultants, to downplay its cosy reputation in favour of something more academic and serious, writes Harriet Swain for the Guardian.
More on the University World News site

UAE: Institute offers first Islamic endowments masters
Zayed University has launched the world’s first masters in charitable endowments, the centuries-old Islamic form of philanthropy, writes Haneen Dajani for The National. As the university launched the Institute for Islamic Higher Studies last week, religious and education officials said the degree was timely, as misconceptions were dogging Islamic transactions and procedures.
More on the University World News site

US: How to define disability
A US federal appeals court ruled last week that George Washington University was within its rights in 2003 when its medical school kicked out Carolyn Singh, having determined that she was not meeting academic standards. Singh was diagnosed as having a learning disability shortly before she was dismissed, and she claimed that the university violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by not accepting her diagnosis and approving adjustments she requested, writes Scott Jaschik for Inside Higher Ed.
More on the University World News site

CANADA: Universities form immunology network
A consortium of universities in Canada is setting up a national network to promote and enhance human immune system research with a $600,000 (US$581,500) catalyst grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, writes Peter Mansell for Pharma Times.
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NIGERIA: University urges students to look elsewhere
Overwhelmed by the huge number of candidates seeking admission annually, the University of Lagos has pleaded with parents to patronise other institutions in the country, writes Emmanuel Edukugho for Vanguard.
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UGANDA: Virtual university launched
Uganda launched a virtual university in a low-key event recently, writes Raymond Mpubani for The Monitor. Minister for Higher Education John Chrysostom Muyingo said at the ceremony held at the university’s offices in Muyenga, an upmarket suburb in Kampala: “This is a radical move away from the blended learning approach used in many distance learning programmes offered by Uganda's universities.”
More on the University World News site
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