Israel's Academy of Sciences and Humanities organized a meeting last week at which hundreds of Israeli academics living abroad, as well as Jewish academics in other countries considering a move to Israel, met with representatives of Israeli universities, Ynet News reported. The event was part of an expanded effort in Israel to reverse its brain drain problem. More than 2,000 Israeli academics abroad (a majority of them in the United States) have told academy officials that they are interested in returning to Israel. Those who return will be eligible for tax breaks and other benefits.
Indian lawmakers are considering another round of changes in legislation -- closely watched by universities in the United States and other countries -- that would allow non-Indian universities to open degree-granting campuses in India, Indian Express reported. Some of the changes would make it easier for prominent institutions, by allowing those deemed "reputed" to bypass some of the regulatory processes being created. Other changes may be challenging for some institutions' plans. For example, one change would require Indian officials to make sure that the addition of foreign institutions does not exacerbate inequities between rural and urban areas, given the concentration of universities today in urban areas. Many foreign institutions are likely to want to be in urban areas as well, but the bill would encourage the government to give preference to institutions locating in rural, less developed parts of the country.
The University of Cambridge and the University of Hong Kong have teamed up to recruit top students from China, Times Higher Education reported. Students will be recruited to the University of Hong Kong with the promise that the best among them, after a successful year there, will be offered a spot at Cambridge.
Ugandan higher education authorities recently authorized the Virtual University of Uganda to begin offering fully online programs, the first such programs in the region. The university has created an open access virtual library and a course management system through Moodle. Instruction will be in English, but there are plans to expand to French as well.
The University of Oxford says that there is no need -- in light of the scandal over the conduct of some of the publications owned by Rupert Murdoch -- to rethink endowed chairs and programs in his name or that of News International, Times Higher Education reported. Murdoch made a significant gift (exact size unknown) to Oxford, his alma mater, in 1990. The gift funds the Rupert Murdoch professor of language and communication, three lectureships, a News International Fund that makes various grants, and a News International visiting professor of media, and a program to provide internships to students interested in journalism. An Oxford spokesman told Times Higher Education: "Our full processes of scrutiny were carried out at the time of the endowment." Valentine Cunningham, professor of English language and literature at Oxford, said there was "only residual unhappiness" among academics over News International ties. "It is thought that we have turned bad money into good," Cunningham said.
A new report by the Sutton Trust has added to concerns about inequities in Britain's elite universities, Times Higher Education reported. In the period of 2007-9, five schools accounted for 5 percent of all students admitted to the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford. That's the same share of the Cambridge and Oxford populations produced -- in total -- by 2,000 other high schools. The report notes that students at some high schools do much better on tests than do students at other high schools. But the analysis suggests that more than test scores are at play. For instance, the research found two schools with nearly identical scores by students on the national tests of academic performance. One school sent 65 percent of students to Britain's 30 top universities, while the other sent 28 percent.