Scientists in China are calling for reforms of the system of distributing funds for research, China Daily reported. Government officials and university administrators now make some of the decisions about which projects should be funded. Scientists want senior scholars to play more of a role, since they understand the potential of various projects seeking funding.
The Dutch education ministry wants to ban universities from investing in derivatives, Times Higher Education reported. Derivatives have become a popular financial strategy for many Dutch universities, but the government fears that twists in the economy could leave the universities in a highly vulnerable position because of the reliance on these investments.
Japan's Education Ministry is preparing to allow universities to use a quarter system in addition to the traditional semester system, The Yomiuri Shimbun reported. In the current system, students take up to 10 courses a semester but the courses meet only once a week, and critics say that there is not enough focus on anything. Under a quarter system, students would take fewer courses but they would meet twice a week.
The National College of the Arts in Lahore, Pakistan's leading art college, is under heavy criticism from Islamic traditionalists over its journal, which published homoerotic images that also depicted Muslim clerics, the Associated Press reported. The college has shut down the journal, pulled all copies of the journal from bookstores and dissolved the journal's editorial board, the AP reported. But those actions have not stopped the controversy. A court is considering blasphemy charges against the journal's editorial board and the head of the college.
A New York Timesarticle examines the potential for conflict of interest in Quacquarelli Symonds (known as QS) operating an international rankings system for universities and also a "ratings" system -- with the latter open to those who pay for an audit. The article notes that institutions that do poorly in international rankings (which tend to give the highest marks to research universities known around the world) are evaluated on different criteria, and are then awarded stars that they can use to boast and to recruit students. Two universities in Ireland are cited as examples of institutions that paid QS and now boast five-star ratings. Several international education experts are quoted expressing skepticism about whether the stars are meaningful. But the universities say that if they attract more students, their payments to QS will be worth it.
Indian President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday gave a speech calling for better standards and an enhanced private-sector role in higher education, Outlook India reported.
Mukherjee said that while ancient India had universities that were considered world leaders, many Indians today feel that they must leave the country to obtain the best possible higher education. He said that the country's top universities need to be able to compete in the top levels of international rankings, where their absence is the subject of much discussion in the country. "We must change the reality of our universities not figuring in the list of top universities of the world. Indian universities should aim at becoming top educational institutions in the world with global standards of research, teaching and learning," he said.
Further, he said that the country need more than its public universities. "It is important that the private sector also contributes its best to the provision of higher education in India," he said. "The private sector has played a key role in higher education in other countries across the world. Many top universities including Harvard, Yale and Stanford are the result of efforts of the private sector. There is no reason why Indian private sector cannot achieve similar results."
Israeli authorities on Monday granted full university status to the Ariel University Center, a higher education center on the West Bank whose future has become a hotly debated issue in Israeli academic and political circles, The Jerusalem Post reported. Advocates for Israeli settlements on the West Bank have pushed for the center to be given the same status as other Israeli universities. But many Israeli academics -- professors and administrators alike -- have opposed the idea. Some have argued that the move will link Israeli higher education to the government's policies supporting greater West Bank settlement -- policies that many Israel academics abhor. Other academics have offered more practical criticism, arguing that there isn't enough money for the country to support an eighth full-fledged university. An editorial in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz said that the move undercut the independence of Israeli higher education.