Overseas briefing

December 10, 2009

Europe

Wide gender gap narrows

A new study exposes the extent of the gender bias in European research, but also shows that the gap between the number of women and men in the profession is narrowing. According to the latest edition of the Statistics and Indicators on Gender Equality in Science survey, published last week by the European Commission, women represent only 30 per cent of European researchers and 18 per cent of full professors in science. However, between 2002 and 2006, the number of women in scientific disciplines grew faster than the number of men, at a rate of 6.3 per cent annually compared with 3.7 per cent for men.

China

EU to triple Chinese exchanges

The European Union is to triple the number of student exchanges with China by 2018. Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, made the announcement ahead of a China-EU summit in Nanjing, the Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported. "In our bilateral relations, I would welcome seeing a rapid increase in people-to-people contacts and student exchanges over the coming five years," he said. "We need to know and understand each other much better. We should make every effort to increase the number of student and youth visits in both directions, with the aim of tripling the number by 2018." Currently there are 200,000 student exchanges between China and the EU a year.

Canada

Authors urge Ontario reform

The Canadian province of Ontario should create undergraduate-only universities, academic authors argue. A book, Academic Transformation: The Forces Reshaping Higher Education in Ontario, urges the province to follow the lead of other parts of the country in reforming its higher education system. Ontario has 19 universities and the largest number of students of any province in Canada. The book, commissioned by the independent Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, argues that the standard model of undergraduate education in the province is based on a belief that students should be taught only by faculty members engaged in original research. This is not affordable, it says.

Ireland

Students shun Emerald Isle

Irish school-leavers are applying to prestigious UK university courses in increasing numbers. Figures show a 44 per cent increase in applications from Ireland for courses in medicine, veterinary medicine, dentistry and science at British institutions, along with other courses at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, The Irish Independent reported. The newspaper said the Irish Government "has pledged to keep the brightest students here to kick-start the 'smart economy', which is promised to lift us out of the economic slump". About 1,300 students - 400 more than last year - have already applied for UK courses beginning next autumn.

Sweden

Calls to delay foreign fees

Leading academics in Sweden have called on the Government to delay plans to introduce fees for foreign students. The group of pro-rectors said that making students pay would harm the sector's internationalisation work. The pro-rectors of the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Lund University and the University of Gothenburg made the call in an article in the Swedish newspaper Goteborgsposten. "Look to Denmark, which lost 90 per cent of its international students when introducing fees without proper preparation," they said. "Many courses in English at masters level will have to be cut because that is where the foreign students are."

Australia

Research council chooses Scopus

The Australian Research Council has chosen a citation provider for its version of the research assessment exercise. Elsevier's Scopus database has been selected by the ARC for its Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) scheme. The ERA will assess the research quality of Australia's higher education providers using a combination of indicators and expert review. Elsevier describes Scopus as "the largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature and quality Web sources", containing abstracts and references from nearly 18,000 titles.

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