World encompassed

August 10, 2007

INDIAN PM CRITICISES STATE OF ACADEME

Most of India's universities are "below average", according to the nation's prime minister, Manmohan Singh.

Speaking at Mumbai University, Mr Singh called for an expansion in higher education and an improvement in standards.

He said: "About 10 per cent of the relevant age group is enrolled in any institute of higher education - as compared to 40 to 50 per cent in most developed economies. Almost two thirds of our universities and 90 per cent of our colleges are rated as below average on quality parameters. And most importantly, there is a nagging fear that university curricula are not synchronised with employment needs."

He added that enrolment in university was "abysmally low" in almost half the districts of the country, with fewer than half of secondary school students continuing into any form of college education.

MISSOURI SCOOPS RARE FAULKNER MANUSCRIPT

A handwritten manuscript by the author William Faulkner has been donated to a US university.

The one-page manuscript, "Sorority", was written by Faulkner in 1933 as a gift to a friend of his step-daughter. It was donated to Southeast Missouri State University's Centre for Faulkner Studies by Jane Isbell Haynes, who became interested in the author at university and subsequently wrote several books about him.

She previously donated rare historic photographs of the Mississippi towns of Ripley and Oxford, both closely associated with Faulkner. The centre plans an exhibition of her donations in the autumn.

CENTRAL ASIA HEALTH RESEARCH INITIATIVE

A US institution has set up the first university research centre on global health in central Asia.

Columbia University's Global Health Research Center in Almaty, Kazakhstan, will develop solutions to health problems in a region that has one of the fastest-growing HIV epidemics in the world. The centre will serve Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

"In some regions, the number of people affected with HIV has doubled annually since 2000. The sharp rise in health epidemics in Central Asia demands innovative and scientifically based approaches to prevention and social policies," said Nabila El-Bassel, a professor of social work at Columbia.

CANADIAN UNIVERSITY LOCKS OUT STRIKERS

A Canadian university declared a "lockout" of striking staff last week after talks failed.

Bishop's University in Quebec made the move after four days of talks with trade union representatives ended without reaching any settlement in a dispute over contracts and possible job cuts that began at the end of June.

The university said the campus would remain open and negotiations would resume.

ECONOMICS LAUREATE MOVES TO NEW INSTITUTE

A US university has hired a Nobel Laureate in economics and three of his team for a new institute.

Vernon L. Smith won the 2002 prize for his work using techniques from psychology in economics to understand how markets form with Daniel Kahneman of Princeton University. He will join Chapman Univer-sity's new Economic Science Institute, which will open in the autumn.

Dr Smith's colleagues David Porter, Bart Wilson and Stephen Rassenti will also be moving to the university from the economics department at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

TEXAS EXPOSES THE REASONS BEHIND SEX

How many reasons are there to have sex? 237 according to psychologists at the University of Texas at Austin. Pleasure and reproduction might seem the most obvious, but the survey of 1,900 people found reasons varying from "I was bored" to "It seemed like good exercise".

At the other end of the spectrum, responses included "I wanted to feel closer to God" and "I wanted the person to feel good about himself/herself".

The least edifying reasons included "I wanted to give someone else a sexually transmitted disease" and "I wanted to get a promotion".

SECRET OF LEARNING LANGUAGES DISCOVERED

Those who think their brain is preventing them from learning a foreign language could be right, according to US scientists.

Researchers at Northwestern University were able to predict who would be most successful at learning another language based on the size of a small region of their brain, Heschl's Gyrus, which is linked to handling sound.

However, the researchers are looking at other methods of teaching language that might help those with a smaller Heschl's Gyrus to learn languages.

The team also found that people who had learnt musical instruments early were more successful language learners.

AUSTRALIA-MALAYSIA PHD DEAL SIGNED

Seven Malaysian and one Australian university have signed a deal to provide PhD courses split between their countries.

The courses will allow Malaysian academics, backed by government scholarships, to split the research time for their doctorate between Melbourne university and one of the Malaysian institutions.

The Malaysian universities are Universiti Malaya, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Universiti Putra Malaysia, International Islamic University Malaysia, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Universiti Malaysia Sabah and the Universiti Teknologi Mara.

CODE LAYER SUGGESTS EFFECTS OF NURTURE

Scientists in Florida hope to shed light on the nature versus nurture debate with a new genetics project.

The University of Florida's epigenetics research consortium aims to understand how nurturing can alter people's susceptibility to disease all without changing a single letter in the genetic alphabet. The phenomenon is called "epigenetics" - literally, "above genetics".

Scientists are finding increasing evidence of a second code of instructions, cleverly disguised as a protein coat superimposed over our genes, said Thomas Yang, the director of Florida's Center for Mammalian Genetics.

COFFEE MAY PROTECT AGAINST SKIN CANCER

Exercise and small amounts of coffee may help to reduce the risk of skin cancer, researchers at a US university have found.

In an experiment at Rutgers University, groups of hairless mice were exposed to lamps that generated UVB radiation. Some of the mice drank caffeinated water, some ran on wheels and some did both activities. The light-damaged skin cells of the mice that both ran and drank were more likely to self-destruct, therefore avoiding becoming cancerous. The researchers do not know the reasons for the result nor whether it would be replicated in humans.

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments