World in brief - 22 May 2014

May 22, 2014

Finland
Eastern neighbours study Finnish institutional autonomy

A training seminar was held recently at the University of Helsinki as part of a European Union initiative to assist reform and capacity-building in the higher education sectors of Armenia, Moldova and Ukraine, thereby enabling them to reap the benefits of enhanced university autonomy. Under the aegis of the three-year Athena project, which is funded by the EU under the Tempus programme and focuses on the so-called Eastern Neighbouring Area partner countries, the seminar brought together some 60 representatives from partner institutions, national rectors’ conferences and public authorities to learn about university autonomy and financial management practices in Europe and particularly in Finland.

Qatar
The British art of war

Qatari armed forces are to be taught by staff from a UK university. Academics from King’s College London’s defence studies department will teach selected mid-career officers from the Qatari Emiri Guard, the navy, army and air force at the new Joaan Bin Jassim Joint Command and Staff College in Doha. The UK’s Ministry of Defence and the private contractor Serco will also play a role in the professional postgraduate course in military education, which is based on a joint MoD-King’s programme run in the UK for the past 14 years.

Singapore
Hong Kong post for government critic

A journalism academic who criticised the Singapore government and who was later denied tenure at his university has taken a job in Hong Kong. Cherian George, whose contract at Nanyang Technological University expired after the university blocked an attempt to renew his position as head of journalism, will take up a post in Hong Kong Baptist University’s School of Communication. Professor George’s treatment at NTU had attracted international interest.

Uruguay
Mujica ponders imports to halt brain exports

Uruguay’s president has expressed his concern to Barack Obama on the issue of Uruguayan students who study in the US and do not return. José Mujica told the US president that students from his country are drawn to the US because of the calibre of its teaching and research in the biological sciences, but once there, end up taking graduate jobs with US firms. He suggested that the solution could be to have academics from American institutions teach in Uruguay.

Kenya
More studious than ever

The number of students at Kenyan universities grew by more than a third in 2013-14, according to a survey of the nation’s economy released earlier this month. It found that 324,560 students enrolled this year, up from 240,551 in 2012-13. This growth was attributable in part to the government’s decision to redesignate several colleges as universities, with the result that the number of public universities has grown from eight to 22 in a year.

New Zealand
Excellence rewarded

Six institutes have been named Centres of Research Excellence (CoREs) by New Zealand’s Tertiary Education Commission, a designation that brings with it millions of dollars in funding. The winners in the latest selection round are the Maurice Wilkins Centre, the Medical Technologies CoRE, Te Pūnaha Matatini – The Centre for Complex Systems and Networks (all hosted by the University of Auckland); the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology at Victoria University of Wellington; the Dodd-Walls Centre for Photonic and Quantum Technologies at the University of Otago; and Brain Research New Zealand – Rangahau Roro Aotearoa, which is co-hosted by Otago and Auckland.

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