Letters
A reader responds to our recent coverage of allegations of flaws in the university accreditation process run by the National Universities Commission of Nigeria.
I have always been recognised as a liberal and secular author, journalist and academician. But I have been in prison for more than three months, without being told the reason and without access to my lawyer. My imprisonment has been automatically extended without a right to be heard. Without doubt this is in direct contravention of universal agreements on human rights to which Turkey is a party.
I would not be as despondent as Philip Altbach and Hans de Wit (University World News, 11 November 2016) about the Trump ascendency slowing the internationalisation of American universities. This is a leadership challenge and we should rise to it.
Brendan O'Malley's report, Vice-chancellors oppose academic boycott of Israel, on 6 June fails to make clear that the increasing academic boycott of Israel requested by the Palestinians targets academic institutions that practise educational discrimination against Arabs and not individual academics. Freedom of speech and discussion is not affected.
The Hurriet Daily News report, "Academics' report exposes dictatorial rectors", which you published a link to on 18 January is far from plausible, it has excessive judgments which are not quite right. Just a few points to mention.
As one of your more mature readers I welcome Philip Altbach’s commentary of 30 June on the demise of UNESCO’s and OECD’s commitment to higher education policy matters and debate. His well-chosen words in firing carefully aimed bullets I sincerely hope will be a wake-up call to those two important agencies that have, as Philip says, “largely left the field of higher education, creating a considerable vacuum”.
I am looking at the lead story in Issue 275, titled “G8 must recognise role of universities in recovery”. I have a first-class honours degree in English literature from the University of Western Australia. They are not easy to get.
We were pleased to see the recent article by Richard Hall titled "The profit motive is threatening higher education" published on 18 November 2012. Our team of editors at CollegeTimes witnesses the corrupt and destructive influence of money on the higher education system on a daily basis.
Georges Haddad, director of Education Research and Prospective in UNESCO's Education Sector, writes in response to the article by Erin Millar, published in University World News on 18 November 2012 and titled "UNESCO sends mixed messages about higher education".
University World News turns five years old today. The e-newspaper owned and produced by a global network of journalists has achieved success in reaching ever-more academics and higher education professionals – 40,000 in 150 countries now – and has earned a reputation for quality journalism and for being truly international.
In the drive for greater tertiary attendance we have netted negative unintended consequences—dropouts, underemployment and a heavy debt burden for both the individual and taxpayers. The question is determining the ability, and I might add the disposition, to benefit. In egalitarian societies, open admission institutions appear to have exceeded their ability to identify students who have the potential ability and disposition to benefit. In the normal distribution the yield from the left tail exceeds the right. Admitting students lacking the potential ability and disposition to benefit is a disservice to those students. It is the institution and not the student at fault.

William Patrick Leonard
From Michel Rose,
Paris-based journalist


Thanks for your story in the excellent University World News newsletter, which I read every Sunday. I wanted to let you know my utter confusion as to this new '4ICU' ranking which seems even more biased and useless than other rankings. My observations concern the position of French institutions in this ranking system.
From Professor James Larkin

With regard to Alison Moodie's piece "Universities prepare for a nuclear future", I should like to correct the impression that the Nuclear Industry Association of South Africa (Niasa) is a research body. Rather, it is an industry organisation established to champion the cause of nuclear power here in South Africa.
Hello, I am the union rep for part-time students at Kent university. I did a word search for part time students and came up with nothing from your archive. In 2007 part time students were 1/5 of the the student population at Kent university. Of course with the times in such flux and the positive impact of education on old and changing careers as well as on drop outs who have ambitions to evolve their work reality into something more satisfying the part time reality is on the rise.

Kimble Perry
From Professor Marcia Devlin*

Having started my career in the higher education sector as a professional staff member, and as a current member of the Association of Tertiary Education Management that Maree Conway and Giles Pickford contribute to, I agree with Maree and Giles in their comments in the last two editions of University World News that the distinction between different staff in universities is nonsense.
From Giles Pickford

Maree Conway is right in her comment on Professor Marcia Devlin's article: the energy and creativity of professional staff are vital to the university. Thirty years ago, they used to be called the menial staff, then the downstairs staff, then the general staff, and now the most demeaning of all names, the non-academic staff - defined by what they are not.
From John Mullen

I refer to last week's article on student job prospects in France. It seems to me that such a measure will have no effect whatsoever on unemployment; if nine out of 10 engineering students get a job quickly, and only seven out of 10 economics students, that does not mean that if far more young people take engineering companies will hire more people!
From Maree Conway*

I refer to Professor Marcia Devlin's article last week and would offer a few comments: One, nowhere in this article is there a reference to the majority of staff in institutions - the professional staff - and how their roles and functions may change over the next 20 years.
From Steve H. Foerster:

In regard to the article, GLOBAL: The global crisis of capitalism, I lost track of how many times the word "capitalism" was used but each one was jarring because each one was inaccurate.
From Niklas Traneus
I refer to last week's news story: SWEDEN: Fees for foreign students possible from 2010, University World News, 27 September 2009.
In response to Elayne Clift's commentary on online teaching: US: I'll never teach online again, the University of Sydney's Mary-Helen Ward says things are not as bad as might appear:
From Cameron Nichol
I refer to the article, US: I'll never teach online again, by Elayne Clift and her statement that online teaching is not for her.
From Zainub Qadir

With reference to the article ISLAMIC STATES: Network to improve quality assurance, Hassanuddeen Abd Aziz, head of the Quality Assurance Unit said that out of 1,700 universities in the Islamic World, only Istanbul University of Turkey was included in the top 500 in the last academic ranking of world universities.
UNESCO FORUM

From Professor Leodegardo M Pruna

I appreciate and laud Professor Mala Singh for her report on the UNESCO Forum on Higher Education, which outlined issues and concerns in higher education and research as analysed during a 10-year period. It is recognised that there exists a large gap in research and education undertakings between developed, developing and less developed countries. This gap results from the disparities in income, from where support and inputs to development in education and research come.
Our report: US: No job if you only have an online degree by John Richard Schock continues to attract comment. Here is the latest:
CORRECTION: In responses to an article by Dr John Richard Schrock last week, we incorrectly stated that Stuart Hamilton was chief executive of Universities Australia, the vice-chancellors' national organisation. Mr Hamilton is, in fact, Chief Executive of Open Universities Australia which provides distance education and online courses to students around the world. We apologise to Mr Hamilton and both organisations for the error.
Last week's report, No jobs for online degrees, by Dr John Richard Schrock drew a strong reaction. We publish two of the responses in this edition, along with Dr Schrock's reply while a selection of others can be seen as comments with the web story.
Editor's note: We asked one of our readers, Giles Pickford, why he decided to donate $10 a week to University World News for a year. This was his reply:
From Jean-Pierre Nioche
Congratulation on your article, FRANCE: Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité - but not yet. I am afraid, though, that the French concepts of "égalité" and "Grandes Ecoles" are not well understood.
From Giles Pickford
Reading the ongoing debate about big research versus small universities, I sometimes wonder whether the truth is that Gavin Moodie and Simon Marginson are both right, while appearing to be in furious disagreement.
I refer to the article about Egypt computerising the university curricula. I have just completed a degree that was half-earned through online classes and I strongly agree that professors need more face-to-face communication. Online education also does not give the university a chance to see the quality of the person or not, and online education allows cheating if a person so desires to do so. Professors are often given more students than they would have in person and they are not reading all the assignments students turn in.
I refer to your article, Universities embrace lifelong learning of 2 November 2008, in which your correspondent states that while an estimated 4% to 5 % of over-30s in the US are involved in lifelong learning of some kind, the European figure is less than 2%.
From: Phillip Rekdale

To a large degree I agree with David Jardine when he says in his article, Indonesia: Obstacles to university reform: "Structural reforms may take place piecemeal but corruption remains a problem for the higher education system. For this reason among others, Indonesia will continue to lag behind its assertive neighbours, Singapore and Malaysia." However, I believe that initial and very significant reform can be achieved as long as this reform is initiated by universities that are looking for, and ready to embrace change. These universities may well be those that are finding expansion under the current circumstances difficult.
Phillip Rekdale
Education consultant and webpage developer
Jakarta
www.grassrootscampus.com
From Thomas D Parker
University World News entered the world unheralded a year ago and has quickly established itself as the indispensable source of information about the global higher education community. There are excellent university centres and stand-alone institutes that follow and study international issues in higher education policy, but they do not provide the scope or frequency of reporting UWN offers. On Sunday mornings when it arrives, the newspaper takes precedence in my reading over the Sunday New York Times! May it have many more anniversaries.
Thomas D Parker
Senior Associate and Director
Global Center on Private Financing of Higher Education, Institute for Higher Education Policy, Washington DC.
From George Tillman

Regarding your article last week, Romania: Investment boost for higher education, as a consultant who helped design and shake down Romania's competitive grants system, I am encouraged by this report. But that corruption, 'academic clans' and lack of self-criticism continue to be problems is unfortunately no surprise.
From Wilfred Lema
Tanzania

I refer to your article on higher education in Malaysia, Foreign student numbers soar. We value the contribution Malaysia is making to the rest of the world, especially to Africa, in providing a cheap western-equivalent level of education. However, one issue has remained unattended and of late has evolved into a catastrophe.
From Dr Andrew Ssemwanga

Regarding your recent article Study into training for the oil and gas industry (click here), we at Cavendish University Uganda - a new university - are interested in starting courses in oil and gas exploration and management to take advantage of oil discovery in Uganda. (Click U-Say above for more.)
I refer to your article on research into the effects of smoking (see www.universityworldnews.com). John Banzhaf, a lawyer who has arguably made millions from promoting smoking bans and suing tobacco companies, said: "I don't think any reputable organisation today will accept tobacco industry money."
I refer to your article regarding the Nigerian government's decision to allow polytechnics and colleges to award degrees (14 September 2008) and to the previous week's report on Indonesian universities' poor world ranking. Go through a list of university world ranking and you will not find a Nigerian university in the top 600. Of course, the Nigerian government, unlike its Indonesia counterpart, is unfazed about this as are our university administrators.
Gavin Moodie writes:

It was good to read Diane Spencer's report, UK: Fears over privatisation (University World News, 13 July 2008). Very little attention has been given to the extensive relations that Australian and British public universities have with private for profit vocational and higher education providers. Yet these relations have developed remarkably strongly over the last two decades and seem to be expanding apace. Three questions occur to me.
From: Professor Stanley N Ihekweazu, South Carolina State University

I refer to the article about Nigerian lecturers without PhDs losing their jobs (UWN 30 March 2008). The idea of issuing a unilateral proclamation that all university lecturers must possess a PhD for continued employment in their present positions is ill-advised. It is tantamount to pursuing the shadow instead of the substance.
University World News is a unique service to the university community because it is the only medium which brings us global news about our vocation. I value this service. I cannot find fault with the editorial part of the enterprise, but here are some ideas from an old public relations hack about improving the web site.
I read Andy Schmulow's article, Ban contacts with University of the Free State. As a South African living in Canada, I was moved to write and thank him for taking a firm and principled stance on this issue. After following the story for the past few weeks, I have found that his analysis does not stray from the matter and he also proposes concrete measures to address the obvious shortcomings at UFS.
Your report on Bologna in Australia overlooked significant developments at the University of Melbourne. ("Warnings of impending doom subside" – 9 March 2008). Over the past two years, Melbourne has been moving to a 3+2 model similar to, though not an exact replica of, the Bologna model.
I write concerning Nick Holdsworth's story – "Bologna about to take root" – which mentions that Russian universities and degree awarding colleges will offer three-year bachelor degrees from 2009. Actually, since 1992 four-year bachelor degree programmes have existed in Russia. From 2009 we are going to adopt a new generation of State Educational Standards. The main innovation concerning bachelor degrees is that the programme will be developed in ‘units’ (equivalent to ECTS credits) instead of academic hours. A bachelor programme will be 240 units – equivalent to four years of full-time study. Three-year programmes will be possible only where credits are transferred from previous tertiary level studies.
I hate to quibble, but the word you want in your final article in last week's University World News is ‘raze’ and not ‘raise’. It does make a difference in the meaning of the article. But, having said that, I love your newsletter. I read it every Sunday morning and forward articles to my friends. At the risk of sounding anti-American, I assumed the author of the piece was from my side of the pond and that, therefore, he/she had never learned to spell?
Karen Cardenas, Executive Director, South Dakota World Languages Association. Brookings, South Dakota.
Many thanks for the article about English teaching. This was my favourite subject at Albany High School in the 1950s. Our teacher's name was Bevan Pope. He helped us understand the structure of language and grammar, which for a child is essentially lacking in interest.