April 2005

Copyright © 2005 World Expertise LLC – All rights reserved

A periodic electronic newsletter for engineering education leaders,

edited by Russel C. Jones, Ph.D., P.E., and Bethany S. Oberst, Ph.D.


1 - International developments

2 - US developments

3 - Distance education, technology

4 - Students, faculty, education

5 – Employment

6 – Journal




1 - International developments

Big tuition increases in UK universities – In a move that was not unexpected, most universities in England are moving to increase the cost they charge students, using new legislation that permits them to raise tuition up to ₤3000.  Of the 118 institutions whose tuition plans have been approved, only 8 have raised their tuition less than the maximum amount, writes Aisha Labi in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  Universities which raise fees are required to demonstrate how they will ensure that lower-income students are not denied access on the basis of financial means.  If there are clear signals by spring 2006 that higher tuition has resulted in fewer less affluent students attending, the government’s new Office of Fair Access is required to take action.  (See

Industrial revolution in Italy – A revolution is sweeping over Italy’s universities and scientific community as the government tries to align publicly funded research more closely with the needs of industry, according to an article in the April 1st Science by Susan Biggin. A university reform bill that aims to overhaul the structure and recruitment procedures for academic staff members is lumbering through the parliament, but the government has issued a stopgap decree partly addressing some of the urgent issues. University rectors have declared much of the proposed change “totally unacceptable”. Scientists are uneasy about a recently unveiled national research plan, which would inject an additional $2.3-billion into science but require that researchers build closer ties to industry. The government has called for companies to make more effort to similarly boost their R&D spending. Italy currently spends about 1.2% of its gross domestic product on research, more than half of which comes from public coffers. The government wants to pursue the EU goal for member states of 3% by 2010. (See

South Korea budgets for world-class research programs South Korea is attempting a massive restructuring of its higher education system, prompted by a declining birthrate and an ambition to be recognized as a source of world-class research.  The government aims at reducing the number of national universities from 50 to 35 over a two year period, reducing the number of private universities by 25% by 2009, and doubling its support of Brain Korea 21. Brain Korea 21 is a program which in the past few years has brought about a huge increase in the number of Korean-authored published research papers, increased links with US and other foreign universities, and greater numbers of student and faculty international exchanges, reports Alan Brender in The Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

Chinese revolution in engineering education – China has set its sights on becoming a world leader in engineering, according to Lucille Craft in the lead article in the April ASEE Prism. As the country transforms itself from a farming nation to a factory behemoth, a quiet but vast revolution is being staged on the college campuses there. The nation of 1.3-billion people has resolved to become a powerhouse in engineering, so that it can move from cut-rate textiles and appliances to more sophisticated industries. Realizing that in the future its industries will rely on research and development and innovation, the country is preparing in advance by reshaping its educational institutions. So at its more elite institutions, old-style pedagogy and rote learning are out, and progressive curricula, independent thinking and creativity are in. China ’s engineering schools, with 3.7-million students, are in the middle of these developments. (See

European Commission proposes big increase in research spending – The Seventh Framework Program of the European Union will be authorized to spend $87 billion on research and development between 2007 and 2013 under a budget proposed by the European Commission. This is an increase from the $23 billion budget for 2002 to 2006. The increase is due not only to the recent enlargement of the EU, but also to an attempt to make Europe the leading knowledge-based society in the world.  Critics have already pointed out an emphasis on applied research, leaving basic research with only a relatively small piece of the budget pie. One apparent victory for everyone is the establishment of the European Research Council modeled on the US National Science Foundation, to provide funding and support to research “in all scientific and technological fields, including engineering, socioeconomic sciences, and the humanities.” These proposals are all subject to debate within the European Council and the European Parliament, writes Aisha Labi in The Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

Send in the engineers – Soon after the December tsunami devastated coastal communities in 11 south Asian countries, engineering teams fanned out throughout the region both to provide humanitarian assistance and to study the situation in order to mitigate the impact of future such natural forces. Writing in the April 2005 ASEE Prism, Thomas Grose describes how a team of US researchers traveled to Sri Lanka to learn what they could about mitigating such catastrophic destruction in the future. Two key things the engineering researchers were trying to learn were the maximum water levels and how far inland the water came. Because the tsunami struck in the daytime and inundated many populated areas, the researchers were able to gather eyewitness accounts and photographic and videotape evidence, in addition to measuring damage to buildings and trees. The researchers say that ongoing, frequent public education is the best way to avoid fatalities from tsunamis. (See

New statistics highlight cost differences in Western and Eastern EU An article by Donna Borak and published online on March 24 on the newkerala website includes some insight into off-shoring in the European Union.  Jobs from many Western EU countries are rapidly shifting to the new Eastern member states in order to take advantage of lower labor costs and longer workweeks.  The average workweek in the ten new EU member states is 44 hours, while in the old EU-15, it is about 38 hours.  38% of workers in the Eastern EU work over 45 hours per week, as compared with 21% in Western EU. And labor costs in Western Europe are from 5 to 10 times higher than those in the East.  (See

First degrees in engineering and technology decline in UK – Engineering and technology were the specializations chosen by 6.6% of first degree students in the UK in 2003-2004, down from 7.3% the year before, according to a report issued by the Higher Education Statistics Agency. (See

Access, affordability, are not necessarily linked, new international study shows – A new report from the US based Educational Policy Institute indicates that access and affordability in higher education are not always linked, reports Sala Lipka in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  Sweden has the most affordable higher education system.  The Netherlands ’ system of higher education is the most accessible.  The US come in 13th in affordability, but the out of pocket expenses for a US college education are actually lower than in many Western European countries, due to grants and loans which offset costs.  In all cases, children of the elite classes are more likely to get into higher education, with Austria , Belgium , Germany and Italy being the most elite.  The study finds that cultural factors are closely related to access, and concludes that money alone is not the driving force behind decisions to attend college.  Australia raised its college costs and Ireland lowered them without either one’s accessibility changing.  (See

Tech unites New Delhi and Beijing During a tour of India ’s technology hub, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao called for more collaboration between China and India to put the two countries at the forefront of global technology industries. Specifically, according to a report by John Larkin in the April 4th Wall Street Journal, he called on more Indian information-technology companies to set up operations in China . Speaking in Bangalore , he said “I strongly believe that if we join hands together we will certainly be able to set a new trail in the IT business world. Combined we can take the leadership position”. The warming ties between these two historical foes are driven by a shared need for harmonious relations as they shepherd their burgeoning economies. While they may eventually become competitors, India ’s emphasis on software and China ’s on mass-scale manufacturing currently complement one another. Mr. Wen and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh are also working on border disagreements, and trying to build political, economic and cultural ties. (See

Ivory Coast university attempts to reopen, reconcile political differences – Despite continuing conflict in the Ivory Coast , the University of Bouaké is scheduled to reopen this spring, with help from UNESCO and the Japanese International Cooperation Agency, reports Wachira Kigotho in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  The university was founded in 1996, and enrolled 13,000 students when it closed down due to the outbreak of violence in 2002 when rebels invaded the north trying to depose President Laurent Gbagbo.  The students fled and the university became a rebel headquarters and barracks, after having been entirely looted. Officials are inviting even those who joined the rebels to return to their studies, and hope to have 4000 students and 200 faculty in place for the reopening.  (See

Japan weighs moon and beyond – Japan’s space agency has drawn up a new vision for space exploration that includes a crewed space program and a scientific base on the moon, according to an article by Dennis Normile in the April 1st Science. But critics suggest that the agency, which is trying to erase the stain of several costly failures, is attempting to do more than its sagging budget can handle. Over the past decade, three of the country’s 13 heavy rocket launches have failed, and two earth observation satellites lost power due to solar panel problems. Crewed missions are apparently seen as a way to rekindle public support for space activities. Government spending has dropped by 20% since a 1999 peak that included the completion of commitments to the international space station. Japan ’s current budget for space is $1.7-billion, which is dwarfed by the $5.4-billion that Europe collectively spends and NASA’s $16-billion. (See

Peking University fires professor who speaks in favor of free speech – Since Hu Jintao took over as leader of China two years ago, scholars have been surprised by actions taken to curtail free speech, writes Paul Mooney in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  The latest event occurred when Peking University fired Jiao Guobiao, a journalism professor who has been sharply critical of government restrictions on speech.  Mr. Jiao, who was in the United States as a fellow at the National Endowment for Democracy when the letter of dismissal was delivered to his home in Beijing , said he expected this.  In previous months his courses were cancelled, his graduate advising function taken away, his year-end bonus docked, and his publications refused.  Mr. Jiao says that he has been critical of policies but has never questioned the legitimacy of the Communist Party.  He continues to speak out because, “A lot of people can teach, but not many can talk, write, or express opinions like this.”  (See

Schooling for all in Venezuela - After four years of wearing down the opposition, Venezuela ’s leftist President, Hugo Chavez, is pressing ahead with his “revolution” on all fronts, including education. According to a report in the April 2nd The Economist, opponents of his plans are using the slogan “Don’t mess around with our kids”. Criticisms of the President’s plans for education focus on three things: an alleged threat to university autonomy; new “political” criteria for teachers’ appointments; and the government’s purported hostility to private education. One bone of contention is a decree that gives the government control over university budgets and planning, allegedly threatening university autonomy. Another concern is the way in which the guarantee of education up to the university level for all who want it is being developed, with a parallel education system of “missions” created with help from Cuba ’s communist government which is being fused into the traditional system. Critics fear that pedagogy will lose out to ideologically slanted training. (See

Israeli students protest budget cuts, mismanagement – Administrators at some of Israel ’s public universities found themselves in the odd position of being both the target of student protests and fellow protestors, as thousands of students demonstrated against budget cuts to university education.  The protests were started when Tel Aviv University ’s administration announced that it was cutting ten academic departments and merging their courses and faculty into other departments.  Administrators from some universities joined the protests, saying that the students had succeeded in drawing attention to the crisis in educational funding which has seen budgetary support for higher education cut by one sixth over the past four years, and the 2005 budget still stalled in the Knesset, reports Haim Watzman in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  Students, however, noted that while under funding was a problem, so was administrative mismanagement at some universities, Tel Aviv being one. (See

Arab engineers design robot camel jockeys – Engineers in the United Arab Emirates have been instrumental in solving a type of child abuse that has gain international attention.  Responding to outcries against the use of small children as camel jockeys in the popular sport of camel racing, UAE engineers have invented robot jockeys which recently were successfully prototyped. The robots, mounted on the backs of the camels, are controlled remotely.  They will cost about $2000 US apiece and may be subsidized by the Emirates government.  Human jockeys will be phased out in five years, with over 20,000 children replaced, writes Samir Salama in the Gulf News on April 13. (See


2 - US developments

Groups seeks information on visa denials by US government – The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain documents which would shed light on the US government’s denial of visas to foreign scholars who have criticized US policies, writes Burton Bollag in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  The ACLU hopes to bring clarification to the reasons behind these denials, which until now have been justified under the rubric of “national security.” (See

Drop in foreign student applications slows – The number of foreign students applying for graduate studies in the US has declined for the second year in a row, according to a survey by the Council of Graduate Schools. According to an article in the March 18th Science by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, this year’s drop of an additional 5% is significantly less than the 28% drop last year, which was attributed to a tightening of US visa policies and aggressive recruiting by other developed countries such as the United Kingdom. But analysis of the decrease indicates that a primary reason for decreased interest in US universities is the availability of increased opportunities in their own regions. Applications from China are down 13% this year, for example, reflecting the growing attitude that a US degree is not the only guarantee of a good job and successful career. It is clear that US universities face increasing competition for the best students, particularly in the sciences and engineering. (See

University of California again tops list of new patents received – For the eleventh year in a row the University of California system was the leader in the number of patents received in the US , reports Goldie Blumenstyk in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  The UC system accounted for 424: the other top three, trailing at a distance, were the California Institute of Technology, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Texas System . (See

Budget cuts for research – For decades, American researchers have unlocked nature’s secrets, generated an enormous number of patents, and earned a string of Nobel Prizes. But according to an article by Peter Spotts in the April 14th Christian Science Monitor, pride of accomplishment is mingling with angst as Washington contemplates research cuts on everything from space weather to high-energy physics. The major concern is that the US may be positioning itself for a long, steady decline in basic research – a key engine for economic growth – at a time when competitors from Europe and Asia are hot on America ’s heels. Observers point to several examples in the White House budget proposed for 2006: NASA to pull the plug on the Voyager spacecraft; a second year of cuts in scientific research at the Department of Energy; and science and technology funding at the Department of Defense far below the department’s recommended levels. The overall proposed budget for federally funded R&D would rise by 0.1%, far short of inflation. Motivation of the administration is apparently to tame the huge deficits since George W. Bush became president, and projections for more red ink lie ahead. (See

Report calls for new strategies in support of computational science in US – The US President’s Information Technology Advisory Panel issued a report on “Computational Science: America’s Competitive Challenge,” in which it called for universities and federal agencies to make changes in their support of computational science, including more support of interdisciplinary work.  The report advises the National Academies to reorganize the research of federal agencies to support “revolutionary advances,” writes Vincent Kiernan in The Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

Agenda for fostering innovation – A recently released report, the “National Innovation Initiative”, is tackling issues posed by challenges that the global economy poses for the US high tech leadership and government policy makers. The report goes beyond stating the obvious that countries with innovative companies and entrepreneurs will win out, according to an article in the April Today’s Engineer by Terry Costlow. It instead focuses on creating an agenda for maintaining America ’s leadership position – an agenda that will require cooperation from legislators, educators and engineers throughout US industry. The agenda proposed has three prongs: a “talent” segment that calls for a national innovation education strategy and empowerment of American workers so they can succeed in the global economy; investment in advanced research and risk-taking companies, while focusing on energizing the entrepreneurial economy; and focusing on infrastructure issues that must be addressed, including strengthening US manufacturing capabilities while building a consensus for innovation growth strategies. (See 

SEVIS system hacked in Nevada – For the second time in two years, the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) at a large public US university has been hacked.  The University of Nevada at Las Vegas had records associated with 5,000 current and former international students accessed illegally.  Steps were immediately taken to inform those affected of the break-in and to offer the university’s help in preventing identity theft, writes Sara Lipka in The Chronicle of Higher Education. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation was also informed. (See

Future of engineering licensure – The April Exchange of the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying features an article on defining the future of engineering licensure, written by Monte Phillips, chair of the NCEES Licensure Qualifications Oversight Group. Proposed changes to the engineering licensure system in the US are described, representing four years of work by NCEES and other organizations in the engineering profession. A new education requirement would include graduation with a B.S. degree from an engineering program of four years or more accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, or equivalent, plus 30 additional credits from approved course providers in upper-level undergraduate or graduate-level coursework in professional practice and/or technical topic areas. With passing of the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, the title Associate Engineer would be granted. Then with four years of experience Chartered Engineer status would apply. Finally, with additional education and passing the technical PE exam and a Professional Practice exam, Professional Engineer status would be achieved. (See   

US group to advise Congress on teacher education – The US National Research Council has been asked by the US Congress to produce a report on teacher training programs, focusing on profiles of the people who enter teacher preparation, the types of instructional training offered and the profiles of the faculty who teach the future teachers, the amount of consistency between reading and math instruction and scientific evidence about that instruction, and the types of data collection that can inform inquiries about “content knowledge, pedagogical confidence, and effectiveness of the graduates of teacher-training programs, as well as teachers trained in alternative-certification programs,” reports David Glenn of The Chronicle of Higher Education.  Arthur Levine, president of Teachers College at Columbia University and author of a recent report calling for the end of the Ed.D. degree, is cautiously optimistic about the report, and sees the time as ripe for significant change. Levine, however, believes that the ultimate goad to needed reforms will be the fear that teacher training programs will simply fade away in face of increasing numbers of alternative routes to licensure.  (See


3 - Distance education, technology

Report ranks best/worst targets for distance education initiatives – Hezel Associates is a US based consulting company specializing in distance education.  It has made public a report ranking the countries where it thinks US universities should concentrate their efforts in establishing distance education programming.  South Korea is at the top, with Japan and Germany among the other most attractive locations.  Venezuela and Kazakhstan were among the least attractive.  India ranked #20. Hezel studied 42 countries in Asia , Europe , North America and South America .  Countries in Africa and the Middle East were not included but some may be ranked later.  Criteria used in determining the receptivity of a country’s population to distance education include the size of the under 45 year old population and how that population segment will grow in the coming 20 years, the education level of the citizens, prevalence of English, and availability of technology.  This article was written by Dan Carnevale for The Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

Nanotech is biggest in US – The science of the very small is getting big in the US , according to a March 28th article in the Washington Post by Rick Weiss. Americans are investing more money, publishing more scientific papers and winning more patents than anyone else in the growing field of nanotechnology, according to the first comprehensive federal report on the science of things on the scale of billionths of a meter. Nanotechnology is widely touted as the next industrial revolution, with materials finding their way into an ever-widening spectrum of products, including clothing, cosmetics and hard drives. The federal report indicates that the US is well ahead in global competitiveness in this field, but that Europe and Asia show signs of gaining. The enterprise is still very young, and for the next five years is expected for the most part to produce novel materials such as stain-proof fabrics, super-strong tennis rackets, and catalysts and other products useful to the chemical industry. Longer term, the field is expected to produce medical products, such as nanospheres that attach themselves to tumor cells to fatally fry them, and novel materials for absorbing poisons from the environment. (See

Congress advised to loosen restrictions on distance education – The US Department of Education is recommending to Congress to eliminate the rule that limits financial aid at institutions that have more than 50% of their students enrolled in distance education or that offer more than half of their courses via distance education. The rules were initially set up in 1992 to combat diploma mills, but have since been viewed as a barrier to access to higher education by returning adult students, non-traditional students, minorities and part-timers, writes Dan Carnevale in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  (See

Brazil is free software’s biggest friend – Since taking office two years ago, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has turned Brazil into a tropical outpost of the free software movement, according to an article in the March 29th New York Times by Todd Benson. Looking to save millions in licensing fees, he has instructed government ministries and state-run companies to gradually switch from costly operating systems made by Microsoft and others to free operating systems like Linux. Brazil has also become the first country to require any company or research institute that receives government financing to develop software to license it as open-source, which means that the underlying software code must be free to all. Now the Brazilian government looks poised to take its free software campaign to the masses, rolling out a program called PC Conectado which is aimed at helping millions of low-income Brazilians buy their first computers. Microsoft has not given up trying to salvage some of the market, and is working with the PC Conectado project to see if there is a way Microsoft can be involved. (See

Management of digital collections – Data have gone digital, and researchers from all walks of science are stockpiling their observations in newly created databases accessible to everyone through the World Wide Web. According to an article in the April 8th Science by Elizabeth Pennisi, the US National Science Foundation is concerned about the operation and longevity of such databases, particularly those generated or contributed to through its grants. At issue are funding of ongoing support for databases, policing data to maintain quality standards, formatting data for eventual incorporation in metacollections, and presenting  the information in ever more sophisticated yet understandable ways. More students and researchers need to know how to use the information, and database management should be recognized as a career on a par with lab research. The challenge to NSF and other agencies is how to satisfy all these needs without busting their budgets. The National Science Board recently approved a draft report that calls for a comprehensive plan to manage this increasingly important scientific asset. (See

U. of Texas moves to defend engineer’s intellectual property rights – The University of Texas System (USA) has filed a lawsuit on behalf of engineering professor George V. Kondraske, claiming that fourteen electronics companies have infringed on his patented inventions.  At issue are a device and a method patented in 1987 for “predictive text.”  Originally invented to help the hard of hearing and speech impaired, it has become a central technology in text messaging.  The university claims that its Board of Regents holds the intellectual property rights to the technology, and that companies such as Sanyo North American Corporation and Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications are guilty of infringement, reports Katherine S. Mangan in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  (See

Some colleges short on computer security – The computer age is continually testing how well institutions protect personal information, and the nation’s colleges and universities may be earning a failing grade. In recent weeks there have been reports of a laptop containing 100,000 Social Security numbers being stolen, hackers gaining access to information on 21,000 students, and a breach that may have exposed personal information on 59,000 current, former and prospective students, according to an article by Tom Zeller in the April 4th New York Times. There is no evidence yet that any of the compromised information has been used to commit fraud, but these instances highlight the particular vulnerabilities of modern universities, which are heavily networked, widely accessible and brimming with sensitive data on millions of people. Many universities still use Social Security numbers as the primary way of identifying students, even printing them on identification cards, posting them on bulletin boards along with grades, and using them to link dozens of networked databases. Many universities are now moving away from such systems, but it often takes years to complete that process. On the whole, it appears that schools remain comparatively low-hanging fruit for hackers and thieves. (See


4 - Students, faculty, education

Pope John Paul II’s influence on Catholic higher education reviewed – The recent death of Pope John Paul II was the occasion for The Chronicle of Higher Education to publish an article by Burton Bollag analyzing his legacy in higher education.  The pope himself was a prolific scholar, publishing seven books and 300 articles during his life.  His conservative positions, while rejected by many, created a firm platform from which he reached out to dialogue with people of other faiths and encouraged Catholic colleges to do the same.  Under his influence, US Catholic institutions have been moved to revisit the nature of their Catholic identity, after several decades of rapid changes dating from the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s.  Several prominent theologians – among them Hans Kung from Switzerland and Charles Curran from the US – were censured for their liberal challenges to Vatican teachings, but American Catholic higher education leaders were largely successful in deflecting restrictions on academic freedom, rendering ineffective tactics designed to impose conservative thinking on faculty at Catholic colleges and universities.  The new pope will have the task of creating a balance between Catholic thinking and the rapidly evolving knowledge in social sciences, medical ethics and biomedical science, according to Monika Hellwig of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities. (See

Chinese crack down on student web sites – Universities across China are tightening controls on student-run Internet discussion forums as part of a Communist Party campaign to strengthen what it calls “ideological education” on campuses. According to an article in the March 24th Washington Post by Philip Pan, the crackdown has caused widespread resentment among students and prompted demonstrations. The Web sites, which run on school computer networks, host some China ’s largest and liveliest online bulletin boards.  But in recent weeks, universities have started blocking off-campus users from participating, including alumni and students and faculty from other universities. They also have begun requiring students to register with their real names when going online, eliminating the anonymity that allowed participants to speak without fear of punishment by authorities. Censorship on university sites has been slower and less heavy-handed than on commercial sites, and liberal scholars have used them to distribute sharp critiques of the Communist Party and to call for political reform. (See  

Publishers question use of electronic reserves at US university – Electronic reserves – the system of placing materials on-line for students in a course – raises questions of fair-use guidelines, and are currently the object of growing concern for the Association of American Publishers, writes Scott Carlson in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  The Association’s lawyers have contacted the University of California at San Diego and appear to be preparing to file a lawsuit.  Electronic reserves are traditionally available only to registered students and protected by passwords, which does not satisfy the publishers, who maintain that electronic copies of materials now constitute the entire required reading list of courses, rather than being merely supplementary texts.  They liken electronic reserves to printed course packets which the courts have determined require copyright payment.  UC San Diego officials are saying that a lawsuit would be detrimental to publishers, since faculty scholars are the ones responsible for the creation of the content of the published works and are already uneasy about the escalating costs of textbooks and seeking alternative ways of publishing them.  (See

America ’s best graduate schools – The April 11th issue of U.S. News & World Report contains that magazine’s annual ranking of graduate schools in the US . The ranking methodology uses expert opinion and survey data in measuring the quality of schools of business, education, engineering, law, medicine and other fields. The engineering list contains the usual suspects at the top: MIT first, Stanford second, UCal Berkeley third, Georgia Tech and Illinois at Urbana-Champaign tied for fourth, and next in line Michigan-Ann Arbor, Southern California, Cal Tech, Carnegie-Mellon and Purdue. The ranking continues through 49 levels, with several ties along the way. An extended list is available on the magazine’s web site. (See

Study proposes changes in mix of teaching and research at British universities – The British House of Commons Science and Technology Committee just issued a report, “Strategic Science Provision in English Universities,” calling for greater differentiation between teaching and research intensive institutions and for greater collaboration among universities.  This report was in response to a spate of closings of science departments in several universities, the latest being the University of Exeter ’s decision to shutter chemistry at the end of this academic year.  According to the report, 30% of university physics departments have either been closed or merged since 2001.  Because British universities are funded on a combination of enrollment and research success, it has been in the interest of every university to cut any costly science programs that are not highly ranked for research productivity, leaving what are perceived to be serious gaps in some disciplines.  Tony Ashmore of the Royal Society of Chemistry is quoted as saying, “We have a funding regime which funds universities according to what they want to do – it preserves academic freedom, but doesn’t necessarily mean that the country’s needs are being met.”  Aisha Labi is the reporter for this article in The Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

Scores for new SAT come in – The 300,000 brave young souls who were first to take the retooled Scholastic Aptitude Test have their scores now, and are trying to decipher what they mean. According to an article by Lori Aratani in the April 14th Washington Post, students and their parents are trying to relate scores on the new scale of 2400 to those on the old scale of 1600, to determine where they rank against the competition. The new SAT offered in March took 45 minutes longer than the old three hour version, and included an essay and a math section covering concepts in Algebra II. Perfect scores of 2400 were achieved by 107 takers of the new test. Officials with the College Board, which administers the test, said it will take at least a year before they will have a large enough sample to provide comparison data such as average scores and percentile information. In the meantime, college admissions officers are wrestling with how they will use the new scores, particularly on the written section. (See

Ukrainian president demands resignation of rectors who abused their authority – The Orange Revolution, which brought about the overturn of Ukraine ’s flawed presidential elections last year, resulted in 186 complaints of campaign abuses, among them accusations that university rectors who owed their jobs to then-President Leonid Kuchma, were pressured to support Kuchma’s favored candidate, Viktor F. Yanukovich. Those rectors in turn forced staff members and student to support Yanukovich.  Now, the newly victorious President Victor A. Yushchenko has demanded the resignation of anyone who abused positions of authority in the election.  The Education and Science Ministry has ordered the reinstatement of any students and employees who were expelled for political activities, writes Bryon Macwilliams in The Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

ABET seeks new perspective – The lead article in the April Engineering Times, by Danielle Boykin, describes a significant development in the organization that has been responsible for quality assurance of engineering education programs in the US for over 70 years – the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. ABET plans to revamp its process for selecting and training program evaluators, and to encourage more participation from practicing engineers in industry and private practice. ABET has 1500 expert volunteers, selected and trained by some 30 professional and technical societies. Each year, 500-600 of these volunteers make accreditation visits to college campuses. Its new Participation Project, launched last November, has five facets: volunteer recruitment and selection, training and certification, performance evaluation, roles and responsibilities, and strategies for continuous improvement. Full implementation is anticipated by 2007. (See

AAHE closing its doors – The well-known American Association for Higher Education, which has provided leadership over the past four decades in areas such as the scholarship of teaching and learning, and has had editorial responsibility for Change magazine, will close its operations at the end of May of this year, according to Thomas Bartlett in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  The AAHE is a non-profit individual membership organization. When membership dropped rapidly in the past several years, its president, Clara M. Lovett, said the organization could no longer produce the quality of work it was known for.  Lovett attributed the closure to the creation of other competing organizations over the years. She hopes that Change will continue to be published, though its future is unclear. (See

Shortcoming in new education law – The academic growth that students experience in a given school year has apparently slowed since the passage of No Child Left Behind, according to a new study reported by Greg Winter in the April 13th New York Times. The study was conducted by the Northwest Evaluation Association, which develops tests for about 1500 school districts in 43 states. Both reading and math test scores have gone up somewhat as each class of students outdoes its predecessors, but within grades students have made less academic progress during the year than they did before the new law. It is speculated that individual growth has slowed because teachers feel compelled to spend the bulk of their time making sure students who are near proficiency make it over the hurdle. The findings of this study casts doubt on whether schools can meet the law’s mandate that all students be academically proficient by 2014. One of the more ominous findings, according to the researchers, is that the achievement gap between white and nonwhite students could soon widen. (See   

University rewards students who graduate in four years – In an attempt to increase its four-year graduation rate above the current 25%, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (USA) is offering $500 to any student who graduates on time.  US universities have come up with a variety of ways to promote timely completion of undergraduate studies.  The University of Texas System pays off the loans of some students who graduate on time; the University of Florida guarantees students a seat in any class required for their major; and the California State University System has tightened transfer requirements to cut down on the number of courses transfer students will have to take on their campuses, reports Peter Schmidt in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  (See

US university sells its technology support services to small colleges – Drexel University (USA) is now an ASP, an application service provider, selling IT support services to about 40 other colleges which cannot afford to purchase the popular business-software programs such as Banner.  In this way, Drexel is offsetting its own IT costs, while helping small colleges improve their operations through more sophisticated and reliable technology, writes Dan Carnevale.  This innovation is being led by Constantine N. Papadakis, president of Drexel, who was brought to the university over a decade ago to improve its financial situation.  Drexel now offers services in course management software, e-mail systems, and business software.  They even store data on their servers for other institutions.  The university declines to reveal the exact amounts involved in these business partnerships with other institutions.  (See

Is the MBA obsolete? – Business school critics say it is past time for the vaunted MBA degree to get a new look, according to an article in the April 11th U.S. News & World Report by Justin Ewers. One top critic says that conventional MBA programs train the wrong people in the wrong ways with the wrong consequences. Classes are focused on analysis and technique instead of clinical experience; and core subjects like finance, accounting and marketing get disproportionate attention, at the expense of crucial “soft skills” such as leadership, teamwork, communication, and the ability to think outside the box of a discipline. In the wake of the Enron debacle, B-school leaders are struggling with how their programs should prepare students to be effective managers. Some schools have added segments on leadership, collaboration, communication, and the like – or moved to a more interdisciplinary approach. And at least one school, feeling that it is impossible to teach appropriate leadership skills to 25-year-olds who lack any real background in management, caters almost exclusively to students 35 and older. (See

New U. of California campus meets challenges of start-up – The University of California (USA) is opening its newest campus at Merced , and is now tackling all the challenges of setting up a new teaching and research institution.  Deans (including an engineering dean) and faculty have been recruited, but there are still only about 50 academic staff on board working toward the opening of classes in September 2005.  Interdisciplinary work is a mandate, and without academic departments, perhaps easier to achieve, reports Lila Guterman in The Chronicle of Higher Education. The curriculum will address concerns of the local community such as use of natural resources, but also the issues which face all citizens of the 21st century.  Buildings are not entirely on schedule and the opening has already been delayed by a year, but the faculty interviewed for this article all appear energized by the challenges and opportunities of being involved with the creation of a new university. (See

US faculty salaries rise faster this year – Faculty salaries in the US rose faster this year (+3.2%) than they did in the previous year (+2.1%) reports the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources.  The average faculty member made $66,407 this year.  Law professors, as in the past six years, earned more than colleagues in other disciplines, averaging $111,909, while engineering faculty averaged $86,758. At the other end, liberal arts and sciences, general studies and humanities professors were lowest, averaging $52,981.  This report was written by Scott Smallwood for The Chronicle of Higher Education.  (See


5 – Employment

Mexico creates website for job prospects – One third of Mexico ’s college and university students are enrolled in programs preparing them for professions that have bad job prospects, says the National Association of Universities and Institutions of Higher Education.  To correct that situation, Mexico’s President Vincente Fox established a new government website in March, giving students statistics about employment areas where jobs prospects are good and improving for the future, such as in tourism and food production.  It also provides information about average salaries in various occupations, and where job opportunities are available by state. This site, called the Labor Observatory ( is linked to another site, Chambanet, where available jobs are listed, writes Marion Lloyd in The Chronicle of Higher Education. (See

Source out, risk in – Offshoring software development can put intellectual property at risk, according to Steven Frank in an article in the April IEEE Spectrum. The recent trend to outsourcing of development projects to countries like India and China – particularly in the software programming and information technology design areas – has become institutionalized. But the trend has led to some high-profile instances of buyer remorse, due to cost overruns and quality disappointments. Whether the cause is poor management in the home country or inadequate technical skills overseas, it is clear that low wages in developing countries do not inevitably translate into lower project cost. And even further, some recent experiences have raised a new fear – the security of intellectual property. Even when there are laws on the books providing for patent, copyright and IP protection, they are often impossible to enforce. Without reliable institutions for IP enforcement, outsourcers must strive for prevention rather than cure. (See

In US, college grads earn twice as much as high school grads – The US Census Bureau recently released statistics showing that college graduates earn almost two times more than high school graduates, according to an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  Asian-American and black women were paid more than white women, and women overall under earned when compared with men. (See


6 – Journal

Issues in Science and Technology – The Spring 2005 issue is focused on “Population Health: The Big Picture”. Theme papers address how to nurture healthy people, linking genetic and environmental data to public health policies, syndromic surveillance as a tool for identifying emerging problems, preventing childhood obesity, preventing teen pregnancy, and the tradeoff between public health laws and individual rights. Additional articles address oil production, nuclear power, and the OECD science, technology and industry outlook. (See



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