Sunday 11 May 2014

GLOBAL:Higher education challenges post-2015 – UNESCO

GLOBAL:The end of academic journal editors?

Sunday 27 April 2014

Malaysia cannot succeed unless equal opportunity given to non-Muslims, says Obama

Malaysia must ensure non-Muslims in the country also have equal opportunites as its Muslim majority if the Southeast Asian nation wanted to continue prospering, United States President Barack Obama said today of his landmark visit, 48 years after the last American president paid a visit.

"Malaysia won't succeed if the non-Muslims do not have the same opportunity,” Obama said in a townhall meeting for Asean youths at Dewan Tunku Cancelor in University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur today.

Obama said non-Muslims in Malaysia are currently facing hostility, and some have felt oppressed.
"There shouldn't be reason to discriminate, and you have to make sure that you are speaking out against this in daily life.

And as you emerge as leaders, you should be on the side of politics that brings people together rather than drive them apart," Obama said to cheers from the crowd.

Obama said this today when answering a question from a Myanmar youth on factors of cooperation that can bring Asean together given its diversity.

He pointed out that the biggest source of conflict and war and hardship throughout the world was due to people treating those who were not like them differently.

He said the situation in Myanmar right now was that the country was going through a transition after decades of oppressive government, and it was now trying to open things up, which he said is to be lauded.

"However, the danger now that they are democratising, is that there will be groups inside Myanmar that might organise themselves politically around religious or ethnic identities instead of principles of justice or rule of law and democracy.

And you can actually see conflict that would move Myanmar in a bad direction," he said, adding that one of the problems in Myanmar was that the rights of its minority Muslim community were not protected.

Obama then added that the situation was not unique to Myanmar, and that in Malaysia, which had a majority Muslim population, there were instances where those who were not Muslims found themselves experiencing hostility.

He also said that even in the US, historically, the biggest conflicts arose around race, but over the course of generations the situation had improved, to the point that he could be elected as a president.
"All of us have within us biasness and prejudices against people who are not like us or people who are not raised in the same faith or come from different backgrounds, but the world is shrinking and getting smaller.

"You could think that way when living separately in villages and tribes and did not have contact with each other.

“But with the internet and smartphones, cultures all colliding, no country is going to succeed if part of its population is sidelined and being discriminated against," he added.

He then went on to say that similarly, Malaysia would also not succeed if non-Muslims were not given the opportunity, while the same would happen in Myanmar if the Muslim population was oppressed.

"Malaysia won't succeed if non-muslims don't have equal opportunity, Myanmar won’t succeed if the muslim population is oppressed.

"No society is going to succeed if half your population made up of women are not getting the same education and employment opportunities as men too," he added.

As such, he called on youths to embrace culture and be proud of who they were, while also appreciating differences in languages, food and how differently one worshipped God, adding that these were things to be proud of and not a tool to look down on a person.

He also called on the new generation to stand in "other people's shoes and look at things through their eyes".

Obama said that almost every religion teaches the basic principle of "do unto others as you want others to do unto you" and to "treat people the way you want to be treated".

"And if you are not doing that, then we are going backwards instead of going forward and this is true for all over the world," he told the 700-strong crowd of youths and civil society representatives. – April 27, 2014.

Putin calls Internet 'CIA project'

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday called the Internet a "CIA project" and warned Russians against making Google searches.

Putin assured a group of young journalists that the Internet was controlled from the start by the CIA and its surveillance continues today.

"That's life. That's how it's organised by Americans. You know all of this started during the dawn of the Internet as a special project of the CIA. And it keeps on developing," Putin said in televised comments.

Responding to questions from a young pro-Kremlin blogger, Putin warned that information entered on Google "all goes through servers that are in the States, everything is monitored there". 

He also made ominous comments on Russia's most popular search engine Yandex, suggesting it could become more tightly controlled.

Yandex is "partly registered abroad and not just for tax reasons, but for other reasons too", Putin said, mentioning it is partly owned by international investors and reiterating his fear of foreign control of the Internet. 

When Yandex was starting out, Putin said, they were "pressured" to have "that many Americans and this many Europeans among the executives".

"We must fight determinedly for our own interests. This process is happening. And we will support it from the government side, of course," he said without explaining what he means in detail.

Yandex handles some 60 percent of search queries in Russia and has a presence in several other countries. It allows users to search blogs and rates the most popular entries.

Yandex's shares fell over 4.3 percent on the NASDAQ after Putin's comments.

The company said in a statement quoted by news agencies that registration abroad is not done to dodge taxes but due to issues of corporate law, while foreign investment is a common feature of any Internet startup.

"Since our main business is in Russia, we pay almost all taxes in Russia," Yandex said.

While the Internet remains the main sphere for political discussion, Russia has recently cracked down on debate, with a new law allowing the government to block blacklisted sites without a court order.
Opposition leader Alexei Navalny had his popular blog blocked and a widely read news site that covered opposition causes sacked its long-term editor and changed its stance after a warning on extremism from the state watchdog. 

Russia this week passed in its initial stage new legislation that would force popular bloggers to register their sites and comply with similar regulations as mass media.

The 61-year-old president has frequently been scathing about the Internet, which he once described as "half pornography", unlike Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who posts snaps on Twitter. 

Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov insisted this month that the president is a regular Internet user and even sometimes laughs at jokey Photoshopped images.

VIETNAM: Too many graduates for too few jobs

VietNamNet Bridge – The number of graduates produced by Vietnam universities every year is 10 times demand.

HR programming, unemployed bachelors, masters

That is the word of the unemployment report released last month by the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs, which spotlighted the high unemployment rate of workers with higher education.

According to the report, over 1.2 million workers were reported as “lacking jobs” by the end of 2013, accounting for 2.63 percent of total laborers. Of this amount, 900,000 laborers had been reported as “unemployed”, which accounted for 1.9 percent of the labor force. 

The proportion of unemployed workers finishing junior colleges (3-year training) and universities (4-5 year training) was relatively high, at 20.75 percent. More than 72,000 holders of bachelors and masters degrees are unemployed.

However, the figures have not surprised analysts at all.

Professor Nguyen Minh Thuyet, former Deputy Chair of the National Assembly’s Committee for Culture, Education, Youth and Children, commented that the situation was foreseeable: the number of workers with higher education simply far exceeds demand.

In a report he released in 2004, Thuyet estimated Vietnam would only need 13,000-15,000 new bachelors every year. At that time, Vietnam had about 100 industrial zones (IZs) and export processing zones, which could utilize 500,000 workers at maximum. Of the workforce, 5-7 percent had junior college or university degrees, 60 percent were skilled workers, with the remaining cohort unskilled.

Supposing that Vietnam developed 10 new IZs every year, and 10 percent of workers with high education retire, Thuyet posited. Vietnam would then need to prepare 13,000-15,000 new workers [with college degrees] ever year.

At the time of Thuyet’s report, ten years ago, junior colleges and universities in Vietnam were already producing more than 200,000 bachelors every year, 10 times higher than demand. Today, the “capacity” of the universities is now double that, at 400,000.

Under the national human resource (HR) development program, Vietnam set a target of 3.5 million of workers with higher education by 2015. However, the country already had 3.7 million workers with higher education by the end of 2013.

Deputy Minister of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs Doan Mau Diep said on Tuoi Tre that a large percentage of Vietnamese <intellectuals | degree holders> remain unemployed or have to take low-paying jobs because of the “oversupply of unqualified workers with higher education”.

However, ignoring warnings about the surfeit of workers finishing junior colleges and universities, schools continue to scale up, producing more and more baccalaureates every year. Vietnam is striving to have 460 universities and junior colleges by 2020.

Diep attributed the problem to an unrealistic education program. 

Dr Luong Hoai Nam, an analyst, has pointed out that 37 percent of university graduates cannot find jobs because they lack the necessary job skills. Moreover, 83 percent of them lack life skills, in the eyes of employers,

Nam, who as a senior executive of big corporations has interviewed thousands, noted that enterprises, or employers, usually have to re-train their employees before assigning duties to them, and prepare them with basic skills they should have learned at school.

Chi Mai

GLOBAL: Why scientists should stop publishing?

Japan: Riken affair boosts orders for anti-plagiarism software

Apr 17, 2014

A growing number of universities in Japan are introducing software systems to detect plagiarism in academic papers amid the evolving controversy over the “STAP cell” papers produced by Riken, the state-backed research institute.

Under an ordinance that took effect in April 2013, the education ministry has made it mandatory for all doctoral theses to be published on the Internet, replacing its decades-old rule requiring publication in print.

An official at a company selling plagiarism-checking systems said, “I believe more and more universities are introducing the system because if plagiarism comes to light after the theses are published, the credibility of the university’s oversight will be called into question.”

One popular product is iThenticate, which was developed by a U.S. company. It uses a database containing 130 million theses published on about 45 billion websites or in academic journals including the U.S. magazine Science and the British journal Nature, which published the papers at the center of the Riken incident.

The program reveals, for instance, the percentage of descriptions in papers tested that match those found in papers in the database.

Tokyo-based iGroup Japan, which markets the software, said nine universities including Waseda University, Nagoya University and Kanazawa University are already using the software, while Kobe University and the University of Fukui are considering it.

The company said it has seen a surge in inquiries since the Riken controversy erupted after Nature published findings by one of its researchers, Haruko Obokata, in January.

Obokata was hit by a number of allegations, including that she quoted a passage from another paper about a laboratory experiment method without identifying the source.

Riken, in its final investigation earlier this month, said Obokata had not engaged in willful misconduct concerning the passage, noting the quote was the only one of 41 where Obokata did not give attribution, and that the method in question is a common procedure used in many laboratories.

Obokata’s doctoral thesis for the degree she received in 2011, however, has been investigated by Waseda University after allegations she copied passages from at least one other paper.

The top private university also announced it has started checking all doctoral papers — around 280 of them — at its science and engineering school set up in 2007, citing possible retractions. Plagiarism has been alleged in at least one other paper so far.

A Nagoya University professor affiliated with a scientific research department said he checked papers to be submitted to academic journals by two of his students, using the plagiarism checker. He said he found minor similarities with other papers but determined there was no plagiarism.

“It’s convenient because academic instructors aren’t aware of all the writing in the world,” he said, adding that one defect with the software is that it cannot check plagiarism in images.

Seiichi Fujita, an executive director in charge of education at Kobe University, said, “Once the students know that we have introduced the system, we can also expect a deterrence effect.”

At least 30 universities across Japan have introduced a similar program called Turnitin, which uses almost the same database as iThenticate and allows registered students as well as instructors to check theses.

Another product named Copypelna launched in 2009 has been introduced at over 300 universities across Japan. It combs the Internet to see if there are any passages similar to those found in the paper in question.

The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry has been reviewing guidelines on research misconduct and is planning to encourage universities and research institutions to hammer out their own programs to raise awareness of ethics among researchers.

Shigeaki Yamazaki, professor of scientific communication at Aichi Shukutoku University, said, “If universities introduce (a plagiarism checker) abruptly, it may create distrust between instructors and students.”

He suggested that schools try various approaches slowly to increase ethical awareness such as by asking students to consider how they would feel if others stole their theses.

Sunday 20 April 2014


Sources:Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) at

PENANG, 14 April 2014 – Career success depends on graduates with an ability to understand and work effectively with others of different cultures and backgrounds, Professor Dr. David W. Chapman said in his talk Crossing Borders and Bridging Minds in Higher Education.

The public talk, the first in a series on higher education organised by the National Higher Education Research Institute (IPPTN), was delivered at the University Conference Hall by Chapman who is a Distinguished International Professor and Birkmaier Professor of Educational Leadership, Policy and Development at the University of Minnesota. He is also a Fullbright visiting professor to IPPTN.  

He said that universities have to create opportunities within their curriculum that connect their students and faculty members to their peers in other countries and other cultures.
Such opportunities are in the form of partnerships and collaborations that Malaysian universities have created with universities in other parts of the world.

“Many countries want to strengthen their higher education system as a means to national economic development,” he said.

On the other hand, international organisations such as the Asian Development Bank, United States Agency for International Development, World Bank, and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Culture Organisation need to disburse and seek strategies that can be used to strengthen the quality of instruction and research in universities.

Chapman pointed out that international university partnerships have grown in popularity with more than 1,000 cross-border university partnerships among universities with Asia alone.         

He added that it is often assumed that if weaker universities work with stronger universities, they will be able to raise the quality of their universities.

This subsequently led to surveys and modified focus group discussions with universities and government administrators across Asia to garner their views.

“It was found that they feared that the greatest benefits of university-to-university collaboration can also be the greatest risks because, while there are opportunities for quality improvement, there is also a risk of low quality instruction.

On the question of whether cross border partnerships can actually help universities, Chapman said that the prevalent view of those questioned is that the benefits outweigh the cost of collaboration but none of those questioned can agree on what models of collaboration work best.

It was found that research collaboration is mostly limited to top tier universities and that there is some scepticism about the motives of collaboration, mostly concerning about the profit orientation of partners and universities often sought partners of equal standing.

Earlier, the Organising Chairman Professor Dr. Wan Fauzy Wan Ismail highlighted that IPPTN aimed to promote knowledge dissemination, share issues, solutions involving higher education in local and international institutions of higher learning, and collaboration and specialisation in higher education policy.

Professor Dato’ Dr Susie See Ching Mey, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Industry & Community Network) said on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Professor Dato’ Dr. Omar Osman that globalisation has opened up opportunities for countries to share their experiences and learn from one another.

She added that in keeping touch with globalisation and the borderless world, USM is committed to enhance and produce graduates who are not just intellectuals, knowledgeable in technical and professional skills but also meet the needs of the global society.
Also present at the talk were Professor Dr. Ahmad Nurulazam Md Zain, USM IPPTN director; and Professor Dato’ Dr Norzaini Azman, an associate research Fellow from the Faculty of Education, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. 

- Text: Yong Check Yoon/Photo: Mohd Fairus Md Isa

China's Confucius Institutes flourish in ASEAN after West's freeze-out (西方冷落后中国孔子学院在东盟蓬勃发展)

  Geopolitical baggage less of a factor, while learning Chinese is seen as a smart move 地缘政治包袱影响较小,学习中文被视为明智之举