Tuesday 15 October

$65 million donation to WA universities

In one of the largest philanthropic donations in Australian history, mining billionaire Andrew Forrest will donate $65 million for research at Western Australian universities, including his alma mater the University of Western Australia. As part of the donation, a new $50m Forrest Foundation – inspired by the Rhodes Scholarship - will be set up to fund internationally advertised scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships at UWA and WA's four other universities. The remaining $15m will contribute to building "Forrest Hall" a "creative living space" for rising research stars.

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New technology to combat fraud and identity scames

The IELTS English language testing consortium will introduce finger-scanning technology in its global examination centres to combat fraud and identity scams. IELTS has also identified that a "small number" of students are undertaking sophisticated means of bypassing security measures, including "photo morphing", where the photos of the genuine applicant and substitute test taker are combined to provide a composite that can fool examiners. In the Age, Erica Cervini highlights the "growing corruption" in universities around the world, noting a new report by Transparency International that highlights the role that agents play in securing international students as a key areas of risk, as well as reductions in government funding eroding salaries and conditions for academics.

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Forum on student mobility and competency-based higher education

A joint APEC and Australian government initiative on student mobility and competency-based higher education will bring together the peak university bodies from 17 countries in Kuala Lumpur in March 2014. The forum is likely to discuss credit transfer, joint research initiatives, and various free trade agreements and their application to higher education.

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More on MOOCs

In The Conversation, higher education expert Geoff Sharrock takes stock of the MOOC phenomenon thus far, considering recent research into the benefits of MOOC-style education and suggesting that “serious” students want HARVARDs – "Highly Accessible (and Rigorous), Very Affordable (and Recognised) Degrees" – rather than MOOCs. The University of Western Sydney’s Jonathan Tapson suggests that MOOCs will be subject to a modified Gartner Hype Cycle, with the full uptake curve to take effect from 2023 onwards.

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