Patricia Faasse & Barend van der Meulen ~ Voor iedereen een universiteit

studentenHet huidige Nederlandse systeem met dertien universiteiten, die allemaal hetzelfde doen en willen, heeft zijn langste tijd gehad. Het wordt tijd voor een omslag van ‘een universiteit voor iedereen’, naar ‘iedereen zijn universiteit.’ Dat stellen Patricia Faasse en Barend van der Meulen van het Rathenau Instituut, in een essay over de toekomst van de universiteiten.

Het rommelt, bromt en stormt aan de universiteit. Dat is misschien van alle tijden, maar de afgelopen jaren was de kritiek hevig en kwam ze opeens van alle kanten tegelijk. Van binnenuit, door onderzoekers, die meenden dat de universiteiten zich teveel met zichzelf en rankings bezig hielden en te weinig met maatschappelijk relevant onderzoek. Van buitenaf, door werkgeversvereniging VNO-NCW en de toenmalige minister van Economische Zaken Maxime Verhagen, die vonden dat de universiteiten hun onderzoek meer moesten afstemmen op de Nederlandse industrie. Van adviseurs, die vonden dat het hoger onderwijs te homogeen was en meer ruimte moest laten voor differentiatie en ambitie. Van studenten, die het rendementsdenken aan de kaak stelden en pleitten voor meer aandacht voor echte kwaliteit en voor meer inspraak. En vanuit het buitenland: daar vinden dezelfde discussies plaats. Kortom, niemand lijkt nog tevreden met één van de oudste instituties van onze samenleving.

Wat is er aan de hand? Waarom staat de universiteit zo ter discussie?

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Gilad Isaacs ~ South Africa’s 5 Million Working Poor

SouthAfricaFieldworkEvery day millions across South Africa do arduous work in jobs that cannot keep them and their dependants out of poverty. These are the “working poor” and according to a new study, there are about five and half million of them.

In a study of the South African labour market prepared as part of broader research on the national minimum wage, University of Cape Town economist Arden Finn attempts to determine the wage level at which, on average and all other things equal, a worker and his or her family could be brought up to the poverty line.

This is not a question easily answered, but R4,125 is the carefully qualified answer this study gives.

Finn’s study makes use of a new poverty line developed by the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU) at UCT (forthcoming). Researchers Joshua Budlender, Murray Leibbrandt and Ingrid Woolard adopt the internationally established Cost of Basic Needs approach in order to quantify, in money terms, the most basic food items and other necessities that a person needs to live. They find that, in April 2015 rands, this amount is R1,319 per person per month.

But workers do not only support themselves, and wage income is not the only source of household income.

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Olamide Udoma (Ed.) ~ “The Lagoon City First Of All Has To Add Qualities Instead Of Being The Next Parasitic Urban Development.”

In an attempt to develop visionary perspectives for the future of Lagos, Nigerian experts and DASUDA (Dutch Alliance for Sustainable Urban Development in Africa) launched a Lagos Lab earlier this summer.

In an attempt to develop visionary perspectives for the future of Lagos, Nigerian experts and DASUDA (Dutch Alliance for Sustainable Urban Development in Africa) launched a Lagos Lab earlier this summer.

On Thursday 25th June DASUDA organised a seminar with stakeholders, possible shareholders and partners, to share and tested the results of the first Lagos Lab workshop. The week long workshop focused on the big themes of Water, Housing, and Mobility in relation to the meaning of the Lagoon and in the context of an explosive growing city.

The starting point of the seminar was the vision that the lagoon is the source of Lagos and can become the vibrant heart of a 21st century worldwide renowned metropolis.

Looking At Lagos
Rapid Population Growth: The population growth of Lagos picked up in the 70’s and 80’s and then even more since 1990. The mega-city’s population is now increasing by 70 people each hour and with an average age of its citizens of 19 years the existing population of 23 million will double within one generation.
Urban Pressure On The Water Edge: The expanding city is both moving outwards in a vast sprawl and inward pressing the urban boundaries into the lagoon where floating villages exist like Makoko and reclaiming land has become the norm.

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Adele Thomas ~ Forget Plagiarism: There’s A New And Bigger Threat To Academic Integrity

CompKeyboardAcademic plagiarism is no longer just sloppy “cut and paste” jobs or students cribbing large chunks of an assignment from a friend’s earlier essay on the same topic. These days, students can simply visit any of a number of paper or essay mills that litter the internet and buy a completed assignment to present as their own.
These shadowy businesses are not going away anytime soon. Paper mills can’t be easily policed or shut down by legislation. And there’s a trickier issue at play here: they provide a service that an alarming number of students will happily use.
Managing this newest form of academic deceit will require hard work from established academia and a renewed commitment to integrity from university communities.

‘Shadow scholar’
In November 2010, the Chronicle of Higher Education published an article that rocked the academic world. Its anonymous author confessed to having written more than 5 000 pages of scholarly work a year on behalf of university students. Ethics was among the many issues this author had tackled for clients.

The practice continues five years on. At a  conference about plagiarism held in the Czech Republic in June 2015, one speaker revealed that up to 22% of students in some Australian undergraduate programmes had admitted to buying or intending to buy assignments on the internet.

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Thomson Reuters Foundation ~ Latin American Governments Fail To Tackle Booming Urban Slums: Report

BOGOTA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Latin America’s booming urban slums look set to continue their rapid expansion as government housing policies fail to tackle an explosion in informal housing, legal experts said on Monday.

Some 113 million people across the continent — or nearly one in five people — live in sprawling slums which are fuelling inequality and social exclusion, they said in a report.
“State policies on housing — even those enshrined in the region’s constitutions — have not been able to respond to the rise of urban populations…,” the study said.
Mass migration from rural to urban areas from the 1950s onwards means 80 percent of Latin America’s population of around 600 million now live in cities — a higher number than in any other region in the world.
The report examines housing legislation and policy in 11 countries, including Latin America’s largest economies — Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Argentina.

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Patrick Barkham ~ Introducing ‘Treeconomics’: How Street Trees Can Save Our Cities



Rustlings Road is aptly named. The street in Sheffield is lined with mature lime trees. Their whispering leaves are brilliant green in spring, then cast cool, dappled shade in summer and turn bright yellow in the autumn. But Sheffield city council wants to prune the street, and a dispute about 11 lime trees has turned into a citywide campaign, with more than 10,000 people urging the council to halt its roadside felling. I has also sparked a broader debate about what 36,000 street trees bring to a place that claims to be the most wooded industrial city in western Europe.

This tussle shows how urban trees are both treasured and in jeopardy like never before – beset by disease and spurious insurance claims, and too readily felled by cash-strapped local authorities which only see their potential cost rather than their contribution to climate, public health and even the wealth of a city. Ever since Roger Ulrich discovered in 1984 that hospital patients appear to recover more quickly from surgery in rooms with green views, a growing body of scientific evidence has demonstrated the health – and wealth – benefits of trees in cities.

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