A global rise in student activism and the centrality of student concerns to national politics and to higher education prompted University World News to collate this series of Special Reports looking into student movements and issues raised by them. The aim is to deepen understanding and debate on what is transpiring across the student world. We urge readers to disseminate the Special Reports to students. – Karen MacGregor, series editor.
Students have cut their political teeth in student movements that have swept several countries in East, Southeast and South Asia in the past few years, and many have succeeded in holding their governments to account. But these student-led movements are in danger of fizzling out unless they attract broader societal support for their stances on political issues.
Several pro-democracy student groups in Thailand have come together as the New Democracy Movement, which is beginning to make its presence felt in the run-up to a referendum on a new military-backed constitution due to take place in August. But it is far from certain whether the movement can have a wider impact in the current climate of repression.
Ukraine experienced from 2013-14 how effective student action can be. Students were at the forefront of the Revolution of Dignity that achieved political reform, helped develop a new higher education law and chose the new minister of education. Students proved that they could truly be agents of change – professionalised student representation is the next step.
Following the global financial crash, students around the world have been joining together to reform the economics curriculum so that it is less narrow and better adapted to current global challenges.
Decolonisation movements at universities in the United Kingdom are linking up and being driven by international students who are seeking greater diversity and recognition of colonial legacies. While calls for decolonisation are popular in South Africa and Britain, it will only be when the campaigns also find resonance elsewhere that there can be a truly global movement.
Converting the gains made by student movements in South Africa into a critically reflexive, creative and socially responsive curriculum and learning environment provides an opportunity to combat and subvert neo-liberalisation from the inside out.
Liva Vikmane and Alexandra Antonescu
The last few years have seen big funding cuts to higher education across Europe, resulting in a move to greater debt and compromises on quality. Governments will pay the price in the long term for not investing in the future.
Research shows several barriers to study abroad. But on closer inspection it may be more about whether or not students view such study as the norm.
The Straits Times
The World Today
The Wall Street Journal
African News Agency
The Times of Israel
The Jakarta Post
The New York Times
Voice of America
David Stremba and Scott Spragg
How can United States institutions – and others – address the dangers of an over-reliance on China? Diversifying and targeting students and using alumni networks may all help to address the prospect of dwindling numbers of Chinese students coming to the US.
Ukraine has to start creating the data systems and software it needs to determine how to fund its higher education system. The sooner it does so, the better its chances will be of competing globally.
The top five performing national higher education systems are the United States, Switzerland, Denmark, the United Kingdom and Sweden, according to the Universitas 21 annual ranking for 2016. But the country with the most improved performance is China, up four places to 30th due to continual rise in output rankings.
The government is seeking a blanket curb on the political activity of academics in a bill drafted to tighten the disciplinary system in universities. Activities banned would include membership of political parties, political campaigning or activism and joining or supporting acts of “terror or division”.
Eight mainly religion-based university and school student organisations have come together in Bangladesh to protest against a proposed education law, which they fear could undermine the country’s Islamic education system, including at tertiary level, bringing it under secular government oversight.
Plans are afoot to launch a Global Higher Education Access and Diversity Consortium next year, bringing together universities and civil society groups from around the world to advocate, show leadership and share best practice around these globally pertinent issues.
María Elena Hurtado
Three technology transfer hubs are being set up by Chilean universities in a bid to substantially increase their applied research as well as to market it at home and abroad. Twenty-six universities, 12 science and technology centres and 11 industry representatives are participating in these alliances, masterminded by the government’s development corporation.
Kenya is mulling over new university guidelines that will require masters students to publish at least one article in a refereed journal before being eligible to graduate.
With countries hosting transnational education programmes tightening up on regulations, the United States, United Kingdom and other countries providing transnational education are withdrawing from the riskier end, such as franchising and validating, and focusing instead on distance learning, branch campuses and joint or dual degrees where they have greater quality control, according to experts in a webinar hosted by University World News in partnership with DrEducation last week.
Concern over the impact on participation in Europe’s prestigious Horizon 2020 research projects is shifting Swiss public opinion on free movement of workers from the European Union to a more pragmatic view, two years after the Swiss referendum “against mass immigration” in February 2014.
Universities New Zealand has welcomed the government’s budget announcement last week that it is investing NZ$761 million (US$513 million) in an Innovative New Zealand package in areas including science, skills and tertiary education, with much of it being spent on research.
There’s a huge focus on leadership in business schools, including transformative leadership, but with very few tangible results. A focus on visionary leaders may be too simplistic, though, and more innovative approaches are being trialled.
At the Third Arab-Euro Conference on Higher Education in Barcelona, participants discussed the plethora of opportunities that universities in Europe and the Middle East are offering to Syrian refugees and voiced concerns that without an overarching framework or clearing house much energy is being wasted.