In Commentary, Diana Jane Beech maintains that the recruitment process for researchers in Europe needs to be overhauled to ensure it is fair, transparent and open to all.
Igor Chirikov describes how students in Russia accept without question the poor quality of their universities. And in Ukraine, Sonja Knutson and Valentyna Kushnarenko find higher education reforms paving the way to a more international future – but ongoing hostilities in the east could affect hopes for change.
Karen MacGregor – Africa Editor
A TV exposé last week unearthed a certificate and diploma mill at one of Kenya’s leading aviation colleges. It also uncovered widespread rot in higher education institutions, many of which engage in academic malpractices and some of which are dishing out qualifications without requiring a person to step into a classroom or study.
GLOBALAlecia D McKenzie
Ebola and HIV-Aids may have disappeared from the agenda of many international news organisations, but they are critical issues for teachers and health experts in Africa working to use education to combat epidemics and improve the health of citizens, said participants at the Second UNESCO Forum on Global Citizenship Education held in Paris from 28-30 January.
The University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg is to host technology giant IBM’s second major research, development and innovation laboratory in Africa. The US$62 million investment comes after IBM launched a research centre in the Kenyan capital Nairobi in late 2013 and is the global company’s 12th international research lab.
Tunisia is to host a US$100 million American university that will be completely operational in 2020 and will be the first of its kind in the Arab Maghreb region, which comprises the North African countries of Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia.
The president of Somaliland University of Technology in Hargeisa, capital city of the breakaway republic located on the gulf of Aden, has appealed to the international higher education community for help in strengthening universities.
The African Union is granting postgraduate scholarships to people with disabilities from across the continent – the first time that the continental body has tailored grants specifically for disadvantaged learners.
AFRICAAlecia D McKenzie
The recognition – or not – of qualifications when a student moves from one country to another has long caused headaches in the academic world and hampered the mobility of students, especially in developing or middle-income countries. UNESCO believes there was a breakthrough for Africa last December when 16 countries signed an amended version of the ‘Arusha Convention’ on the recognition of qualifications across the continent.
Dr Mohamed Abdelhamid Kharaba, an assistant professor of chemistry and physics at Egypt’s University of Alexandria, has been languishing in prison without trial for more than a year. Kharaba was arrested on 24 November 2013 and charged with crimes including murder during anti-government protests, and terrorism – accusations that he has denied.
After 10 years of being split, higher education in Mozambique has been reunited with science and technology, and technical and professional education, in a newly established ministry. The ministry needs to institutionalise practices and coordinating structures, and to promote a more bottom-up approach with input from universities and other key stakeholders.
Higher education needs teaching and learning that engages students not only as emergent professionals but also as committed, thoughtful and civic-minded young citizens. This means rethinking pedagogy and the complex relationship between knowledge, skills and values.
GHANAEric Fredua-Kwarteng and Francis Ahia
Ghana’s plans to convert polytechnics into technical universities is misguided and panders to elitist views about universities. The name tag ‘technical’ or ‘university’ is not a silver bullet for creating jobs and wealth or reducing poverty and unemployment.
The University of Ghana has launched a US$37.5 million information and communication technology project to support its distance education programme. Deputy Minister of Education Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa said the initiative would help to ease pressure on university facilities, especially lecture halls.
GOING GLOBAL 2015
The drive for economic harmonisation and development in Southeast Asia and its impact on internationalisation in universities will be one of the key trends discussed at this year’s Going Global conference in London.
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
An ideological crackdown in China’s universities, promoting Communist Party allegiance and slamming any adherence to ‘Western values’, accompanied by a heightened suppression of freedom of speech, has fuelled concerns about the future of higher education, academic freedom and liberal academics in the country.
UNITED KINGDOMBrendan O’Malley
The government has amended the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill in an attempt to ease widespread concern among university leaders and academics that the proposed law will threaten academic freedom. Last week more than 500 professors signed an open letter to The Guardian
to voice a deeply held concern that the bill would place “an unlawful and enforceable duty on educational institutions and staff”.
MYANMARNaw Say Phaw Waa
Students have said they will resume their protests in a number of cities around the country over a controversial education law, after talks scheduled for last week involving students, legislators, advocacy groups and government officials were unilaterally postponed by the government.
NEW ZEALANDJohn Gerritsen
Schools and universities across New Zealand have been startled by an unexpected slump in the pass rate for students to gain entry to the nation’s universities. Results just announced show only 58% of students who last year completed Year 13 – the final year of schooling – achieved a university entry score, down from 70% in 2013.
UNITED KINGDOMBrendan O'Malley
Leading university vice-chancellors have warned the Labour Party against proposing to cut tuition fees in England from £9,000 to £6,000 (US$13,500 to US$9,000).
Academic unions and university associations around the world have long expressed concern that the spread of free trade and other commercial agreements between nations was likely to profoundly impact on their higher education systems.
Indonesia’s newly appointed Minister of Research, Technology and Higher Education said the ministry was being revamped to improve the country’s higher education system, increase the employment prospects of graduates and improve innovation in the country.
DENMARKJan Petter Myklebust
The Danish higher education system is in urgent need of an overhaul, notably with regard to a greater focus on work availability for graduates, an increased status for good teaching, and greater encouragement for students to study full-time, according to a new report.
UNITED STATESMary Beth Marklein
The Institute of International Education, a non-profit group based in New York, is attempting to enlist the help of elementary and secondary school teachers in its bid to double the number of US college students who study abroad.
UK AND AUSTRALIAGeoff Maslen
Martin Bean, vice-chancellor of Britain’s largest higher education institution, the Open University, has just taken up a new post as head of one of Australia’s biggest technological organisations, RMIT University, in his home town of Melbourne.
UNITED STATESDan Berrett and Eric Hoover, The Chronicle of Higher Education
Confident in their academic ability but less so in their interpersonal skills, this year’s freshmen believe the main benefit of a college education is to increase their earning power. More than ever they aspire to be well off – and also to help others – while their emotional health has hit a new low.
While new Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his economy ministry’s staff are scouring the European capitals in search of support for an alternative policy to Greece’s austerity programme, top bureaucrats at the education ministry are poring over plans to deal with immediate problems before releasing their long-term targets.
SWEDENJan Petter Myklebust
A mantra at university conferences and in policy documents, and at the heart of university reforms over the last decade in the Nordic countries, is the belief that university leadership is the most crucial factor for success. Professor Per Eriksson has demonstrated that, after six years as rector of Lund University, one of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious universities.
We should not look to Russian students to improve the higher education system in their country. Despite low quality following massification, they appear satisfied with the education they are getting.
EUROPEDiana Jane Beech
The recruitment process for researchers in Europe often still favours local applicants. It needs to be overhauled to ensure it is fair, transparent and open to all.
UKRAINESonja Knutson and Valentyna Kushnarenko
Higher education reforms in Ukraine are paving the way to a more international future, but ongoing hostilities in the east of the country could affect the schedule for change.
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Authorities in Lecce have rejected plans for the creation of what would be Italy’s first Islamic university, partly because of the current negative focus on Islam and opposition from local residents, reports The Local
President Barack Obama sent Congress a budget request last Monday that would increase federal spending on many higher education programmes and also aims to reap savings for the government by changing some student loan and repayment options, writes Michael Stratford for Inside Higher Ed
A former British intelligence chief has warned that the government’s Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill could restrict freedom of speech in universities, reports RT
. Baroness Manningham-Buller said during a debate at the House of Lords last week that extremist opinions need to be “exposed, challenged and countered”, rather than banned.
Fee-paying students at a Scottish university will be the first to have their costs waived if they fail to graduate under radical proposals. Hundreds of students at the University of the West of Scotland could potentially benefit from the initiative, writes Andrew Denholm for Herald Scotland
Dozens of junior colleges – offering three-year training – have been upgraded into universities – offering four to five-year training – but the training quality has not matched the expansion. Analysts have noted that the recent upgrading on a mass scale was one of the reasons behind the high unemployment rate, reports VietNamNet Bridge
Record numbers of 18 year-olds have applied to British universities and youngsters from the poorest areas are more likely to seek places than ever, according to data suggesting that higher tuition fees have not dented demand, writes Helen Warrell for the Financial Times
A University of the Witwatersrand fourth-year law student Mbe Mbhele refers to himself as “a hustler”. The 22-year-old from KwaZulu-Natal left home for Johannesburg at the start of the month to arrange accommodation for himself for the academic year. Last week he was to learn whether he qualifies to live at one of the university's student residences after squatting on campus since his arrival, write Poppy Louw and Shenaaz Jamal for Times Live
Amazon has struck deals with three large universities to operate co-branded websites selling textbooks, fan shirts, ramen noodles and most other items available on Amazon.com. While the deals aren’t exclusive, officials at the colleges say the arrangements acknowledge a reality: their students already shop on Amazon, writes Greg Bensinger for The Wall Street Journal
Thousands of students are shunning the UK’s traditional universities to take their degrees in further education colleges down the road, writes Richard Garner for The Independent
Taiwan’s annual university admissions exams took place recently as tens of thousands sweated over mathematics and language questions to get into top schools. But the exams, that depend exclusively on memorisation of high school class content, are in their final years as officials worry they put Taiwan at a competitive disadvantage, writes Ralph Jennings for Voice of America
Stanford University welcomed 25 unusual students onto its campus this month – all in their 50s and 60s. They are the inaugural fellows of a new programme, the Distinguished Careers Institute, designed for people who want to follow more than one career path in their lifetimes and who want to go back to a college setting for more training. It is the forefront of a new movement for universities to look beyond typical 19-year-old undergraduates, writes Mark Miller for Reuters
Freedom of speech is at the heart of academic life and a university should be a place where every issue is discussed and debated. Not so, according to the findings presented in the first ever Free Speech University Rankings which reveal that 80% of UK higher education institutions routinely regulate and actively restrict students’ free speech and expression in some way, writes Dennis Hayes for The Conversation
The education gap between rich and poor continues to grow, becoming a chasm of opportunity that often blocks the search for a better economic life, according to a report released recently, writes Michael Muskal for LA Times
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