In Commentary Matthew Francis says academics have made tremendous advances in understanding why and how people join violent extremist groups like ISIS, and are sharing this research with intelligence agencies. Jeremy Rappleye and Edward Vickers give pointers as to how Japan can produce the more globalised education system its policy-makers want. Draft education reforms in Vietnam have sparked controversy over the teaching of history in schools, and Ly Pham contends that universities must train teachers to build critical thinking skills. Alain Mayeur describes a new Internet portal for online learners and teachers in France.
Finally, in Global Features, Nicola Jenvey finds higher education to be the top beneficiary of philanthropy, garnering 30% of total million-dollar global donations.
Karen MacGregor – Africa Editor
The Africa Union merged its science and education bodies last month in a move designed to improve sectoral relationships, effectiveness and efficiency. The African Ministerial Council on Science and Technology and the Conference of Ministers of Education of the African Union will now operate as one entity.
SIERRA LEONEFrancis Kokutse
As life returns to normal in Sierra Leone following the World Health Organization’s decision to declare the country free of Ebola, it is emerging that one of its universities – which produces the bulk of the country’s health workers – has been badly hit by the loss of key staff.
AFRICA-EUROPE Wagdy Sawahel
As part of efforts to advance legal migration and mobility, an action plan adopted at the recent European Union-Africa Valletta Summit on Migration recommends boosting higher education cooperation, including promoting the mobility of students and researchers, facilitating mutual recognition of qualifications and improving legal frameworks for country entry and residence for study purposes.
The BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – last Wednesday signed a far-reaching agreement on cooperation in education that includes joint research and more collaboration on postgraduate training and co-publishing.
Controversy stalked the appointment last December of Professor Peter Mbithi as vice-chancellor of the University of Nairobi, and has followed him ever since. Mbithi has fought bare-knuckled duels with colleagues, including his deputy over control of finances, exposing a cash crunch – the university is allegedly running on a US$25 million deficit and millions of dollars in bank overdrafts.
The Nigerian government is finalising plans to compel universities to provide student hostels on all campuses. Julius Okojie, executive secretary of the National Universities Commission, said the move was “aimed at ensuring better living conditions for students with a view to producing better graduates”.
Drastic changes in higher education are needed to improve quality and graduate employability in the Middle East and North Africa. A report from the African Development Bank says a new approach is needed that could be referred to as ‘education for (self-)employment’.
Malawian students have petitioned the government to increase allocations to the Higher Education Students Loans and Grants agency after some students failed to access loans due to inadequate funding.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGOJane Marshall
The Democratic Republic of Congo government has banned the Université Pédagogique Nationale from providing doctorate-level courses because of a lack of qualified teaching staff. Meanwhile, students from the Institut National du Bâtiment et des Travaux Publics held a violent protest against forced evictions from accommodation and fee increases.
SOUTH AFRICASharon Dell
In a week of ongoing drama in South African higher education, a group of 226 academics from the University of Stellenbosch has thrown weight behind a proposal by management to adopt English as the primary language, with Afrikaans and isiXhosa as ‘additional’ languages. This followed demonstrations at Stellenbosch and violent protests at some other universities, with multiple arrests.
The late Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere’s view of the university as a place where people’s minds are trained for independent thinking and problem solving at the highest level remained unchallenged for half a century in East Africa. But according to new studies, Kenya and Uganda are now shifting to the marketisation of higher education.
Arguments against developmental universities range from the language of instruction and learning to the value placed on knowledge in Africa, but higher education institutions have a duty to embrace the communities they find themselves in and promote development.
The World Bank and Inter-University Council for East Africa have jointly issued a repeat, special call for proposals to establish an Africa Centre of Excellence in the field of oil and gas for the Eastern and Southern Africa regions. An initial call last July failed to elicit a response.
The East African Science and Technology Commission has been officially launched in the Rwandan capital Kigali with the aim of promoting and coordinating the development of science and technology in the region.
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
UNITED STATESMary Beth Marklein
Enrolments of international students in United States colleges and universities climbed 10% last year to 974,936, the largest one-year rate of growth in 35 years, a report says. While China sent the largest number of students, the real story is about rising numbers of students coming from India.
MYANMARSithu Aung Myint
Aung San Suu Kyi – whose National League for Democracy party won a resounding victory in this month’s democratic elections in Myanmar – is trying to intercede in a hunger strike by student leaders demanding that all jailed political prisoners be set free, amid fears that unrest over the hunger strike could disrupt the post-election transition to a new government.
The German government is to provide extra support for refugees seeking to study in the country. The new package of measures has been developed with the German Academic Exchange Service, DAAD.
The Russian government plans to create conditions for attracting foreign scientists to national universities, with the long-term aim of ensuring the share of foreign scientists among teaching staff of each leading Russian university should not be less than 10%.
SWEDENJan Petter Myklebust
The number of fee-paying students from outside the European Union or European Economic Area at higher education institutions in Sweden rose by 30% in 2014-15 compared to the previous year, the first rise since tuition fees were introduced in 2011.
NORWAYJan Petter Myklebust
A greater share of post-doctoral applicants who have not studied or worked abroad gain tenure than those who have been internationally mobile before and during their post-doctoral career, according to a new report.
UNITED KINGDOMMatthew Francis
Universities are working with intelligence agencies to share their research on radicalisation and violent extremist groups.
JAPAN Jeremy Rappleye and Edward Vickers
Can Japan be simultaneously more global and more nationalistic in its education policy? If it wants a greater voice internationally, it needs to present a more confident, outward-looking face on the global stage.
VIETNAM Ly Pham
Plans to integrate history into a course on Citizenship and the Motherland ignore the basic issue of how we get students to believe that history matters. The reforms must start at university level, to ensure teachers are trained to build critical thinking skills.
France’s Ministry of Education, Higher Education and Research has launched a new free Internet portal for everyone who wants to teach or learn about higher education online.
Higher education outstripped other causes as the recipient for multi-million-dollar donations globally in 2014, garnering US$7.58 billion in gifts or 30.9% of the US$24.5 billion global total, according to the Coutts Million Dollar Donors Report 2015
UNITED STATESKarin Fischer, The Chronicle of Higher Education
The most recent study on foreign student trends was just released last week, showing robust growth, but the real question for American higher education is what the next report, one year from now, will show. There are already signs that the future outlook could be gloomy.
UNITED STATESWilliam Patrick Leonard
Mission statements need to be more focused to encourage higher education institutions to keep within budget. Mission creep with accompanying cost and debt burdens is often the product of open-ended mission statements.
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The Kerala government is getting ready to set up a first-of-its-kind university in the country, exclusively for research-oriented studies related to gender, reports PTI
Revelations that leading academics in the UK are earning more than £600,000 (US$916,000) while other staff have seen their pay cut, is evidence that the benefits awarded to vice-chancellors are “completely out of control”, according to a universities union, writes Richard Adams for the Guardian
Several universities are being threatened with tough penalties for allegedly providing data that would artificially boost their performance on prestigious research rankings used to allocate government funding, writes Matthew Knott for Sydney Morning Herald
Normally buzzing with youthful high energy, Professor Blas Dorta's biology classroom at the Central University of Venezuela is eerily quiet. The university has been closed by administrators since September because of what they say is insufficient government funding. So are nine other Venezuelan public universities, leaving a total of 380,000 students in limbo, write Mery Mogollon and Chris Kraul for Los Angeles Times
Researchers in Japan are one step closer to their goal of getting an artificial intelligence accepted by Tokyo University. The artificial intelligence, called Todai Robot Project, has passed the standardised Japanese universities entrance exam with higher than average marks, making it clever enough to get into most Japanese universities, writes Cara McGoogan for Wired
A flawed higher education system has been an issue in Lithuania for many years, but the recent data and a growing discontent with inefficiencies in the higher education system among prominent education specialists, economists, students and the heads of the state, suggest it has reached a breaking point, reports Xinhua
Several universities in Taiwan and China signed an agreement last week with the aim of establishing a system to index Chinese-language academic journals, write Stanley Cheung and Kay Liu for CNA
All Scottish universities should consider accepting poorer pupils with significantly lower grades than middle class applicants to address a "fundamental unfairness" in the system, according to a new government-backed commission, writes Andrew Denholm for Herald Scotland
A Chinese professor who was dismissed from his management position after writing social media posts that “critique social issues” has claimed that an academic rival reported him to the authorities, it has been reported, in a case that is fuelling fears over intellectual control by the ruling Communist Party, writes David Matthews for Times Higher Education
A professor who had his job offer rescinded over a series of tweets critical of Israel's 2014 bombardment of Gaza will receive US$600,000 plus legal costs under an agreement approved by University of Illinois trustees, report Al Jazeera and Associated Press
A university’s performance is judged by its overall success in achieving primary goals, such as teaching and research. On that score Hong Kong’s publicly funded universities fulfil their mission reasonably well, but they are let down in one area – turning research into commercial applications, writes Elaine Yau for South China Morning Post
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
All government and private universities and higher education institutions will include ‘innovation and business leadership’ as part of their curriculum starting from January 2016, reports Emirates 24/7
More Canadian institutions will face controversy over the influence of donors on programmes if they do not rethink their relationship with private funders, warn academics who have studied the relationship between donations and educational institutions, writes Simona Chiose for The Globe and Mail
The student government at the University of Southern California has been left divided over a resolution which will request the institution to set aside spaces and scholarships for Syrian refugees, with one member describing it as having ‘poor timing’, writes Aftab Ali for the Independent
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