In Africa Features, Esther Nakkazi reports on a decision ahead of elections in Uganda to outlaw journalists from reporting on parliament if they do not hold a degree – which has sparked lively debate over the value of university qualifications. Wachira Kigotho unpacks a survey showing that Sub-Saharan Africans comprise just 2% of foreign students offered postgraduate places in the United States last year.
In Commentary, Marguerite Dennis suggests how international student mobility may change in a world shaped by ongoing terrorist attacks. Following the recent terror attack in Pakistan, Rafia Zakaria proposes alternative initiatives to military power to help make campuses in the Muslim world more secure. Rui Yang says that the future success of rising East Asian universities may be undermined by the toxic academic culture in the region, while Edward Vickers argues for more – not less – support for the humanities and social sciences in Japan’s national universities. Elizabeth Balbachevsky contends that Brazil’s academically excellent University of São Paulo nevertheless lags behind what one would expect from a ‘New Flagship University’ as portrayed in John Douglass’ new book. And in a Special Report on last week’s conference of America’s Council for Higher Education Accreditation, Mary Beth Marklein looks at the OECD contention of a need for an international comparative assessment of graduate outcomes.
Karen MacGregor – Africa Editor
Tucked away on the outskirts of Kenya’s capital Nairobi, the Commission for University Education has been criticised for not having ‘bite’ in regulating the higher education sector. But this month the commission rose from the shadows, ordering 10 university campuses to close in what could be a turning point in salvaging the country’s higher education system.
South Africa’s #FeesMustFall movement has found resonance in neighbouring Namibia, where student protests last week resulted in the government postponing registration fee payment at the Namibia University of Science and Technology.
Egypt’s higher education authorities have curtailed a decades-old incentive system for sports students, saying that it has been abused for university entry.
Africa has been late to join the ‘green’ universities movement – only five institutions on the continent are among more than 400 participating in a global ranking of universities that practise environmentally friendly policies to help combat climate change. But now national and regional ‘green’ university networks are being developed on the continent.
Ugandan universities are phasing out courses with few students – except science courses and those not available elsewhere or where a university may have a comparative advantage.
The Pan African University is to establish gender desks with permanent staff in all of its four operational institutes to address an acute problem of gender disparity in enrolments. Males comprise nearly 70% of all students admitted so far.
A debate has been raging in Uganda over whether a degree improves the ability to comprehend and accurately report on parliamentary proceedings. With elections looming, parliament has barred journalists who do not have a degree and three years’ experience – even though MPs only need an advanced certificate.
Only some 4,600 students from Sub-Saharan Africa were admitted to postgraduate courses in the United States last year, according to the Council of Graduate Schools. Students from the region comprised only 2% of 215,156 foreign students offered postgraduate places in 793 universities and colleges across America.
AFRICA: UNIVERSITY LEADERSHIP
KENYADonald Otoyo Ondieki and Emily Achieng’ Akuno
Copyright-based industries contribute around 5% of Kenya’s gross domestic product – more than agriculture, education or healthcare. Yet the creative economy is ignored by government. Visionary higher education leaders must design institutional frameworks that provide an enabling environment for developing the lucrative creative and cultural industries.
It’s no use talking about world-class or flagship universities in the developing world where there are not enough financial resources or qualified teaching staff. A new system is needed.
Cameroon’s ministries of secondary and higher education and the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences launched a Mathematics Teacher Training Programme in January. The pilot initiative will train some 3,000 maths teachers through three higher education institutions.
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Australia has experienced the biggest jump in Indigenous higher education enrolments in nearly a decade and overall enrolment has reached a record high, according to new student data, with notable increases in enrolments of regional students and students from low socio-economic backgrounds.
U-Multirank results are based on “unverifiable data” and “imprecise definitions” and its indicators remain “weak proxies of quality for valid international comparison of institutions”, according to the Coimbra Group of European universities, in a stinging public criticism of the way the U-Multirank ranking system is being implemented.
Government scholarships for Malaysian students to study overseas have been slashed in a revised budget announced by Prime Minister Najib Razak last week, as the country suffers from a continued economic downturn, depreciating currency and a global drop in oil prices.
PAKISTANAmeen Amjad Khan
Pakistan’s federal and provincial governments have moved to increase security at academic institutions after academics raised concerns of insufficient protection following the 20 January attack on Charsadda’s Bacha Khan University in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province by Pakistan Taliban-linked militants, which left 21 dead and 30 injured.
The University of Helsinki is to cut its staff by nearly 1,000 by the end of 2017, making 570 terminations this spring, it confirmed in a public statement last week. But it has also warned that further cuts may have to be made once national discussions about streamlining the network of universities have come to a conclusion.
A steep rise in the start-up creation and business incubation has been helped by the creation of a dynamic support system to foster entrepreneurship and enhance levels of innovation in which universities are playing a vital role, according to a Danish government report.
UNITED STATESBrad Wolverton and Sandhya Kambhampati, The Chronicle of Higher Education
Donations to capital campaigns for new facilities and commitments to cover more aid for athletes helped major-college athletic departments raise more than US$1 billion in 2015, according to a report released on Wednesday by the Council for Aid to Education. It was the fourth time in the past five years that gifts for athletics had crossed the billion-dollar mark.
Advances in the physical, mathematical and biological sciences in the past 20 to 30 years underpin A$330 billion (US$233 billion) a year of Australia’s economic output. These advances also support nearly 1.2 million Australian jobs, or 10% of total employment, according to two new reports.
CHEA and CIQG CONFERENCES 2016
Comparative assessment of learning outcomes, shared principles of quality assurance, tackling corruption, and adapting accreditation to non-traditional providers were among the key topics at the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, or CHEA, 2016 and the CHEA International Quality Group, or CIQG, 2016 conferences held in Washington, DC last week, for which University World News
is a media partner. Mary Beth Marklein reports for University World News
GLOBALMary Beth Marklein
There has been an explosion of demand for higher education and evidence of its value. We have to find new ways to be more open and honest about what students are learning and that should include an international comparative assessment of graduate outcomes, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development says.
GLOBALMary Beth Marklein
A set of shared principles on how to define quality in higher education is gaining support among stakeholders in multiple countries, and a plan is in place to create opportunities for greater cross-border cooperation in matters of quality assurance and accreditation.
GLOBALMary Beth Marklein
As stories of academic fraud and corruption multiply around the globe, quality assurance professionals are grappling with how they can help combat problems such as the spread of fake degrees and falsified research.
UNITED STATESMary Beth Marklein
Can accreditation adapt to radically new ways of providing higher education? A new type of university with no campus, where students learn together online – but travel to live together in seven cities across the globe over four years – is showing that it doesn’t have to. Traditional standards and ways of gauging them still apply.
Will international student mobility patterns change after recent terrorist attacks around the world? Universities around the world may be forced to accept the reality of a new world order and plan for a future based on change.
To make campuses in the Muslim world more secure requires more than military power. It requires the promotion of initiatives that recognise the ills of colonialism without believing and promoting a concomitant and bloody obscurantism.
ASIA Rui Yang
An academic culture that is based on meritocratic values, free enquiry and competition is largely absent in East Asia.
Concerns about the government’s position on the arts, humanities and social sciences belie a wider questioning about the purpose of universities and society.
The University of São Paulo is Brazil’s leading university, but its governance structure and lack of independent outside voices mean it fails to deliver the social leadership required of a 'New Flagship University'.
UNITED KINGDOMNicola Jenvey and Brendan O’Malley
Just as the big supermarket chains are using personal data to tailor their services to their customers, universities will increasingly be able to tailor their support and services for their own consumers, their students.
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Visa requirements for foreigners applying to study in Indonesian universities have been eased in a bid to attract more international students, writes Liza Yosephine for The Jakarta Post
“Education cannot be regulated by the market,” declared Peru’s President Ollanta Humala following the approval of the ‘University Law’ which ushers in some of the most sweeping changes that Peruvian higher education has ever seen, writes Simon Wilson for Latin Correspondent
Experts predict that the lifting of sanctions on Iran is likely to lead to a “gradual opening” of its higher education sector, but collaborations with neighbouring Gulf nations will be limited, writes Ellie Bothwell for Times Higher Education
Parliament was told in a briefing last week that proposed changes to laws governing tertiary institutions should not be seen as a "blank cheque" giving Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande unrestricted powers, writes Bekezela Phakathi for BDLive
A group of prominent economists at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences has criticised the central bank’s educational programmes, saying they promote the views of its leadership at public expense and breach rules governing universities – allegations the bank has rejected, writes Marton Eder for Bloomberg
Three of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical groups have teamed up with a trio of Britain’s top universities to create a £40 million (US$57 million) fund to help turn promising scientific research into new medicines, writes Andrew Ward for Financial Times
The governing body of the University of Sydney voted to shrink its number of faculties from 16 to six and cut elected positions from its senate in what critics have called a "secret meeting" late last year, writes Angela Lavoipierre for ABC
The Beijing authorities have announced new policies that will make it easier for international students to work and hold internships in the city’s buzzing tech district, Zhongguancun, writes Sara Custer for The PIE News
Only 10% of Russia’s state educational and research institutes can make breakthrough developments, President Vladimir Putin recently told a meeting of the Council for Science and Education, reports TASS
America’s colleges are raking in more money than ever before. The Council for Aid to Education estimates they had a US$40.3 billion haul in 2015, a record for its annual survey of higher education fundraising, writes Melvin Backman for Quartz
Amid a backlash following his statement on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or LGBT, students, Muhammad Nasir, the minister of research, technology and higher education, defended himself last Tuesday, denying he called for a ban on gays and lesbians from the campus of the University of Indonesia, reports Rappler
North Korea has announced the arrest of a university student from Ohio accused of posing as a tourist to commit a “hostile act” against the reclusive nation, writes Alexandra Zavis for the Los Angeles Times
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