In Africa Features, Wachira Kigotho looks at problems kicked up by the rapid expansion of higher education in Ethiopia, and the need for curriculum reform, more students and academics, new infrastructure and innovation.
In Commentary, Sheila Trahar identifies ways that the internationalisation of universities might help foster social justice within and across borders. Camille B Kandiko Howson outlines research findings on the barriers to career progression that women in academia encounter in mid-career. Ararat Osipian proposes that imposing English as a second language at universities in countries like Indonesia and Ukraine be more closely examined.
And in World Blog, Patrick Blessinger argues that access to lifelong learning and education is a major human rights issue and that higher education is a powerful catalyst for change.
Karen MacGregor – Africa Editor
Nearly 5,000 academics from universities across the world have demanded investigations into disappearances in Egypt after a ‘brilliant’ Italian student was found to have been tortured before being murdered in Cairo. The government has denied allegations that the security services or police were involved.
It is 5.30pm at a private university in Kenya’s capital Nairobi. Students are settling down for an evening class when the door bursts open and a smartly dressed young man in a navy-blue suit strolls in, a broad grin on his face. Welcome to the world of Kenyan student politics. At least one university has closed following protests over disputed student leadership polls.
Tertiary education unions in Nigeria are campaigning against a Treasury Single Account, implemented by President Muhammadu Buhari to checkmate fraud and corruption in federal institutions and agencies, including in the education sector. The unions are worried about delayed salary payments and crippled grants from foreign partners for training and research.
A new study has ranked South Africa and Kenya at 30 and 51 out of 56 countries for worldwide innovation influence, while in Bloomberg’s index the North African countries of Tunisia and Morocco are in the top 50 for innovation, ranked at 46 and 48.
Cairo University, Egypt’s biggest state-run academic institution, has initiated an action plan against thriving but unlawful ‘teaching centres’, accusing them of “undermining the educational process”. The centres, located just off-campus, are accused of pirating academic books, producing sub-standard study guides and holding fee-charging crash courses.
Twenty-nine early career scientists from 24 African universities and research institutes have been awarded fellowships to study the impacts of climate change on the continent, under the CIRCLE – Climate Impacts Research Capacity and Leadership Enhancement – initiative.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
Théophile Mbemba, higher education and universities minister in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has given stern instructions to members of newly appointed university management committees on the need to improve standards in higher education.
There has been extraordinary expansion of higher education in Ethiopia, with the number of public universities increasing from two in 2000 to 35 today. But the burgeoning sector might not deliver quick economic growth because universities do not have the capacity to drive the development agenda or innovation, says a World Bank report.
SOUTH AFRICA Adam Habib
Last year was tumultuous for South African higher education. The #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall movements opened up systemic parameters in ways previously unimaginable. Going forward there are two options: a sustainable, progressive outcome or unconstrained populism that could enable greater access to higher education but destroy quality. This is the history of the continent, and would be a tragedy to repeat.
Higher education has a vital role to play in addressing the ‘youth bulge’ around the world, but particularly in emerging markets, through harnessing technology and innovation and strengthening quality assurance.
The murder of my friend Giulio Regeni in Cairo is a direct challenge to the academic freedom that is a pillar of our higher education system. He is only one of many scholars to find themselves in grave danger. As a scholarly community and as a society, we have a duty to strike to protect them.
Senegal’s biggest higher education union, SAES – Syndicat Autonome de l’Enseignement Supérieur
– called a 48-hour strike last week in protest against the government’s failure to keep agreements.
Although unemployment nationally fell in Morocco between 2014 and 2015, the jobless rates for young people rose – with nearly a quarter of university graduates registered as unemployed – according to a report from the government’s planning institution the Haut Commissariat au Plan
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
The number of foreign students studying in Russian universities could significantly increase during the next several years, mainly due to a sharp devaluation of the Russian currency, the ruble, against the dollar and euro, caused by the financial crisis in Russia, according to rectors of Russia's leading universities.
HONG KONGYojana Sharma
Widely believed to have become a spent force after student-led pro-democracy street protests, Hong Kong’s students have re-emerged as a key group backing local issues as riots gripped Hong Kong during the lunar New Year holiday last week. More than 130 were injured, including police officers.
UNITED KINGDOMBrendan O'Malley
University bosses received an average salary of £272,432 (US$395,130) for the academic year 2014-15, which is an inflation-busting increase of 3% on the previous year and 6.7 times the average pay of their staff, according to a report released by the University and College Union. Top of the pay league was Professor Andrew Hamilton, then vice-chancellor of Oxford University, with £462,000.
UNITED STATESPaul Basken, The Chronicle of Higher Education
The United States House of Representatives approved legislation on Wednesday that would require the National Science Foundation to award grants only for research projects that the agency can certify as being in the national interest.
Twelve university students will sit in the dock of the criminal justice court in Athens on 10 March facing charges laid against them by their own academic teachers for acts committed in 2011, during a period of student protests against legislation they believed would undermine free state education and privatise state universities.
Australia's universities launched a major new campaign on Friday to prevent sexual assault and harassment of students and staff, which was described as the first time in the world that an entire sector has worked together on the issue.
UNITED KINGDOMBrendan O'Malley
The government last week told universities to do more to raise participation rates among white boys from poorer homes and students with specific learning difficulties, as well as students from ethnic minorities.
GLOBAL Sheila Trahar
Does internationalisation of higher education promote inequity or can it make us question our academic practices and how these are informed?
GLOBALCamille B Kandiko Howson
Many initiatives focus on early career academics, but it is in the middle stage that women in particular encounter barriers to career progression due to gendered attitudes to success and prestige, and caring responsibilities.
As more universities become ‘bilingual’, is the attempt to impose English as a second language in countries like Indonesia and Ukraine a bid for internationalisation or is it just about appearing to be in with the elite?
TURKEYCelal Cahit Agar and Steffen Böhm
While the European Union and the United States have turned a blind eye to the Turkish government’s brutal clampdown in Kurdish regions, Turkish academics who have spoken out about the regime’s increasingly dictatorial policies have faced punishment and even imprisonment.
Access to lifelong learning is a moral issue given that education provides a meaningful way of improving social mobility and life opportunities.
Technological change, digital disruption and the need to foster innovation and adapt education systems were key themes of the World Government Summit, 2016, held in United Arab Emirates last week, according to reports from WAM, the Emirates News Agency, with developments in artificial intelligence, virtual reality and 3D printing set to revolutionise learning.
Scientists have made one of the most exciting discoveries of the modern era after being able to observe for the first time ripples in the fabric of space time known as gravitational waves, arriving from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe 1.3 billion years ago. It confirms a major prediction made by Albert Einstein and opens an unprecedented new window on the cosmos.
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Education and Training Minister Simon Birmingham will direct the nation's top education panel to focus on university admissions after a Fairfax Media investigation revealed that the practice of admitting students with lower than the minimum Australian Tertiary Admission Rank into university courses was endemic, writes Eryk Bagshaw for The Sydney Morning Herald
Many universities in Finland are renewing their study offerings in the interests of providing degrees with a broader, more multidisciplinary scope. Among other things, this means bachelor degree availability will also be reduced significantly in the coming years, reports Yle
Non-state funded programmes at academic institutions will be significantly cut back in the coming academic year amid criticism that they disproportionately benefit the affluent, reports The Jerusalem Post
The National Regeneration Movement will invest more than US$8 million in building universities offering degrees in agriculture, accounting, medicine, education, management, law and engineering, aimed at low-income indigenous youth, reports Telesur
Kenyan universities have launched an environmental movement that will focus on climate change mitigation in a bid to achieve global development targets set last year, writes Aggrey Mutambo for Daily Nation
Lecturers at Zambia's Copperbelt University have demanded that the institution be reopened following its closure earlier this month after students went on the rampage, protesting against non-payment of food and book allowances, reports News24
Every day at 1.30 pm, the bells ring at the Mohammed Salahuddin Al-Habaj Secondary School for girls, in the Syrian capital’s Mezzeh neighbourhood. The female students head out, making room for a group of older male and female students to enter – students from Qasyuon University, writes Mokhtar Alibrahim for Al-Fanar
If you don't speak Afrikaans, you can't buy cake at any of the campus booths being set up nationwide by civil rights group AfriForum Youth. The ‘ban’ is part of the group's #RedAfrikaans (Save Afrikaans) campaign, intended to highlight the need for the retention of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction at universities, writes Sipho Masombuka for Times Live
The government has called a meeting of the vice-chancellors of all central universities this month to discuss how to end possible discrimination on campus against socially disadvantaged students, writes Neelam Pandey for Hindustan Times
Financial autonomy has helped many universities in Ho Chi Minh City improve their facilities, human resources, scientific research and training quality, thereby building a brand name both locally and internationally, reports Viet Nam News
Controversial laws which will change the way Scottish universities are run have been attacked by some of the most powerful officials in the sector, writes Andrew Denholm for Herald Scotland
With its budget under pressure as a result of the oil price crash, the government has been forced to tighten the rules of the US$6 billion King Abdullah Scholarship Program, limiting it to those attending one of the top 100 universities globally, or studying a programme rated in the top 50 in its field, writes Ivana Kottasova for CNN
The Ministry of Education and Training plans to shorten the time for university education to 3-4 years from 4-6 years, saying that Vietnam needs to do this to be closer to international practice, writes Tien Phong for VietNamNet Bridge
Jeremy Corbyn has hit out at the state of higher education in England, saying the country should be “utterly ashamed” for having the highest level of tuition fees in the developed world, in his first speech on education since being elected Labour leader, writes Aftab Ali for the Independent
The Barack Obama administration is highlighting growing concern over soaring United States student debt by forming a new enforcement unit to crack down on illegal behaviour by higher education institutions, write Barney Jopson and Sam Fleming for Financial Times
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