In a special report, Sharon Dell and Munyaradzi Makoni cover a South African Technology Network conference in Cape Town, including calls by Universities South Africa CEO Ahmed Bawa for institutions to be key players in creating a more broad-based culture of innovation and problem-solving, by international higher education expert Jaana Puukka for universities to act as centres for regional innovation and economic development, and by Lourens van Staden for rebranding of ‘second class’ universities of technology.
In Commentary, Rahul Choudaha encourages international educators to continue building bridges of mutual respect and trust around the world, despite the jolt caused by the election of Donald Trump as United States president. Waldemar Siwinski examines major trends emerging in university rankings, including more rankings by subject, region and nation, and expanding rankings to include more institutions and new dimensions. And Safwan M Masri says today’s deeply interconnected world needs a new model for higher education, exemplified by Columbia University and its global centres, to tackle new realities and global challenges.
Karen MacGregor – Africa Editor
Students from Africa account for more than one in 10 students worldwide studying abroad – a mobility rate twice as high as the global average – with about a fifth from North Africa, and more than a half from countries where French is spoken. Half choose Europe as their study destination, but Europe is losing ground to other African countries and the Middle East.
France retains the top position globally for African students studying degree programmes abroad, although numbers have declined sharply with 92,205 enrolled in 2013 compared with 113,936 in 2012 – a drop of 19% – according to UNESCO figures reported in a new study from Campus France, the agency that promotes French higher education globally.
The World Academy of Sciences, the science network for the developing world, has elected 40 new fellows – more than half from China and India – bringing the number of academy members to more than 1,200 from some 95 countries. At last week’s 27th General Meeting held in Rwanda, the academy also launched a new wing for young scientists.
Academics in Nigeria have embarked on a one-week ‘warning strike’, shutting down all public universities. They are demanding implementation of agreements struck with former governments for improved lecturer welfare and university funding, among other issues.
After months of confusion following the discovery of more than 2,000 ‘ghost students’, and a ministerial order issued last week, Tanzania’s Higher Education Students’ Loans Board has started disbursing funds to universities, and students have begun settling into studies that had been delayed by the loans saga.
Egypt has launched a higher education and scientific research strategy for 2016 to 2030 that aims to promote science, technology and innovation within higher education institutions and research centres, and to produce industry and market-ready graduates.
Al Azhar University – Egypt’s Islamic seminary and the Muslim world’s most prestigious seat of learning – has reopened its main student dormitories, closed for around two years due to violence blamed on Islamist students.
The graduation last month of 26 inaugural masters students from the Pan African University’s Institute of Water and Energy Sciences in Algeria marked another milestone in the actualisation of the African Union-backed institution – and built on successful graduations at the university’s institutes in Kenya, Cameroon and Nigeria.
For all the debates on ‘massification’ and revitalising higher education in Africa, little attention has been paid to the teaching skills of academics. As student demand rises and quality diminishes and senior academics retire, the systematic enhancement of the calibre and skills of early career academics – who now dominate the academic landscape – is paramount.
SOUTH AFRICAN TECHNOLOGY NETWORK
The South African Technology Network held its 9th Annual International SATN Conference in Cape Town from 12-14 October, under the theme “Partnerships for Innovation and Development – Making it happen. Making it matter”. University World News
SOUTH AFRICASharon Dell
It is time to move beyond the idea of innovation as a holy grail – a somewhat mystical and ‘hi-tech’ solution to developmental challenges – towards the creation of a broad-based culture of innovation and problem-solving. And universities are key players in that process, according to Universities South Africa CEO Professor Ahmed Bawa.
SOUTH AFRICASharon Dell
More than 10 years after its creation, the university of technology sector in South Africa continues to be dogged by a crisis of identity and perceptions of second-class status. Recently appointed chair of the South African Technology Network, Professor Lourens van Staden, says he hopes to lead a drive to re-brand the sector.
European universities are instrumental in regional knowledge triangles, facilitating linkages between innovation, research, and teaching and learning, said international higher education expert Jaana Puukka, calling on universities to act as centres for regional innovation and economic development.
SOUTH AFRICA-GLOBALSharon Dell
How best to forge mutually beneficial ties between universities and industry as a means to produce work-ready graduates is a perennial debate among universities of technology in South Africa. But there is a growing sense of urgency around the issue as the country struggles with high youth unemployment and lower economic growth forecasts. The recent South African Technology Network conference highlighted the ongoing challenges – but also some of the successes – in this arena.
Examples of successful models of university partnerships for innovation, as well as challenges encountered, were shared by African and international experts at the annual conference of the South African Technology Network.
While sustainable development was not a new concept, new methods to tackle it in higher education were needed, according to Abigail Edem, curriculum developer at Central University of Technology, Free State, in South Africa.
Students in Niger have clashed with police at two universities in protests against national teacher strikes and the late payment of grants.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
Following two student demonstrations in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Minister for Higher and University Education Théophile Mbemba has ordered universities not to increase fees or other charges this academic year.
A blogger has called on the education minister in Burundi to restructure the higher education system and require universities to respect the academic calendar.
NEWS – Our correspondents worldwide report
UNITED STATESMary Beth Marklein
The number of international students enrolled in United States colleges and universities topped one million last year for the first time, an annual tally says. And US students earning academic credit abroad continues to climb, though at a much slower rate of growth and in far fewer numbers.
UNITED KINGDOMBrendan O'Malley
European research networking has been strengthened with a decision on Thursday to expand the League of European Research Universities to 23 members – with the addition of the University of Copenhagen and Trinity College Dublin from 1 January next year – and the launch in Brussels on 20 November of the Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities.
Two Australian universities with branches in Malaysia have become embroiled in a row over written warnings to students of disciplinary action if they are found attending “illegal gatherings” – a reference to major anti-government rallies in different parts of the country at the weekend.
The desire to attain qualifications that are recognised globally is the primary influencer for prospective postgraduates across the world when choosing a study destination country. But subject-specific reputation, followed by overall institutional reputation, is the key priority when deciding on a destination institution, according to a new survey.
The Thai government has invoked Section 44 of the country’s interim constitution, which gives it sweeping powers “for the sake of reforms in any field”, to deal with chronic problems afflicting a number of universities, raising fears that the autonomy long enjoyed by higher education institutions is under threat.
Huge investment in higher education research and development in Malaysian universities since 2000 has not led to qualitative gains and increased innovation that would help boost a flagging economy and close the skills gap in the country, a new report on innovation policies by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development says.
UNITED STATESJan Petter Myklebust
European research networking has been strengthened with a decision on Thursday to expand the League of European Research Universities to 23 members – with the addition of the University of Copenhagen and Trinity College Dublin from 1 January next year – and the launch in Brussels on 21 November of the Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities.
A European University Association or EUA board member has become the first rector to lose their job under new state of emergency decrees, which were issued at the end of October as part of the government’s ongoing response to the failed coup attempt on 15 July this year.
The German Rectors’ Conference has presented proposals for a new accreditation system for study programmes which gives higher education institutions more responsibility for the quality of their programmes. The proposals were adopted at the organisation’s general meeting in Mainz in mid-November.
DENMARKJan Petter Myklebust
The inward migration of foreign experts, including university teachers and researchers, is good business for Denmark regardless if they are coming from India, China or Germany, according to a new analysis of Danish registry statistics – among the most complete in the world.
UNITED STATESRahul Choudaha
After Brexit, the American presidential election has again shown nationalism, protectionism and disengagement win in times of fear and desperation. Over the next four years, international educators need to reaffirm their commitment to building bridges that advance global engagement and mutual understanding.
GLOBALSafwan M Masri
Global universities need to be able to nimbly convene diverse audiences on the ground and foster cross-cultural and multidisciplinary dialogue. The eight Columbia Global Centers across the world represent a very purposeful response in the growing debate between internationalism and nationalism.
Regional rankings, subject rankings, national rankings and larger global rankings are all growing trends, but a bigger challenge will be expanding rankings to include new areas such as social mission and teaching excellence.
ASIARobert M Hollister
A recent international summit in Beijing highlights the growing role of Asian universities in social responsibility initiatives – that educate students to be transformative leaders and mobilise universities to address societal challenges – alongside innovative new approaches.
Students often have strong views on what they want from a degree programme so it pays to sit down and listen to what they have to say.
A letter from a prominent academic held without trial in a Turkish prison, passed to University World News
in a week when 73 more academics have been arrested, raises questions about whether academics are being rounded up as part of a legitimate investigation into real threats to the state or to clamp down on dissenting voices.
DENMARKJan Petter Myklebust
Denmark is hoping to become one of the leading Arctic higher education and research nations, according to Minister of Higher Education and Science Ulla Tørnæs, who earlier this month presented a strategy for prioritising work on Arctic issues in the years ahead, including setting up a ‘research hub’ in collaboration with Greenland’s self-governing administration.
I would not be as despondent as Philip Altbach and Hans de Wit (University World News
, 11 November 2016) about the Trump ascendency slowing the internationalisation of American universities. This is a leadership challenge and we should rise to it.
I have always been recognised as a liberal and secular author, journalist and academician. But I have been in prison for more than three months, without being told the reason and without access to my lawyer. My imprisonment has been automatically extended without a right to be heard. Without doubt this is in direct contravention of universal agreements on human rights to which Turkey is a party.
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Students at colleges across the country planned and held demonstrations to pressure their universities to protect undocumented students when Donald Trump becomes president, writes Susan Svrluga for The Washington Post
A record number of foreign students took jobs in Japan immediately after graduating from universities and vocational schools last year, according to recently released Justice Ministry data, reports The Japan Times
Amidst controversy over remuneration of academic staff in Uganda’s public universities, neighbouring Rwanda’s leading university is hunting for professors with alluring packages, writes Carol Natukunda for New Vision
Universities will be forced to come clean to prospective students about the real Australian Tertiary Admission Rank cut-offs for their courses, following recommendations to the Turnbull government from the nation's top higher education panel, writes Matthew Knott for The Sydney Morning Herald
England’s higher education system is “in tatters”, with some qualifications “on the verge of total collapse”, according to a leading think-tank, reports the Financial Times
Student leaders from local universities announced their candidacy on 13 November in the chief executive Election Committee subsector election – the first time that students will represent the higher education sector, writes Michelle Chan for The Standard
A decision to shorten training periods in universities has been applauded by university leaders, who say it is in line with international practice, reports VietNamNet Bridge
Cases of fraudulent educators at tertiary level have increased for the year 2016, the South African Council for Educators announced at a press briefing in Pretoria last week on the misconduct of educators, writes Lizeka Tandwa for News24
Donald Trump has agreed to pay US$25 million to settle three lawsuits against Trump University. The deal will keep the president-elect from having to testify in a trial in San Diego that was due to begin on 28 November, writes Kate Lobosco and Drew Griffin for CNN
Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an appeal to universities in the country on 13 November to aspire to be among the top 100 globally and promised special economic assistance, reports PTI
Malawian President Peter Mutharika’s “total silence” on closure of public universities in the country has not pleased civil society groups who have called on authorities to resolve the disputes rocking the institutions and ensure they are re-opened, writes Zawadi Chilunga for Nyasa Times
Universities have displayed written instructions regarding dress codes at the entrances to many colleges and institutes following an uproar over a 28 October decision by the Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research to impose uniforms on university campuses in Iraq, writes Adnan Abu Zeed for Al-Monitor
Oxford University has announced its first massive open online course – or so-called MOOC – in a partnership with a United States online university network, writes Sean Coughlan for BBC
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