21 September 2017 Register to receive our free newsletter by email each week
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70 science academies worldwide discuss ‘science advice’
This month representatives from more than 70 academies of science and medicine met to discuss 'Science Advice'. What emerged were the needs to avoid thinking that science has all the answers, to solicit diverse inputs, include communication training in university curricula, and help scientists understand society better so they can tailor messages appropriately.
South Africa and the illusion of free higher education
In South Africa, where students are demanding free higher education, the norm is to draw lessons from the global North. But if the country looks to Africa it will find that free higher education failed to achieve universal access or social inclusion.
The murder of Giulio is an attack on academic freedom
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.
Necessity could be the mother of innovation
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.
Reimagining the South African university
Last year was tumultuous for South African higher education. The #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall movements opened up systemic parameters in ways once unimaginable. Going forward there are two options: a sustainable, progressive outcome or unconstrained populism that could enable greater access but destroy quality.
Flagship universities – Enrolment, typology, graduates
There are millions of graduates of Africa’s flagship universities. Most conversations have been on the shortcomings and challenges of these top national universities, but it is important to recognise their considerable contributions.
Doctoral education – Need for more radical rethinking?
The just-published Doctoral Education in South Africa by Nico Cloete, Johann Mouton and Charles Sheppard reveals new approaches South Africa can take for a ‘radical rethink’ to meet its PhD targets. Government efforts have supported the doubling in a decade of doctoral graduate numbers to 2,200 a year, and the new research will play a key role in transforming the PhD in the coming decade.
Developmental universities – The debate continues
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 flawed ideology of free higher education
‘Free Higher Education’ sounds revolutionary and is an appealing mobilising cry. But in a developing country it is financially impossible and morally wrong, as free higher education privileges the rich. The poster should read ‘Affordable higher education for all’ – with clear understanding that affordable means different costs for different groups.
Changing the mindset in internationalisation research
The parameters of the debate on the internationalisation of higher education have been dominated by the North. We need a global commons where power dynamics are neutralised in order to encourage true collaboration.
University partnerships could help achieve the SDGs
The 6th annual conference of the African Network for Internationalization of Education was held just a week after ratification of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. African universities were urged to position themselves to contribute to meeting the global goals through partnerships.
A continental quest for scientific independence
Africa’s quest for scientific independence is likely to be a long journey on a bumpy road full of potholes, leading to who knows where, taking into account that the continent has no culture of philanthropy and government expenditure on research and development is extremely low. That was one of the key messages from scientists attending the launch forum of the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa, held in Kenya’s capital Nairobi last month.
Rebuilding higher education after war
Higher education needs to become one of the key priorities for rebuilding post-conflict countries because they cannot move forward and improve living conditions in the long run without it.
The PhD and the ideology of ‘no transformation’
After a lecture tour, famous theorist of the network society Manuel Castells remarked that ‘transformation’ is a word South Africans use when they stop thinking. Yet the debate over transformation rages on, and the charge of ‘no transformation’ reverberates through higher education. Statistics from a forthcoming book about the doctorate demonstrate how unhelpful – if not toxic – the transformation debate has become.
Lack of neo-colonial imagination?
Last month in Latin America, a statue of Christopher Columbus was removed and replaced by one of Juana Azurduy, an Argentine-Indian freedom fighter. Coming from Cape Town, birthplace of the ‘Rhodes Must Fall’ campaign, this sounded familiar. It is disappointing that more complex notions of history were trumped by populist rhetoric.
Time for an African charter on academic freedom
It is time for African academics to consider drafting a charter on academic freedom. It will be a daunting task. But the costs of failing to protect this basic human right, as other countries across the globe use universities to create new ideas and intellectual properties essential to the growth of the knowledge economy, will be great for African universities and nation states.
Student plagiarism: do we care?
Research into Nigerian students’ and academics’ approach to plagiarism suggests students are not ready or prepared for study abroad. Highlighting the need for academic integrity in Nigerian universities could help drive the education system to new heights.
Enhancing university-industry linkages for ‘rising Africa’
While the number of students graduating from African universities is increasing, the Sub-Saharan region has a lot of ground to cover in improving higher education stock to match the rest of the world. As an ‘Africa rising’ seeks ways to expand university enrolments, it must also provide more high-quality, technically oriented training to students.
A vice-chancellor speaks out against xenophobia
Dear Foreign National Student,
Today I once again hang my head in shame as we continue to threaten, harass and even kill you and your family members and friends on the streets of South Africa. Yet this week many of you will stride across graduation stages in South African universities to obtain degrees. One of you, a student at my university, wrote to tell me that you will achieve the award for top student in economics even though you came here from Zimbabwe without a cent in your pocket.
Quality HE via high-speed internet is Africa’s future
If the goals of the draft declaration and action plan of the African Higher Education Summit are to be achieved, there should be less focus on building traditional universities and more on expanding high-speed broadband internet that will enable global cutting-edge knowledge to be delivered to students cost-effectively.
An emergent regional and global student destination
A study of student mobility in South Africa revealed that regional agreements matter along with the perceived quality of a university. Emerging economies are unlikely to become major global destinations – with the exception of some very highly ranked institutions, the international role of universities in economies such as South Africa is in regional continental development.
Developing civic-minded university graduates
Cultivating a sense of self and developing an understanding of the concerns of both local and global communities have shaped the development of the University of Cape Town’s Global Citizenship: Leading for Social Justice Programme, which was launched in 2010.
A polytechnic by any other name
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.
What role for higher education in sustainable development?
Following the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development it is now incumbent on higher education institutions to integrate sustainable development in all their teaching, research, community engagement and campus activities.
Local researchers bypassed in effort to curb Ebola
Ebola funding needs to spur health services and research capacity in the worst hit nations. Currently there are worrying signs that local researchers have been left behind in the scientific effort to curb the deadly virus.