01 October 2014 Register to receive our free newsletter by email each week
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INDIA
National university rankings to include social contribution
India’s prestigious institutes of technology, or IITs, will spearhead a national system of university rankings, drawing up relevant parameters even though they are not themselves universities, Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani announced last week at a meeting of IIT heads in Chennai.
EUROPE
Progress, problems with researcher mobility in Europe
There has been significant progress in alleviating obstacles to mobility for researchers in Europe – but advances have been uneven and challenges remain in some countries in the areas of recruitment, researcher skills, working conditions and career opportunities – says a Deloitte Consulting report prepared for the European Commission.
CHINA
Universities may exit Beijing under flagship plan
Some of China’s most eminent universities including Peking and Tsinghua are clustered around the Zhongguancun area in Beijing’s Haidian district, which likes to style itself as China’s ‘Silicon Valley’, attracting research institutions and thousands of high-tech enterprises.
GLOBAL
ETH Zürich explores ‘future cities lab’ in Africa
Continental Europe’s leading research-intensive university ETH Zürich is exploring the idea of establishing a ‘future cities laboratory’ in Africa following the success of the Singapore-ETH Centre for Global Environmental Sustainability.
UNITED STATES
Digital history centre strives to connect with public
Books are the gold standard of historical scholarship. Claudio Saunt, a specialist in early American history, has published three of them. As a sort of epilogue to his latest book, however, the University of Georgia professor decided to try a different approach: what would happen if he distilled more than a century of American Indian history into an interactive digital map?
GLOBAL
MOOC on MOOCs? A novel yet pragmatic approach
The Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur and the Commonwealth of Learning are offering “A MOOC on MOOCs: What you need to know about massive open online courses”. The novel short course is aimed at educators, policy-makers and other professionals interested in strategies related to the origin, architecture, economics and delivery of a MOOC, with particular reference to the emerging world.
UNITED STATES
Academic freedom – Pleas for civility meet cynicism
‘Civility’ just might be American academe’s newest fighting word. In the past week, pleas for civility at Ohio University, Pennsylvania State University and the University of California at Berkeley have had the unintended effect of provoking harsh attacks on the campus leaders who issued them. All have been accused of seeking to silence speech rather than simply lower its tone.
EUROPE
Facts on tenure track in Europe’s research universities
Universities in three out of 10 European countries do not have an academic tenure track – France, Spain and the United Kingdom – while in seven countries three basic tenure models have been implemented since the turn of the century, according to a survey by the League of European Research Universities.
SOUTH AFRICA
Major survey of international students in South Africa
The first major study of international students in South Africa has found pull factors to be affordable fees, government subsidies for students from the region, proximity to home and cost of living, the strong reputation of higher education and currency of its qualifications, according to the survey’s authors professors Jenny J Lee and Chika Sehoole.
AFRICA
More research needed on China’s influence in Africa
For a continent where China is having a huge influence, there is very little awareness in Africa of all the implications, says the new acting head of an independent research centre on China-Africa relations in South Africa.
UNITED STATES
Do Americans expect too much from a college degree?
In times like these, data points get wielded like cudgels. Student loan debt tops US$1 trillion. As many as half of recent graduates are out of work. Clearly, such numbers suggest, college isn’t worthwhile. At the same time, remedies for what ails the economy often invoke higher education as a solution. Together these sentiments show how deeply intertwined higher education and the economy have grown.
INDIA
Medical exam fraud is ‘biggest education scam’
Large-scale fraud in India’s medical entrance examination or the Pre-Medical Test – being described as India’s biggest education scam – is having serious wider repercussions, calling into question the quality of medical education and the qualifications of some recently graduated doctors.
AFRICA
Study spurs action on climate change in Southern Africa
On a continent that is one of the most vulnerable to climate change, the Southern African Regional Universities Association has produced a comprehensive climate change mapping study that is the first of its kind in Southern Africa, with a focus on higher education institutions. It brings together information from 12 countries across a multiplicity of disciplines.
GREECE
‘Stagnant’ students to be struck off enrolment register
Having ‘solved’, so to speak, problems that plague higher education – under-funding, lack of administration staff, conflicts arising from double-tier management and more – the Greek Education Ministry has turned its attention to 180,000 ‘eternal’ students who for various reasons have not completed their studies during the prescribed time – and is about to strike them off the register.
UNITED STATES
Illinois backlash from scholars angered by Salaita case
Weeks after the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign abruptly revoked a job offer to Steven G Salaita in the wake of his controversial tweets about Israel, two scholars have signalled their protest by pulling out of speaking engagements at the campus, and a programme that was set to host a national gathering there has called its conference off.
MALAYSIA
US-Malaysia medical school collaboration collapses
A dispute with Johns Hopkins University in the United States, ostensibly over “frequent late payments”, has led to a termination of the American institution’s partnership with Perdana University Graduate School of Medicine in Malaysia, both sides have confirmed.
SOUTH AFRICA
Diversity, culture and support key to HE transformation
A review of equity and transformation initiatives in three South African universities, two decades after the advent of democracy, has highlighted the importance of diversity among staff, institutional cultures and support for emerging researchers. Strategies are needed to tackle the key challenge of increasing the output of quality postgraduates.
UNITED STATES
Confuse students to help them learn
If you had to pick a single word to explain how Derek Muller ended up in a Perth hotel room arguing with an empty chair, it probably would be ‘confusion’. About a decade ago, Muller – then a doctoral candidate at the University of Sydney – wanted to figure out how to make science videos that students would learn from, not just watch. So he did some experiments.
MYANMAR
‘Enigmatic’ bill criticised for centralised HE control
A national education bill passed by Myanmar’s parliament on 30 July has been criticised for maintaining centralised control of universities and for not going far enough to reform higher education. But student groups said the exact content of the bill covering all sectors from primary to tertiary is still shrouded in mystery, leaving many citizens perplexed.
PERU
New university reform law brews controversy
Peru’s new university law, promulgated by President Ollanta Humala on 8 July, has become a political hot potato in this South American country. The president called it a “fundamental step” on the road to quality higher education.
NORWAY
Heated debate over the value of masters degrees
In the past year there has been intense debate about masters degrees in Norway. The debate was launched by Professor Linda Lai at the BI Norwegian Business School, who introduced the concept of mastersyke – which in Norwegian means ‘masters degree illness’, with criticism of the degree supported by major surveys by Lai and Norwegian business.
RWANDA
Top US university in Africa graduates first students
Internationally respected Carnegie Mellon University became the first highly ranked American institution to operate a fully-fledged campus in Africa when it set up in tiny, post-conflict Rwanda in September 2011. The first batch of students graduated last month.
UNITED STATES
Can universities use data to fix what ails the lecture?
John R Barker paces the front of the lecture hall, gesturing at slides with a laser pointer and explaining to a room full of undergraduates how scientists use data to make predictions about global climate change. At the moment Barker, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Michigan, is facing a climate crisis of his own: the atmosphere in this lecture hall is dead.
CHINA
Government rushes through Kashgar university plan
Beijing has rushed through plans for a new university in Kashgar, in Xinjiang – the Silk Road region dominated by the country’s Uyghur Turkic minority – as part of a raft of measures to stem rising discontent and unemployment which is fuelling violence in the region.
NETHERLANDS
A revamped vision for international education
Dutch Minister for Education, Culture and Science Dr Jet Bussemaker has released a new vision for the internationalisation of education. It positions The Netherlands as a knowledge economy with a quality education system that offers opportunities for talented young people worldwide – who the country would like to attract permanently – and includes all levels of education.