23 December 2014 Register to receive our free newsletter by email each week
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UNITED STATES
Campus activism after lack of action on black men deaths
Two grand juries’ decisions not to indict white police officers who killed unarmed black men have galvanised students around America, creating important teaching moments for law students on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, and calls by anthropologists and sociologists for non-violent social action.
AFRICA
SKA mega-project boosts astronomy research and skills
The advanced technological skills required to run the Square Kilometre Array, or SKA – a mega-research project due to become fully operational in 2020 in South Africa and eight other African countries – are scarce in Africa. But efforts to rectify that are gathering momentum.
BELARUS
Satellite state turns to higher education
The leaders of Belarus are making efforts to modernise the higher education system by applying to join the Bologna Accord, the system designed to harmonise standards of higher education qualifications and promote freedom of movement in Europe. Belarus is keen to improve its economy and is turning to higher education for answers.
AUSTRALIA
Sleepwalking towards university privatisation
The federal government’s higher education reforms are unfair to students and poorly designed policy. If they go through, Australia is sleepwalking towards the privatisation of its universities. And ironically they will be the death knell of the peak lobby group, Universities Australia, which could not survive them for long.
UNITED KINGDOM
Recruiting international students in a virtual world
Several UK universities are now using virtual open days to attract international students, with smaller universities potentially gaining more from online events.
RUSSIA
A Siberian university aims to become a global player
The first higher education institution east of the Urals, Tomsk State University was founded in 1878 to extend the Tsarist empire’s grasp on Siberia’s tribal lands. Today the challenge of globalisation has replaced the university’s mission to tame the wilderness. Russia and Siberia’s international isolation has to be overcome by transparency around quality.
UNITED KINGDOM
Transnational recruitment vital for many universities
A number of English universities are increasingly reliant on recruiting international students through transnational education programmes, according to a new report from the Higher Education Funding Council for England. It says that around 34% of all international first-degree entrants transferred directly from United Kingdom transnational programmes delivered overseas in 2012-13.
UNITED STATES
Tradition in the cross hairs after student rape claims
Honour wasn’t enough last week at the University of Virginia. An article by the magazine Rolling Stone, detailing the brutal gang rape of a freshman woman at a fraternity party in 2012, has blown a hole in the institution’s storied legacy as the genteel ‘academical village’ founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819.
CHINA
New push to tighten up on study abroad agents
China is tightening up the licensing of China-based agents for overseas universities, with the sector sullied in recent years by allegations of falsified documentation and ‘conveyor belt’ essays produced as part of the application process to universities in Britain, the United States, Australia and other countries.
JAPAN
Not just international but ‘Super Global Universities’
Japan recently unveiled its Super Global Universities initiative in a bid to boost the lacklustre world rankings of its top universities. At the forefront of this ambitious plan is the rapid internationalisation of its inward-looking higher education sector, aimed at creating global universities and internationally minded students.
SOUTH AFRICA
New scientometrics centre connects science to society
The Centre of Excellence in Scientometrics and Science, Technology and Innovation Policy – SciSTIP – outlined fields of research and how it will carry out its work at a scientific launch conference held at Stellenbosch University in South Africa earlier this month. A major aim is to produce comprehensive reviews of science and technology – the first in 20 years.
MALI
World Bank plans for Mali’s tattered universities
The World Bank is developing a comprehensive project to rehabilitate Mali’s struggling public universities, which have been drained of highly qualified teaching staff, lack degree diversification and are housed in inappropriate rental spaces in the capital Bamako.
UNITED STATES
Flood of students at recession peak – But poor results
Six years after a flood of students entered college in the United States, many seeking shelter from a sinking economy and a leg up in an uncertain job market, their progress report is in – and it isn’t encouraging. Only 55% of the students who enrolled in the autumn of 2008 had earned degrees or certificates by May 2014, according to a new report.
UNITED KINGDOM
Embrace digital age or face irrelevance – Martin Bean
Universities risk becoming irrelevant and irresponsible if they don’t equip staff to deal with the digital age, said Martin Bean, vice-chancellor of the Open University, in the 2014 Sir John Cass’s Foundation Lecture at the Cass Business School in London.
INDONESIA
Budget, administration issues cloud new HE ministry
Academics believe that Indonesia’s newly created Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education will have to overcome major budgetary and administrative hurdles before serious work can begin, after the country’s new president, in a surprise move, announced the uncoupling of higher education from the Ministry of Education and Culture.
UNITED STATES
Harvard used secret cameras to study attendance
A high-tech effort to study classroom attendance at Harvard University that used secret photo surveillance is raising questions about research ethics among the institution’s academics. The controversy heated up on 4 November, when a computer science professor, Harry R Lewis, questioned the study at a faculty meeting.
GLOBAL
Collaborative MOOC 2.0 is coming
Massive open online courses – MOOCs – offered by top universities have expanded worldwide. Their spread has the potential to disrupt the model of bricks-and-mortar universities each with their own courses. Now a new type – dubbed MOOC 2.0 – could even disrupt the way courses are devised.
SIERRA LEONE
Ebola – Diary of an MSF epidemiologist in Sierra Leone
After leaving Freetown, capital of Ebola-plagued Sierra Leone, for the airport by hydrofoil, I reflected on how I felt when undertaking this route at the start of my journey. It was night, and there was no electricity. We were disorientated by sensory overload: while trying to become accustomed to the darkness and warm, humid air, we were also contemplating getting used to frequent hand-washing and keeping a distance between ourselves, not touching each other or objects if at all possible.
EUROPE
More focus needed on higher education staff mobility
Staff mobility needs to be given the same kind of attention as is paid to student mobility if universities’ internationalisation strategies are to succeed, says a new report from the European University Association and the Academic Cooperation Association.
GLOBAL
Can universities survive the digital age?
The fifth annual international IE University conference on “Reinventing Higher Education” discussed Bologna, English as the lingua franca and engagement between business and universities. But perhaps it will be the ‘digital natives’ of the next generation who will be higher education’s greatest challenge.
UNITED STATES
Widespread Chapel Hill academic fraud laid bare
An academic fraud scandal at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill took root under a departmental secretary and die-hard Tar Heel fan, who was egged on by athletics advisers to create no-show classes that would keep under-prepared and unmotivated players eligible, according to the findings of an eight-month independent investigation.
IRELAND
Making higher education financially sustainable
The biggest issue facing Irish higher education may not be the level of national investment but the mix of public and private funding. Ireland has a modest level of public investment when compared to other OECD countries and a very low level of private investment in the form of privately paid tuition fees. The key then for achieving sustainable policies in the future is for Ireland to increase its level of private investment while stabilising and maintaining public investment levels in higher education.
GLOBAL
Academic reputation affects citation count
An academic’s reputation plays a key role in generating increases in a scientific paper’s citation count early in its citation life cycle, before a tipping point, after which his or her reputation has much less influence relative to the paper’s citation count.
GLOBAL
Global postgraduate student mobility trends to 2024
India will have by far the most tertiary students in the world in 2024 – 48 million against 37 million in China – but China will still be the largest source of mobile postgraduate students, sending 338,000 abroad, according to a just-published study by the British Council. Nigeria will have the world’s strongest growth in outbound postgraduate mobility, at 8.3% a year.
GLOBAL
BRICS – Partnering to build education for the future
The five BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – have initiated a process of mobilising investment and collaboration that will provide quality higher education to around 40% of the world’s tertiary students.