South Korea has unveiled plans to drastically cut the number of university places over the next decade because of a declining population. But the policy is causing disquiet, with higher education already facing major restructuring including university closures and mergers.
Jiang Mianheng, son of China's former president Jiang Zemin, has been named head of ShanghaiTech University - a new university modelled on the California Institute of Technology in the United States. But the appointment has raised eyebrows in some academic circles and prompted questions around how university presidents are appointed.
In the last 10 years China has made formidable progress in science and engineering fields and it is now the world’s third largest producer of peer-reviewed research articles after the European Union and United States, according to a major report published by the US National Science Foundation.
Japan’s universities are hoping the country’s reputation as a modern democracy and a high tech magnet in Asia can attract more overseas students. But the plan to boost foreign student numbers, announced by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last month, could be jeopardised by rising political tensions between Japan and its East Asian neighbours.
There has been a spate of new universities in India championing the cause of liberal arts education. While most are in the private sector, they all share certain characteristics – they claim to provide a multidisciplinary approach, state-of-the-art infrastructure, international collaboration and student exchange, and freedom for academics to innovate.
Sofie Carsten Nielsen, who took over from Morten Østergaard as Denmark’s Minister for Higher Education and Science this month, has pledged to continue reforms underway – notably improving quality and the quest for greater workforce relevance. These have become hot and sometimes divisive issues across Scandinavia.
Pakistan plans to set up new women-only universities in Faisalabad, Multan, Bahawalpur and Sialkot, to add to seven existing women’s universities, Punjab’s minister Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rehman announced in Lahore last month.
Three public tertiary institutions in Lagos, the richest state in Nigeria and West Africa, are embroiled in controversies over tuition fees. Lagos State University was temporarily closed following violent student protests over fees and other issues.
Janet Napolitano had zero experience leading a college before she became president of the University of California last year. Yet after just four months on the job, Napolitano (56) has outlined major goals for the system, including a reconsideration of tuition policies, improving cooperation with the other two higher education systems in the state, ensuring the prominent role of research and graduate education, and making the campuses carbon-neutral by 2025.
Fast growing East Asian economies have rapidly increased the numbers of students attending university in recent years. Now the pool of unemployed graduates is rising to worrying levels in the region generally – and even in some high-growth economies.
Last year President Barack Obama spooked higher education when he announced his intention to hold institutions more accountable for cost, value and quality and called for affordability and outcomes benchmarks – perhaps even a new accreditation system. In his state of the union address last month, ‘accreditation’ was not mentioned but with upcoming reauthorisation of the Higher Education Act, the issue looms large.
National euphoria over a young female scientist who led a groundbreaking stem cell research project has quickly turned into anguished soul-searching in Japan, where similar success stories remain woefully inadequate.
Plans for a major shake-up of higher education are underway as Lithuania struggles to stem the tide of talent leaving the Baltic state to study and work abroad. ‘Brain drain’ is common in many newer European Union states as students take advantage of the free movement of labour and move to countries offering better job prospects.
Shock reports have revealed a vast skills gap in India, with surveys suggesting half of all graduates are not employable based on industry standards. This has sparked growing concern about the mismatch between graduate skills and job market needs.
Africa’s heavy dependency on international scientific collaboration may be stifling research individualism and affecting the continent’s research evolution and priorities, a study has found. Papers co-authored by African academics with international partners grew by 66% in five years.
Early career scientists have the intellectual ability needed to develop strong national research and innovation systems, but funding shortages and lack of resources and support are major obstacles hindering their careers, says a report by the Global Young Academy.
One hundred and fifty applicants for 30 spots. That was the target as business school administrators at the University of Texas at Austin laid the groundwork for a new masters programme in business analytics. This past autumn, they welcomed the inaugural class: 52 students selected from more than 400 applicants. One-year revenue from the self-funded programme is projected to total about US$1.7 million.
Sir Run Run Shaw, who died on 7 January, donated billions to education. His death raises interesting questions about the potential for philanthropic involvement in higher education, including international higher education.
Plans to open more branches of foreign universities in South Korea’s Incheon Free Economic Zone are back on track. The US-based George Mason and Utah universities, and Belgium's Ghent University, are to start operating this year.
Vietnam is aiming for at least one ‘world-class’ national university to emerge by 2020, while also upgrading regional research-led universities to compete with the best in Asia by 2015 – in time for the formation of the ASEAN economic community.
When George Siemens was in the seventh grade, in the early 1980s, he committed what his conservative Mennonite parents believed to be a sin: he used a computer. They held that technology – and higher education – steered people away from God. But Siemens had made his choice. And decades later, in 2008 when he was a researcher at the University of Manitoba, he helped invent the massive open online course, or MOOC.
The political crisis in South Sudan has dealt a major blow to higher education, according to Leben Nelson Moro, assistant professor in the University of Juba’s centre for peace and development studies. “The fighting has seriously affected learning activities in our university, and many students have been displaced.” This month, university classes were suspended due to the conflict.
There appears much to be learned from the publication last week of Eurydice’s first ever report outlining and scoring European Union member states’ policies to encourage higher education students to spend part of their studies or training abroad.
Armed with notebooks and folders Rika Nogochi, a third-year liberal arts student, is attending job seminars in Tokyo. “It's not too early to begin this gruelling search for a good job despite the fact that I graduate next April,” she said as she marched through company booths listening to lectures and picking up brochures at a recent job fair. New recruits start work on 1 April, the start of the Japanese fiscal calendar.
Massive open online courses – MOOCs – are potential game changers for African education, radically enhancing access to knowledge and creating borderless education. In that light it is a boon that a network for educational technology practitioners and researchers, e/merge Africa, has won a major award.