At the Third Arab-Euro Conference on Higher Education in Barcelona, participants discussed the plethora of opportunities that universities in Europe and the Middle East are offering to Syrian refugees and voiced concerns that without an overarching framework or clearing house much energy is being wasted.
The existence of vast amounts of information – a lot of it free – on the Internet might suggest that academic and public libraries have outlived their usefulness, particularly in a cost-cutting political climate. The numbers tell a very different story.
Free online courses changed the life of one super-smart Mongolian teenager. Four years ago Battushig Myanganbayar, while in high school in Mongolia, took a massive open online course, or MOOC, from MIT. He was one of about 300 who got a perfect score and soon got accepted to the real MIT campus. He has plenty to teach about how to use tech to meaningfully expand education.
The European Institute of Innovation and Technology, or EIT, in Budapest is reeling from a negative assessment by the European Court of Auditors, which says its basis of operation and experimental structure, comprising Knowledge and Innovation Communities, each involving several universities, to leverage extra funding beyond its core funding, is unrealistic.
Africa must create ‘innovation universities’ if it is to achieve economic transformation, sustainable development and inclusive growth, says Calestous Juma, professor of the practice of international development at Harvard’s John F Kennedy School of Government. Universities should combine research, teaching, outreach and commercialisation in a coordinated way.
As a graduate teaching assistant at Ohio University, Noora Mahboubeh, an Iranian doctoral student, often struggled to understand her students’ questions, and they weren’t always sympathetic to her difficulties with English. The language problem is a stubborn one, but some institutions have sought creative solutions.
Academics are stuck: they can’t afford to read their own work but they can’t afford not to publish in expensive prestigious journals if they want to advance their careers. Sci-Hub has provided a new path and it’s “a bit like distant thunder at a picnic for publishers”.
Universities are retreating from all bragging about their ranking status. Government cuts will bring spending levels down to the same as other developed countries and, as further budget reductions between now and 2020 really begin to bite, as the reductions in staff-student ratios take hold, and as the brightest and most productive students seek places elsewhere, they can almost only go down.
A 20-year-old from the Netherlands studying at Stockholm University has become the youngest doctorate holder in Scandinavia in modern times. The university describes him as “probably the youngest in Sweden ever to complete a PhD” and the same age to the day as the current holder of the Dutch record.
Alexander W Astin, a professor emeritus at the University of California, Los Angeles, believes that too many faculty members "have come to value merely being smart more than developing smartness". Here he discusses his new book, in which he finds more concern with "acquiring" smart students, as defined by conventional metrics, than with helping students improve after they enrol.
Contrasting visions of the direction of international higher education – from MOOC-like masters degrees to undergraduate programmes in seven countries for students who want a true global experience – were presented to the first “Student of the Future” conference organised by Dutch-based StudyPortals.
An innovative non-governmental organisation is breaking some of the toughest barriers to attaining a university education imaginable – offering refugees living in Kiziba, a remote camp tucked away in far eastern Rwanda, access to degree courses. Higher learning was out of reach for its younger residents, for geographical and financial reasons.
Medieval universities excluded many groups – minorities, feudal villeins and women – but they did give poor young men with talent a chance and even a type of loan to pay fees if they pawned some gold, silver, or more commonly, their textbook as collateral.
The African Leadership University, launched in Mauritius last month with the aim of training Africa’s future leaders, has huge ambitions – to build 25 campuses across the continent and train three million leaders in five decades. It has partnered with Scotland’s Glasgow Caledonian University to award internationally recognised degrees to graduates.
Tenure track develops elite recruitment but does not provide employment security for post-doctoral candidates in general and reduces the mobility of academic staff, according to a new report on the use of the system in Denmark, China, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Singapore and the United States.
Researchers have long noticed that an oddly large number of jihadists have engineering backgrounds. New research suggests they are right. But why? The findings add to the debates about the seeds of terrorism and the blind spots that can afflict engineering education.
Norway recently unveiled its new programme for academic collaboration with the global South. Significantly, this major partner of African higher education has shifted from full degree study abroad scholarships that intensify the brain drain to postgraduate-level partnerships and short exchanges.
The African diaspora fellowship initiative, brainchild of Malawi-born diaspora academic Dr Paul Zeleza (pictured), is building a platform from which to launch a ‘10-10’ initiative that will sponsor 1,000 diaspora scholars a year for 10 years to visit African universities for collaboration.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
Activists in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are locked in a battle with President Joseph Kabila’s administration over what they are describing as an attempt to extend his mandate beyond the official end of his second – and final – term in November. In the process, political organisers are drawing on a deep well of support among university students.
United Kingdom universities have set up a task force on violence against women, harassment and hate crimes affecting university students and are drawing on best practice internationally, including recent United States government efforts.
The political furore over the charging of Jawaharlal Nehru University student leader Kanhaiya Kumar with sedition has raised fears that the government is trying to enforce its Hindu nationalist ideology on the student community and ensure a domineering position in higher education institutions for the youth wing of the ruling party.
While most stakeholders agree that South Africa’s higher education sector needs more transformation, what form transformation should take is still a matter for debate – as is the thorny question of university autonomy: how far the government should be able to go to compel universities to transform.
The question of whether academics should try to reach a popular audience has been, for decades, a non-question: Scholars typically assumed there was no way to popularise their work for the general public without abandoning their mission as intellectuals. But that set of assumptions is breaking rapidly apart.
Technological change, digital disruption and the need to foster innovation and adapt education systems were key themes of the World Government Summit, 2016, held in United Arab Emirates last week, according to reports from WAM, the Emirates News Agency, with developments in artificial intelligence, virtual reality and 3D printing set to revolutionise learning.
Anastacia Mikwa, a 20-year-old student at Kenya’s Garissa University College when it was attacked by al-Shabaab extremists last April, was shot multiple times and lost her friends. Still traumatised and crippled – but feeling lucky to be alive – she spoke to University World News about the massacre in which 148 people lost their lives.