21 October 2017 Register to receive our free newsletter by email each week
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Racist attacks – Will African students shun India?
Following what are widely regarded as racist attacks on Nigerian students in India in March, there are concerns that the violence could contribute to making the country a less attractive destination for African students seeking higher education outside the continent.
Attacks on universities, scholars, students unabated
Even as the international community is raising its voice against the killing of higher education professionals in Pakistan, the assassination of intellectuals and violent killing of students continues, with the latest victim a student rounded on by a student mob and killed for alleged blasphemy on Thursday.
High dropout rates – Technology to the rescue?
With a high proportion of university students in South Africa dropping out before graduation, many in their first year of study, higher education institutions are turning to technology in an attempt to arrest the declining pass rate. But the complex problem may need a more radical approach.
The value of PhDs has shifted but is still disputed
A researcher’s examination of the changes in Swedish doctoral education over the past 70 years found dramatic improvements when it switched to four-year PhDs and allowed published articles to replace a single thesis, but the value of the doctorate is still a bone of contention with employers.
Private higher education – Competitive or complementary?
The instability of the South Africa tertiary education sector, due largely to the student-led #FeesMustFall protest movement as well as quality issues, has seen the role of private universities thrown into stark relief, dubbed either, as one commentator put it, “an escape hatch for the very rich” or competition out to steal students from public institutions.
Digital records to tackle fake qualifications
The Indian government is planning to digitise academic records as part of a drive against fake degrees and institutions at a time when companies are complaining of rising fraudulent qualification claims and prominent public figures are being challenged to prove that they are entitled to the degrees and qualifications they claim to have.
China takes on Hollywood with film studies tie-ups
A rise in film studies collaborations between Chinese institutions and universities in Britain, America and Europe is part of China’s policy to become a post-manufacturing economy. The partnerships will help develop a skills base for a rising ‘Hollywood of the East’ in and around Shanghai.
An action plan to address the crisis facing humanities
The government has drawn up a white paper calling for more researchers in the humanities and for them to be recognised as a main producer of knowledge, not just a 'helper' to other sciences. Some experts think it should go further, arguing that Norway could establish a 'European cultural brain centre'.

A 2040 vision of HE dominated by grand knowledge hubs
Indian and Chinese universities will expand one-hundred-fold and the future will be dominated by 'grand knowledge hubs' with four in Asia, two in North America, one in the United Kingdom and maybe others in Sweden/Denmark, Germany/Switzerland, Belgium/Netherlands and France, predicts Bert Van der Zwaan in his new book.
Making it possible for young scientists to stay in Africa
Returning to the department of chemistry at Multimedia University of Kenya after completing his PhD studies at the State University of New York in the United States, Dickson Andala was frustrated by the lack of local laboratories that could analyse his samples he needed for his research.
Talent drive looks to bring in international students
China has stepped up its drive to lure overseas talent in its bid to become an innovation economy. New measures include allowing foreign students to stay on in China after their degrees to take up jobs or internships and reducing red tape around residence permits.
Students emerge as prime targets for Ponzi fraud
The government is facing calls for stronger action to prevent students being targeted by Ponzi scheme fraud, after at least 4,000 students from one university were threatened with expulsion for diverting their tuition fees, worth a total of US$6.5 million, into a Ponzi online scheme which has since suspended its operations without explanation.
Addressing language barriers is key to student success
By focusing on the quality of their note-taking in and out of class, researchers from the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, have established that poor English language competence is hindering the academic performance of a significant number of undergraduate students for whom the language is not their mother tongue.
Researchers grapple with 40% cut in science funding
Despite an election pledge to double funding, the government has cut the research budget for state universities by 40%, leaving researchers in poor parts of the country grappling with the challenge of how to produce meaningful research with little money – for some pooling resources between universities is the answer.
Higher education in a failed economy – Students at risk
Five bunk beds… one room – not more than 15 square metres in size. The beds look as if they might fall apart at any second; it’s a good thing there is no one on them – at least not yet. Students are yet to move in after a three-month-long vacation, but they will come.
Do universities support their autistic academics?
Around 3% of students in higher education are autistic and universities are working hard to listen, understand and meet their needs. But the fact that autistic students can become autistic academics appears to have gone unnoticed.
17 top global universities vs the Trump immigration ban
This month 17 American universities joined a court challenge to President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration. Their brief revealed the extraordinary extent of – and dependence on – internationalisation at many of the world’s top-ranked institutions.
Academics reject local language plan for sciences
In a rare show of solidarity, university teachers on almost all campuses of both public and private universities throughout the country have rejected a ministerial proposal that science be taught in three indigenous languages commencing at primary school level.
Universities take their own inventions to market
Ten years after the United Kingdom's then chancellor of the exchequer Gordon Brown told universities to earn income by setting up businesses based on their own research discoveries and inventions, there are now 2,000 university spin-outs generating more than £1 billion (US$1.2 billion) a year.
Universities develop approach to fighting fake news
One of the Philippines’ most prestigious universities is working to combat the spread of misinformation online as academics use their subject knowledge and authoritative expertise to fight against fake news on the internet. Fake articles played a crucial role in the Philippines election last year.
Preparing Arab-nation students for study in the West
Despite facilitating several scholarship initiatives aimed at students, most Arab universities in Africa are not adequately preparing students to optimise learning opportunities at foreign universities or serve as cultural ambassadors, according to higher education experts, scholars and students.
Partnership offers a lifeline to students with disabilities
In Ethiopia it is difficult for young people living with disabilities to succeed at university. Even if they gain access to institutions they face enormous challenges once there. A new inclusive higher education initiative is aiming to change that.
A model of how to lure high-quality foreign students
The share of foreign students is five times higher at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University’s global campus than the average in Japan’s universities and its foreign students are nearly three times as successful in gaining employment. So what is its secret?
Universities hope for more stable academic year
While it is unlikely that South Africa will escape student unrest at the start of the 2017 academic year, authorities are hoping such action will be moderated by the progress made in addressing some of the key challenges that sparked and sustained last year’s violent and highly disruptive protests over fee-free higher education.
New science minister needs to push innovation agenda
The challenge for the new science minister, Arthur Sinodinos, is to defend and champion the nation-building role of research infrastructure within the cabinet and secure the necessary financial commitment.