There has been rapid growth in scientific output and investment in Asia and also in tertiary level enrolments. While Korea has the highest level of investment in the world in research and development, China’s investment will soon pass that of the United States, and Iran has the fastest growth rate of science papers.
Kenya’s university education system has come under scrutiny from the World Bank in a study that highlights the pitfalls of rapid expansion without safeguarding quality and relevance. A persistent mismatch of skills and low productivity are undermining economic development.
Former South African president Nelson Mandela wrote in his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom that for young black South Africans like himself, the University of Fort Hare was “Oxford and Cambridge, Harvard and Yale, all rolled into one”.
There is growing collaboration between the vice-chancellors of 143 Nigerian federal, state and private universities, as well as with African and international associations, as leaders unite to develop and internationalise their institutions, says Professor Michael Faborode, secretary general of the Association of Vice-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities.
Virtual reality was the next big thing 10 years ago, then faded from view. Today it is making a comeback as new technology is ushering in the next generation of online education, in which students and professors will don their virtual reality goggles to take online classes.
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.