20 August 2017 Register to receive our free newsletter by email each week
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AUSTRALIA: Divisions surface as review begins
Higher education in Australia is undergoing a wide-ranging review commissioned by the new Labor government. As the latest in a long line of investigations over the past two decades, this one was announced in March by Education Minister Julia Gillard. It is focusing on the future direction of higher education, its 'fitness for purpose' in meeting the needs of the Australian community and economy, and the options for ongoing reform.
GLOBAL: What is a university?
Universities are big places and it is easy to lose your way. We have taken to placing maps at strategic locations to help people navigate their way around. I recall a California university president describing how one map was the victim of graffiti. Right under the orientation arrow and the words "You are here", someone had written "But, why?" Universities are also wondering why they are here.
US: World's youngest professor
Alia Sabur is the world's youngest professor. Indeed, New York-born Sabur was three days short of her 19th birthday in February when she was offered a professorship in the department of advanced technology fusion at Konkuk University in Seoul, South Korea, as part of a likely research liaison with Stony Brook University in New York.
AFRICA: Timbuktu book reveals Africa's written history
Timbuktu is synonymous with the middle of nowhere. But centuries ago it was a world centre of intellectual pursuit and knowledge production, and its manuscripts - there are more than 200,000, some dating back to the 13th century - were widely circulated across Africa. A major project is underway to preserve the documents of the old mud-brick city on the edge of the desert. Now a new book co-edited by University of Cape Town historian Dr Shamil Jeppie, The Meanings of Timbuktu, is reviving Africa's rich written tradition of scholarship.
GREECE: Macedonian king's conquests depicted in fresco
The magnificent fresco decorating the façade of Philip II's grave, discovered in Vergina in north-east Greece near Thessaloniki, shows the Macedonian king accompanied by his eldest son Alexander and other courtiers during a hunting expedition.
UK: Pathway pioneers build bridges to the world
The north of England has a reputation for its down-to-earth common-sense attitude to making a bob or two, so it is no surprise to learn that 20 years ago, 12 universities in the region spotted a business opportunity and formed a consortium to attract overseas students to their institutions. The Northern Consortium UK's slogan is "your bridge to international success" as it pioneered what are now known as "pathway programmes" to prepare students in their home countries to continue studying abroad, mainly in the UK. The consortium has just opened a new centre in Sri Lanka.
RUSSIA: Developing skills to tackle poverty
A pioneering skills development programme is tackling rural poverty at its roots in central Asia through innovative and flexible use of a network of existing higher education institutions. Nearly 20 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union swept away communal farms – and the system of centrally organised agricultural training and support that went with it – smallholders and livestock herders in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan are being taught basic agronomics in a pilot scheme designed and supported by the European Training Foundation, based in Turin, Italy.
FRANCE: Researchers protest against Sarkozy's reforms
Researchers in France are uniting in protest against planned reforms they claim will lead to political control of public research and loss of autonomy for the nation's research organisations, such as the multi-disciplinary National Centre for Scientific Research. More than 600 directors of laboratories and members of national scientific authorities gathered in Paris earlier this month to express their fears for the future of public research.
BOTSWANA: Second public university to open in 2010
The Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST), which will enrol its first students in 2010 to become the country’s second public university, has been planned over the last five years. After six months of work, a Task Force on the Establishment of the Second University in Botswana reported to the Minister of Education in May 2004. The report favoured the new university being located in Francistown, in north-east Botswana. But for political reasons the government chose Palapye, a small town 180 kilometres south of Francistown and 260 kilometres north of the capital Gaborone. Locally it is being billed as ‘Palapye University’ and a blog with that name is promoting it. The idea is to develop a research-oriented university with postgraduates comprising one in five of 10,000 students within a decade.
CANADA: Training Botswana academics for new university
Almost two dozen graduate students, more accustomed to a baking southern African sun than a late-winter freeze, have been hunkering down in Canada. They are hoping to play an important role in the early history of a new university in Botswana. The 18 men and five women, all studying in eastern Canada, along with five others enrolled in an American university, form a first cohort of potential professors needed for the nascent Botswana International University of Science and Technology. If they graduate with good academic standing, the masters students will likely find a spot on the BIUST faculty, beefing up the numbers of qualified domestic teachers for an institution that will open its doors in early 2010.
EU: The future of Bologna
As in other regions of the world, European higher education is in the throes of a major transformation. The Bologna declaration of 1999 triggered wide-scale reform across the continent. Over the past few years, not only has the introduction of new degree structures taken centre stage but a range of other European and national higher education and research issues has also found synergies with the Bologna reforms to create possibly the most potent change process ever experienced on the continent.
EU: Next stop after Bologna?
In 2009, the Bologna process will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a ministerial conference in Leuven, Belgium. There will be reason to celebrate: the achievements of a decade of developing the European Higher Education Area far exceed what the original 1999 signatories could possibly have imagined. But what will happen after 2010?
US: Naming rights net millions – but at a price
Selling the right to name institution buildings and equipment has become a staple part of fundraising in US universities – but there can be unintended consequences for their image.
Let's imagine for a moment that I'm actually not a journalist writing this story but a multi-millionaire. As a wealthy member of the community, I have decided to donate part of my fortune to my alma mater. What would logically follow is that one day while listening to public radio, you would hear the host trying to make sense of why a convicted serial killer did what he did, while interviewing none other than the Philip Fine, professor of psychiatric disorders to provide insight. A few years later, you would be reading an article about a drunken party that ended with several arrests which took place, that's right, just outside the Philip Fine Student Lounge.
NORWAY: HE commission proposes sweeping reforms
A recent story in Aftenposten newspaper featured pictures of Pol Pot, Mao and Stalin with a headline about the bad grades children scored in the latest Programme for International Student Assessment. The kids, it announced, had no idea who these historic bad guys were or what they stood for. On the other hand, Norwegian higher education is doing rather well – so why establish the National Commission on Higher Education, which published its report last month? It was mainly a preventative move, explained Professor Peter Maassen of the University of Oslo, a commission member. “We wanted to know where we were heading".
NIGERIA: Critical shortfall in academic numbers
Nigerian universities are facing a staffing crisis as more than 400 professors reach the retirement age of 65 years. To prevent an unprecedented mass exodus, Nigeria’s Head of State Musa Yar’Adua set up a committee to advise the government on ways of extending the retirement age and also substantially increasing academic salaries.
GERMANY: Students vent fee anger ahead of elections
Students voiced their opposition to tuition fees ahead of land or state government elections in Hesse and Lower Saxony last month. Lower Saxony’s pro-fee Christian Democrat-Liberal Democrat Government won a further four-year term, but in Hesse the prospects for keeping tuition fees are uncertain given a hung parliament.
NIGERIA: Critical shortfall in academic numbers
Nigerian universities are facing a staffing crisis as more than 400 professors reach the retirement age of 65 years. To prevent an unprecedented mass exodus, Nigeria’s Head of State Musa Yar’Adua set up a committee to advise the government on ways of extending the retirement age and also substantially increasing academic salaries.
CAMEROON: New university part of tertiary reforms
The latest of Cameroon's public universities opens this month at a temporary site while construction work continues on its main campus. The University of Maroua was created by a presidential decree on 9 August and is located in the city of Maroua in Far North Province. It represents the continuation of a process of decentralising the country's public university system away from the capital Yaoundé under higher education reforms that began in 1993.
NEW ZEALAND: Maori institutions enjoy better times
At the turn of this century, New Zealand's three public wanangas – indigenous tertiary institutions – had just a few thousand students between them and there was little to suggest they would be other than minor players in the country's tertiary education sector, offering courses in Maori language and knowledge. Yet within three years, the numbers studying in those institutions had shot up to nearly 40,000, many of them non-Maoris, and Maori tertiary education participation had risen higher than that of any other ethnic group.
CANADA: Course evaluations – or students’ revenge?
It’s that time of year again when students prepare to fill out their course evaluations. No matter how confident I’ve become with my teaching, the drill remains a source of consternation. Like death and taxes, the evaluation exercise is something instructors cannot avoid, certainly not at any university whose administrators believe in accountability.
GREECE: Study centres devalue university degrees
Greek universities fear the EU's latest directive will open the floodgates to sub-standard foreign competition and devalue university degrees in the process by treating liberal study centres as equal to universities. For British universities already offering programmes via the centres, there may be rich pickings.
UK: A popular destination for overseas students
Nizar Alam from Bangladesh likes Manchester, “apart from the rain”, because he found the ideal course at Manchester University: mathematical logic. “I’m interested in logical philosophy but only this institution provided exactly what I wanted,” Alam explains. Manchester’s success in attracting foreign students is symptomatic of Britain’s performance in the race to lure overseas students to these shores. Latest figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency show a 7% rise in foreign students and a 6% increase in EU student enrolments between 2005-06 and 2006-07.
ISRAEL: Resolution of lecturers’ strike yields little
For Israel’s 4,500 senior university lecturers, it came as a surprise that their protest turned into an unprecedented three-month strike. What had started as a protest against a NIS1.2 billion (US$300 million) cut from the higher education budget ended in very real concern about the erosion in their salaries, increases they should get and how to set up a mechanism to prevent future salary erosion.
AFRICA: Fundamental shift in educational approaches
A fundamental shift away from basic assumptions in the way university researchers approach issues in educational development in Africa has occurred over the last two decades, according to members of the Southern African Comparative and History of Education Society. There is an increasing emphasis being placed on comparative studies, on historical and contextual factors, and on analyses that begin with the learner.
INDONESIA: Students and the rise and fall of Suharto
In a hospital in Jakarta, the former president of the Republic of Indonesia is dying. Suharto’s 32-year reign over the archipelago brought development at a high cost and for most his name is inextricably connected with corruption, collusion and nepotism. Students and academics have played a major role throughout the modern history of Indonesia, especially in the Suharto era, but many courageous men and women gave their lives in the struggle for change and freedom.