28 June 2017 Register to receive our free newsletter by email each week
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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.
SOUTH AFRICA: From poor to PhD - Gugu Mchunu's story
Not in her wildest dreams, growing up the youngest of 10 children in a deprived rural family on South Africa's east coast, did Gugu Mchunu imagine she would end up with a prestigious PhD fellowship studying in America. "I couldn't afford to go to university," she recalls. But there sits a gleaming Dr Mchunu, 39, in her neat office at the University of KwaZulu-Natal where she lectures in the School of Nursing - one of some 200 South Africans among more than 3,000 once-disadvantaged intellectuals in 22 countries who have been awarded fellowships under the single biggest grant in the Ford Foundation's history.
TURKEY: Head scarf ban divides country
The Turkish government appears poised to remove the ban on wearing headscarves in universities, imposed by the country's generals. But nothing is certain in Turkey, which is deeply divided over potential threats to secularism.
US: Academic freedom – A disputed territory
Academic freedom in America is deeply disputed territory, with strong debates about what dangers exist and how to address them. A growing right-wing attack accuses academia of being dominated by liberal professors and administrators who suppress the rights of conservative faculty and students. Part of this conservative movement has reacted by trying to impose greater control over higher education and restricting freedom on campus.
AFRICA: Lecturers debate education and development
The Southern African Comparative and History of Education Society (Saches) held its 17th annual conference last month on "Education and Regional Development", at Kaya Kwanga on the beach just north of Maputo in Mozambique. Seventy members attended from nine countries in Southern Africa and several from outside the continent - and discussions ranged from pre-school education to the training of graduate students, and from South-South cooperation in education to the "betrayal" of illiterate adults and xenophobia in South Africa.
AUSTRALIA: Warning – be wary of Confucius institutes
Universities around the world could lose their academic freedom by accepting grants from the Chinese government to create Confucius institutes, a former senior Australian diplomat has warned.
AFRICA: New project to alleviate brain drain
Africa, a continent with a critical shortage of high-level skills, loses 70,000 highly qualified scholars and experts each year mostly to developed countries, according to the World Bank. Initiatives by individual African countries to stem the outflow of talent have largely failed, forcing them to seek ways of harnessing the skills of top-flight academics and professionals who have left - people in the African diaspora. A new project involving Unesco, Hewlett Packard and universities in five African countries plans to turn the brain drain into 'brain gain' for Africa. The idea is to compensate for the crippling loss of skills by creating websites and networks, collaborative projects and strengthened links between researchers across the continent and in the diaspora.
AUSTRALIA: Ethics and the university
An ethical framework brings an institution's values to the fore and helps it fulfil its social duty. This is why the Joint Committee on Higher Education, currently reviewing Australia's national protocols, has canvassed adding provisions to encourage accountability and ethical behaviour.
AUSTRALIA: No longer the second sex
More girls than boys finish secondary school in Australia, more go on to university, more complete their degrees and now more are enrolled in postgraduate studies. An extraordinary transformation has occurred between the genders. But does this threaten the future of the male sex?
UK: Gender equity in low-income countries
Research into gender equality in higher education in low-income countries has shown some astonishing patterns, reports id21, an organisation communicating development research. A study by the UK Department for International Development (DfID) uncovered problems such as sexual harassment and gender violence, barriers to access, and women staff being excluded from promotion and professional development.
SPAIN: Gender equity elusive
Although they have made significant progress, women in academe continue to face persistent barriers to professional equality, experts from around the world heard at the 6th International Conference on Higher Education and Research, held at the University of Málaga. In an article on a conference theme, ‘Advancing gender equity’, Education International points to a number of equity studies underway.
ZIMBABWE: Economic crisis devastates universities
Zimbabwe's economic crisis has taken its toll on state universities that have also been devastated by a mass exodus of academics, resulting in plummeting standards. The flight of lecturers had hit crisis levels, said Professor John Makumbe, a political science lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, the country's oldest institution. Major push factors were low pay for academics in a collapsing economy with 165,000% inflation - the world's highest - poor working conditions, lack of transport and computers, and problems finding accommodation.
OECD: Consumer concept becomes a policy instrument
Few people in higher education today are unaware of university rankings. Criticised and lampooned by many, their increasing popularity and notoriety is a reflection of the absence of publically available ‘consumer’ information for students, parents and other stakeholders about higher education institutions.
AUSTRALIA: Jiao Tong superior but not ideal
The Jiao Tong system has to be judged clearly superior to the THES system. In emphasising research it focuses on one of the essential functions of a university and, in contrast to the THES, which gives great weight to peer review, Jiao Tong is concerned with genuine criteria rather than mere symptoms of excellence; it also aims to confine itself to relatively objective criteria indicating demonstrable and measurable differences between universities.