When it comes to research and development in proportion to gross domestic product, Sweden is one of the highest spenders in the world. But new data show that spending in relation to GDP has fallen over the past decade, fuelled by a declining contribution by the private business sector, which makes up nearly 70% of total research and development investments.
Following serial protests over the use of Afrikaans as a language of instruction, the universities of Pretoria and Stellenbosch last month adopted new language policies. The moves have raised the ire of Afrikaans rights groups who accuse the institutions of turning their backs on Afrikaners and their language.
By Donald J Trump’s own account, he saw higher education as a means to an end. Fordham University and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania were essentially credential factories. To become the real estate mogul he envisioned, he needed these institutions – but in the same dispassionate way that a mechanic, say, needs a socket wrench.
UNESCO and the Commonwealth of Learning have produced a guide to raise MOOC – massive open online course – awareness in developing nations, and to advise on how policy-makers can build new routes to higher education and lifelong learning to benefit increasing numbers of people.
Nigerian Ambassador to UNESCO Mariam Y Katagum, a member of the governing board of the Commonwealth of Learning, answers questions on the opportunities and challenges facing the provision of MOOCs – massive open online courses – in Africa.
One element of the ‘Africanisation’ debate involves assessing the value of contemporary literature written by Africans in the diaspora. Critics complain that Afrodiasporic literature is not in tune with the continent, and is sanitised and Westernised. But these works take students beyond their national and personal borders, which is crucial in times of global cultural flux.
There has been a burgeoning of private higher education institutions as Latin American countries have massified access to university. But students from poor families still do not have access to the same quality of higher education as those from wealthier families.
South African universities of technology are positioning themselves as critical partners in what is considered a fairly new but highly relevant area of research, innovation and job creation: waste recycling and management, an industry conservatively estimated by the government to be worth R25 billion (US$1.6 billion) per annum.
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.