15 February 2016 Register to receive our free newsletter by email each week
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EGYPT
Cambridge PhD student murdered in Cairo ‘was tortured’
Nearly 5,000 academics from universities across the world have demanded investigations into disappearances in Egypt after a ‘brilliant’ Italian student was found to have been tortured before being murdered in Cairo. The government has denied allegations that the security services or police were involved.
RUSSIA
Rectors expect sharp rise in foreign student numbers
The number of foreign students studying in Russian universities could significantly increase during the next several years, mainly due to a sharp devaluation of the Russian currency, the ruble, against the dollar and euro, caused by the financial crisis in Russia, according to rectors of Russia's leading universities.
HONG KONG
Students return to the fore in ‘localism’ protests
Widely believed to have become a spent force after student-led pro-democracy street protests, Hong Kong’s students have re-emerged as a key group backing local issues as riots gripped Hong Kong during the lunar New Year holiday last week. More than 130 were injured, including police officers.
UNITED KINGDOM
Report exposes ‘inflation-busting’ pay rises of VCs
University bosses received an average salary of £272,432 (US$395,130) for the academic year 2014-15, which is an inflation-busting increase of 3% on the previous year and 6.7 times the average pay of their staff, according to a report released by the University and College Union. Top of the pay league was Professor Andrew Hamilton, then vice-chancellor of Oxford University, with £462,000.
UNITED STATES
Bid to impose ‘national interest’ test on research
The United States House of Representatives approved legislation on Wednesday that would require the National Science Foundation to award grants only for research projects that the agency can certify as being in the national interest.
KENYA
Student poll disputes spark protests, close campuses
It is 5.30pm at a private university in Kenya’s capital Nairobi. Students are settling down for an evening class when the door bursts open and a smartly dressed young man in a navy-blue suit strolls in, a broad grin on his face. Welcome to the world of Kenyan student politics. At least one university has closed following protests over disputed student leadership polls.
GREECE
Students face charges brought by their own lecturers
Twelve university students will sit in the dock of the criminal justice court in Athens on 10 March facing charges laid against them by their own academic teachers for acts committed in 2011, during a period of student protests against legislation they believed would undermine free state education and privatise state universities.
NIGERIA
Tertiary unions oppose anti-corruption treasury account
Tertiary education unions in Nigeria are campaigning against a Treasury Single Account, implemented by President Muhammadu Buhari to checkmate fraud and corruption in federal institutions and agencies, including in the education sector. The unions are worried about delayed salary payments and crippled grants from foreign partners for training and research.
AUSTRALIA
National drive against sexual assault in universities
Australia's universities launched a major new campaign on Friday to prevent sexual assault and harassment of students and staff, which was described as the first time in the world that an entire sector has worked together on the issue.
UNITED KINGDOM
Universities must work with schools to tackle access inequity
The government last week told universities to do more to raise participation rates among white boys from poorer homes and students with specific learning difficulties, as well as students from ethnic minorities.
AFRICA
Four African countries rated in innovation studies
A new study has ranked South Africa and Kenya at 30 and 51 out of 56 countries for worldwide innovation influence, while in Bloomberg’s index the North African countries of Tunisia and Morocco are in the top 50 for innovation, ranked at 46 and 48.
AFRICA
Key role for universities in African education strategy
There is a strong call for strengthening universities and research in the new Continental Education Strategy for Africa 2016-2025. Its objectives include boosting postgraduate and post-doctoral education and growing competitive awards to nurture young academics, more international research cooperation and expanding centres of excellence and institutional links.
GERMANY
Experts evaluate German science funding initiative
Germany’s Excellence Initiative, aimed at promoting world-class science at German universities, has been evaluated by an international commission of experts. They give the measure good marks but also point to a number of shortcomings that will have to be addressed in future.
CHINA
Universities inflate graduate employment figures
Universities in Shanghai have been taken to task for inflating graduate employment figures as the Shanghai City administration, in cooperation with higher education institutions, recently published its first report on the destination of recent graduates.
EUROPE
EU mobility grants at record high, but impact varies
The European Union’s Erasmus+ programme offered a record number – 650,000 – of individual mobility grants for people to study, train, work or volunteer abroad in 2014. But an impact study of the previous programme suggests the impact will differ from region to region.
PAKISTAN
Inquiry blames VC for terror attack ‘security lapses’
A provincial government inquiry committee into a terrorist attack on Pakistan’s Bacha Khan University on 20 January that left 21 dead and as many as 30 injured has held the university’s vice-chancellor and its security officer responsible, and recommended the removal of Vice-chancellor Fazal Rahim Marwat. But the recommendation has been unanimously rejected by university staff.
LAOS
New university to link up to SE Asian economic corridor
A new research university at Savannakhet – the country’s second-largest city – in the western region of Laos is being built with loans and funding of up to US$40 million from the Asian Development Bank to provide skilled graduates for the region’s ‘economic corridor’ that runs through the area.
AUSTRALIA
Large rise in income from international education
Australia’s international education is continuing to expand rapidly, according to preliminary data released on 3 February showing export income from education services was A$19.65 billion (US$13.9 billion) in 2015 – an increase of 11.5% since 2014 – according to Australian Bureau of Statistics data.
DENMARK
Copenhagen University announces drastic staff cuts
Copenhagen University – the largest research and education institution in the country – announced last week that it is cutting 532 jobs of professors, researchers and administrative staff, due to government austerity measures. The job losses will amount to 7.4% of the total workforce at the university.
UNITED STATES
Emergency fund to support students from Syria, Yemen
The Institute of International Education has created an Emergency Student Fund initiative to help students from Syria and Yemen on United States campuses whose financial support has been devastated by the ongoing conflict in Syria and escalating violence in Yemen.
NEW ZEALAND
Universities face repeated falls in student enrolment
New Zealand’s government is promising to reinvest in the country’s universities as they face a big drop in enrolments. The Education Ministry has forecast that degree and postgraduate enrolments by domestic students will fall every year until at least 2019 because there are fewer school-leavers and less unemployment.
AUSTRALIA
Leap in indigenous access, general enrolment hits high
Australia has experienced the biggest jump in Indigenous higher education enrolments in nearly a decade and overall enrolment has reached a record high, according to new student data, with notable increases in enrolments of regional students and students from low socio-economic backgrounds.
EUROPE
Coimbra Group tells U-Multirank to revamp its data
U-Multirank results are based on “unverifiable data” and “imprecise definitions” and its indicators remain “weak proxies of quality for valid international comparison of institutions”, according to the Coimbra Group of European universities, in a stinging public criticism of the way the U-Multirank ranking system is being implemented.
MALAYSIA
Severe cuts for overseas scholarships in revised budget
Government scholarships for Malaysian students to study overseas have been slashed in a revised budget announced by Prime Minister Najib Razak last week, as the country suffers from a continued economic downturn, depreciating currency and a global drop in oil prices.
KENYA
Ten campuses closed, dozens face ban, in quality drive
Tucked away on the outskirts of Kenya’s capital Nairobi, the Commission for University Education has been criticised for not having ‘bite’ in regulating the higher education sector. But this month the commission rose from the shadows, ordering 10 university campuses to close in what could be a turning point in salvaging the country’s higher education system.