26 September 2016 Register to receive our free newsletter by email each week
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GLOBAL
UK takes top spot from US but slides in global ranking
The University of Oxford has become the first institution outside the United States to take top spot in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, but two-thirds of the United Kingdom’s top 200 universities lost ground, and some other European countries also fared badly, as a second ranking in a fortnight shows the continuing rise of Asia at Europe’s expense.
AUSTRALIA-CHINA
Donor resigns over Chinese ‘political’ links scrutiny
Concerns over Chinese ‘soft power’ influence on Australian universities has led to the resignation of a well-connected Chinese donor as chair of a China-Australia think tank at the University of Technology Sydney.
SOUTH AFRICA
Students protest over 8% tuition fees hike decision
Several universities in South Africa shut down or faced disruptions as student protests erupted in the wake of last Monday’s long-awaited recommendation by Higher Education and Training Minister Dr Blade Nzimande to allow universities to raise fees for 2017 by up to 8%.
GLOBAL
Facebook founder ploughs $3bn into disease research
Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO and founder of Facebook, and his wife Priscilla Chan have announced ambitious plans to invest US$3 billion over the next decade in helping scientists build new tools and technologies to “cure, prevent or manage all diseases by the end of the century”.
GLOBAL
Global clearinghouse for refugee student scholarships
A new global clearinghouse to identify scholarships and opportunities and connect refugee students with resources they can use anywhere in the world was announced at the Institute of International Education in New York on Thursday.
AFRICA
Virtual Institute for Higher Education in Africa reopens
In January 2017, the Virtual Institute for Higher Education in Africa will reopen its digital doors with a new set of free courses to help African university lecturers face the challenges they meet in their everyday work.
SOUTH AFRICA
Data-intensive research capacity boosted ahead of SKA
A consortium of institutions in South Africa has been formed to establish a Western Cape Data Intensive Research Facility as part of the country’s National Integrated Cyberinfrastructure System. The aim is to dramatically increase data-intensive research capacity ahead of the global astronomy research initiative, the Square Kilometre Array or SKA.
UNITED STATES
Online ‘micro-masters' programmes extend their reach
The 'micro-masters' online degree is gaining momentum, with more than a dozen colleges announcing plans last week to offer an alternative credential by that name, roughly equivalent to between a quarter and a half of a typical masters degree course, and the biggest challenge may be preventing cheating and fraud.
GERMANY
Reform ‘puts student disability support in doubt’
The German Student Welfare Service remains critical of the federal government reform of the equality act to promote the integration of people with disabilities. It claims that the new law, which has now received parliamentary approval, would hamper access to higher education for many students.
SWEDEN
Business calls for rectors to be elected by boards
University rectors should be elected by the university board and not by university staff, according to a report commissioned by the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise – an association of 60,000 private companies. In a damning assessment of the 'leadership problem' in Swedish universities, it says the current arrangement does not produce strong governance.
AUSTRALIA-CHINA
Universities warned on ‘pressure’ from Chinese donors
In the wake of a major political scandal in Australia involving Chinese donors who have also funded local institutions, Australian universities involved in collaborations with institutions and organisations in China have been advised to be alert about undue influence by donor organisations on research, including pressure to produce research for Chinese propaganda purposes.
CHINA
Ambitious drive for foreign students is paying off
A record-breaking number of international students were in China in 2015, according to a new report using official figures, and the country is vying with Canada to overtake the United Kingdom as the second-largest destination for international students.
FINLAND
Academics question pressure to merge universities
The Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture is pressing universities to reform their curricula to give up smaller disciplines and give a higher profile to their strengths, specialising in particular subjects. But higher education research experts say this risks increasing inequality between universities and across society in a system characterised as socially cohesive.
UNITED KINGDOM
Prime minister opposes 'safe spaces' for student debate
The new Prime Minister, Theresa May, has criticised the use of 'safe spaces' for debate in universities, which are intended to ensure discussion does not cause offence to students, saying that they hold back innovation and harm the country.
UNITED STATES
Stress on doctoral programmes deters applicants
New data suggests a fall in applications to doctoral programmes may be fuelled by concerns over working conditions and low stipend, secure academic jobs in many fields becoming harder to land and graduate-education debt levels rising.
NORWAY
Study abroad funding determined by university rankings
The Norwegian government agencies overseeing arrangements for grants for students to study abroad are drawing up a list of permitted elite destination universities – for those applying for top-up grants to attend elite institutions abroad – based on universities' performance in two global rankings, it has emerged.
NIGERIA
Fragile peace after vice-chancellor selection row
A fragile peace prevails on the campus of Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile Ife after an interim vice-chancellor was elected by the senate, ending months of uncertainty and controversy and the literal absence of a vice-chancellor.
MALAWI
Students win court victory over readmission to college
A Malawian court has dismissed a bid by a constituent college of the University of Malawi to overturn an injunction against it forcing students to sign readmission forms and pay for repair work to property damaged during protests in July, which resulted in the college’s closure.
SWEDEN
Universities chief fired as KI scandal fallout spreads
Minister of Higher Education and Research Helene Hellmark Knutsson has fired the country’s University Chancellor and head of the Swedish Higher Education Authority, Harriet Wallberg, and four members of the board of the Karolinska Institute, or KI, in the wake of the Macchiarini scandal, and a new inquiry has damned the institute’s "poor leadership".
GLOBAL
US, Asia rise as Europe falters in university ranking
United States universities pulled away in the latest QS World University Rankings, and Asian universities continued to rise, while Western European institutions suffered a downturn in performance.
HONG KONG
Student movement’s legacy is a new political order
The 2014-15 student-led pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong known as the Umbrella Movement has led to a dramatic change in the Hong Kong political landscape with a number of the movement’s activists gaining seats in Legislative Council elections.
EUROPE
UK faces sharp fall in EU students due to uncertainty
United Kingdom universities could face a sharp fall in European Union student numbers next year unless the government provides reassurance that they will be able to receive loans and grants, the head of Universities UK said. She also demanded changes to the visa regime to help attract international students and staff.
CHILE
Violence adds to pressure for HE reform bill changes
A rector and his staff were locked up and intimidated by students defending peers who protested for changes to proposed higher education reforms, amid widespread criticism of the plans. Fearing rejection of the bill, the government is considering changes.
TANZANIA
Universities respond to ‘ghost’ student ultimatum
Following the suspension of student loans and a week-long ultimatum, 15 universities in Tanzania have responded to a ministerial directive to pay back loans issued to them for thousands of ‘ghost’ students.
Photo: Abdul-Razaq Badru, head of the student loans board
GERMANY
More funding for refugee students in NRW
As support for German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s immigration policy plummets, the state government of North Rhine-Westphalia, or NRW, has announced extra funding for the integration of refugees in higher education.