28 April 2015 Register to receive our free newsletter by email each week
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UNITED STATES
Report urges rethink on demand for STEM expertise
The policy-making arm of the National Science Foundation last week poured a bucket of cold water onto the sometimes fiery debate about whether the United States faces a glut or a shortage of workers trained in science, technology, engineering and mathematics – typically known as the STEM fields.
ARGENTINA
Only three out of ten students graduate
Argentinian universities are graduating only three out of ten entrants – compared to six out of ten in neighbouring Chile and five out of ten in Brazil – and little is being done to increase retention rates, according to a new report.
EUROPE
Mergers should not be driven by cost saving – EUA
Cost saving should not be the primary goal behind university mergers, the European University Association has warned in a new report. The academic mission must take precedence at all times, it says.
GLOBAL
Rise of the Islamic university
Islamic universities are beginning to spring up in countries around the world with new institutions opening in the US, Italy and in some European countries. The aim is to provide higher education for immigrant Muslim communities and to tackle concerns about the spread of extremism among Muslim youth.
HONG KONG
Mandatory student ‘experience’ in China raises fears
A plan by the University of Hong Kong to bring in mandatory university exchange programmes to institutions in mainland China has caused an uproar among students, many of whom took part in last year’s pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong and fear they could be barred from crossing the border or be held in China if they do so.
AFRICA
Call for all African universities to tighten security
The Association of African Universities has “strongly urged” higher education institutions across the continent to strengthen security on campuses to ensure the safety of students and staff and the protection of property. The call came in the wake of numerous atrocities committed by religious fundamentalists against educational institutions.
KENYA
Churches accuse Muslim scholars of ‘inaction’ over attack
In the wake of the attack on Garissa University College by Islamist al-Shabaab militants on 2 April, in which 148 people were massacred, churches in Kenya have accused Muslim scholars and clergy of not doing enough to condemn the insurgency or counter radicalisation.
UNITED STATES
Carnegie puts US$6 million into humanities programme
A new fellowship programme dedicated to supporting the humanities and social sciences will give scholars in those disciplines a major financial boost and time to explore some of the most complex issues in society today.
GERMANY
German increasingly popular as a foreign language
Some 15.4 million students are studying German as a foreign language worldwide and German is becoming particularly popular in South America, notably Brazil, the Middle East and, above all, China and India, according to the latest survey.
SOUTH AFRICA
Higher education and research versus xenophobia
Xenophobic violence that erupted in parts of South Africa this month, leaving seven people dead, has outraged university communities and the ministries of higher education and of science and technology, all of which have come out in full support of international students and academics. The attacks also exposed gaps in research into xenophobia.
SWEDEN
Foreign PhD graduates denied citizenship
Numerous foreign PhD students who apply for Swedish citizenship face years of delay or rejection, because they originally said on their application form when applying for a study visa that they did not intend to stay in Sweden.
RUSSIA
Government to close two in every five universities
The number of Russian universities will be cut by 40% by the end of 2016, according to Minister of Education and Science Dmitry Livanov. In addition, the number of university branches will be slashed by 80% in the same period.
UNITED STATES
A higher-ed guide to four presidential contenders
Over the past few weeks, four candidates have officially announced that they are running for president. Democrat front-runner, of course, is Hillary Rodham Clinton, while the Republican field includes three US senators: Florida’s Marco Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants who is pitching himself as the fresh face of the GOP; Texas’ Ted Cruz, a conservative Christian and Tea Party hero; and Kentucky’s Rand Paul, a libertarian who is positioning himself as the candidate for young people.
KENYA
One student killed, 141 hurt in campus ‘terror’ stampede
One student died and 141 others were injured in a stampede at the University of Nairobi’s Kikuyu campus on Sunday 12 April after a transformer exploded – the result of an electrical fault that caused an underground cable to burst. Students jumped from hostels to the ground after mistaking the 04h00 explosion for an attack by al-Shabaab Islamist militants.
MALAYSIA
Private universities and branch campuses ‘technically insolvent’
Many of Malaysia’s private universities, including foreign branch campuses, are facing financial and managerial problems and more than half will experience financial distress as a result of recent changes to the national student loans scheme, according to a new report.
NETHERLANDS
Police evict protesting students and academics
The University of Amsterdam called in the police on 11 April to forcibly remove protesting students and staff who had spent the previous six weeks occupying the university’s senate house – Maagdenhuis. More than 500 academics who have supported the students are now calling on the board to resign.
AUSTRALIA
Strategy aims to attract more foreigners to study and stay on
The federal government has launched a draft strategy in an effort to boost Australia's chances of attracting more foreign students and encouraging local students to look outside the country. But, faced with a massive budget deficit and falling mineral prices, the government is unable to guarantee it will actually achieve any of what it says is necessary.
NORWAY
First non-Norwegian to head nation's largest university college
Minnesota-born Professor Curt Rice has been appointed rector of the Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, the largest university college in Norway aspiring to become a university. Although a foreigner taking up a top post at a university in northern Europe is extremely rare, Rice told University World News that his origins were not an issue at the interview.
EUROPE
Debating the impact of research on society
More than 400 university leaders and representatives from the European higher education sector met on 16 and 17 April at the annual conference of the European University Association, where Professor Rolf Tarrach, former rector of the trilingual University of Luxembourg, was elected president as the sole candidate for the position.
SWEDEN
Crosstalks: Where great minds from around the world meet
“Fantastic, professional, fun and inspiring! A great thanks to you! I will continue watching Crosstalks and spread the word!” That was Nina Kirchner, a senior lecturer in numerical ice sheet modeling at Stockholm University, telling the Crosstalks team what she thought after taking part in one of its monthly programmes called “Into the deep: The unknown territories and resources of the sea”.
NIGERIA
Controversy over the role of academics in 2015 election
Nigeria’s recent general election witnessed high involvement of vice-chancellors as returning officials and new graduates as polling officers. The election was judged to be free and fair, but the participation of the university community has been enmeshed in controversy.
SOUTH AFRICA
Big disparities in philanthropy for universities
Ten South African universities collected a total of R659 million (US$55 million) in philanthropic income during 2013 from 4,355 donors, with nearly half from international organisations. But there were major disparities, a new survey has revealed – two universities attracted half of the funding while five received less than R23 million between them.
EGYPT
Islamic university pledges reform to fight militancy
Egypt’s Islamic Al-Azhar University has unveiled a plan to revise its curricula as the country cracks down on violent militancy. Al-Azhar is the world’s oldest, and a highly respected, Islamic seat of learning that attracts students from around the world.
EAST AFRICA
Kenya to drop visas in international student drive
The government is to abolish visas and special entry conditions for East Africans wishing to study at any university or college in Kenya, in a move that could see the country outsmart other regional states in the race to attract international students.
KENYA
After student massacre, security questions swirl
Confusion reigned in Kenya last week over the number of students missing following the brutal killing of 148 people by Islamist militants on 2 April at Garissa University College. Urgent questions were being asked about whether more could have been done to avert the massacre and students demanded better protection.