19 December 2014 Register to receive our free newsletter by email each week
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UNITED KINGDOM
Loans package to boost postgraduate demand
Homegrown postgraduate students at English universities are to get a helping hand from the government in the form of an income-contingent loan of up to £10,000 (US$15,700) from 2016-17. The new loan package announced by Chancellor George Osborne in his eagerly awaited Autumn Statement was generally welcomed across English higher education.
FINLAND
Political stalemate on fees for non-European students
Finland’s coalition government has failed to reach agreement on a proposal to parliament to introduce tuition fees for students from outside the European Economic Area, for courses taught in English. The issue pitted students who oppose the fees against universities that support them, and media described ditching of the proposal as a ‘government u-turn’.
VIETNAM
Innovation system needed to drive development – OECD
Vietnam has made significant progress in socio-economic development. But the once vibrant economy is at a crossroads and needs a “robust” innovation system to avoid being locked into low value-added activities that will limit its capacity to catch up with other East Asian economies, according to an OECD study requested by the country’s Ministry of Science and Technology.
CANADA
Research excellence fund launched, academics cool
Universities have been enthusiastic but academics appear unconvinced about the Canada First Research Excellence Fund, a CAD1.5 billion (US$1.3 billion) initiative over 10 years that was announced in the budget earlier this year and launched by Prime Minister Stephen Harper on 4 December.
NIGERIA
Lucrative international education fairs draw scrutiny
Education fairs held annually in Nigerian cities are attracting attention for potentially harbouring fraudsters. The fairs, aimed at students seeking admission to universities abroad, have mushroomed in response to the exodus of Nigerian students seeking quality education in other countries. According to the British Council, in the UK alone there are nearly 18,000 Nigerian students.
GLOBAL
MOOC, gender support for French-language universities
The Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie has launched two higher education initiatives aimed at French-speaking African and other developing countries. They are to introduce massive open online courses in partnership with the Swiss École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, and to establish an ‘equality for women’ network to counter gender discrimination in universities. The agency has also extended to Senegal a distance teacher-training venture to improve the skills of schoolteachers of, and in, French.
AFRICA
Kenya pumps US$2.7 million into Pan African University
Kenya has extended an extra US$2.7 million to the Pan African University for the construction of facilities at its campus near Nairobi – the Institute of Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation, or PAUSTI – one of five regional ‘nodes’ being developed across the continent. Last month the campus graduated its first ever masters students.
NIGER
Four specialist regional universities to be created
Niger is seeking to enhance higher education by opening four new universities, each specialising in an area key to development. The West African country’s universities continue to face challenges, but experts hail the development as a boost to the education system.
EUROPE
Two new Knowledge and Innovation Communities announced
The European Institute of Innovation and Technology last week announced the winners of its 2014 calls for two new KICs – Knowledge and Innovation Communities – in health and raw materials. There were five bids for the health and two for the raw materials KIC.
FRANCE
Foreign students contribute €1.6 billion
Nearly 300,000 foreign students study in France every year and are not only ‘excellent ambassadors’ who promote the country when they leave – they also contribute a net €1.6 billion (nearly US$2 billion) to the state exchequer, according to a new inquiry.
IRELAND
Turning institutes into technological universities
Ireland is to get its first technological university with the new Dublin institution, to be followed by more in the regions shortly after. But the development has aroused criticism, particularly in the traditional universities.
UNITED KINGDOM
Student vote may hand power to Labour
Research by an Oxford academic suggests that university students could hold the key to which political party forms the next United Kingdom government after the May 2015 general election.
UNITED STATES
Universities’ ties with China under investigation
Until now, the impact of China on American universities has largely been a subject of discussion for college campuses, not the halls of Congress. No longer. A US House of Representatives sub-committee began a hearing last Thursday on whether American colleges’ Chinese connections could compromise academic freedom in this country. Scholars from the US and China gave testimonies.
AUSTRALIA
Government desperate to have reforms adopted
A leading Australian vice-chancellor has broken ranks with his colleagues and condemned the federal government for its radical plans for higher education. Professor Stephen Parker, head of the University of Canberra, says that if the government’s reform bill is passed by the Senate, Australia will be “sleepwalking towards the privatisation of its universities”.
GERMANY
University defends controversial scholar
A department director at Berlin’s renowned Humboldt University has issued a statement calling on students and teaching staff to counter what he refers to as a campaign against historian Jörg Baberowski. A left-wing student group has repeatedly criticised Baberowski for what it regards as his hawkish right-wing views.
NORWAY
Obstacles and incentives to researcher mobility
A research study into mobility among European researchers has found that about half the researcher population had not been mobile during their careers. A report of the study says that among the most important incentives for individual researcher mobility is career development.
GREECE
Higher education faces threat from private colleges
Free state higher education is under threat as a result of action taken by Education Secretary Andreas Loverdos who unexpectedly tabled an amendment to the research and development bill currently being debated in the Greek Parliament. Under the bill, titles awarded by the so-called private ‘colleges’ would be recognised as bachelor and masters degrees provided they were approved by an international accreditation organisation.
UNITED KINGDOM
HE to stop students being drawn into terrorism – Bill
Britain’s Coalition government is rushing through an anti-terrorism bill that would require universities to take action to stop students and staff from being drawn into terrorist activity.
NORWAY
Government backs down on tuition fees for non-Europeans
The Norwegian government has backed down from a proposal to introduce tuition fees for students from outside Europe, instead reaching a deal with opposition parties to increase the budget next year for higher education institutions by NOK80.5 million (US$12 million).
GLOBAL
‘Skills Beyond School’ campaign – OECD report
Against the backdrop of the less understood world of colleges, diplomas, certificates and professional examinations, the 34 country members of the OECD have embarked on a major educational policy drive to popularise the importance of professional education and vocational skills.
GLOBAL
Declaration on higher education for sustainability
Collaboration between universities has become a key word in the evolution of Education for Sustainable Development, a UNESCO programme launched a decade ago to strengthen public commitment to reduce global warming and the depletion of natural biodiversity.
KENYA
Grand plan to set up 20 more public universities
Kenya is planning to set up at least 20 new public universities, as it seeks to devolve education to counties that currently have no institution of higher learning.
BELARUS
Modernising higher education through distance learning
Belarus is forming partnerships with countries around the world to offer distance learning courses, and thereby to modernise its economy and higher education system.
UNITED KINGDOM
Merger will give top London universities more clout
Two top British universities will join forces next week in a bid to become even more competitive on a global scale. University College London and the Institute of Education announced that they are merging from 2 December, a move that will create a new institution with more than 35,000 students.
DENMARK
Upgrade university teaching, says Quality Commission
Denmark’s Quality Commission has published its second report on the quality of university education. It calls on students to drop jobs and work full-time on their studies, and says that while Danish research is world-class, teaching at universities is not.