20 October 2017 Register to receive our free newsletter by email each week
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GERMANY: A crisis in tertiary teaching
The Stifterverband, Germany's Donors' Association for Sciences and the Humanities, has called for marked improvements in university teaching and learning. Addressing his organisation's annual assembly in Essen, President Arend Oetker warned that higher education teaching was "slipping into a crisis". Oetker said the Stifterverband was focusing its efforts on teaching this year and, together with state ministers of cultural affairs, had launched a new initiative to boost standards.
EUROPE: EQF success hailed at Brussels conference
A conference held in Brussels earlier this month to salute the European Qualifications Framework was told the four-year old initiative had been a great success. So much so that, for the first time, Europe's diverse education and training systems will share a common framework that relates their own national qualifications systems to each other.
AUSTRALIA: Education revolution begins - with a review
A full-scale review of Australia's higher education system has begun with the release this month of a discussion paper setting out the parameters. Launching the 95-page document prepared by a review committee she established, Education Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard said: "We want to make sure there is a vision for our universities for the next 15, 20 years. We want that vision to include the ability of the poorest Australians to be able to aspire to go to university and have a fair chance of doing so. We want that vision to be one of universities leading the way with research that makes a difference to our lives..."
RUSSIA: British Council faces back-dated tax demand
The Russian office of beleaguered cultural organisation the British Council was due in court in Moscow last Thursday (19 June) after being hit with a disputed back-dated tax demand. The bill - for monies Russian tax authorities say were not paid between 2004 and 2006 - is disputed by the council as incorrect.
US: Massachusetts revokes Mugabe's honorary degree
The University of Massachusetts has revoked an honorary degree conferred on Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe 22 years ago - the first time in its 145-year history that the institution has done so. "Rescinding an honorary degree is a step to be taken in only the rarest and most grievous of circumstances," a press statement released by the US university quoted Robert J Manning, chairman of the Board of Trustees, as saying.
AUSTRALIA: A$100 million supercomputing facility
The University of Melbourne is to host a A$100 million (US$94 million) supercomputing facility under a new state government life sciences computation initiative. The project aims to develop the world's most powerful supercomputer and leading computational biology facility dedicated to life sciences research.
GLOBAL: Report tackles social and human development
The Global University Network for Innovation, known as GUNI, is nothing if not ambitious. Its latest report, Higher Education in the World: New challenges and emerging roles for human and social development, aims to fuel the debate on how universities can contribute to human and social development - what kind of knowledge should they be producing for what kind of society? All this at a time when increasing internationalisation and competition between institutions mean universities are facing a multitude of new demands as never before.
EUROPE: Doctoral education body launched
The inaugural meeting of the European University Association Council for Doctoral Education was held at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland earlier this month. The new council will help formalise doctoral training within Europe and provide a focus for global dissemination of European work in this field.
FRANCE: First super-campuses chosen
The first six campuses to qualify for substantially increased funding under government plans to make French universities internationally competitive will be in the towns of Bordeaux, Grenoble, Lyon, Montpellier, Strasbourg and Toulouse. The projects, each consisting of several higher education and research establishments, are at the heart of President Nicolas Sarkozy's determination to see France feature prominently among the top universities in the world.
UK-INDIA: Research and education partners
The United Kingdom wants to strengthen its collaboration with India in research and higher education, says British High Commissioner to India Richard Stagg. Britain is willing to assist India in building world class universities and the two countries will collaborate in establishing a new Indian Institute of Technology, a new Institute of Science Education and Research and a new central university, Stagg says.
NEWSBRIEF: Dictionary of Christian-Muslim relations
A US university has received a $30,000 grant from the New York-based Henry Luce Foundation to create what is expected to be the world's first dictionary of Christian-Muslim relations.
GLOBAL: US academics top salaries ranking
US academics enjoy higher salaries than those in any of the main English-speaking countries, even when their purchasing power parity is taken into account, while New Zealanders bring up the rear. A new report shows that the purchasing power of professorial salaries at selected US universities is almost US$114,000 a year - $11,600 more than professors receive in Australia, $13,000 more than in Canada, $32,000 more than in the UK and a whopping $36,200 more than their lowly-paid New Zealand cousins.
CHINA: Overseas students to be expelled?
Media around the world have reported that all foreign students will be forced to leave China during the Olympic Games. But although visa regulations have been tightened and some students have not had their visas renewed, the reports of wholesale expulsions appear to be unfounded.
TURKEY: Headscarf ban re-imposed
In a decision that will worsen Turkey's political crisis, the country's top constitutional court has re-imposed a ban on women wearing headscarves on university campuses. By a vote of nine to two, the judges ruled that constitutional amendments ending the ban were unlawful on the grounds that securlarism was an unalterable principle of the Turkish Republic.
EUROPE: Parliament calls for more women scientists
The European Parliament has strongly backed a report calling for a bigger role for women in European research and setting out specific initiatives to improve the gender balance. The report Women in Science, drawn up by Danish member of parliament Britta Thomsen, was adopted last month by 416 votes in favour with 75 against and 164 abstentions.
ISRAEL: Alarm at threat of British boycott
Israeli academics are alarmed by the recurring threat of a boycott by British academics of Israel's higher education institutions, implicit in a motion passed at the recent congress of the University and College Union in Manchester.
GREECE: Higher education in crisis
After almost a month of unrest, conflict and violence in Greek universities, all parties in the dispute - government, political parties, trade unions, lecturers and students - are seeking a way out of the crisis so the student examination period can go ahead unhindered.
INTERNATIONAL: Universities opt for i-Tunes
Universities in Australia, Britain, Ireland and New Zealand have followed US institutions and joined with Apple to make their teaching and research available free to a global audience, using the giant company's distribution system, iTunes U on the iTunes Store.
UK: Oxford's new vice-chancellor
Oxford University has nominated the Provost of Yale University, Professor Andrew Hamilton, as its next vice-chancellor. Provided the university dons approve the appointment, Hamilton will replace the current vice-chancellor, Dr John Hood, who retires next year after his five-year appointment ends.
GERMANY: Donors' association warns against scrapping fees
Germany's 'Stifterverband' has warned against the abolition and reduction of tuition fees in the Federal states of Hesse and Hamburg. The Stifterverband, the country's donors' association for sciences and the humanities, stresses the importance of long-term funding horizons to safeguard teaching and is concerned that doing away with fees, or lowering them, could jeopardise study conditions.
FRANCE: An 'act of aggression', unions say
Unions representing staff of the CNRS, France's national centre for scientific research, walked out of a ministerial meeting to discuss reform of the centre after Valérie Pécresse, Minister for Higher Education and Research, made public her plans for its future before consultations had been completed.
NEW ZEALAND: Budget disappoints universities
New Zealand's universities will lobby hard for a big boost in their annual funding after last week's government budget delivered only minor increases for staff salaries and research. The eight universities are pushing for a $230 million (US$181 million) funding increase they say will restore them to the level of per-student funding they enjoyed some 15 years ago.
UK: Oxford launches call for £1.25 billion
Oxford University has launched a massive fundraising campaign for £1.25 billion (US$2.5 billion), the largest bid for cash by any European university, in an effort to keep up with institutions such as Harvard and Stanford. Famous Oxford alumni including Richard Dawkins, Michael Palin and Sir Roger Bannister have backed the appeal, which the university says is vital to maintain its world-class reputation.
UK-AUSTRALIA: First British campus down under
University College London will next year become the first UK university with a campus in Australia. This follows the signing of an agreement in London on Thursday with the South Australian government to establish a UCL school of energy and resources in Adelaide.
AUSTRALIA: Foreign graduates fail job search
Overseas students whose first language is not English are graduating from Australian universities unable to find work in the fields for which they are qualified. As is happening elsewhere, the universities have been accused of allowing students to graduate without the communication skills needed in the workplace.