26 March 2017 Register to receive our free newsletter by email each week
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AUSTRALIA
Education exports hit record high of nearly US$17 billion
Export earnings from selling Australian higher education to foreign students reached a record high of nearly A$22 billion (US$16.8 billion) in 2016 – an astonishing 17% increase on the total for the previous year and the biggest annual growth rate since 2010.
NORWAY
White paper calls for quality culture improvement
A White Paper produced by Norway’s government, aimed at boosting quality in higher education, provides universities with a “toolbox and framework” to raise standards. There is stress on improving teaching, and on introducing practical training and compulsory international collaboration in all study programmes.
ZIMBABWE
University staff appeal for reversal of 50% pay cuts
Zimbabwe’s universities are reeling under crippling cuts to funding which have seen the salaries of lecturers cut by half as the country’s economic situation continues to worsen.
HONG KONG
Top vice-chancellor quits after period of ‘complexity’
University of Hong Kong Vice-chancellor Peter Mathieson, who defended the rights of students to protest in favour of Hong Kong’s democratic values, unexpectedly resigned for a new post in the United Kingdom before his tenure at one of Asia’s top universities was due to expire. This follows almost two years of controversies over student activism and academic freedom.
IRAN
Spate of student expulsions for religious beliefs claimed
Officials from at least one university in Iran tried to eliminate traces of ongoing religious discrimination, as at least 15 students belonging to the Baha’i religious minority were expelled from universities during December 2016 and January 2017, the United States-based International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran reported.
EGYPT
Universities revamp exam system to curb cheating
Several Egyptian universities have changed their examination systems in an attempt to curb mass cheating, a shift that has triggered mixed reactions.
SOUTH AFRICA
Civil society body to help pre-empt student unrest
A civil society movement to collectively address a ‘systemic’ crisis in South Africa's education system was launched last week. The National Education Crisis Forum comes in the wake of student protests that last year plunged the country’s universities into a state of paralysis.
UNITED STATES
Trump to tighten control of research and dissemination
United States President Donald Trump has signalled his intent to tighten control on federal funding for and public dissemination of scientific research, a move that appears to be aimed primarily at climate change and energy policy and threatens to "disrupt core operations" of the US Environmental Protection Agency, according to ProPublica, a non-profit news organisation.
INDIA
Commission moves to block use of predatory publishers
India’s University Grants Commission has moved to crack down on the use of so-called ‘predatory’ academic publishers and drive up the quality of published research by issuing a list of approved journals for publishing research papers. From now on academic promotion and recruitment will be linked to research published on the approved list.
RUSSIA
World-class universities project faces steep cuts
Due to a shortage of funds, the Russian government is making significant cuts to its programme for achieving five top-ranking world-class universities and has forced the suspension of the government-subsidised student loan programme.
PAKISTAN
University leaders demand action on fake universities
Pakistan’s Higher Education Commission this month issued a public notice listing 153 illegal universities and degree-awarding institutions, but academics say the rising trend of fake universities cannot be discouraged without punitive action against management of the bogus institutions.
NIGERIA
Non-payment of lecturer salaries ‘a growing trend’
Chronic delays in the payment of lecturer salaries by the federal government are causing major disruptions in Nigerian universities and have already brought some to a standstill. Despite the recession, however, salaries and allowances of all political office holders continue to be paid on time.
SUDAN
Amnesty urges end to persecution of Darfuri students
International human rights group Amnesty International is calling on the government of Sudan to launch urgent investigations into allegations of arbitrary arrests, detention, torture and persecution of students from the country’s troubled Darfur region by Sudanese security forces.
GLOBAL
Rise of autocratic leaders poses threat to academia
Concern over the widening persecution of researchers and journalists under autocratic governments was raised by a panel of higher education and NGO representatives at a meeting in Bonn, Germany on 25 January, who called on Germany to apply more leverage to promote academic freedom abroad.
BANGLADESH
Graduate unemployment ‘is stoking religious extremism’
Amid recent incidents of university graduates being engaged in terrorist attacks, researchers have warned that a growing number of economically inactive graduates in Bangladesh could be turning to extremism.
SWEDEN
Introducing fees for non-EU students is a game-changer
The introduction of tuition fees for foreign students had only a marginal effect upon the more than SEK23 billion (US$2.6 billion) higher education budget in 2015. But it has been a game-changer at the vast majority of Swedish higher education institutions, which now take internationalisation work more seriously.
TUNISIA-UNITED STATES
Harvard Middle East centre opens first overseas office
The Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University opened its first overseas office this month, in Tunisia, in what has been hailed by the university’s president as an opportunity to “bring the world to Harvard and Harvard to the world”. Among local higher education experts canvassed by University World News, hopes for the initiative seem equally high.
UNITED STATES
Syrian voices students’ fears over Trump crackdown
A 21-year-old senior at the University of Evansville has a job waiting for him when he graduates, but he doesn’t "know what is going to happen" as a result of an expected presidential order halting resettlement of Syrian refugees and suspending travel from six Muslim countries.
PAKISTAN
Authorities reopen Axact fake degrees investigation
After a United States court charged Umair Hamid, an executive of Axact, a Pakistan-based IT company that allegedly defrauded tens of thousands of people in many countries including the US by selling fake diplomas and degrees, Pakistani authorities decided this month to revisit the case.
EUROPE
Brexit strategy 'offers hope on Horizon 2020, Erasmus+'
The European University Association sees positive signals on United Kingdom participation in Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+ in Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit strategy. The Scientists for EU group is less optimistic but sees other ways the UK can strengthen its partnership with the European Union – by collaborating to build up Europe’s science infrastructure.

EUROPE
Research guild calls for radical improvements to H2020
The Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities has called for significant increases in European funding through Horizon 2020 and the next Framework Programme, FP9, and improved success rates for applicants, to ensure continued applications and optimal impact.
UNITED STATES
‘Uncharted waters’ for higher education in Trump era
There has been no shortage of predictions about what to expect under the administration of President Donald J Trump. But any forecast of how a man with no experience in elected office, no demonstrated interest in the process of policy-making, and a record of contradictory and dishonest pronouncements will govern should be read with caution.
CHINA-HONG KONG
New HE and technology park for ‘disputed territory’
A new technology park is to be set up on formerly disputed territory along Hong Kong’s border with China to enhance research collaboration between universities on both sides and establish an international higher education and technology hub.
KENYA
Drop in student numbers rattles private universities
A massive drop in the number of secondary school leavers qualifying for entry into universities in 2017 means that Kenyan private universities may have to turn to fee-paying foreign students or offer more diploma courses to keep themselves afloat.
KENYA
Massive audit set to shake up universities
In what is being billed as one of the most comprehensive institutional reviews in Kenyan higher education history, the Kenyan Commission for University Education is to start the process of auditing all public and private universities on 23 January.