23 March 2017 Register to receive our free newsletter by email each week
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World Round-up
SOUTH KOREA: Minister quits over law school feud
Education Minister Kim Shin-il has stepped down two weeks before his term ends, taking responsibility for policy confusion in the selection of US-style law schools, reports the Korea Times. Kim resigned after an announcement listing 25 universities who had successfully tendered to become Korea's first law schools was met by angry protests from unsuccessful candidates - and after the presidential office demanded that he make a more balanced selection, as the original list failed to allocate at least one lay school to each province or city.
TURKEY: Academics support of headscarf freedom
Many academics across Turkey have signed a declaration of support for removing the ban on headscarves at universities, reports Today’s Zaman. The declaration, first posted on a website with the signatures of 300 academics, had been endorsed by more than 2,000 lecturers by last weekend. Meanwhile, on Saturday Turkish lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in favour of lifting the ban, defying a mass rally protesting the move as a threat to secularism, according to AFP.
US: Endowments widen a higher education gap
The wealth amassed by elite universities like Princeton through soaring endowments over the past decade has exacerbated the divide between a small group of spectacularly wealthy universities and all others, writes the New York Times. If Harvard has $34.9 billion or Yale $22.5 billion, fewer than 400 of roughly 4,500 colleges and universities in the US have even $100 million in endowments and most have less than $10 million. The result is that America’s already stratified system of higher education is becoming ever more so, and the chasm is creating all sorts of tensions as the less wealthy colleges try to compete.
US: Call to arms for private colleges
Act now or expect Congress to intervene in ways you might not like. That was the message from Susan Hockfield, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to colleagues who assembled for the annual meeting of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Washington, reports Inside Higher Ed. She called on private college leaders to better articulate to lawmakers exactly how their institutions are providing a public good, and why college officials – not the federal government – should continue to set their own policies on spending and pricing.
UK: £211,500 to get poorer child into university
A scheme to get more working class young people into university has cost almost £211,500 (US$412,800) for every successful application over the last five years, according to official figures, reports The Telegraph. The disclosure came a week after a study by the influential Institute of Education warned that a huge expansion in university places since the early 1990s had benefited the middle-classes rather than those from deprived backgrounds.
UK: Tech-savvy graduates a challenge for employers
They may be a whiz with the computer and brimming with confidence, but would you give ‘Generation Y’ a job if you had to suffer their pushy parents and fair-weather notions of loyalty? asks Reuters. Technologically skilled, convinced they are highly employable but sometimes genuinely useless, new British university-educated graduates are maddening employers – but a recession could burst their bubble.
Zimbabwe: Academic system in ruins
Once hailed as a beacon in Africa, the Zimbabwean education system has crumbled in tandem with the collapse of the economy, writes Stanley Kwenda in the Financial Gazette. The University of Zimbabwe was once the pinnacle of an efficient system but now it is almost dysfunctional: most of its students are only there because they have no choice. Government officials send their children to universities in the western world although they blame the same countries for Zimbabwe's problems.
BAHRAIN: Warning to private HE institutions
Private education institutions have been given a deadline to meet new standards – or they will face penalties or be closed down – reports the Gulf Daily News. They have until the end of the current academic year, in June, to comply with financial and academic requirements stipulated by the new higher education law. Institutions have been given three years to fulfil buildings and educational facilities requirements, or have their licences revoked.
AZERBAIJAN: Working group to reform higher education
A working group has been set up in Azerbaijan to develop a government programme to reform the higher education system, reports the agency Trend News. President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree on 31 January that will ensure measures are taken to integrate Azerbaijani higher education schools into those of Europe.
FRANCE: UNESCO develops research monitoring tool
UNESCO is preparing a tool to evaluate how research is generated, disseminated, received and used in developing countries, reports SciDevNet. The aim is to provide a detailed picture of research systems in low-income and middle-income countries, allowing policy-makers to evaluate and compare their country's research performance with others of a similar profile. A template of indicators was presented at a symposium for research policy experts in Paris in January, and a final version will be launched in May.
SOUTH KOREA: Ministry delays announcing law school list
The Education Ministry has postponed announcing a list of 25 universities selected to open American-style law schools, amid fierce protest by schools that were not chosen, reports Yonhap News. Some institutions are planning a class action suit against the ministry after a leaked internal report showed that they were not among the selected institutions. A new post-graduate law school system is being created to meet the rising demand for lawyers ahead of the opening of Korea's legal market.
US: New conflict of interest allegations
Three senior admissions officials of prominent American universities sit on an advisory board of a Japanese company that helps applicants in Japan get into top MBA programmes in the United States – including programmes at their universities – reports Inside Higher Ed. The officials confirmed their involvement and that they receive a free annual trip to meetings in Japan for their services, which are boasted about on the Japanese company’s website.
US: University enrolment and application numbers soar
Overall enrolment has reached its highest level ever on the 64 campuses of the State University of New York system, and representation of minority students also attained an all-time high, reports Newsday. In California, the Union-Tribune writes that every public university is fielding a record number of undergraduate applications – at the same time as many schools are reducing spots for incoming students – upping competition for places.
CANADA: Ontario campuses get $200-million facelift
The Ontario government has handed out $200-million to the province's colleges and universities to help repair aging buildings, increase energy efficiency and improve security on campus, reports the Globe and Mail. Ontario's 18 publicly funded universities hold a huge portfolio of real estate that includes 918 buildings, not counting residences, with an average age of more than 30 years.
SOUTH AFRICA: Season for anti-fee protests begins
The season of student protests over higher education costs has just begun, with fees hiked by an estimated average of 8%. There have been demonstrations at three universities by students angry about high registration and tuition costs, and refusals to register students still owing fees from last year, report Business Day and Independent Online.
INDIA: Universities urged to release exam results by August
The University Grants Commission has written to all universities in India, urging them to announce examination results by August, in a move that it is hoped will facilitate student mobility across the country, reports the Financial Express.
SCOTLAND: Universities offered 'olive branch'
Universities have reacted with caution to a funding deal which could see them set targets in return for more spending freedom, reports The Scotsman. The proposal to create a ‘concordat’, mirroring that made with local authorities, has been tabled by the Scottish government as a way to solve the sector's funding crisis. Universities asked for £168million last year, to allow them to compete with English counterparts which can access extra funds through tuition fees – but was allocated just £30million in a tight budget settlement which Scottish principals warned could see the sector fall behind international competitors.
US: International call for open resources
In 2002, a small group of foundation officials and technology experts released the Budapest Open Access Initiative, which called for journals to end subscription barriers to online content and for scholars to strive to make their research findings available online and free, reports Inside Higher Ed. While many publishers have attacked these ideas, the Budapest manifesto played a key role in a movement that is seeing notable success. Now the same groups have unveiled a new Cape Town Open Education Declaration, calling on universities and others to make more of their educational materials free online.
US: Study abroad probed at 15 colleges and universities
Study abroad programmes at 15 colleges and universities, including Harvard and Columbia, are being scrutinised by the New York attorney general's office to ensure that business deals are not cheating students, reports Associated Press. Investigators are focusing on the schools after a probe of more than a dozen companies worldwide that arrange for students to study overseas for as long as a year identified questionable practices.
US: World’s most expensive universities
The world’s most expensive universities are not haute institutions in the Swiss Alps or on the balmy shores of the Persian Gulf. Nor are they the Ivy League citadels of America’s elite like Harvard or Princeton, or ancient halls of learning like Cambridge or Oxford in the UK, reports Forbes. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, elite private universities in the United States are the costliest on the planet.
INDIA: Knowledge Commission calls for HE regulator
India’s National Knowledge Commission, headed by Sam Pitroda, has called for private participation, philanthropic contributions and industry linkages to improve higher education, reports the Daily Times. Pitroda also called for increased public spending, monitored by an independent regulator.
PAKISTAN: HE to be revamped to keep students at home
Parents in Pakistan are spending billions of rupees sending their children to universities abroad, reports The Nation. In 2007, 11,000 visas were granted to Pakistani students wishing to study in the UK alone. Now the country is revamping higher education to improve its quality and enable expansion in student numbers so that families do not need to send their children abroad in future.
KUWAIT: Universities quiet about gender segregation law
Private universities in Kuwait have not reacted strongly to a decision by Minister of Education and Higher education Nuriya Al Subaih to implement gender segregation in universities, reports Arab Times. Several institutions were already segregated.
FRANCE: Tales of student p rostitutes shock France
France's education minister has vowed to improve student financial support after a series of accounts by undergraduates working as p rostitutes, reports The Guardian. A memoir by a 19-year-old language student and a book of interviews with undergraduate s ex workers has shocked France, lifting the lid on a practice which appears to be increasingly common.
UK: Green dreams of academe
Following planes and scooping up their emissions, making buildings out of carbon, weighing rubbish and getting staff on their bikes: these are just a few of the ideas that universities are coming up with to combat climate change, according to a new Universities UK report. It all sounds wonderful, but it's hard to believe that this is the full picture, writes Bibi van der Zee in The Guardian.