21 October 2017 Register to receive our free newsletter by email each week
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World Round-up
US: More universities refuse participation in rankings
American universities have begun a rebellion against academic league tables. British universities should join them, writes Geoffrey Alderman in The Guardian. Annually since 1983, US News & World Report has published tables rankings American universities and degree-granting colleges. This year the really good news is not that Harvard has come top, displacing last year's No 1 Princeton. It is that more US institutions than ever before have refused to take any part whatsoever in the survey.
US: Concern over dwindling male tertiary enrolment
For many colleges, dwindling male enrolment has become a source of some concern. But at Saint John's University - an all-male Roman Catholic institution in Collegeville, Minnesota - recruiting men is a matter of survival, reports Inside Higher Ed. "We see it as a crisis, really, the lack of involvement of men," said Gar Kellom, executive director of the Center for Men's Leadership and Service at Saint John's. "We've looked at all the data and said somebody's got to do something."
US: Universities try to control students off campus
Ah, life in the university district. Cheap ethnic food. Vibrant street life. Fresh-faced students whizzing by on bicycles. People who choose to live on the tree-lined streets surrounding institutions of higher learning often get a more vibrant experience than they expected - loud parties, run-down student boarding houses and trash generated by weekend melees, reports USA Today. But a growing number of universities are starting to take a more proactive approach to monitoring off-campus behaviour and neighbours say the efforts are working.
SOUTH AFRICA: Funding for science research diverted
A multi-billion Rand plan to boost South Africa's scientific research has taken a knock, after the Department of Science and Technology failed to secure R180-million (US$23 million) in funding for this year from the national treasury, reports the Mail & Guardian. Robin Drennan, the National Research Foundation's executive director of grant management, said there had been "a massive delay" in the allocation of new research positions.
SOUTH AFRICA: Huge campus HIV study underway
South Africa's universities have no idea how many of their students and staff are infected with HIV-AIDS - and this scares them, reports The Star. The country's 23 public universities believe that because they do not know how many of their students are affected by the virus, they do not know if the programmes they have in place to deal with the epidemic are adequate. Earlier this month, the Higher Education HIV-Aids Programme (HEAIDS) embarked on one of the biggest HIV prevalence studies ever undertaken in South Africa.
KENYA: Parallel degree courses erode quality, critics say
The quality of education in public universities has been watered down by the introduction of parallel degree programmes, some leaders in the sector have warned and they are calling for urgent measures to stem further decay, reports the Nation. Prime Minister Raila Odinga was first to express concern, saying university education was so commercialised and that it was fast becoming a preserve of the rich.
ZIMBABWE: Teachers colleges lower entry requirements
Teacher training colleges have lowered the requirements for prospective student teachers to compensate for a sustained lack of interest in the profession, senior officials confirmed, reports the Zimbabwe Standard. This comes amid reports that 14,000 teachers have left the profession since January due to poor remuneration and deteriorating conditions of service.
AUSTRALIA: Universities offer food aid to poor students
The rising cost of living is hitting some Australian university students so hard that the universities have now resorted to handing out emergency food aid, reports ABC News. Student organisations say many students across the country are going hungry, and the Australian Catholic University in Sydney has set up a system where students can take food handouts anonymously.
SCOTLAND: Call for radical rise in university enrolment
Participation in higher education should be radically expanded by the Scottish Government to allow up to 66% of school-leavers to go to university or college by 2028, according to the new convener of the vice-chancellors body Universities Scotland, Professor Anton Muscatelli. Currently, 47% of young Scots pursue further studies after leaving school, but the proportion has been dropping since 2000, when it reached a peak of 51%, reports The Herald.
US: Forbes launches new 'Best Colleges' ranking
Choosing a four-year undergraduate college is one of the biggest decisions a typical American family can make. And for too many years, information about the quality of American higher education has been monopolised by one publication, US News & World Report, reports Forbes, announcing its alternative - America's Best Colleges 2008. The new guide ranks Princeton University the best in the US, followed by the California Institute of Technology, Harvard, Swarthmore and Williams.
IRELAND: Fees for better-off are back on agenda
The return of third-level fees - which were abolished in the mid-1990s - is back on the agenda as the government seeks to ensure universities are properly funded, Minister for Education Batt O'Keeffe told The Irish Times. However O'Keeffe stressed that there was no question of imposing new charges on those who could not afford them. Any new charges would target better-off families and those with incomes well above the national average.
DUBAI: International Academic City takes on the world
Drive down Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai's main thoroughfare, and you'll pass the world's only seven-star hotel, its tallest building and its largest man-made resort island. But head off into the desert and you'll hit a modest-looking set of office buildings and construction cranes that promise to be just as superlative. This is the site of Dubai International Academic City: the future home of a Michigan State University campus and the centre of the local effort to make the emirate into a new global hot spot for higher education, writes Zvika Krieger in Newsweek.
US: 1+2+1 = more Chinese students
Type 1+2+1 into Google and the search automatically, and unhelpfully, reverts to calculator mode (=4), writes Elizabeth Redden in Inside Higher Ed. The figures also add up to an increasingly popular model for undergraduate dual degree programmes involving Chinese and American universities. Students start and end in China in a programme structure intended to avert US visa denials - by conditioning degree completion upon a student's return to China - and to lower the cost of obtaining an American undergraduate degree (by halving the time spent studying abroad).
US: University outsources programme to find overseas students
Like a lot of universities, Northeastern has Barnes & Noble running its bookstore, and Pizza Hut, Wendy's, Starbucks and Taco Bell selling food in the student centre, reports Tamar Lewin in the International Herald Tribune. But Northeastern has taken outsourcing a giant step further. It is using Kaplan Inc to find students for, and help run, an academic programme for international students to spend a year on campus, improving their English and adapting to American higher education before starting on a course. Northeastern is the first US university to take up a model that is common in Britain and gaining interest in the US.
UK: Minister questions wisdom of higher education
The Universities Secretary has acknowledged that some young people would be better off not going to university, reports the Financial Times. His comments come amid growing evidence that many people from the country's ever expanding pool of graduates are leaving university to go into menial, relatively low-paid jobs, while many bright young people who instead opt for some highly regarded apprenticeships are establishing thriving careers.
UK: Students to 'trade up' for better college
Pupils who do unexpectedly well at A-level will be given five days after receiving their results to shop around for a more prestigious university, reports The Observer. From next year, a controversial new system will allow anyone who achieves grades higher than asked by their first-choice university the chance to 'trade up' without losing their original place.
UK: Oxford delays on A* grade offers
Oxford University says it will not make conditional offers for places based on the new A* grade at A-level when it is first awarded in 2010, reports the BBC. The higher grade is intended to identify the most able students and to help universities choose from among many candidates with A grades. But there are concerns it will become dominated by independent schools, hitting efforts to widen participation.
SOUTH AFRICA: Engineering departments running on empty
Departments of engineering and architecture at universities and tecknikons across South Africa are running into trouble as they face a serious shortage of lecturers and resources, reports Independent Online. Tight budgets, dwindling lecturers, swelling student numbers, a lack of resources and a struggle to fill posts because of poor salaries are the main problems.
PHILIPPINES: Private sector not keen on credit transfer
The Commission on Higher Education is having a hard time selling the government's 'ladderised education' programme to private tertiary colleges, reports the Philippine Daily Inquirer. While all 111 state-run tertiary institutions are already using the system that allows learners to progress between technical and vocational education and training and higher education - and vice versa - fewer than a third of more than 1,500 private colleges and universities nationwide have adopted the scheme so far.
AUSTRALIA: Union fee change hits universities
The introduction of voluntary student unionism has cost Australian universities $161 million a year since it came into effect in 2006, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. A Federal Government report has highlighted its devastating impact on campuses, where basic services have been cut due to lack of funding.
TURKEY: Academics quit over president's rector choices
More than a dozen senior Turkish academics resigned last week in protest at President Abdullah Gul's choice of university rectors, a sign of renewed tensions between the secularist establishment and the government, reports The Peninsula in Qatar. Turkish media said several rectors who support the ruling AK Party, including those favourable to ending a ban on students wearing the Muslim headscarf on campus, had been picked over secularist professors.
US: Scientists homes firebombed
Firebombs that struck the home and car of two University of California, Santa Cruz, scientists last weekend were part of an increasingly aggressive campaign by animal rights activists against animal researchers, officials said. The LA Times reported Santa Cruz police officials as saying that the blasts, which occurred three minutes apart, caused one of the scientists, his wife and two young children to flee their home through a second-story window.
US: Google, Microsoft vie for universities
You can think of it as 'Schoogle', writes John Cox in washingtonpost.com. That would be Google's laid-back but unflinchingly ambitious plan to woo college and university IT departments into outsourcing not just student e-mail but web-based productivity applications and calendaring to the search giant. And a growing number of schools are doing just that. Last week, Google announced that 13 new US institutions had signed up for the free, and ad-free, cloud-based services - bringing the total of 'Googlised' institutions worldwide to 2,000 since the Google Apps Education Edition programme was announced almost two years ago.
UK: New universities could struggle to survive
Newer British universities may disappear because of global competition forcing them to spend more, a leading ratings agency has warned, reports The Guardian. Credit analysis by Standard & Poors warns of "certain universities ceasing to exist" because of increasing competition from China and India and within the UK.
UK: Arctic map plots new 'gold rush'
Researchers at Durham University have drawn up the first ever Arctic map to show the disputed territories that states might lay claim to in the future, reports ScienceDaily. The new map design follows a series of historical and ongoing arguments about ownership, and the race for resources, in the frozen lands and seas of the Arctic. The potential for conflicts is increasing as the search for new oil, gas and minerals intensifies.