08 February 2016 Register to receive our free newsletter by email each week
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World Round-up
UNITED KINGDOM
Smartwatches may lead universities to ban wristwear
Universities are planning to ban students from wearing anything on their wrists during examinations, for fear they may use smartwatches to access the internet and cheat, reports Sky News.
JAPAN
Universities to train army of Olympic interpreters
The nation’s seven foreign-studies universities are planning to train a battalion of potentially thousands of students to work as interpreters during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Together the students will cover 27 languages and hopefully comprise a valuable asset to be deployed at conferences and other sporting events in the years ahead, writes Masaaki Kameda for The Japan Times.
GLOBAL
Wikipedia use: Nothing to be ashamed of
Academics and students alike should be making better use of Wikipedia, a major study of digital technology use in higher education has recommended, reports the Monash website.
UNITED STATES
Harvard bans undergraduate-teacher relationships
Harvard University banned professors from having “sexual or romantic relationships” with undergraduates, joining a list of campuses that have taken similar steps, writes John Lauerman for Bloomberg.
CANADA
Anti-vaccine professor takes leave from teaching course
A Queen’s University professor under fire for using anti-vaccination material in a health course will no longer be teaching that course, writes Ethan Lou for the Star.
ITALY
Council rejects Islamic university plan
Authorities in Lecce have rejected plans for the creation of what would be Italy’s first Islamic university, partly because of the current negative focus on Islam and opposition from local residents, reports The Local.
UNITED STATES
Obama seeks funding boost
President Barack Obama sent Congress a budget request last Monday that would increase federal spending on many higher education programmes and also aims to reap savings for the government by changing some student loan and repayment options, writes Michael Stratford for Inside Higher Ed.
UNITED KINGDOM
Anti-terror bill may curb academic freedom – ex-MI5 chief
A former British intelligence chief has warned that the government’s Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill could restrict freedom of speech in universities, reports RT. Baroness Manningham-Buller said during a debate at the House of Lords last week that extremist opinions need to be “exposed, challenged and countered”, rather than banned.
UNITED KINGDOM
University plans fees refund for students who fail
Fee-paying students at a Scottish university will be the first to have their costs waived if they fail to graduate under radical proposals. Hundreds of students at the University of the West of Scotland, or UWS, could potentially benefit from the initiative, writes Andrew Denholm for Herald Scotland.
VIETNAM
Explosion of universities seen as spur to unemployment
Dozens of junior colleges – offering three-year training – have been upgraded into universities – offering four to five-year training – but the training quality has not matched the expansion. Analysts have noted that the recent upgrading on a mass scale was one of the reasons behind the high unemployment rate, reports VietNamNet Bridge.
UNITED KINGDOM
Record numbers seek university places
Record numbers of 18 year-olds have applied to British universities and youngsters from the poorest areas are more likely to seek places than ever, according to data suggesting that higher tuition fees have not dented demand, writes Helen Warrell for the Financial Times.
SOUTH AFRICA
Unhoused students turned into hobos
A University of the Witwatersrand fourth-year law student Mbe Mbhele refers to himself as “a hustler”. The 22-year-old from KwaZulu-Natal left home for Johannesburg at the start of the month to arrange accommodation for himself for the academic year. Last week he was to learn whether he qualifies to live at one of the university's student residences after squatting on campus since his arrival, write Poppy Louw and Shenaaz Jamal for Times Live.
UNITED STATES
Amazon makes a push on college campuses
Amazon has struck deals with three large universities to operate co-branded websites selling textbooks, fan shirts, ramen noodles and most other items available on Amazon.com. While the deals aren’t exclusive, officials at the colleges say the arrangements acknowledge a reality: their students already shop on Amazon, writes Greg Bensinger for The Wall Street Journal.
UNITED KINGDOM
Thousands shun universities for further education colleges
Thousands of students are shunning the UK’s traditional universities to take their degrees in further education colleges down the road, writes Richard Garner for The Independent.
TAIWAN
University entry exam overhaul aims to spur innovation
Taiwan’s annual university admissions exams took place recently as tens of thousands sweated over mathematics and language questions to get into top schools. But the exams, that depend exclusively on memorisation of high school class content, are in their final years as officials worry they put Taiwan at a competitive disadvantage, writes Ralph Jennings for Voice of America.
UNITED STATES
Elite colleges target baby boomers for second careers
Stanford University welcomed 25 unusual students onto its campus this month – all in their 50s and 60s. They are the inaugural fellows of a new programme, the Distinguished Careers Institute, designed for people who want to follow more than one career path in their lifetimes and who want to go back to a college setting for more training. It is the forefront of a new movement for universities to look beyond typical 19-year-old undergraduates, writes Mark Miller for Reuters.
UNITED KINGDOM
New ranking exposes curbs on university free speech
Freedom of speech is at the heart of academic life and a university should be a place where every issue is discussed and debated. Not so, according to the findings presented in the first ever Free Speech University Rankings which reveal that 80% of UK higher education institutions routinely regulate and actively restrict students’ free speech and expression in some way, writes Dennis Hayes for The Conversation.
UNITED STATES
College degrees: Gap widens between rich and poor
The education gap between rich and poor continues to grow, becoming a chasm of opportunity that often blocks the search for a better economic life, according to a report released recently, writes Michael Muskal for LA Times.
PALESTINE
Gaza universities targeted during hostilities – UNESCO
A report by UNESCO has documented the "material, human and educational damage" sustained by Gaza's higher education institutions during Israel's assault last summer. The UN agency's conclusion was that "higher education institutions were directly targeted during the hostilities", writes Ben White for Middle East Monitor.
JAPAN
Soft-power push reaches US campus
In the Japanese government’s new budget, one small item stands out: a US$5 million grant to Columbia University in New York to fund a position for a professor of Japanese politics and foreign policy, writes Yuka Hayashi for The Wall Street Journal.
UNITED KINGDOM
Universities alarmed by Labour plan to cut tuition fees
Leading UK universities have warned Labour about the financial risks of cutting tuition fees a third to £6,000 (US$9,044) a year. The party is deciding whether to go ahead with a costly pre-election pledge intended to woo the middle class, write Helen Warrell and Elizabeth Rigby for the Financial Times.
CHINA
Communist Party magazine attacks university professors
A magazine published by China's Communist Party has lashed out at university professors in the country who spread “Western values”, as new government-imposed guidelines for schools raise concerns about academic freedom, writes Mark Hanrahan for International Business Times.
UNITED STATES
Schools rake in record donations... unequally
Harvard University raised more money last year than any US school ever: US$1.16 billion in the 2013-14 fiscal year, according to an annual survey from the Council for Aid to Education. That brings the school’s endowment to US$36.4 billion as of June. Stanford is runner up with US$21.4 billion, writes Sabri Ben-Achour for Marketplace.
CANADA
Fossil fuel divestment fever hits campuses
Can universities really force a change in the world’s fossil fuel companies? More than 220 University of British Columbia, or UBC, professors think so. In a key faculty vote last week, the academics signed a petition pledging they will cast their ballots to urge UBC to sell off the university's holdings of the world’s “200 most polluting” fossil fuel companies, writes Mychaylo Prystupa for Vancouver Observer.
UNITED KINGDOM
Students can save thousands by spending a year abroad
Analysis of tuition fees, accommodation, the cost of travel, living costs and language learning, by HSBC, shows that the cost of studying abroad is up to £13,404 (US$20,203) cheaper than staying in the UK, writes Kate Palmer for The Telegraph.