26 October 2014 Register to receive our free newsletter by email each week
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World Round-up
UNITED STATES
Can core values survive universities’ foreign expansion?
When outspoken economics professor Xia Yeliang was dismissed by Peking University last month, 136 faculty members at Wellesley College, an elite all-women's school outside Boston, took it personally, writes Peter Ford for Christian Science Monitor.
UNITED STATES
New council to develop standards for online learning
Carnegie Mellon University is convening a high-powered consortium of educators, researchers and technology-company executives that will spearhead efforts to develop standards and promote best practices in online education, writes Megan O’Neil for the Chronicle of Higher Education.
SWITZERLAND
University sacking sparks protest from abroad
About 600 academics from around the world have signed a petition asking for the reinstatement of Iris Ritzmann, a University of Zurich professor, after she was sacked amid accusations of giving confidential information to journalists concerning a colleague, reports http://Swissinfo.ch and agencies.
GHANA
Government to set up research fund
The National Council for Tertiary Education, or NCTE, said last week that it is working closely with universities and the Ministry of Education to set up a true research fund. The fund would be financed by Ghanaian taxpayers, reports Business Ghana.
UNITED KINGDOM
Edinburgh University to introduce US degree system
Long a staple of student banter, rhyming slang expressions such as the ‘Geoff Hurst’, ‘Attila the Hun’ and ‘Desmond Tutu’ – used to refer to first, 2:1 and 2:2 honours degrees – could be consigned to the dustbin if Edinburgh University’s radical pilot of the Grade Point Average system is successful, writes John-Paul Holden for Edinburgh News.
UNITED STATES
Michelle Obama edges into higher education policy role
Michelle Obama, after nearly five years of evangelising exercise and good eating habits, will begin a new initiative that seeks to increase the number of low-income students who pursue a college degree. The goals of the programme reflect the first lady’s own life and will immerse her more directly in her husband’s policies, writes Jennifer Steinhauer for The New York Times.
UNITED KINGDOM
Universities cancel homophobic cleric’s visit
Universities in the United Kingdom have been forced to cancel a visit by a homophobic Muslim cleric after it emerged that he had preached that gay people were “worse than animals”, writes Miranda Prynne for The Telegraph.
UNITED STATES
Government teams with Coursera for global network
Coursera, a California-based venture that has enrolled five million students in its free online courses, recently announced a partnership with the United States government to create ‘learning hubs’ around the world, where students can go to get internet access to free courses supplemented by weekly in-person class discussions with local teachers or facilitators, writes Tamar Lewin for The New York Times.
MEXICO
Universities eye United States for expansion
In an ethnically themed shopping centre called Plaza Mexico, just south of Los Angeles, a public university from the Mexican state of Colima has planted its flag. Alongside the shopping centre’s stores and taquerias, Universidad de Colima offers mostly remedial education to about 100 adult Mexican immigrants. But a handful of students are also preparing to take final exams for Mexican degrees, just one of several recent efforts by Mexican universities to branch into providing fully fledged university education in the United States, writes Matt Krupnick for The Hechinger Report.
INDIA
Universities coached on how to improve rankings
Indian universities and institutes of higher education are now being coached on how to pitch for a place in the global top ranking lists, writes Smriti Kak Ramachandran for The Hindu.
AUSTRALIA
No streamlined visas for sub-degrees
Australia’s Abbott government has no plans to extend streamlined visa processing to sub-degree programmes, fearing that it would risk threatening immigration controls, writes Andrew Trounson for The Australian.
SOUTH KOREA
North Korean top alumni gather in South Korea
Kim Il Sung University is the alma mater of most members of North Korea’s elite. Leader Kim Jong-un graduated from the 67-year-old institution named after his grandfather, the country’s founding leader. So did his father, Kim Jong-il. But there’s no alumni association for Kim Il Sung University in North Korea. In fact, such a thing would be a grievous breach of the law, reports the Korea JoongAng Daily.
UNITED KINGDOM
Cap on student tuition fees is 'unsustainable'
Ministers should consider increasing student tuition fees because the existing £9,000 (US$14,469) a year cap is “simply not sustainable”, the country’s leading vice-chancellor has warned, writes Graeme Paton for The Telegraph.
UNITED STATES
Growing number of part-time professors join unions
Thousands of part-time college professors are joining labour unions, a growing trend in higher education that is boosting the ranks of organised labour and giving a voice to teachers who complain about low pay and a lack of job security at some of the nation’s top universities, writes Sam Hananel for Associated Press.
UNITED KINGDOM
Zero-hour contracts 'exploit university staff'
The use of zero-hour contracts by universities is widespread and some may be using them to exploit staff, according to a teaching union. The Educational Institute of Scotland said some universities were using the contracts to deny workers stability, security and sick pay, reports the BBC.
VIETNAM
Professors, PhDs allowed to work after retirement age
Professors, associate professors and doctorate degree holders who work at tertiary education institutions in Vietnam can continue working up to 10 years after retirement age. This is part of the prime minister's decree guiding implementation of the Law on Higher Education that was approved by the National Assembly in June 2012, reports VietNamNet Bridge.
SOUTH KOREA
College entrance tests delay trading, business
South Korea’s financial markets, banks and government offices opened an hour later than usual as more than 650,000 students took their college entrance exams last Thursday, writes Heesu Lee for Bloomberg. Rush-hour schedules for buses and trains were extended, with police mobilised to help students reach 1,257 test centres nationwide in time for the 8.40am start.
UNITED KINGDOM
SOAS receives £20 million art donation
London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies has been given a £20 million (US$32 million) donation to advance the study of South East Asian art, reports the Belfast Telegraph.
UNITED KINGDOM
London University predicts MOOC recruitment windfall
Results from the second UK university to run massive open online courses on a major US platform have shown the tool’s potential power for recruiting students to full programmes, writes Chris Parr for Times Higher Education.
AUSTRALIA
Canberra to ease student visa rules
Australia’s Abbott government last week moved to loosen visa restrictions to attract international students, prompting calls for increased funding for regulators to ensure there was no return to the ‘visa factory’ that marked the height of the 2008-09 higher education boom, writes Andrew Trounson for The Australian.
UNITED KINGDOM
Foreign students outnumber local postgraduates
Foreign students have outnumbered their UK counterparts in postgraduate education at British universities for the past five years, it was revealed last week, writes Richard Garner for The Independent.
TURKEY
Universities urged to open doors to foreigners
Turkish universities should not hesitate to open their doors to more foreign scholars and students, President Abdullah Gül said during a speech calling for increased contact with other academic cultures, reports Anadolu Agency.
BULGARIA
Students join anti-government protests
Bulgaria’s capital Sofia has witnessed a series of student protests and the occupation of university buildings that has injected new life into a persistent anti-government movement, which last week entered its 138th day, writes Thomas Seymat for Euronews.
CHINA
University defends outspoken teacher’s firing
He lectured students about the trespasses of the Communist Party, publicly belittled China’s mighty propaganda minister and issued frequent demands for an end to single-party rule. But in voting to dismiss economist Xia Yeliang from Peking University, officials say they considered only one criterion: his performance as an academic, writes Andrew Jacobs for The New York Times.
SOUTH KOREA
Education system starting to ‘normalise’
South Korea’s education system is both inspiring and intimidating. The country’s 15-year-olds ranked fourth in science (excluding Shanghai and Hong Kong), second in maths and first in reading in the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment, or PISA. Its youngsters aged between 16 and 24 did equally well in the OECD’s international survey of adult skills, released this month, reports The Economist.