In the third in a series of interviews with African university leaders, Vice-chancellor Jonathan Jansen talks about transforming the University of the Free State, which four years ago was mired in a race controversy that shocked South Africa and the world.
And in special reports Yojana Sharma and Hana Kamaruddin cover the inaugural conference in Malaysia of AsiaEngage, a new network aimed at supporting development in the Association of South East Asian Nations region by strengthening the civic role of universities, and Sharon Dell and Wanda Hennig wrap up reporting on the second QS-MAPLE conference held in Durban.
Karen MacGregor – Global Editor
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
A novel system of ranking 48 countries and territories said to be the ‘best’ at providing higher education was published on Friday by Universitas 21, the 15-year-old global network of 23 research-intensive universities. The new ranking makes a welcome change from the growing number of organisations that rank individual universities.
French higher education is preparing for a strategic change from ‘competitiveness’ to ‘cooperation’ following a presidential election in which soc-ialist François Hollande defeated right-wing incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy.
Universities in Australia have emerged relatively unscathed from what the federal government had declared before Tuesday evening would be the nation’s “toughest budget in 25 years”.
The Politecnico di Milano
, one of Italy’s leading technical universities, has announced that from the beginning of the 2014 academic year, all MSc and PhD courses will be taught exclusively in English. But some professors oppose the switch to English from Italian, and 285 have signed a petition to the rector.
The group that speaks for Canadian universities signed a copyright agreement last month that critics say is one of the most expensive copyright policies in Canadian history.
The “Regional Conference on Higher Education-Industry-Community Engagement in Asia. Forging Meaningful Partnerships”, was held in Malaysia from 7-9 May. It was the inaugural event of AsiaEngage, a new 68-member network of universities aimed at strengthening civic engagement in the South East Asian region. University World News was there.
AsiaEngage, a new regional umbrella organisation to promote social and community engagement by universities in the Association of South East Asian Nations area, was officially launched at a conference in Malaysia last week. It will work in collaboration with non-governmental organisations, philanthropic foundations and industry.
Universities that want to engage in regional development, community outreach or even philanthropic support say they first have to overcome the ‘tyranny’ of international university rankings, which mainly value research output and give little credit for helping to transform society, including reducing poverty and inequity.
University partnerships with industry can be scaled up across national boundaries in a wider region to benefit communities, a conference on academic links with business and populations through Asia heard on Monday.
In an interlinked world, it is as important to create a ‘knowledge society’ – where the benefits of knowledge are shared for the good of society – as it is to create a knowledge economy, Rajesh Tandon, an international expert on participatory research and development, told a regional conference in Malaysia on university-community-industry engagement.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to be a deputy vice-chancellor,” said Saran Kaur Gill, who fulfils just that elevated role at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, where she runs industry and community partnerships. She is also executive director of the regional university network AsiaEngage, which was launched last week.
Second QS-MAPLE conference
The second QS-MAPLE – Middle East and Africa Professional Leaders in Education – conference was held in South Africa from 3-4 May. The theme was “Meeting the Global Challenges in Higher Education". University World News reported on the conference last weekend, and wraps up the coverage here.
Higher education is at a crossroads. In many countries there has been a reduction in public funding for universities. ‘Baby boomers’ are retiring at a disproportional rate compared to the number of new PhDs entering the university system. And global competition for the best and brightest will invariably escalate.
The universities of the Middle East and Africa have an opportunity to use the new and changing global higher education landscape to their advantage, according to speakers at the second QS-MAPLE conference held in Durban, South Africa, this month.
New and ‘disruptive’ models of education are needed if universities around the world are to shed their traditionally slow and imitative approach to change and to respond adequately to the new realities of global higher education.
BOTSWANA Wanda Hennig
In 1994 Botswana joined the global education reform movement, choosing to use part of its diamond revenue to transform an elitist tertiary system accessible to few into a broad-based, equitable system where the focus is on relevance both in terms of the national development agenda and international competitiveness.
African university leaders
SOUTH AFRICAKaren MacGregor
Four years ago a racist video filmed by white male students at the University of the Free State shocked the world and rocked the institution. The first black vice-chancellor of this once-conservative Afrikaner bastion in South Africa’s heartland, Professor Jonathan Jansen, has brought about remarkable transformation since taking office in 2009. He spoke to University World News
for the third in a series of articles on African university leaders.
The universities of Monash and Warwick have announced a new type of global partnership. But is it just about promoting their universities and a small cadre of students? Should universities that seek global glory be asked to spell out what benefits their institutions can bring to those that fund them through public and private sources?
GLOBALSir Leszek Borysiewicz
Universities are not about being a research and development branch of Big Industry. Research is their primary objective and it is impossible to sort applied from yet-to-be-applied research. Universities have a public duty to serve society, not just to cater to its economic needs, and also to ask fundamental questions about the nature of our world.
Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook offer new ways to engage with students and the public, but the core aims of teaching and students' expectations of their teachers remain the same.
A sport-for-development partnership between institutions in Zambia and the University of Central Lancashire in the United Kingdom has acted as a catalyst for new ways of bringing students and academics together, and has provided a launchpad for internationalisation.
Even though academic research is often viewed as the preferred career path for PhD-trained scientists, most US graduates take up jobs in industry, government or ‘alternative careers’, according to a new study. The researchers note growing concern that these career patterns reflect fundamental imbalances between the supply of scientists seeking academic positions and the availability of such posts.
Scientists have long been concerned that the massive West Antarctic Ice Sheet could collapse if global temperatures keep climbing. Should this happen, sea levels are predicted to rise by as much as five metres. Now, genetic evidence obtained from an Antarctic octopus reveals that such an event may have occurred in the not-too-distant past.
Directors from Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen have signed an international cooperation agreement with the Gubkin Russian State University of Oil and Gas, Russia’s principal petroleum research and teaching institution. The two institutions will establish areas of joint research and opportunities for staff and student exchanges.
Homing pigeons are well known for their extraordinary sense of direction, thought to result from a spec ialised sense that allows them to navigate using the Earth’s magnetic field. But new research has revealed that cells previously thought to be the centre of the magnetic sense in birds are instead non-magnetoreceptive macrophages, or white blood cells.
University World News has a new Facebook group: facebook.com/UniversityWorldNews. If you are not a member, do consider joining to see our regular updates, post on our wall and communicate with us and other University World News fans. You can also follow University World News on Twitter @uniworldnews
For the second consecutive day, student associations last week voted almost unanimously against a tentative agreement with the government and supported further strike action as the wave of protest against last weekend’s deal on tuition fee hikes appeared unstoppable, writes Rhéal Séguin for The Globe and Mail
Unscheduled investigations of standards at universities could be triggered by indicators including poor student satisfaction survey scores, graduate employment data and low levels of ‘professional accreditation’ of teaching staff, England's funding council has proposed, writes John Morgan for Times Higher Education
New figures show that universities in Ireland paid almost €8 million (US$10.3 million) in unauthorised allowances to senior academics over a six-year period to 2011 without the approval of the Higher Education Authority. This is despite legislation that stipulates its approval must be sought, writes Carl O’Brien for The Irish Times
"I am not a welfare queen," says Melissa Bruninga-Matteau. That's how she feels compelled to start a conversation about how she, a white female adjunct professor with a PhD in medieval history, came to rely on food stamps and Medicaid, writes Stacey Patton for The Chronicle of Higher Education
If you were doing the same job at the same level as another person but were paid less and enjoyed fewer social welfare benefits simply because you were an outsourced worker, how would you feel? Li Huan (not her real name), a teacher at Shenyang Normal University in Shenyang, is in exactly that position, writes Chen Xin for China Daily
University faculties have become more inclusive of women in recent decades, though salaries for female staff still trail that of their male counterparts, new figures show, reports Postmedia News
The practice of granting credit for learning and knowledge gained outside the traditional academic setting goes back decades. But prior learning assessment mostly occurs behind the scenes, partially because colleges avoid loudly advertising that they believe college-level learning can occur before a student interacts with faculty members, writes Paul Fain for Inside Higher Ed
The 142-hectare campus at Educity Iskandar in Malaysia will be shared by no fewer than eight international universities, including three from the United Kingdom, writes Frederika Whitehead for the Guardian
Twenty-one private universities in Sudan have been ordered to close. Education Minister Dr Peter Adwok told the press in Juba last week that the decision had been made after the ministry commissioned a study into all private universities in the country, writes Waakhe Simon Wudu for Oye! Times
Controversy over the involvement of Ireland’s Royal College of Surgeons in Bahrain has prompted new guidelines on human rights for colleges with operations abroad, writes Mary Fitzgerald for The Irish Times
In a ruling that bolsters freedom of expression at Canadian universities, the Alberta Court of Appeals last Wednesday upheld a lower court ruling that found two brothers were wrongfully punished for criticising their professor on Facebook, writes Jen Gerson for National Post
Conservative commentators and think-tanks have rushed in recent days to the defence of embattled journalist Naomi Schaefer Riley, who was fired from her job as a blogger with the respected Chronicle of Higher Education
for questioning the value of black studies programmes, writes Ben Wolfgang for The Washington Times
Two prominent Indonesian institutions – Diponegoro University in Semarang in Central Java and Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta – have stopped students from holding activities discussing l esbian or g ay issues, write Ainur Rohmah and Bambang Muryanto for The Jakarta Post
A planning commission group has sought massive government support, including free land to the private sector entering higher education, as its Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia pitched for across-the-board fee hikes in universities, reports the Press Trust India
The law school of Washington University announced last Tuesday that it would offer, entirely online, a masters degree in United States law intended for lawyers practising overseas, in partnership with 2tor, an education technology company, writes Tamar Lewin for The New York Times
In the rainforest-covered ruins of a Mayan city dating back more than 1,100 years, a Boston University-led excavation has turned up the oldest evidence of that civilisation’s mastery of astronomy – a precise lunar calendar scrawled on what appears to be an ancient blackboard, writes Carolyn Y Johnson for The Boston Globe
An investigation into the recent unanimous decision of the Karachi University syndicate to withdraw cases of plagiarism against three senior teachers shows that the decision was taken not only in disregard of past resolutions of the syndicate but also of the results of multiple inquiries conducted by the university over four years, writes Faiza Ilyas for Dawn
/ ISSN 1756-297X / © University World News 2007-2012