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NEWSLETTERPower of global rankings must be challenged with audits, critique, contest
In this week’s World Blog, Richard Holmes asks whether international rankings have been given too much power and suggests that it is time they were audited. In Commentary, Elisabeth Gareis writes that universities need to do more to foster better relationships between home and overseas students.
In a new book on the future of South Africa’s youth, Helene Perold argues that efforts to provide education and training opportunities should be viewed from a youth perspective, and in Canada Aaron H Doering describes the concept of ‘adventure learning’, a form of hybrid education that is changing the online teaching and learning experience.
In Features, Yojana Sharma investigates the debate over reforms to university entrance exams in several Asian countries, including China’s high-stakes entrance test, the gaokao. Erin Millar reports on the continuing dispute in Quebec over tuition fee hikes as an August back-to-study deadline looms, bringing the threat of renewed student protests.
Sharon Dell looks at the planned expansion into four new African countries of South Africa’s private post-school education giant, Educor, and Mamadou Mika Lom warns of a looming staff crisis at Senegal’s top university as more than half of its academics retire in the next three years.
Karen MacGregor – Global Editor
Mohamed Morsi has become the fifth president of Egypt after winning 51.7% of votes in a run-off election, making him the first university professor to rule a country in the Arab world. His election is of considerable significance to higher education.
PAKISTANAmeen Amjad Khan
Monday 25 June was observed as a ‘black day’ by universities across Pakistan, to register protest against low funding for the higher education sector. University budgets have been slashed since the country’s democratic government came to power in 2008.
CHILEMaría Elena Hurtado
Chile’s higher education sector is facing stiffer regulations after financial irregularities were discovered at Universidad del Mar, one of the country’s largest private universities. The problems – which led students to take over the university’s 15 buildings, go on hunger strikes and stage mass demonstrations – have also brought Chile’s accreditation system under scrutiny.
The United Kingdom has said it will help Burma improve its higher education sector, according to an announcement on Monday pledging support to education in Burma at both the school and post-school levels. Other countries have also offered assistance.
In an effort to train a highly skilled scientific workforce needed for economic development, war-torn Afghanistan has doubled its budget for overseas scholarships and will teach science courses in English instead of the two branches of Persian – Iranian Farsi and Afghan Dari – used in many universities.
Vietnamese school-leavers will sit national university entrance examinations that start on 4 July and last for almost a week, as they compete for places at some 58 universities and colleges, amid ongoing discussion that the exam system needs reform.
* See also Yojana Sharma’s article in Features.
SRI LANKADinesh de Alwis
Doctors, lecturers, students, trade unions and other groups in Sri Lanka have called on the government to close down the country’s first private medical university and to stop the establishment of other private medical institutions – a move that could have implications for international providers planning to set up branch campuses.
A new computer system that automatically transcribes lectures and translates them into English is being tested in Germany. It could benefit foreign students who have difficulty following lectures and other students who have struggled to take notes, as the scripts are stored in ‘clouds’ and can be called up when needed.
The Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie last week inaugurated its new Maghreb regional bureau in Rabat. As well as serving Morocco, the bureau will represent the French-language university agency in Algeria and Tunisia, serving nearly 100 higher education and research institutions.
The Pan African-University has started recruiting its first batch of postgraduate students, who are expected to start class in July – the strongest signal yet that the international institution is taking off after years of planning and sometimes fraught negotiations.
Kenya has set aside at least 100 million shillings (US$2 million) in the coming year for loans to students in middle-level colleges as the country seeks to absorb more students into the post-secondary school system. Universities have also received a funding boost.
DENMARKJan Petter Myklebust
Timo Kivimäki, the Finnish professor of international politics at the University of Copenhagen who in May received a five-month prison sentence for espionage, will not appeal against the sentence due to the high costs involved, according to the university’s newsletter.
For millions of young people in China it has been a make-or-break month. Results of the national college entrance exam, the gaokao, are now being released and the scramble for the best university places has begun – and in many cases, for any place at all.
The months-long dispute in Quebec that began over tuition fee hikes shows no sign of abating as a 15 August back-to-study deadline legislated by the provincial government looms, ensuring a late summertime showdown between students and government. “If a solution isn’t reached over the summer, there will be more strike activity and confrontation,” one student group warned.
Private education giant Educor is set to become the first South African institution to set up branch campuses outside the country as it expands its operations into four new African countries under its well-known Intec and Damelin brands.
SENEGALMamadou Mika Lom
A new salary deal has slightly slowed the brain drain from Senegal’s premier Université Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar. But it confronts a new threat in the form of ageing academics. With 80,000 students, it faces losing up to 70% of academics by 2015 as a result of large-scale retirements.
International rankings are being used to determine international higher education partnerships and even immigration policy. There is a danger that particular rankings are becoming too powerful. There needs to be both an auditing of the rankings and a willingness to consider a broader range of rankings.
UNITED STATESElisabeth Gareis
Universities and students need to do more to build better relationships between home and overseas students, including creating the right infrastructure for such relationships to flourish. But more research is needed into what works best.
SOUTH AFRICAHelene Perold
In January 2012 South Africa was shocked to hear of the death of a mother at the gates of the University of Johannesburg. Gloria Sekwena had returned from her job in the United Kingdom to make sure that her school-leaving son, Kgotsisile, would find a place at the university.
CANADAAaron H Doering
Adventure learning could help change the face of online learning. It not only takes into consideration content, content delivery and learning outcomes, but also learner experience. It aims to truly engage learners in content and facilitate transformative, deep learning through a thoughtful combination of pedagogy, technology and real-world interaction.
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The rise of a social media-based student movement is shaking up Mexico's 1 July presidential race. This is happening just as the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI – which ruled for seven decades until its defeat in 2000 – seems poised to return to power, writes Guillermo Trejo for Los Angeles Times.
American colleges say they are more supportive than ever of international education, but in many cases their efforts to internationalise may fall short, a new report from the American Council on Education suggests, writes Karin Fischer for The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Universities in the United Kingdom have rejected claims that home students are being displaced by potentially more lucrative overseas students with lower grades, reports the BBC. Universities UK said institutions are recruiting the maximum number of home students allowed by government.
The dormitories are empty, the once charming bungalows of professors overgrown with vines and weeds. Only grass grows where the student union building stood before soldiers obliterated it with dynamite. This is Yangon University, once one of Asia's finest, and a poignant symbol of an education system crippled by Burma’s half century of military rule, writes Denis D Gray for Associated Press.
Bill Gates never finished college, but he is one of the single most powerful figures shaping higher education today. That influence comes through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, perhaps the world's richest philanthropy, which he co-chairs and which has made education one of its key missions, writes Jeffrey R Young for The Chronicle of Higher Education.
This can’t go on. That is our sentiment after adopting another annual budget for the University of Washington that includes a 16% tuition increase for resident undergraduates. This is the fourth year in a row our students have seen a double-digit tuition increase, write two members of the university’s board of regents, Kristianne Blake and Craig W Cole, for Seattle Times.
Facing a torrent of criticism, the University of Virginia trustees made a stunning turnabout last week, voting unanimously to reinstate the president they had forced to resign over concerns that the university was not adapting fast enough to financial and technological pressures, writes Richard Pérez-Peńa for The New York Times.
Presidents of Israeli universities last week expressed opposition to the official granting of university status to an Ariel educational institution. In a letter, the Council of Presidents of Israeli Universities call on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stop the declaration of the Ariel University Center as a university, saying the move would “deal a mortal blow to the higher education system in Israel”, writes Ben Hartman for The Jerusalem Post.
The Scottish government has unveiled a radical shake-up of universities and colleges. Education Secretary Mike Russell said he had accepted “virtually all” the recommendations of a review of university governance, which called for elected chairs, quotas for female board members and curbs on the pay of high-earning principals, writes Chris Marshall for The Scotsman.
Teenagers from the most deprived backgrounds are lagging dramatically behind wealthy peers in the race for university places because of failure at school, according to major research published last week, writes Graeme Paton for The Telegraph.
India’s Ministry of Human Resource Development last week said all ‘deemed’ universities across the country would be given the option of admitting students to graduate courses based on the government’s proposed common entrance test or their own entrance examinations, writes M Ramya for The Times of India.
Clever statistical sleuthing by an anonymous fraud hunter in the United States appears to have led to the downfall of a marketing researcher at Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands, writes Martin Enserink for Science.
Few PhD students in the UK explore new technologies in their research or understand the range of information available to them, a report commissioned by the British Library and higher education technology body Jisc has found, writes Elizabeth Gibney for Times Higher Education.
Stakeholders in the Nigerian education sector have expressed displeasure at the decision of the National Universities Commission to suspend part-time programmes in Nigerian universities, writes Kuni Tyessi for Leadership.
It has been revealed that 20% of universities inspected in Vietnam failed to meet regulations on the number of teachers and their qualifications, reports VietNamNet Bridge. In particular, seven universities had fewer than 50 official teachers each.
As a political science major at Ohio State University in the United States, Ida Seitter says, she lit up many a cigarette to help her through the stress of exam season. Right or wrong, they were her security blanket as she toiled through college, writes Julie Carr Smyth for Associated Press.
Not much surprises those with hazy memories of the glory days of Manchester’s Hacienda – but news that the legendary club, the Madchester music scene and Peter Hook, bass player with Joy Division and New Order, are all to feature in a university's new masters course may raise the odd eyebrow, writes Maev Kennedy for the Guardian.
Three colleges are pooling their strengths to become a new force in Irish higher education, writes Katherine Donnelly for the Independent. A collaboration between Dublin City University, NUI Maynooth and Royal College of Surgeons Ireland will be known as the 3U Partnership.
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