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22 September 2013 Issue 0288 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
New UK Outward Student Mobility Strategy aims to boost study abroad

In World Blog, Roger Y Chao Jr argues that while private higher education is expanding, global economic insecurity, graduate unemployment and new distance learning opportunities could draw students back to public universities.
In Commentary, Gerard A Postiglione and Philip G Altbach find that academics, though key to internationalisation, seem to be less internationally minded than expected – with implications for internationalisation.
Hiep Pham warns that despite Australian campuses being multinational, the higher education sector needs to attract quality students and internationalise curricula if it is to stay ahead of Asian competitors. Kalinga Seneviratne contends that the ancient Buddhist university of Nalanda should be rebuilt according to Buddhist and Asian, not Western, principles.
We publish a special report on MOOCs, looking at new initiatives in Vietnam and Europe and a UK government review of massive open online courses.
In Features, Nic Mitchell describes Britain’s Outward Student Mobility Strategy, which will encourage many more students to study abroad. Jan Petter Myklebust investigates moves by the Swedish government to grant universities greater autonomy through their conversion into private foundations.
Wachira Kigotho reports on progress made by the UNESCO-HP Brain Gain Initiative, which aims to reverse the outflow of academics from African and Arab countries. And in a Q&A, Gilbert Nganga interviews David Some, CEO of the Commission for University Education in Kenya, on reforms being ushered in by a new universities act.
Karen MacGregor Global Editor
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Geoff Maslen

Australia’s 28th prime minister, Tony Abbott, has dispensed with a minister of science and a minister for climate change in a new cabinet he announced last Monday. It is the first time since the science portfolio was created in 1931 that Australia has not had a science minister.
Shafigeh Shirazi and Yojana Sharma

Iran’s Ministry of Science has announced that students recently barred from universities because of student or political activism will be allowed to continue their studies. But only students who have faced restrictions since 2011 will benefit from the reprieve.
Geoff Maslen

Researchers in America are more likely to collaborate with peers outside the US than European researchers are to work with colleagues outside Europe, according to a new report. But it says the benefits of collaborating outside their region are proportionally greater for European than for US researchers.
Alya Mishra

The prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology have vowed to no longer sit in the wings but to promote themselves nationally and globally. This follows complaints by the government and academics that the institutes’ excellence is not being recognised in international university rankings.
Dinesh De Alwis

Sri Lanka is planning to set up ‘free investment zones’ for education, which will offer land and tax breaks to foreign investors. The aim is to attract international universities and build the country into a higher education hub in Asia.
Michael Gardner

Austria’s federal government is providing extra support for collaborative projects between publicly funded universities, other higher education institutions and industry, with a €63 million (US$85 million) package. Out of 218 project proposals submitted, 61 have now been approved.
David Jobbins

More independent school sixth formers in the United Kingdom are seeking out university courses abroad, according to headteachers of the UK’s leading independent schools.
Wachira Kigotho

The World Bank has launched a PhD fellowship scheme for students of African descent – especially for women, who are heavily under-represented in terms of access to quality higher education in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Last week the UK government published a review of massive open online courses, Britain's MOOCs platform – FutureLearn – launched its first courses, the Germany-based iversity announced that it would provide credits for courses on its platform, and we spoke to a researcher who has launched a MOOCs site in Vietnam. Read the Special Report stories below.
Karen MacGregor

Elite universities, especially in America, are engaging enthusiastically in massive open online courses, or MOOCs. “They see opportunities for brand enhancement, pedagogic experimentation, recruitment and business model innovation,” says a review of MOOCs published by the UK government last week. But there are conflicting strands of opinion that are dividing the higher education community.
Karen MacGregor

The development of MOOCs – massive open online courses – outside the ‘Anglo-centric hothouse’ of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia is “characterised by strong involvement with professional needs, wide experimentation and enthusiastic engagement in all significant geographies”, according to a British government review.
Hiep Pham

A new Vietnamese-language massive open online courses – MOOCs – system was launched last month, offering free online education that juxtaposes short teaching videos with longer courses from international MOOCs giants edX and Coursera.

The Open University’s FutureLearn, the UK’s first partnership platform for MOOCs – massive open online courses – last week began offering access to what it describes as “free, high quality courses” from some of its 20 university partners.
Peta Lee

In what is seen as a breakthrough for students, Europe’s MOOCs platform iversity is working with two universities in Germany to award academic credit to students who pass an on-campus exam after taking a massive open online course.
Nic Mitchell

With just one UK student studying abroad for every 15 international students coming the other way, Britain is launching a bold initiative to tackle the imbalance. The Outward Student Mobility Strategy is seen as a breakthrough for those worried that the country is in danger of losing its global competitiveness because too few citizens have worked or studied abroad.
Jan Petter Myklebust

In a memorandum sent to higher education institutions for comment, Sweden’s Ministry of Education has proposed legislation that would grant universities and colleges legal autonomy from the government – by institutions becoming private foundations. Universities have endorsed the need for change, but responses to the legislation have been lukewarm.
Wachira Kigotho

A project backed by UNESCO and Hewlett-Packard, aimed at reversing the brain drain from African and Arab countries, believes it has contributed significantly to strengthening teaching and research in selected universities. The Brain Gain Initiative turned 10 years old this year.
Gilbert Nganga

The ripple effects of Kenya’s new universities law, enacted to transform higher education, are expected to start being felt in the coming months, pushing up the cost of education and potentially raising the quality of learning. University World News spoke to Professor David Some, CEO of the Commission for University Education, about the reforms.
Roger Y Chao Jr

The market for private higher education institutions is increasing. But global economic insecurity and fears about the number of jobs available for graduates, coupled with the increasing availability of distance learning, could lead to students and industry turning back to public universities.
Gerard A Postiglione and Philip G Altbach

Academics are key to internationalisation policy, although few are themselves involved in international collaboration or have taught abroad. However, a growing number of academics are publishing in a foreign country.
Hiep Pham

Compared to its Asian competitors, Australia enjoys a multinational higher education environment. But the country risks falling behind if it does not increase the quality of its international students and their interaction with domestic students, and internationalise its curricula.
Kalinga Seneviratne

The ancient Buddhist university of Nalanda should be rebuilt according to Buddhist and Asian principles and should not attempt to be a facsimile of a Western university.
Thomas Cushman, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Earlier this month, faculty members at Wellesley College in the US took an unusual step to protect academic freedom in China: 136 of us signed a public letter addressed to officers of Peking University. The letter expressed grave concern over the fate of Yeliang Xia, a distinguished faculty member in the school of economics, who says he is being threatened with expulsion from the university. The reason? Arguing for freedom of expression, constitutional democracy and the rule of law.
Warwick Anderson, The Conversation

Few things are changing faster in the research world than publishing. The ‘open access’ movement recognises that publicly funded research should be freely available to everyone. Now more than a decade old, open access is changing where researchers publish and, more importantly, how the wider world accesses – and assesses – their work.
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An Ankara prosecutor has demanded six years in prison for 45 university students who held a protest against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the launch ceremony of a Turkish satellite in December 2012, reports Hürriyet Daily News.

Egypt's interim cabinet said last Wednesday that a proposal to grant university security guards arrest powers was requested by the Supreme Council of Universities and not the Ministry of Justice, reports Ahram Online.

A UK college has abandoned its ban on Muslim face veils after a storm of local protest, a planned demonstration and the involvement of the prime minister, writes James Meikle for the Guardian. Birmingham Metropolitan College climbed down despite Prime Minister David Cameron and the Department for Education endorsing its right to have such a policy.

Following home ministry orders, India’s University Grants Commission asked Manipal University to scrap plans for academic collaboration involving exchanges of students and academics with the prestigious Beijing Institute of Technology, reports The Times of India.

Six new private universities with reported links to Bangladesh’s ruling party have obtained the government’s approval. With only a few months left of tenure, the government approved the universities despite claims that most existing private higher education institutions are underperforming and struggling to attract students, reports Dhaka Tribune.

Two of mainland China’s most prestigious institutions of higher learning, Peking and Tsinghua universities, will start offering free online courses in partnership with edX, a major open course provider, writes Raymond Li for South China Morning Post.

MOOC companies are hardly universities unto themselves, but now a provider wants to move beyond offering one-off courses, writes Steve Kolowich for The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Any Scottish institution that wants to cut languages in future will have to alert funding bosses before a decision is made. The Scottish Funding Council – the body that distributes public funding to higher education – would then assess whether the closure was detrimental to the range of languages taught in Scotland, writes Andrew Denholm for Herald Scotland.

Former Snapfish CEO Ben Nelson’s online education start-up, the Minerva Project, is reinventing the university experience for the brightest, most motivated students in the world. The American entrepreneur wants to disrupt higher education and last week he announced four years of free tuition for the first matriculating class of Minerva Schools at Keck Graduate Institute, reports The Irish Times.

For more than 100 years, the Rhodes scholarship to Oxford University has been one of the most prestigious academic awards in the world, but it has been open only to students from the Commonwealth, the US and Germany. Now, thanks to a CA$120 million (US$118 million) donation from a Canadian businessman, the scholarship could soon expand to students from China, Russia, Brazil and elsewhere, writes Paul Waldie for The Globe and Mail.

Many low-tier and private Vietnamese universities have recruited students via a lax selection process, raising concerns over the quality of future doctors and pharmacists, reports Tuoi Tre.

A short-term solution to the Nile University crisis, proposed during a meeting with interim Minister of Higher Education Hossam Eissa, was turned down by Zewail City last Monday, writes Rana Muhammad Taha for Daily News Egypt.

Universities in Wales have agreed to upload lectures and research to the internet in future so they can be freely accessed around the world. It means students and teachers in poorer nations will be able to use expensive research carried out by academics in Wales, writes Arwyn Jones for the BBC.

The pressure on university students in the United Kingdom is set to grow, as friends and family can now place bets on the final outcome of their degrees, reports the Press Association.
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