|15 December 2013||Issue 0300||Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week||Advanced Search|
NEWSLETTERIndustrial PhDs, student recruitment agents, and working with Mandela
In World Blog, Sir Deian Hopkin looks at the growing use by UK universities of overseas student recruitment agents. While there have been initiatives in response to reports of fraud and corruption, more should be done to make the system transparent.
In Commentary, Manja Klemencic finds ample evidence that basic research on different forms of student engagement can aid applied investigations of students’ experiences that aim to improve institutional practice. Martina Ori writes that different forms of ‘industrial PhDs’ are springing up across Europe, but there is no overall regulation of them.
Elizabeth Bell contends that problems in UK postgraduate education, such as a decline in domestic demand for taught courses, could provide insight into what a deregulated market-based system for all students could look like. And Greg Nance describes a social enterprise he co-founded that aims to expand access for international students through reliable information, useful resources and a network of compassionate mentors.
In Q&A we publish excerpts of an interview conducted by John Higgins with the late Jakes Gerwel – academic, vice-chancellor and chief aide to Nelson Mandela – who spoke about working for Mandela and the role of universities in South Africa. And we run the second installment of a Special Report on PhD training in Africa.
In Features, Yojana Sharma investigates just-announced reforms to China’s national university entrance exams, the gaokao, which include scrapping English as a subject and a new student recruitment system that many fear could fuel corruption.
Karen MacGregor – Global Editor
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
President Vladimir Putin last Thursday put a better, more vigorous performance by Russian universities at the centre of a new drive for economic development. Universities were urged to sell their services to foreign students, concentrating on the ‘near abroad’ countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States where many people still speak Russian.
The European Commission last week opened the way for universities, research organisations and businesses to apply for a share of its massive €80 billion (US$110 billion) Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. But questions have already been raised over whether the proposed selection procedures will be good enough to reduce complaints about awards.
UNITED KINGDOMGeoff Maslen, Science Editor
The United Kingdom remains a global research heavyweight and ranks first among some of the world’s most research-intensive nations, including Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, according to a new report.
UNITED KINGDOMDavid Jobbins
Leading British universities are well placed to benefit from the continuing increase in international higher education, according to a just-published analysis of internet searches over the past three years.
With student numbers in Germany having reached an all-time high this semester, higher education organisations and trade unionists are making an urgent plea for additional funding. But the new coalition government agreement lacks concrete statements on more money for the sector.
Violent attacks on higher education are a widespread problem affecting institutions and personnel worldwide, and governments should take responsibility for protecting them, says the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack in a report released this month.
Egypt's proposed new constitution, drafted by a mostly secular assembly, commits state authorities for the first time to allocate a specific portion of gross national product – at least 1% – to scientific research. The step has raised hopes of a major boost for research.
MYANMARNaw Say Phaw Waa
Myanmar’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has said women have an important role to play in the transition to democracy, but have been denied equal opportunities. This included discrimination against women in the country’s universities.
The refusal of Nigeria’s government to sign a negotiated agreement to end a five-month lecturer strike has come as a rude shock to public universities. The government did not provide reasons for backing out of the deal – but did threaten to sack all academics if they did not return to work.
Kenya could be headed for a fresh round of showdowns over academic salaries. University of Nairobi Vice-chancellor Professor George Magoha wants the government to review the remuneration of academics to “reflect the critical role they play in social and economic development”.
Massive open online courses – MOOCs – could soon be delivered from the sky to remote areas in Africa, following the launch of the Inmarsat satellite, the Alphabus, an international higher education conference was told this week.
The European Union and Africa have agreed to set up a long-term, jointly funded research and innovation partnership to promote food and nutrition security. Meanwhile, a new innovation centre in Ethiopia and a plant breeding academy in Kenya have been announced.
China’s education ministry last week announced plans to completely scrap English as a subject in the national university entrance examinations or gaokao, as part of a new university testing and student recruitment system to be in place by 2020. Some provinces will pilot the changes from 2014.
HUNGARYPaul Hockenos, The Chronicle of Higher Education
Ágnes Heller, a world-renowned Hungarian philosopher, has become a leading figure speaking out against the policies of Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his party. Orbán has been criticised for limiting freedom of expression and other controversial political moves. In higher education, critics say he has stripped away universities' independence.
SOUTH AFRICAJohn Higgins
In a wide-ranging interview before his death a year ago, Jakes Gerwel – academic, vice-chancellor and chief aide to Nelson Mandela – spoke among other things about working for Mandela, issues of race and class, the role of universities and the rise of technically-inclined forms of education.
UNITED KINGDOMDeian Hopkin
As British universities compete for international students they are increasingly reliant on overseas recruitment agents. Recent moves in response to reports of fraud and corruption go some way to improving the system, but more needs to be done by universities and partner organisations so that the system is more transparent.
Student engagement is broadly advocated, but there is a suspicion that neoliberal support for it is in part window dressing to disguise growing inequalities in higher education. However, it can promote more informed research on students' experiences of higher education and a more nuanced breakdown of that experience.
The number of industrial PhDs in Europe is growing as part of the expanding knowledge economy and the crossover between education and the labour market. However, different forms of such PhDs are springing up in different countries and there is no overall regulation of them.
UNITED KINGDOMElizabeth Bell
Graduate education in Britain is an example of a free market in higher education, with fees unregulated. But there has been a decline in domestic demand, and provision is vulnerable. Problems around postgraduate education, and possible solutions, could provide fascinating insight into what a deregulated market-based system for all students could look like.
Many students would like to study at top Western universities but lack the advice and mentoring needed to negotiate the admissions process. A social enterprise aims to give students the support they need by putting them in direct contact with experts who can help.
SPECIAL REPORT: PhD education in Africa
PhD training in Africa has become a major issue for universities, governments and donors across Africa and around the world. This is the second of two Special Reports that look at issues around PhD education as discussed at a workshop hosted by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and South Africa’s National Research Foundation, and elsewhere.
The remarkable achievements of Brazil in PhD training – from 800 to 12,000 doctorates a year in three decades – could provide a model for African countries trying to expand doctoral production. Crucial factors in Brazil were support from the academic community, evaluation “with consequences”, funding and political commitment.
There are multiple factors holding back PhD production in Africa including low participation and graduation rates, an absence of enabling organisational conditions, lack of funding, deficient resources and infrastructure, a limited research agenda and poor productivity.
SOUTHERN AFRICAKaren MacGregor
The Southern African Regional Universities Association is exploring ways to build supervision capacity through collaboration and drawing on strengths of universities across the region. One emerging ‘hub and spoke’ model would connect research-intensive institutions with others that are more teaching-oriented to share resources and facilities for PhD training.
The need to increase Africa’s stock of PhD-qualified staff has featured prominently in many discussions – and not solely in university circles. It is part of a broader concern with securing the ‘next generation’ of academics, a critical foundation for universities, and something on which their future teaching and research strength will depend.
HIGHER EDUCATION JOBS
Here is a small selection of higher education jobs currently advertised on the University World News Higher Education in Africa Recruitment – HEAR – site. Click here to view all jobs, or click on the links below to go straight to the ad.
Vice-chancellor and CEO, Africa University in Zimbabwe
President, American University of Afghanistan
Professor: Business Management at Namibia University of Science and Technology
Professor: Transport and Logistics at Namibia University of Science and Technology
IT Lecturer at Varsity College in South Africa
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For years scientists have vied to have their research published in the most renowned peer-reviewed journals. But now a Nobel prize-winning biologist has accused some of the best known academic publishers of distorting the scientific process by promoting only the ‘flashiest’ research to increase subscriptions, writes Oliver Wright for The Independent.
Angela Merkel’s election win in Germany last September sparked a long battle to form a ‘grand coalition’ with the opposition Social Democrats. Student accommodation would not have been top of the agenda in the negotiations, but has become an issue that the government will have to address, as protests and stories of students crammed five to a room draw attention to a growing problem, writes Frances Mechan-Schmidt for Times Higher Education.
A Chinese law professor said last week that he had been expelled from his university after he refused to recant an article he wrote calling for constitutional rule in China, reports Associated Press.
Clashes continued at Al-Azhar University as a march by Students Against the Coup was intercepted by security forces outside the campus last Monday, resulting in the arrest of at least 48 students, writes Rana Muhammad Taha for Daily News Egypt.
English universities will be able to accept as many students as they want from 2015, after the chancellor said the limit on places would be abolished – leaving critics to question how the expansion would be funded in the long-term, with potentially damaging implications for the arts and humanities, writes Randeep Ramesh for the Guardian.
Russian big business has significantly ramped up the amount of money it is putting into national universities, according to the presidents of Russia’s top universities, writes Eugene Gerden for Chemistry World.
British universities have been forced to extend some deadlines because software used to catch plagiarism stopped working – suggesting how dependent on technology universities have become in their attempts to stop students copying work from the internet – writes Sean Coughlan for BBC News.
Universities in the United Kingdom and China have announced a series of new partnerships, expanding opportunities for students to learn overseas, reports People’s Daily. David Willetts, the UK universities and science minister, revealed the new initiatives during the biggest ever trade mission to China last week.
University degrees were first offered to women in the UK in 1878, but last week, in front of the London headquarters of Universities UK, which claims to be “the voice for UK universities”, it appeared that the fight for equality is far from over, writes Emma Pearce for The Telegraph.
Large crowds of students protested in London last Wednesday against police violence on campuses and privatisation of universities in the United Kingdom. The protests came in defiance of the University of London's recent ban on sit-in protests on its campuses, reports Aljazeera.
South Africa’s Department of Higher Education and Training has set its sights on improving the outcomes of further education and training colleges by promulgating a new policy that will compel student attendance and punctuality, writes Bekezela Phakathi for Business Day.
The Kenyan government, through the ICT Authority and the Kenya Education Network Trust, has officially launched the KENET Network, a US$22.5 million internet bandwidth service that connects member institutions at competitive and sustainable prices, writes Nick Sato for HumanIPO.
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