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NEWSLETTER2014 – Costs and cuts, value and reforms, online and uncertainty
To kick off 2014, University World News features a Special Report looking at higher education issues and trends worldwide that are likely to impact on the sector.
Rahul Choudaha argues that cost and funding pressures, learning innovations and new quality paradigms will oblige universities to reassert their value. Roger Y Chao Jr wonders whether solutions proposed to issues confronting higher education two decades ago should be revisited.
Goolam Mohamedbhai finds that reforms to African higher education resulted in significant developments last year that will evolve further in 2014. Nic Mitchell predicts that cuts and fees, visa controls and internationalisation, Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+ are likely to be issues for Europe, while Jan Petter Myklebust uncovers mounting pressures on universities in Scandinavia.
In North America, Sarah King Head discovers growing student demand, online innovations, entrepreneurial learning and research cutbacks to be key trends. Yojana Sharma reports on the anti-corruption drive in universities in China, Geoff Maslen on the gloomy outlook for higher education in Australia, Alya Mishra on policy and regulatory uncertainty in India, and Wagdy Sawahel on the need to tackle low quality, inequity and lack of relevance in universities in the Middle East and North Africa.
In World Blog, Serhiy Kvit unpacks the recent protests in Ukraine – dominated initially by students – and finds that they were not only about integration with Europe but also about a desire for freedom and justice.
And in Commentary, Louise Morley probes why women are so poorly represented in higher education leadership and on the boards of academic journals, while Ivan F Pacheco and Ane Turner Johnson investigate the role of universities in conflict situations and in peace building in Colombia and Kenya.
Karen MacGregor – Global Editor
Higher education in 2014
2014 is likely to see increased pressure on universities from students who are looking for immediate returns on their investment in higher education. The confluence of cost and funding pressures, technology-enabled learning innovations and new paradigms of quality and teaching will further force universities to reassert their value.
GLOBALRoger Y Chao Jr
Many of the issues now confronting higher education are similar to those faced in 1994. Have the policy fixes adopted made any real difference, and should we revisit proposed solutions in line with the changing global context in order to avert a future crisis in higher education?
After decades of neglect and underfunding, the revitalisation of African higher education began at the start of the 21st century, following global acknowledgement of the importance of universities to development. But effective reform really began around 2005 and continued through 2013 in key areas, resulting in significant developments – which will evolve further in 2014 and beyond.
From the onward march of internationalisation to the fight by academics and students against cuts to their funding, 2013 proved to be a year of rapid change for higher education. But what does the 2014 crystal ball predict for Europe, the birthplace of universities and a continent slowly emerging from economic crisis?
Universities will not be exempt from China’s wide ranging anti-corruption drive, which was unveiled at the end of 2013 and will be stepped up in a continuing campaign dubbed a ‘five-year plan’ against graft. Investigations into university officials began in 2013 and will continue in the coming year, according to official reports.
When Australia’s federal Treasurer Joe Hockey addressed the National Press Club just before Christmas, he did not come bearing gifts. Not that universities were expecting any – but vice-chancellors must still have been alarmed by what Hockey had to say.
NORTH AMERICASarah King Head
Leaders at three of North America’s top universities have highlighted the need for creative solutions and adaptability across the higher education system in the light of persistent global economic uncertainty, spiralling student loan debt and crippling institutional operating costs. But they also expressed considerable optimism.
In 2013 two of India’s regulatory authorities, the University Grants Commission and the All India Council for Technical Education, were locked in a turf war over who would control engineering and management education. Government belatedly resolved the issue – but it was an example of the regulatory vacuum higher education will have to contend with this year.
SCANDINAVIAJan Petter Myklebust
The Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden have escaped the economic crisis cutbacks that have hit higher education in Europe, and have instead enjoyed expanding budgets. But governments are looking at ways for universities to supplement their funding, to ease the burden on state finances.
MIDDLE EASTWagdy Sawahel
Recent graduates from higher education systems hindered by low quality, inequity and lack of relevance have been integral to what came to be called the ‘Arab Spring’, and the resulting unrest disrupted universities. These problems need to be resolved to help achieve political stability and development across the region.
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
With universities experiencing their worst unrest in years, Egypt’s military-backed authorities have ordered police deployment on campuses to maintain order during the mid-year examinations that run until late January.
Tunisia’s National Constituent Assembly has adopted a constitutional provision that will guarantee protection of academic freedom. The law-making body approved Article 32 of the new constitution last Monday – but the full constitution still needs to be voted into force by 14 January.
As the United Nations called for fresh elections following a violent and dubious poll in Bangladesh, a government move to open up the country’s higher education market to foreign universities and branch campuses faced strong opposition from private universities.
The government of the Philippines has said it is reviewing the academic calendar with a view to possibly bringing it in line with universities abroad, particularly those in Association of South East Asian Nations countries.
As students trooped back to class following the end of the six-month academic strike at public universities in Nigeria, lecturers put monitoring and implementation committees in place to ensure the disbursement and judicious use of special intervention funds aimed at gradually erasing infrastructural decay on campuses.
SWEDENJan Petter Myklebust
The Association of Swedish Higher Education has written to the Ministry of Education on behalf of 39 institutions, asking for revised legislation or new regulations to make it possible for Swedish universities to participate in Erasmus Mundus masters courses and other international programmes as an equal consortium member.
The recent protests in Ukraine – dominated, particularly in the early stages, by students – are about more than integration with Europe. They are about a desire for freedom and justice.
Why are women so poorly represented in leadership positions in universities around the world and on the editorial boards of academic journals? A research project involving women academics shows that one thing they all agree on is the need for change. It has led to a manifesto suggesting several factors that can help promote change.
GLOBALIvan F Pacheco and Ane Turner Johnson
The role of universities in conflict situations has been generally ignored, yet they play a vital part in peacebuilding, and not just after conflicts have started.
Scientists around the world continue to warn of the dangers of a warming Earth, of catastrophic declines of animal and plant species, of threats to the survival of humankind itself. Yet governments either treat the warnings as unimportant or take limited action to tackle the manifold problems that climate change already poses.
The effects of a hotter world are likely to be far worse than even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted, with global temperatures set to rise by at least four degrees by 2100, according to a study by Australian and French climate scientists who investigated the effects of clouds on Earth and found that as the planet warmed and clouds formed, temperatures continued to rise further in an ever-upward spiral.
Climate change could cause the loss of more than 83% of coral reefs around the globe with disastrous impacts on ocean plants and animals, a new study has found. Warming of the world’s oceans will alter the physico-chemical environment that reefs currently occupy, leaving only limited regions conducive to reef habitation.
Climate change is a hunger risk multiplier, threatening to undermine hard-won gains in eradicating hunger and poverty, says a report by the United Nations World Food Programme. Current projections indicate that unless considerable efforts are made to improve vulnerable people’s resilience, 20% more of the world’s population will be at risk of hunger by 2050 because of the changing climate.
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With its recent vote to boycott Israel’s higher education institutions to protest the country’s treatment of Palestinians, the American Studies Association has itself become the target of widespread criticism and ostracism, writes Peter Schmidt for The Chronicle of Higher Education.
The Canadian Association of University Teachers is calling on universities and colleges to cut ties with Confucius institutes, which it says are “subsidised and supervised by the authoritarian government of China”, writes Omid Ghoreishi for Epoch Times.
China’s 2014 national graduate school entrance examination, which took place last weekend, saw a drop in the number of candidates this year, writes Zhang Yue for China Daily USA. Admission officials said the end of free postgraduate courses might be behind the decline in numbers.
Indian institutions could improve their scores dramatically in Times Higher Education's World University Rankings as the British magazine has agreed to develop and include India-specific parameters for assessment, writes Urmi A Goswami for The Economic Times.
Access to education beyond higher secondary schooling is a mere 10% among the university-age population in India, writes Rema Nagarajan for TNN. This is the finding of a report authored by development economist Abusaleh Shariff of the Delhi-based Centre for Research and Debates in Development Policy and Amit Sharma, research analyst for the National Council of Applied Economic Research.
Europe’s latest research funding programme includes, for the first time, money for ‘low-performing’ member states to set up research centres in their regions, in partnership with well-established institutions from other countries. But some observers were disappointed this month when the European Union announced that the host countries will manage the centres – a rule that critics say could be challenging for fledgling institutions and perhaps perpetuate problems, such as nepotism, that have contributed to their poor performance in the first place, writes Lucas Laursen for Nature.
Just before New Year’s Day Prince Andrew, the third child of Queen Elizabeth, ushered in 2014 by giving an interview to The Telegraph on one of his favourite subjects: the economy-crippling surplus of Britons in university. The situation is similarly grim in Canada, writes Tristin Hopper for National Post.
Wooing this year’s best graduate students in economics are familiar faces from Princeton, Harvard and other American universities seeking assistant professors – and eBay’s not yet three-year-old economic research team, reports Bloomberg.
Plans to allow 50,000 would-be graduates a year to acquire ‘debt-free’ honours degrees, part-funded by their employers, are being considered by the Labour party in order to tailor university education more closely to the needs of business and young people, writes Toby Helm for the Guardian.
Vietnam’s Deputy Minister of Education and Training Bui Van Ga has assured students that there will not be major changes in university enrolment procedures for next year, reports VietNamNet Bridge.
From having more niche programmes to more courses in universities, the secondary and post-secondary education landscape in Singapore is seeing a gradual shift to one that can accommodate multiple pathways, reports Channel News Asia.
The University of Mumbai has issued a letter of suspension to economics professor Neeraj Hatekar for allegedly misinforming the media about irregularities by the vice-chancellor, and thus breaching the code of conduct, writes Vinamrata Borwankar for Daily News Analysis.
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