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16 February 2014 Issue 0307 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
Indian HE not ‘fit for purpose’, Erasmus+, and Asia’s jobless graduates

In Commentary, Ranjit Goswami argues that rather than worrying about global rankings, India needs to prioritise primary education and grant universities more autonomy in order to improve quality. Jordi Curell describes what Erasmus+ offers higher education and contends that with its huge budget and new approach, the programme will maximise the European Union’s contribution to the modernisation of the sector.
John Kirkland responds to Jane Knight’s article last week on the use of higher education as soft diplomacy, and wonders whether the dangers have been overstated. Marguerite J Dennis writes that competency-based degrees could be part of a menu of options that will transform higher education for students, particularly in emerging economies.
In World Blog, Roger Y Chao Jr contends that rankings providers need to be more transparent and accountable, given the immense power they wield in reconstructing the university, and in Student View Fernando Miguel Galán Palomares outlines a European Students’ Union project that identified areas in which students could become better engaged in quality assurance.
In Features, Yojana Sharma looks at rising graduate unemployment across Asia, and at whether it is a temporary blip or reflects a chronic oversupply of graduates. We explore the politics of accreditation in America, as discussed at a conference of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. And Suvendrini Kakuchi reports that national excitement in Japan over a young women scientist’s stem cell research breakthrough ended in soul-searching over the lack of women researchers.
Karen MacGregor – Global Editor
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Michael Gardner

The shock result of a Swiss referendum on immigration policy could have serious consequences for the country’s higher education and research system. A top higher education official has warned that curbs on immigration could spell a “great tragedy” for Swiss science.
David Jobbins

Universities and other higher education institutions in England face further heavy cuts in direct support from the UK government – with the cuts continuing after the next general election, due in May 2015.
Yojana Sharma

The case of graduate admissions examination fraud in China’s northern Heilongjiang province has been described by official media as an “illegal acquisition of state secrets”, in what is seen as stepping up the campaign against cheating in state-held exams.
Jane Marshall

French President François Hollande has announced funding of €2 billion (US$2.7 billion) for the creation of new regional university research centres, under a second wave of ‘Initiatives of Excellence’.
Munyaradzi Makoni

The BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – have consolidated their cooperation at a first ministerial meeting on science, technology and innovation. The nations agreed to support people-centred science for the public good in a technologically changing global environment.
Mushfique Wadud

Following Bangladesh’s disputed election on 5 January, in which the ruling Awami League swept back into power, public universities have been witnessing violent clashes between rival student organisations. At least one student has died and more than 100 have been injured.
Dinesh De Alwis

A decision by Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Higher Education to allow private universities to offer degrees, including medical qualifications, without seeking the approval of professional bodies has sparked a row with major professional groups.
Michael Gardner

The Institute of International Education in the United States and DAAD – the German Academic Exchange Service – have published a book that looks at the field of international collaborative degree programmes.
Vimal Patel, The Chronicle of Higher Education

The numbers of GRE tests – the entrance examination used by most American graduate school programmes – taken by students in India increased by 70% in 2013 from the year before, according to figures released last Tuesday. This suggests that a recent surge in the number of Indian students entering American graduate schools may continue.
Gilbert Nganga

Kenya is seeking to have all financers of university education channel their funds through the Higher Education Loans Board in a bid to guarantee the sustainability of the currently faltering student funding mechanism.
Geoff Maslen

A new science journal called MethodsX that publisher Elsevier claims will give researchers the opportunity to publish details of the methods they use to achieve their results and receive public credit and citations has come under fire.
Wagdy Sawahel

IBM is setting up new innovation centres in Morocco and Nigeria, in the latest expansion of its operations across Africa. The first centre was established in South Africa and, more recently, a second was launched in Kenya.
Yojana Sharma

Fast growing East Asian economies have rapidly increased the numbers of students attending university in recent years. Now the pool of unemployed graduates is rising to worrying levels in the region generally – and even in some high-growth economies.
Karen MacGregor

Last year President Barack Obama spooked higher education when he announced his intention to hold institutions more accountable for cost, value and quality and called for affordability and outcomes benchmarks – perhaps even a new accreditation system. In his state of the union address last month, ‘accreditation’ was not mentioned but with upcoming reauthorisation of the Higher Education Act, the issue looms large.
Suvendrini Kakuchi

National euphoria over a young female scientist who led a groundbreaking stem cell research project has quickly turned into anguished soul-searching in Japan, where similar success stories remain woefully inadequate.
Roger Y Chao Jr

The confusing proliferation of university league tables has further commerc-ialised the university and moved it away from a focus on the core purpose of preparing global citizens. Rankings providers need to be more transparent and accountable, given the immense power they wield in reconstructing the university.
Ranjit Goswami

India’s education system is not fit for purpose. It needs to prioritise primary education and grant higher education institutions greater autonomy if it wants to improve the overall quality of its education system, rather than worrying about global university rankings.
Jordi Curell

With a budget of €14.7 billion (US$20 billion) plus €1.68 billion for international actions in the area of higher education, Erasmus+ will maximise the European Union’s contribution to the modernisation of higher education and facilitate the ability of universities to respond to pressing challenges that are crucial for Europe's future.
John Kirkland

Last week Jane Knight argued about the dangers of using higher education as soft diplomacy, but are the dangers not overblown? Moreover, surely any government that does not seek to boost its reputation in the world through networks of its university alumni is neglecting its obligations?
Marguerite J Dennis

Competency-based degrees could offer students more options in how they are assessed on learning and could be part of a menu of options – including massive open online courses, or MOOCs – which transform higher education for students, particularly those in emerging economies.
Lucas Walsh, The Conversation

This time of year sees many academics furiously submitting grant applications to the Discovery Projects scheme of the Australian Research Council. While prestigious, they are time-consuming and highly competitive. In the social, behavioural and economic sciences category, only 23.2% of the 714 submissions considered were successful in 2013. However, alternative funding sources are available – such as crowd-funding.
Fernando Miguel Galán Palomares

Quality assurance often focuses on issues such as employability, but students have a much more multi-layered appreciation of quality. Many do not know about the quality assurance initiatives undertaken by universities. They should be better engaged in the process, according to a recent project.
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In America, bowing to the inevitable, universities have joined various startups in the rush to provide stand-alone instruction online, through massive open online courses, or MOOCs. Though much experimentation lies ahead, economics can shed light on how the market for higher education may change, reports The Economist.

On 22 January, the World Economic Forum announced the launch of its Forum Academy at its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. The initiative, started in partnership with edX as the platform provider, will begin in May with the opening course, “Global Technology Leadership”, writes Christian Rhally for Huffington Post.

The government of South Korea wants to shut down universities that cannot attract enough students. As a result, universities and colleges in South Korea are merging and reorganising as they fight for survival, writes Tomoko Tamasita for The Asahi Shimbun.

Christian Humborg wants German universities and corporations to know: they’re being watched. As managing director of Transparency International Germany, an NGO that fights corruption, Humborg sees a troubling trend in German higher education, as more top-name universities embrace ‘strategic partnerships’ with business and seek to commerc ialise their research, writes Paul Hockenos for The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The number of students from India applying to study at Australian universities has more than doubled over the past year, largely because, according to industry representatives, they want a quality education not just a pathway to permanently migrate to Australia, writes Stephanie March for Australia Network News.

Times Higher Education’s ranking agency has agreed to draw up an India-specific indicator that would help global education stakeholders and international students judge Indian educational institutions, writes Shashi Tharoor for TNN.

The Home Office has suspended English language tests run by a major firm after BBC Panorama uncovered systematic fraud in the student visa system, reports Richard Watson for the BBC.

New Zealand’s government has decided to go ahead with plans to make university councils smaller and remove the requirement to have staff and student representatives on them, writes Sarah Robson for 3News.

Universities are to launch a new campaign warning Ireland’s education minister that he faces a stark choice: give more Exchequer money to higher education institutions or raise fees substantially from 2016, reports

Universities have complained that the requirement of the Ministry of Education and Training of having one lecturer with a PhD and three with masters for every major is unfeasible in Vietnamese conditions, reports VietNamNet Bridge.

Private education began booming in North Korea some 10 years ago and has led the country’s elite, foreign currency earners and even local market merchants to pay to educate their children. Music, computers and foreign languages such as English have been the most popular courses, but others are offered as well, comments Andrei Lankov for Radio Free Asia.

Belarusian universities are getting ready to join the Bologna process, the first protector of the Belarusian State University Mikhail Zhuravkov told reporters before the opening of an international seminar titled “Erasmus Mundus as a Catalyst for Internationalisation: Sharing best practices and exploring future perspectives”, reports BelTA.

When Julia Dixon, a 2011 graduate of the University of Akron in Ohio, began compiling research to file a federal Clery Act complaint against her alma mater for the mishandling of s exual assault cases, she had a lot of ground to cover, writes Katie JM Baker for Newsweek.

An elite university established as a rival to Oxbridge is to ignore pupils’ final A-level results because of “increased mistrust” in the traditional sixth-form exam. New College of the Humanities in London is making “unconditional offers” based on pupils’ prior exam scores and performance in interviews, following concerns that the gold standard qualification fails to mark out the brightest students, writes Graeme Paton for The Telegraph.

The Pakistan-China Institute in Islamabad in collaboration with the University of Karachi’s Latif Ebrahim Jamal National Science Information Centre is launching courses on “Basic Chinese Language” in all public sector universities across Pakistan through video-conferencing, writes Shoaib Saleem for Pakistan Today.

Zimbabwean students on government scholarships to Russia are sleeping in the open at railway stations after being removed from university accommodation over failure to meet their financial obligations, writes Nelson Sibanda for The Zimbabwean.
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