|11 May 2014||Issue 0319||Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week||Advanced Search|
NEWSLETTERThe publishing revolution – Will it end big journal editors and peer review?
In Commentary, Jüri Allik argues that the role of editors at big academic journals could soon become obsolete, with the growth of open access and self-publishing. As the UK rankings season kicks off, Bernard Kingston writes that national university league tables have a role to play and should not be overlooked.
Mohamad Djahanbakhsh suggests that universities transfer student services to the front office and provide mobile apps to students who increasingly want to be treated as customers, and from The Conversation, Adam Fish contends that universities worldwide should reconsider using Microsoft products that could be in breach of research ethics.
In World Blog, William Patrick Leonard explores the growing financial problems of tertiary education in the United States, where reports have suggested as many as 40% of institutions may be unsustainable.
In Features, Wachira Kigotho looks at a UNESCO position paper on education post-2015 and finds that unequal access to higher education is likely to persist across the world in the coming decades. Munyaradzi Makoni outlines a new British Council report that says universities could help to solve Africa’s spiralling graduate job crisis by working with government departments, the private sector and society.
In Kenya, Gilbert Nganga reports on a 41% rise in enrolments to public universities as higher education expansion efforts bear fruit, and Maina Waruru profiles Babu Owino, a national student leader who has made a splash by mounting the most colourful – and expensive – campaign ever seen in local student politics.
Next weekend, University World News will publish a special climate change edition focusing on the role of higher education in combating its effects and ways of creating a sustainable world.
Karen MacGregor – Global Editor
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Asian countries have not only seen huge increases in undergraduate enrolment but also in postgraduate education and university-based research as governments try to meet the demand for highly qualified staff to teach at university level. At the same time, research has been seen as a route to economic development, further fuelling the expansion of the sector bolstered by public funds, according to a just-published report from UNESCO.
A lawyer defending an academic in a blasphemy case has been shot dead after being threatened in and out of court with death unless he dropped the case. Gunmen killed 53-year-old Rashid Rehman on 7 May in his office in the southern city of Multan.
GLOBALJan Petter Myklebust
In an open letter published on 5 May, 42 associations of economics students in 19 countries called for more pluralism in the way economics is taught at universities. The letter – which said the subject was in crisis and its lack of intellectual diversity was limiting their ability to contend with multi-dimensional challenges – made waves in the media worldwide.
UNITED STATESPeta Lee
The United States Department of Homeland Security has proposed two new visa rules that it hopes will open doors to the world’s brightest talent. NAFSA – the Association of International Educators – said the rules would help America attract and retain more foreign researchers.
NORWAYJan Petter Myklebust
Two reports, on the status of higher education and on research, were discussed at a sector conference last Wednesday held by Norway’s Ministry of Education and Research. Minister Torbjørn Røe Isaksen said he was encouraged by an increase in investment and 12,000 more researchers than a decade ago – but universities needed to produce globally-rated research.
DENMARKJan Petter Myklebust
Danish universities are preparing for extensive changes now that the Productivity Commission and the Quality Commission have delivered their reports. Higher Education and Science Minister Sofie Carsten Nielsen told higher education officials that among other things she wants a focus on quality, new ways of teaching using new technology and more employable graduates.
There is a growing trend towards professional doctorates in management, with the majority being offered in Europe (42%), North America (28%) and Asia (22%). Interestingly, most of the PhDs have been founded in the past 10 years, with more than half of them in Europe.
Women are still under-represented in higher education in Afghanistan because of a lack of political commitment, in particular to ensuring a safe and secure environment in the strife-torn country that would enable women to make their way to universities, according to Fawzia Koofi, vice-president of the National Assembly – the first woman to hold that post.
A cooperation plan was agreed at the First Turkish-Arab Congress on Higher Education held in Istanbul late last month. It includes setting up an Arab Turkish universities network, mutual recognition of degrees and enhanced student and staff mobility.
The gates of universities in Benin have been thrown open after a more than three-month public sector strike ended. Lecturers had come under pressure to resume work, and some of their demands had been met, with the rest being investigated by the government.
The Senegalese government is satisfied with progress in carrying out its reforms under the Presidential Council on the Future of Higher Education and Research. But there are delays in accomplishing some important measures, according to press reports.
Administrators at Derna University in Libya agreed to build a wall across the campus to segregate women and men students, following threats from radical Islamists.
The 34 member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development have agreed to work towards a deal on combating climate change leading up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as COP21, to be held in Paris in December 2015.
The most accurate recreation of the Universe was revealed last Wednesday in the journal Nature by a team led by Massachusetts Institute of Technology physicist Mark Vogelsberger.
Unequal access to higher education is likely to persist in most countries globally despite concerted attempts to expand opportunities by 2030, according to a UNESCO Position Paper on Education Post-2015. It warns that the problem will not be limited to scarcity of places: there will also be a knowledge divide caused by lack of chances to acquire skills in technology.
Graduate unemployment rates have spiralled across Sub-Saharan Africa as too few graduates gain the skills needed to find work. In many countries employers complain of a lack of basic, technical and transferable skills, says a new report by the British Council.
Kenya’s public universities admitted record numbers of students last year, beating their fast-growing private sector rivals and defying infrastructure constraints that have been dogging them. New data from the government shows that enrolments to state universities rose by 41%, from 195,428 in 2012 to 276,349 by the end of last year.
Babu Owino is easily the most popular of Kenya’s 325,000 tertiary students. He’s been elected to lead the Students Organisation of Nairobi University and also chairs the national student umbrella body. But the reason he’s attracting public interest is because Owino mounted the most colourful, well-oiled and high profile campaign ever seen in student politics.
UNITED STATESScott Carlson, The Chronicle of Higher Education
If you believe the new Gallup-Purdue Index Report, a study of 30,000 graduates of American colleges on issues of employment, job engagement and wellbeing, it all comes down to old-fashioned values and human connectedness. Graduates, whether they went to a hoity-toity private or midtier public college, had double the chances of being engaged in their work and were three times as likely to be thriving in wellbeing if they connected with a professor who stimulated them, cared about them and encouraged their hopes and dreams.
UNITED STATESWilliam Patrick Leonard
Creating environmental sustainability on United States campuses was the big goal a few years ago. Today, ensuring financial sustainability is a much more difficult challenge to face.
UNITED KINGDOMBernard Kingston
International rankings published by the Academic Ranking of World Universities, QS and Times Higher Education dominate media and academic discussion to a far greater extent now than a decade ago. A consequence is the tendency to overlook national league tables such as the pioneering US News and World Report and, in the UK, those published by major newspapers and by TheCompleteUniversityGuide.co.uk, which opens the UK rankings season on 12 May.
Electronic publishing and open access means the role of editors at the big journals could soon become obsolete, especially if scientists team up with computer programmers to devise an easy way to find self-published articles.
Changes in the way higher education functions means students increasingly want to be treated like customers. Universities will need to transfer student services from the back office to the front office and provide mobile apps that will cater to an increasingly diverse student body.
GLOBALAdam Fish, The Conversation
Universities and researchers all over the world have a problem with Microsoft. It’s not just that the company forces expensive and dated software on customers. Using products like Microsoft’s email service Outlook is potentially in breach of the ethical contracts researchers sign when they promise to safeguard the privacy of their subjects.
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A wave of small opposition protests and violent actions took place in five Venezuelan states last week, resulting in damages to universities and public property, writes Ewan Robertson for Venezuelananalysis.com. The toll left by the day included damages to two universities and the burning of several vehicles.
The US Department of Education recently named 55 higher education institutions that are under review for possible violations of the federal gender equity law known as Title IX over their handling of s exual violence complaints, writes Nick DeSantis for The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne has come out strongly in support of allowing Australia's universities and colleges to compete on price by deregulating what fees they can charge students, writes Tim Dodd for The Sydney Morning Herald.
In a few weeks, I will be leaving my career in academic research. The pleasure of contributing to scientific knowledge has disappeared and I am overworked and under-compensated with no semblance of a work-life balance. The cons of academia now far outweigh the pros, so I am walking away, writes an anonymous academic for the Guardian.
University fellows with a PhD in maths or physics are being offered thousands of pounds in extra wages to become school teachers in England. They will be paid £40,000 (US$67,852) a year for two years as teaching trainees. Other postdoctoral teacher trainees start on a minimum salary of £19,000, reports the BBC.
The Turkish government's pressure on those who are critical of its decisions appears to be increasing, as the number of academics who have been fired from their university positions is growing, writes Today’s Zaman.
A group of student organisations released a joint statement last weekend calling on the government to stop “antagonising the people”. They also announced a number of upcoming protests decrying human rights violations at universities, and calling on the government to allow detained students to take their exams on time, writes AbdelHalim H AbdAllah for Daily News Egypt.
Research undertaken by higher education institutions is indispensable in propelling Malaysia towards developed nation status. Therefore the government under the 10th Malaysia Plan has elevated the status of five institutions to become research universities, writes Ainul Huda Mohamed Saaid for Bernama.
Stanford University’s decision to stop investing in coal companies may help bolster the hundreds of student-led campaigns that have spread across college campuses in the past two years aimed at stopping climate change, writes Michael McDonald for Bloomberg.
A few weeks ago, administrators at Penn State University did something they believed had never been attempted in American academia: the institution put about 70 engineering patents up for auction and tried to sell them to the highest bidder. They weren’t so successful – not many patents sold – but the project has disturbing implications, writes Daniel Engber for Slate.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
“I don’t know which university to go to,” is something many students in the UAE say due to the lack of a university ranking system. However, a system is soon to be introduced, writes Sara Sabry for Gulf News.
Positioned as a global centre of research and teaching excellence, Nalanda University is all set to start two postgraduate courses – historical studies and ecology and environment studies – at its Rajgir campus from 1 September this year, writes Subhabrata Guha for TNN.
Chung-Ang University in Seoul has undergone rapid restructuring since being acquired by the Doosan Group in 2008. Now it has begun making ‘incursions’ into areas that have hitherto been up to students to decide, write Seo Young-ji for The Hankyoreh.
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