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28 September 2014 Issue 0336 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
Universities, academics and students under threat in the Donbas, Ukraine

In World Blog, Yegor Stadny writes that universities in the Donbas in eastern Ukraine have been taken over by separatists. Some universities have moved, some new rectors have been appointed, thousands of students want to enrol elsewhere and academics have been imprisoned.
In Commentary, Marek Kwiek finds a clear link between international collaboration and research productivity in Poland, with important policy implications. In a second article on the academic boycott debate, Gabriel Noah Brahm contends that calls for boycotts stem from anti-semitic roots that treat Israel as an exceptional case.
Francesca Sperotti describes new professional doctoral degrees that combine work and research, but are still little known or understood, while Yukiko Shimmi argues that too little attention has been paid to international visiting scholars and their potential role in higher education internationalisation.
In Features, Yojana Sharma reveals that Indian institutes of technology will lead the development of a national system of university rankings, with indicators that include the social responsibilities of universities.
In a Special Report, Ard Jongsma charts strides being made in African quality assurance and accreditation, as outlined at a major conference in Burundi. And in the latest in our series on climate change, Geoff Maslen reports on the successful United Nations Climate Summit held in New York last week.
Karen MacGregor – Global Editor
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Yojana Sharma

Booming enrolment in online higher education, rapid content digitisation, the rollout of national online education networks and teacher shortages in rapidly developing countries have led to huge demand for eLearning products, according to a just-released market research report on eLearning.
Yojana Sharma

An unusually harsh life sentence was imposed on soft-spoken Uighur economics professor Ilham Tohti last week for ‘separatism’, or attempting to split the Uighur region of Xinjiang from the rest of China. The verdict took human rights groups by surprise, leading to strong condemnation of the sentence and treatment meted out to Tohti.
Emilia Tan

The clamour of voices calling for the Malaysian government to repeal its controversial Sedition Act grew louder as a law student recently received a one-year jail term under the Sedition law – the second student to be found guilty of sedition this month.
Jane Marshall

In the wake of criticism from university presidents over lack of resources, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, the new national education, higher education and research minister, and Geneviève Fioraso, secretary of state for higher education and research, defended their budget and promised priority for ensuring student success during the academic year that is just beginning.
Michael Gardner

University leaders in Austria are urging the government to provide higher education and research with extra funding. They are above all concerned that without extra support, the country could fail to keep pace with international developments. Universities Austria has called for a boost for the sector of an additional €1 billion (US$1.3 billion).
Ashraf Khaled

Egypt’s higher education authorities have banned political activities in universities in a series of measures apparently targeting Islamist students accused of staging violent protests against the military-backed government last year.

Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University overtook Hong Kong University of Science and Technology into first place in the new QS ranking of the world’s top 50 universities under 50 years old. There were 25 countries with at least one university in the ranking, and with 10 places, Australia had the most excellent young universities.
Jan Petter Myklebust

Whether Swedish students may be charged fees for courses that are part of international collaborations involving several universities across countries – many of which themselves levy fees – has been tying Sweden with its free higher education in knots. The government has proposed a law specifying when a study fee should not be regarded as a student fee.
Peta Lee

The findings of The Erasmus Impact Study, released last Monday, are indisputable – young people who study or train abroad are half as likely to face long-term unemployment as their non-mobile peers. And five years after graduation, the jobless rate of these students is an impressive 23% lower.
Wachira Kigotho

In a new briefing report, UNESCO has identified tertiary education as a fundamental element towards progress in each of 16 proposed post-2015 global sustainable development goals. The report highlights how higher education can reduce poverty, improve health, empower women and protect the environment. “The evidence is unequivocal: education saves and transforms lives,” said UNESCO’s Director-General Irina Bokova.
Paul Rigg

Fifty-five percent of people in charge of social action in Spanish universities say that the economic crisis has provoked a growth in student volunteering, according to initial reports from a study being published next week by the Fundación Mutua Madrileña.
Dan Berrett, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Student course evaluations are often misused statistically and shed little light on the quality of teaching, two scholars at the University of California at Berkeley argue in the draft of a new paper. "We’re confusing consumer satisfaction with product value," said Philip B Stark, a professor of statistics at Berkeley.
Yojana Sharma

India’s prestigious institutes of technology, or IITs, will spearhead a national system of university rankings, drawing up relevant parameters even though they are not themselves universities, Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani announced last week at a meeting of IIT heads in Chennai.
Karen MacGregor

There has been significant progress in alleviating obstacles to mobility for researchers in Europe – but advances have been uneven and challenges remain in some countries in the areas of recruitment, researcher skills, working conditions and career opportunities – says a Deloitte Consulting report prepared for the European Commission.
African higher education space
At the 6th International Conference on Quality Assurance in Higher Education in Africa, Ard Jongsma finds major developments underway in quality assurance and accreditation across the continent.
Ard Jongsma

Positive tones emerged from the 6th International Conference on Quality Assurance in Higher Education in Africa, held in Bujumbura, Burundi. As the quality of African higher education remains under severe pressure, the need for quality assurance mechanisms and institutions now appears to have been universally embraced.
Ard Jongsma

From 2015, the European Union’s new Pan-African Programme will be used to expand and extend the coverage of its Tuning Africa project and a new, linked initiative, to more broadly support quality assurance and accreditation in Africa.
Yegor Stadny

Ukrainian universities in the Donbas region have been taken over by separatists. Students can move to other universities in Ukraine, but academics are at much greater risk. However, they can be helped by a legal change that could benefit the whole of Ukraine.
Marek Kwiek

There is a clear link between international collaboration and research productivity in Poland, with important policy implications and the need for mechanisms that increase the international competitiveness of Polish higher education.
Yukiko Shimmi

Little attention has been paid to international visiting scholars and their potential role in internationalisation – from making international connections to internationalising teaching and learning.
Gabriel Noah Brahm

Calls for boycotts of Israeli institutions and criticism of supposed attacks on academic freedom ignore the vibrancy of Israeli democracy and stem from anti-semitic roots that treat Israel as an exceptional case.
Francesca Sperotti

A new range of doctoral degrees that combine work and research have become available in recent years, but many people still do not know about their existence and the advantages they offer.
Geoff Maslen

World leaders from more than 125 nations were in New York last week for United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s Climate Summit. His aim was to boost international efforts to tackle climate change before a scheduled meeting in Paris in December next year, where the goal is to establish a global agreement to cut greenhouse emissions.
Geoff Maslen

New steps to immediately tackle climate change were announced by government, business, finance and civil society leaders at the United Nations secretary general’s Climate Summit in New York.
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Thousands of Hong Kong students have boycotted classes in protest against Beijing’s decision to restrict electoral reforms, in a week-long strike marking the latest phase in the battle for democracy, reports the Guardian.

Another 11 higher education institutions across Russia have been prohibited from enrolling new students as they have failed to “comply with instructions following checks”, the country’s education watchdog Rosobrnadzor said last week, reports ITAR-TASS.

More than 200 civil society organisations in Myanmar have joined a national network of education organisations and a growing chorus of voices in rejecting a draft National Education Bill that looks likely to soon pass into law, writes Yen Snaing for The Irrawaddy.

Police reports say unidentified gunmen shot dead a professor of Islamic studies in Pakistan who had faced accusations of blasphemy and threats from colleagues over his moderate views, writes Katharine Houreld for Reuters.

All German universities will be free of charge when term starts next week after fees were abandoned in Lower Saxony, the last of seven states to charge, reports The Times.

It is the time of year when Indian students pack their bags and board flights to overseas campus destinations. And this year, there are many more science, engineering and technology students headed for Germany than in previous years, writes Ishani Duttagupta for The Economic Times.

A growing number of entrepreneurs in Germany are resorting to drastic measures such as doubling salaries because each year fewer young people sign up for apprenticeships, typically three-year programmes for 16-year-olds who want to learn a trade rather than go on to higher education, reports Associated Press.

Google has revealed the most popular searches for people around the world looking for universities. There is a strong interest in online courses, rather than traditional campus-based universities, writes Sean Coughlan for BBC News.

Two researchers from the controversial Ariel University in Israel withdrew from an academic conference at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London after being told that they could not mention their institutional affiliation, writes Matthew Reisz for Times Higher Education.

Kyoto University plans to add about 100 foreign faculty members by the 2017 academic year to teach half of its elective liberal arts courses in English. The move has drawn opposition from within the university’s academic community. But this has not prevented the alma mater of many Nobel laureates, and a growing number of other universities across Japan, from offering courses taught in English, writes Takuya Asakura for Asahi Shimbun.

The vast majority of universities – including many leading institutions – are still recruiting students more than a month after the publication of A-level results. Universities are advertising clearing vacancies on almost 22,000 degree courses even though the academic year has already started for large numbers of undergraduates, write Graeme Paton and Zachary Spiro for The Telegraph.

Giving taxpayer funding to private colleges would have disastrous consequences for Australia's higher education sector and could drive some universities out of the market, according to one of the country's most influential vice-chancellors, writes Matthew Knott for The Sydney Morning Herald.

The Chinese are now among the world's biggest donors to United States universities, but they still punch below their weight given Chinese students' large presence on US campuses, writes Wei Gu for The Wall Street Journal.

Istanbul Aydin University has suspended Hayrettin Ökçesiz, a professor of law, following disciplinary proceedings against him over a complaint he filed against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who failed to resign as prime minister or chair of the Justice and Development Party after being elected president in the 10 August poll, reports Today’s Zaman.

Universities tend to be evaluated through the lens of a student or parent weighing the benefits, value and experiences a particular institution can provide. But a ranking released recently by salary comparison and job search site Glassdoor considers how places of higher learning stack up as workplaces, writes Kathryn Dill for Forbes.

The Philippines aims to build eight world-class universities in the next three years in a bid to develop globally competitive higher education institutions, reports the Sun Star.
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