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05 October 2014 Issue 0337 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
Jane Knight on multiple degrees – Beneficial or borderline academic fraud?

In Commentary, Jane Knight looks at double or multiple degree programmes and contends that debate is needed on standards so they do not become dismissed as ‘discount degrees’.
Amir Hetsroni contends that a recent article linking criticism of academic freedom in Israel to anti-Semitism fails to address abuses at particular universities. Harry Partridge describes the benefits of teaching arts to engineering students.
In World Blog, Rahul Choudaha and Bernhard Streitwieser argue that impact assessment is vital for higher education internationalisation and needs to be more than a numbers game. In Student View, Hiu M Chan writes that as tensions rise in Hong Kong between the Umbrella Movement and the government, the time has come for students to start writing.
In Features, Alya Mishra identifies key higher education takeaways from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to America, including more academic exchanges.
Geoff Maslen outlines an appeal by Michael Gallagher, executive director of Australia’s Group of Eight research intensive universities, for acceptance of the government’s deregulation reforms. Suvendrini Kakuchi reports on the uphill battle women in universities in Japan still face despite Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s pledge to increase the number of women in leadership positions to 30% by 2020 across all sectors.
Tunde Fatunde describes the impacts on universities and students of terror attacks by Boko Haram insurgents in northern Nigeria, and we interview Tendai Murisa, new director of TrustAfrica, about next year’s huge summit on “Revitalising Higher Education for Africa’s Future”.
Karen MacGregor – Global Editor
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Yojana Sharma

Hong Kong university students – part of a huge, often spontaneous pro-democracy movement that has occupied the streets of central Hong Kong in recent days – said last Monday that they would extend their week-long boycott of classes to an indefinite one.
David Jobbins

The 11th annual Times Higher Education world university ranking confirms the continuing erosion of United States and United Kingdom domination of global higher education and the inexorable rise of universities outside the North Atlantic axis.
Wachira Kigotho

Research output in Sub-Saharan Africa has soared over the last 10 years – but it is still not adequate to fuel the region’s fast-growing economies – according to a report published last Tuesday by the World Bank and Elsevier, the global provider of science information. Crucially, it reveals that the region’s share of global research output is growing.
Jan Petter Myklebust

Late last month Danish Minister of Higher Education and Science, Sofie Carsten Nielsen, announced that the number of students admitted to degrees with poor job prospects would be slashed by 4,000 within three years – prompting heated public debate.
Karen MacGregor

A survey of nearly 5,000 America-bound international students has recommended that to boost recruitment, universities should adapt to student technology use, embrace the marketing power of the university network and tailor content to communicate their value propositions to students.
Peta Lee

A new interactive toolkit developed by the Higher Education Funding Council for England has the potential to boost socio-economic development in the United Kingdom – and in future possibly allow previously higher education-deprived youngsters a chance to study.
Wachira Kigotho

The labour market for doctoral graduates in science, engineering and health fields in the United States has improved steadily in the last four years, according to the National Science Foundation. And a survey revealed that the number of doctoral recipients in these fields rose from 805,500 in 2010 to 837,000 – an increase of 4%.
Wagdy Sawahel

Morocco is considering a number of higher education reforms, including grouping big universities together into ‘hubs’ to increase their visibility, promoting research and making mastering English compulsory for students wanting admission to science universities.
Daniela Hirschfeld

The four candidates seeking to be Uruguay’s next president have signed a joint agreement setting out what science and technology priorities their policies will aim for – regardless of who wins the 26 October elections.
Maina Waruru

Kenyan university students resumed studies in late September after highly disruptive, countrywide street protests over an unprecedented delay in the disbursement of student loans.
Kudzai Mashininga

The Zimbabwe National Students Union has demanded the withdrawal of a PhD awarded last month to the wife of President Robert Mugabe, arguing that it is not credible. First lady Grace Mugabe stands accused of having registered at the University of Zimbabwe in July this year and completing her PhD thesis last month, in a record two months.
Alya Mishra

American help in setting up a new Indian institute of technology, academic exchange and knowledge sharing, and joint solutions towards skills development of Indian youth are some key takeaways of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the United States. But experts and political opponents were quick to say that the trip did not yield anything ground-breaking or different.
Geoff Maslen

Already struggling in the “shallows” of inadequate domestic financial support, Australia’s universities are facing rising, well-resourced and aggressive international competitors, said the executive director of the Group of Eight research intensive universities, Michael Gallagher, at a conference on higher education deregulation last Wednesday. Universities faced “a more miserable future” if the federal government’s reforms were not adopted.
Tunde Fatunde

The recent attack by Boko Haram insurgents on a higher education institution in Kano, northern Nigeria’s biggest metropolis, prompted President Goodluck Jonathan to order security agencies to protect university campuses. Ongoing confrontation between the Islamist sect and the military has compelled some students in the north to relocate to other universities in the country and elsewhere in West Africa.
Suvendrini Kakuchi

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s national pledge in June to increase the number of women in leadership positions to 30% by 2020 across all sectors, including higher education and research, was welcomed. But women still face an uphill battle in universities.
Steve Kolowich, The Chronicle of Higher Education

‘Publish or perish’ is an old saw that has been updated to reflect modern wisdom. The revised version of the phrase offers advice not to professors but to universities: ‘Partner or perish’. The growth of online higher education, the breakdown of competitive borders and the decline of public support have caused traditional institutions to reflect on strategies for survival. In the soil of this anxiety, online ‘enablers’ have taken root.
Karen MacGregor

The African Higher Education Summit to be held in March 2015 in Senegal will provide an energising space for African political and university leaders, experts and organisations – and friends of the continent – to revitalise interest in the sector and talk about the future. “This is a call to action. The summit will mark the beginning of a new agenda for higher education in Africa,” says Dr Tendai Murisa, director of the summit’s lead organiser TrustAfrica.
Rahul Choudaha and Bernhard Streitwieser

Impact assessment is vital for the internationalisation of higher education, but it needs to be more than a numbers game. There ought to be much more in-depth use of data to show the full benefits of policies and practice.
Jane Knight

The number of double or multiple degree programmes is growing and opinion is divided on whether they are beneficial or an example of academic fraud. A proper debate is needed on standards and quality so they do not become dismissed as ‘discount degrees’.
Amir Hetsroni

A recent article that suggested criticism of academic freedom in Israel stemmed from anti-Semitism fails to address abuses at particular institutions, such as Ariel University.
Harry Partridge

Engineering departments tend not to train their students in the arts, although the arts are essential for a rounded way of thinking. Bringing the arts into the teaching of engineering could have beneficial effects.
Hiu M Chan

Born in Mainland China, a citizen of Hong Kong and now a PhD student researching cross-cultural theory in the United Kingdom, fundamentally I am an outsider. Perhaps I can see the big picture. As tension rises in Hong Kong between the Umbrella Movement – Occupy Central – and the government, I feel it is time for writing.
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Islamic State, the militant group, started its takeover of Iraqi territory in December in the western province of Anbar, moving rapidly into the north in early June. In the cities of Mosul, Ramadi and Tikrit, and other areas where Islamic State now has full control, research has ground to a halt, paralysing the academic community and broadening the scientific knowledge gap between Iraq and the rest of the world, writes Kira Walker for Nature.

Japan’s Education Ministry has said it will help finance the globalisation and personnel training programmes of 37 universities in the country, including the University of Tokyo, to strengthen their international competitiveness, reports Jiji Press.

India’s cabinet last month withdrew the Higher Education Research Bill 2011 that sought to create an overarching regulator for higher education, replacing the University Grants Commission, the All India Council for Technical Education, the National Council for Teacher Education and the Distance Education Council, writes Prashant K Nanda for Livemint.

The number of universities in Taiwan should be reduced to 100, said Education Minister Wu Se-hwa at a Legislative Yuan education and culture committee interpellation session last month, writes Joy Chang for The China Post.

Egypt’s professors have sounded alarm bells over a draft law that they say will give university heads full sway to unfairly lay off faculty members, writes Ayat Al-Tawy for Ahram Online.

Malaysia’s sedition blitz, which included charging a law lecturer, has created a climate of fear which will lead to self-censorship among academics and students in institutions of higher learning, a forum on academic freedom was told, writes Eileen Ng for The Malaysian Insider.

Delaware State University said it will not interfere with the free speech rights of a tenured professor who wrote a wildly speculative and conspiratorial article in a Liberian newspaper in which he claimed that the United States government manufactured the Ebola virus and spread it in West Africa under the guise of vaccine testing, writes Abby Phillip for The Washington Post.

Being recruited for a tenured faculty position at a major university is no small feat, nor should it be; tenure represents the pinnacle of an academic career. In my case, it involved numerous interviews with faculty in the American Indian studies programme at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an intensive review of my scholarship, pedagogy and professional service, writes Steven Salaita for the Chicago Tribune.

A Haaretz reporter was ejected from a pro-Palestinian conference at Birzeit University late last month, reporter Amira Hass said – simply for being an Israeli Jew – write Nir Har-Zahav and Tova Dvorin for Israel National News.

Baha’is who have taken the nationwide entrance examination in Iran say that their names have been deleted from the list of accepted students, writes Maryam Ghadirzadeh in this Iran Press Watch translation of a BBC-Farsi Service article.

Amid growing campus protests, more universities are changing their sexual misconduct protocols and turning to some of their biggest critics – students – for guidance. But even as lines of communication open, few campus activists say they trust universities to keep them safe or make sexual assailants accountable, writes Mike Vilensky for The Wall Street Journal.

A second major American university in a week is severing ties with China's government-funded Confucius institutes, which critics call a propaganda arm wrapped in culture and language education, writes Sharon Bernstein for Reuters.

Nature Publishing Group has announced that Nature Communications will be its first Nature-branded open access only journal, in an attempt to move the frontiers of open access forward, writes Fiona Rutherford for New Statesman.

The president of the Higher Education Board, or YÖK, Professor Gökhan Çetinsaya, has said that the institution he heads should be abolished. YÖK, formed after the 1980 military coup, is the body that controls all universities in the country, reports the Daily Sabah.

The head of Turkey’s top religious body has announced plans to open an Islamic university in Istanbul, as an alternative to other renowned Islamic universities across the world such as Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, writes Fatma Aksu for Hurriyet Daily News.

Academics from Britain’s top universities including Oxford and Cambridge could refuse to mark students’ work as part of a bitter row over pensions, it was announced recently, writes Graeme Paton for The Telegraph.

The Scottish people may have spoken, but academics are finding that some questions remain unanswered about the future of higher education in the wake of the independence referendum, writes Chris Havergal for Times Higher Education.

The bigger shift in higher learning isn't about the way that it's delivered, but in the downstream effect it has on the way students learn how to learn, writes Nisarg Patel for The Huffington Post.

Academic scientists with federal funding who work with any of 15 dangerous microbes or toxins will soon have to flag specific studies that could potentially be used to cause harm and work with their institutions to reduce risks, according to new US government rules released last month, writes Jocelyn Kaiser for Science.

Many high schools and universities in Uzbekistan have been shut down, with students and teachers being forced to harvest cotton, according to Cotton Campaign, a coalition of labour and human rights agencies, writes Raveena Aulakh for The

Tuition fees for university studies have been growing steadily in Romania in the last few years, according to the National Alliance of Student Organisations in Romania. Many of the taxes paid by students at 21 universities in the country are “unjustified, borderline illegal or simply illegal”, writes Irina Popescu for the Romania Insider.
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