University World News Global Edition
07 December 2014 Issue 0346 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
Moving beyond the ivory tower

In this edition, University World News’ correspondents report from a conference last week in Cape Town run by the Talloires Network, a global coalition of more than 330 universities in 72 countries committed to moving beyond the ivory tower.
As well as our general round-up of news from around the globe, Professor Jenny Lee discusses how long America will remain the leading exponent of ‘soft power’ in higher education, while Professor Michael Kennedy comments on ways to extend the engagement between university intellectuals and politicians.
In a rare rejection of the views of his colleagues, University of Canberra Vice-chancellor Professor Stephen Parker deplores the Australian government’s plans for higher education, warning that if they are adopted Australia will be “sleepwalking towards the privatisation of its universities”.
Geoff Maslen – Acting Global Editor
The international Talloires Network Leaders Conference 2014 was held near Cape Town last week. It brought together participants from the network's member universities worldwide – which enrol six million students – to debate achievements, challenges and the future of university civic engagement. University World News was the media partner.
Rebecca Warden and Ard Jongsma

International league tables should take account of civic engagement when they are ranking universities, according to vice-chancellors, senior academics and students gathered on 4 December at the closing ceremony of the Talloires Network Leaders Conference near Cape Town, South Africa. This was one of six points in a Call to Action, a closing statement for the 264 delegates to take back to their institutions in 41 countries.
Rebecca Warden

Vice-chancellors of four South African universities reflected on the fundamentally social role of universities and their mandate for engaging with the communities they serve as they welcomed participants to the Talloires Network Leaders Conference in Stellenbosch, South Africa, on 2 December.
Karen MacGregor

If out of universities come graduates who are homophobic, s exist, racist or cultural bigots, then they are failing in the role they should play, according to Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s minister of science and technology. “At times we develop the pride of intellectual achievement but give inadequate attention to the value of social engagement.”
Yojana Sharma

While universities are increasingly encouraging students to be involved in the community and to become engaged citizens, they do not necessarily have control over activities that take place on campuses, or spill onto the streets. “We encourage students to be actively engaged, but it can be dangerous, too,” said Stephen Chan, head of the office of service learning at Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
Karen MacGregor

Why is it that while universities talk increasingly about civic engagement, the world is heading in exactly the opposite direction? asked Professor Adam Habib, vice-chancellor of the University of the Witwatersrand, in the opening keynote at the Talloires Network conference last Tuesday. “Our world is far more unequal – every single indicator shows this – and far more socially polarised than it’s ever been.”
François van Schalkwyk

African research that forms part of the Higher Education Research and Advocacy Network in Africa – HERANA – project has developed indicators to measure university-community engagement projects, to ascertain whether their activities are connected to the strategy of the institution, are linked to external constituents in a sustainable manner, feed into teaching and generate new knowledge.
Thierry Luescher-Mamashela

Student engagement is known to correlate well with retention and success but its impact on developing citizenship competences is hardly studied. A new report by HERANA – Higher Education Research and Advocacy Network in Africa – has shown that key aspects of the undergraduate student experience have a profound impact on raising levels of citizenship competences.
Yojana Sharma

Four African universities are to receive US$86.6 million over the next eight to 10 years from the MasterCard Foundation in scholarship funds and other support for economically disadvantaged young people, MasterCard Foundation CEO Reeta Roy announced in Cape Town on 3 December.
Munyaradzi Makoni

The Association of Commonwealth Universities launched a new initiative, the ACU Engage Community, at the Talloires Network conference near Cape Town last week. The platform will provide a forum to disseminate knowledge and project management skills among practitioners and share news about opportunities in community engagement.
Munyaradzi Makoni

The sixth global MacJannet prizes for exceptional student community engagement initiatives were awarded last Tuesday at the international Talloires Network Leaders Conference held near Cape Town. The three prizes went to students in Canada, India and South Africa.
Ard Jongsma

The Talloires Network of engaged universities continues to grow. It now has 332 members in 72 countries. But dealing with a mandate as broad and diverse as community engagement requires some clear focal points. University World News asked Tony Monaco, president of Tufts University and incoming chair of the network’s steering committee, what we can expect from Talloires in the years ahead.
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Jane Marshall

Nearly 300,000 foreign students study in France every year and are not only ‘excellent ambassadors’ who promote the country when they leave – they also contribute a net €1.6 billion (nearly US$2 billion) to the state exchequer, according to a new inquiry.
John Walshe

Ireland is to get its first technological university with the new Dublin institution, to be followed by more in the regions shortly after. But the development has aroused criticism, particularly in the traditional universities.
David Jobbins

Research by an Oxford academic suggests that university students could hold the key to which political party forms the next United Kingdom government after the May 2015 general election.
Karin Fischer, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Until now, the impact of China on American universities has largely been a subject of discussion for college campuses, not the halls of Congress. No longer. A US House of Representatives sub-committee began a hearing last Thursday on whether American colleges’ Chinese connections could compromise academic freedom in this country. Scholars from the US and China gave testimonies.
Geoff Maslen

A leading Australian vice-chancellor has broken ranks with his colleagues and condemned the federal government for its radical plans for higher education. Professor Stephen Parker, head of the University of Canberra, says that if the government’s reform bill is passed by the Senate, Australia will be “sleepwalking towards the privatisation of its universities”.
Michael Gardner

A department director at Berlin’s renowned Humboldt University has issued a statement calling on students and teaching staff to counter what he refers to as a campaign against historian Jörg Baberowski. A left-wing student group has repeatedly criticised Baberowski for what it regards as his hawkish right-wing views.
Jan Petter Myklebust

A research study into mobility among European researchers has found that about half the researcher population had not been mobile during their careers. A report of the study says that among the most important incentives for individual researcher mobility is career development.
Makki Marseilles

Free state higher education is under threat as a result of action taken by Education Secretary Andreas Loverdos who unexpectedly tabled an amendment to the research and development bill currently being debated in the Greek Parliament. Under the bill, titles awarded by the so-called private ‘colleges’ would be recognised as bachelor and masters degrees provided they were approved by an international accreditation organisation.
Lucy Hodges

The leaders of Belarus are making efforts to modernise the higher education system by applying to join the Bologna Accord, the system designed to harmonise standards of higher education qualifications and promote freedom of movement in Europe. Belarus is keen to improve its economy and is turning to higher education for answers.
Stephen Parker

The federal government’s higher education reforms are unfair to students and poorly designed policy. If they go through, Australia is sleepwalking towards the privatisation of its universities. And ironically they will be the death knell of the peak lobby group, Universities Australia, which could not survive them for long.
Gavin Newman

Several UK universities are now using virtual open days to attract international students, with smaller universities potentially gaining more from online events.
Roger King

The idea of public-private partnerships is becoming more and more complex, and public access to knowledge will have to be assured as universities evolve and new digital opportunities present themselves.
Jenny J Lee

International higher education is an important form of soft power and the US is the world’s leading exponent. But for how long can it stay on top?
Que Anh Dang

The recent Bologna Process Researchers’ Conference aimed to inject new impetus into the process of unifying Europe’s higher education system and give new momentum to the European Higher Education Area.
Michael D Kennedy

Universities can be at the centre of exercising their institutional power truthfully if they can bridge the gulf between intellectual theory and practice.
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Two top South African universities are, for the first time, offering massive online open courses – MOOCs – to thousands of students through international MOOC providers, writes Tanya Farber for BDLive.

Concordia University in Montreal announced it would be divesting CAD5 million (US$4.4 million) of its endowment fund from fossil fuels to establish a special sustainable investment fund, reports the Vancouver Observer.

Like many other students in the Arab world, Egyptian student Mohamed Hassan is looking at Turkey – a nation on the edge of the Middle East that is working to become a global higher education destination and is attracting students fed up with poor education quality at home or conflict that is tearing through the region, writes Sarah Lynch for Al-Fanar.

Student protests erupted in several universities across Egypt amid anger over a court decision to dismiss charges against former president Hosni Mubarak over the killing of protesters during the 2011 uprising against him, reports Al Jazeera.

China has proposed to co-fund India’s first railway university and hand-hold the Indian Railways as it takes baby steps in making the centre for learning a reality. Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently promised to set up four such universities in the country, and the government is set to start work on the first one, writes Avishek G Dastidar for The Indian Express.

Higher Education Minister Dr Blade Nzimande will have private university Academia's registration withdrawn if it remains exclusively Afrikaans, reports News24.

India's richest company, the Tata group, is forging a deal to transform Ireland into the world's first stop for e-learning and earn millions for the country's floundering universities. Senior executives from Tata, which has a market capitalisation of €134 billion (US$166 billion), met Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton to progress the plans last week, writes Sarah McCabe for

Bill Cosby stepped down as a trustee of his beloved Temple University following renewed accusations that he had drugged and s exually assaulted a string of women over many years. The 77-year-old entertainer has been a high-profile booster for his alma mater in Philadelphia and a board member since 1982, reports Associated Press.

In the midst of the financial crisis that hit Greece over five years ago, young people are leaving the country in search of a better future. This is another tragic side effect of the crisis that has cost Greece some of its brightest young scientists, writes Ioanna Zikakou for Greek Reporter.

In future, universities and other higher education institutions must reserve study places for applicants who have not accepted a study place in a degree programme or completed a degree in a Finnish higher education institution, reports Helsinki Times.

Fewer Singaporeans are heading ‘Down Under’ to pursue higher education, with the decline picking up pace in recent years, reports Amanda Lee for Channel NewsAsia.

Children as young as 11 are set to be offered classes at universities including Cambridge in a bid to help the brightest comprehensive pupils from poorer areas secure places at top institutions, writes Richard Garner for The Independent.

The public now has unprecedented access to dozens more research journals, including the prestigious Nature, as publisher Macmillan announced that 49 of its titles will be available through a free content-sharing model, writes Jeff John Roberts for Gigaom.

As institutions vie for income and prestige, the net prices they’re charging the lowest-income students, after discounts and financial aid, continue to rise faster on average than the net prices they’re charging higher-income ones, according to an analysis of newly released data the universities and colleges are required to report to the US Department of Education, writes Jon Marcus and Holly K Hacker for The Hechinger Report.
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