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01 February 2015 Issue 0352 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
UNESCO chief seeking
to forge global pact on
recognition of degrees

This week we have a Special Report from the 2015 conferences of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the CHEA International Quality Group. Mary Beth Marklein reports on the latest developments around ratings and rankings, the impact of the Bologna Process on other parts of the world and the UNESCO higher education chief’s quest for global recognition of qualifications.
In Features, Karen MacGregor reports on the sharp rise in education attainment across the rich world and the stubborn tail of unskilled young adults that persists in OECD countries.
In Commentary, Rosemary Salomone argues that the rapid rise of English-medium classes globally has led to many colleges cutting language requirements, yet promoting multilingualism is vital to understanding the complexities of different cultures, as world events show. Jane Knight says local public investment is critical for the development of education hubs.
And in World Blog, William Patrick Leonard says universities should do more to emphasise the value their institution adds in data they present to parents and students.
Brendan O’Malley – Managing Editor
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Suchitra Behal

The United States is to send 1,000 academics to India each year after President Barack Obama, on his trip to India, firmed up initiatives proposed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his US visit last year. But there will be a hefty price to pay for the sharing of academic expertise.
Makki Marseilles

A breath of restrained optimism is blowing through the ranks of the academic community as a result of many university teachers and professors being appointed members of the new government.
Yojana Sharma

Big gaps between research capacity and research investment in South Asian countries and between universities in South Asian countries and major western research institutions have prevented research collaboration being as strong as it could be, a seminar on South Asia heard in January.
Geoff Maslen

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has vowed to put the higher education reforms, which include giving vice-chancellors the freedom to charge any amount for tuition fees, "front and centre" of the government's agenda, despite being blocked by the Senate in December.
Karen MacGregor

There will be at least four African presidents, three former heads of state, numerous cabinet ministers, the chair of the African Union Commission and a former United Nations secretary-general among the 500 people who will attend the first African Higher Education Summit, to be held in the Senegalese capital Dakar from 10-12 March, it was announced last week. The aim is to get political leaders to sign up for the continent-wide revitalisation of universities.
Wagdy Sawahel

Egypt is planning a fourfold increase in the enrolment of Arab and African students in higher education institutions in the next three years – from 53,000 to 200,000 international students.
Wachira Kigotho

Fortune Global 500 companies spend less than 5% of their combined budget for corporate social responsibility activities on higher education, according to a study by the Varkey Foundation and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization or UNESCO.
Jan Petter Myklebust

The Board of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim has agreed to a merger with three university colleges creating the largest university in the country, potentially triggering a wave of mergers elsewhere in what could be the biggest structural reform of higher education since the 1960s.
Barbara Casassus

The often-maligned French graduate school for top civil servants, the Ecole Nationale d’Administration is on track to introduce English into the competitive entrance exam in 2018, director Nathalie Loiseau said last Wednesday.
Jan Petter Myklebust

A joint declaration by the presidents of Europe’s main rectors' conferences has called for doctoral training to involve original research documented in the form of a dissertation.

Almost half of IT staff in British higher education are not involved in the delivery of transnational education programmes overseas by their own institutions, despite technology being integral to universities delivering teaching and qualifications to students in other countries, says a new report.
Gilbert Nganga

For Dennis Mwangi, the excitement of being a freshman quickly dissipated after he arrived at the University of Nairobi last month. The orphaned top performer from a sleepy village in central Kenya had to go without money due to delays in the disbursement of student loans – and when the money finally hit his account, it was much lower than applied for or expected.

Changes in higher education and funding cuts have contributed to challenges for British researchers of Latin American and Caribbean countries, according to a new report. It says that despite Latin America and the Caribbean being one of the fastest-developing regions in the world, many institutions are either closing or rationalising their specialist centres.

The drive for economic harmonisation and development in Southeast Asia and its impact on internationalisation in universities will be one of the key trends discussed at this year’s Going Global conference in London.
Special Report: CHEA 2015 and CIQG 2015
College ratings, international rankings, cross-border cooperation and quality assurance were among the key topics at the Council for Higher Education Accreditation 2015 and the CHEA International Quality Group 2015 conferences held in Washington last week, for which University World News is a media partner. Mary Beth Marklein reports for University World News.
Mary Beth Marklein

These are turbulent times for higher education. New forms of education delivery and assessment are up-ending the traditional emphasis by accreditation agencies on physical resources and time spent in class and there is a need for a different kind of quality assurance, attendees of the CHEA International Quality Group’s annual meeting were told last week.
Mary Beth Marklein

UNESCO’s section for higher education will seek approval this year for a plan to move forward on a global convention or pact that would acknowledge the dramatic changes taking place in the sector today and promote cross-border cooperation beyond the regional level, a top UNESCO official said on 29 January.
Mary Beth Marklein

The Bologna Process has made a difference not only within its 47 member countries but also far beyond Europe’s borders, international higher education consultants said on 29 January at a conference on quality assurance in higher education in Washington.
Mary Beth Marklein

A top US Department of Education official has urged higher education leaders to work with the Obama administration as it moves closer to launching a system that would rate their institutions on whether they provide good value.
Karen MacGregor

There has been a sharp rise in education attainment across the world’s wealthy nations, driven by young adults studying longer. But at the same time, nearly one in six young adults in OECD nations does not have the skills essential to function in the modern world.
Dan Berrett, The Chronicle of Higher Education

California boasted a system of public higher education that was the envy of the world. But after 28 February 1967, when State Governor Ronald Reagan announced that “there are certain intellectual luxuries that perhaps we could do without”, the main reason to go to university was to get a job.
William Patrick Leonard

Parents and students in the United States are getting more discerning about value for money when they consider higher education institutions, but the data they are presented with scarcely distinguishes one from the other. Universities should do more to emphasise the value their institution adds.
Rosemary Salomone

Recent events in France should remind us that language is key to understanding the complexities of different cultures. We do our countries a disservice by failing to promote multilingualism.
Jane Knight

Who invests in education hubs? The six countries that claim to be hubs have different models, but it is clear from looking at them that local government support is vital to kick-start and leverage other sources of financing.
Ranjit Goswami

Teacher vacancy levels in India can only be tackled by structural reform and quality control. The government has, however, taken the easy option of handing over responsibility to the private sector, without any proper checks or balances.
Glyn Davis, The Conversation

In the absence of public appetite to invest in public education, a measure of fee deregulation is the only way left to fund education quality to a reasonable standard.

The North Sea nations have the skills and storage capacity to deliver a carbon capture and storage industry to transform Europe’s industry and power sectors, according to a new report. Prepared by Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage, the report says the nations are capable of providing a least-cost transition to a low-carbon future and a reliable electricity supply while helping to secure economic resilience.
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A report by UNESCO has documented the "material, human and educational damage" sustained by Gaza's higher education institutions during Israel's assault last summer. The UN agency's conclusion was that "higher education institutions were directly targeted during the hostilities", writes Ben White for Middle East Monitor.

In the Japanese government’s new budget, one small item stands out: a US$5 million grant to Columbia University in New York to fund a position for a professor of Japanese politics and foreign policy, writes Yuka Hayashi for The Wall Street Journal.

Leading UK universities have warned Labour about the financial risks of cutting tuition fees a third to £6,000 (US$9,044) a year. The party is deciding whether to go ahead with a costly pre-election pledge intended to woo the middle class, write Helen Warrell and Elizabeth Rigby for the Financial Times.

A magazine published by China's Communist Party has lashed out at university professors in the country who spread ‘Western values’, as new government-imposed guidelines for schools raise concerns about academic freedom, writes Mark Hanrahan for International Business Times.

Harvard University raised more money last year than any US school ever: US$1.16 billion in the 2013-14 fiscal year, according to an annual survey from the Council for Aid to Education. That brings the school’s endowment to US$36.4 billion as of June. Stanford is runner up with US$21.4 billion, writes Sabri Ben-Achour for Marketplace.

Can universities really force a change in the world’s fossil fuel companies? More than 220 University of British Columbia, or UBC, professors think so. In a key faculty vote last week, the academics signed a petition pledging they will cast their ballots to urge UBC to sell off the university's holdings of the world’s “200 most polluting” fossil fuel companies, writes Mychaylo Prystupa for Vancouver Observer.

Analysis of tuition fees, accommodation, the cost of travel, living costs and language learning, by HSBC, shows that the cost of studying abroad is up to £13,404 (US$20,203) cheaper than staying in the UK, writes Kate Palmer for The Telegraph.

Nearly a quarter of around 3 million unemployed people in Turkey are university graduates, according to official figures that reveal the severity of the situation, writes Mustafa Sönmez for Hurriyet Daily News.

A new study recommends that French universities ask non-European Union students to pay the full cost of their courses, which are currently provided free for a small registration fee, reports RFI. According to UNESCO figures, French universities have the third highest number of overseas students in the world. In 2012, 271,000 students came to study in France, which is 6.8% of the world’s mobile student population, estimated at 4 million.

Online education can “bend the cost curve” of an undergraduate degree, according to a working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research, but whether the lower tuition is caused by a boost in productivity – as opposed to more competition – is still undetermined, writes Carl Straumsheim for Inside Higher Ed.

A new survey shows that Australian universities are failing the climate readiness test, with few institutions factoring global warming risks into their investment portfolios, writes Peter Hannam for The Sydney Morning Herald.

The United Kingdom’s top medical research universities spend just 2% of their health research budgets on work related to health in developing countries, according to a study launched in January, reports Imogen Mathers for SciDev.Net.
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