University World News Global Edition
22 February 2015 Issue 0355 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
Academic freedom under threat – from governance

In our Commentary section this week, Michael Schwartz and William M Bowen write about authoritarianism in higher education and how it is capable of limiting or even blocking the right to dissent. Academic freedom, they say, easily becomes threatened and then diminished for lack of vigilance over governance processes.
In the same section, Anna Magyar and Anna Robinson-Pant refer to the role of student recruitment agents and argue they should be seen as part of a collective approach to internationalisation, ensuring that students are seen not just as an economic but a learning resource.
In Features, John Roddick of Flinders University in South Australia describes how countries around the world face the loss of their high-cost manufacturing due to low-cost mass production in Asia. Flinders is showing this can be countered by the university’s reshaping of a huge former car manufacturing plant to house its school of computer science, engineering and mathematics – which has attracted a growing number of design and technology companies.
And finally, Munyaradzi Makoni reports on a novel Norwegian scheme that developing countries could use to encourage their postgraduates to stay home and not migrate abroad.
Geoff Maslen – Acting Global Editor
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Mimi Leung and Yojana Sharma

Wang Enge, president of Peking University, China’s top higher education institution, has stepped down after less than two years in a move that has generated speculation because it is thought to be among the shortest tenures for this post.
Mimi Leung

Sweden’s renowned Karolinska Institute, one of the world’s leading medical universities, has come under scrutiny following the announcement earlier this month that it would set up a branch centre in Hong Kong after receiving a philanthropic US$50 million donation.
Michael Gardner

A warning by German anti-corruption organisation Transparency International that links between higher education and business are becoming increasingly obscure has sparked an open debate.
Munyaradzi Makoni

Various studies have found that well-educated people from developing countries are likely to emigrate, hurting their economies and depriving their countries of much-needed expertise in universities. Now Norwegian researchers may have found a way to help solve the developing world’s academic brain-drain conundrum.
Mary Beth Marklein

Scientific and technological breakthroughs are more likely than ever to be achieved through international collaboration, a trend that is creating fresh funding opportunities for US universities. But researchers seeking new sources of revenue also must be prepared to navigate a more complex array of regulatory requirements and cultural considerations.
Geoff Maslen

Opening a branch campus in a foreign country can be a problematic exercise – if the experience of University College London is any guide. Earlier this month, the university announced it would shut a campus it had opened to much fanfare five years ago in South Australia’s capital, Adelaide.
Eugene Vorotnikov

The Russian government will cut its spending on national universities by at least 10% this year. This is a result of the current economic crisis and devaluation of the national currency, the ruble, said Russia’s Deputy Minister of Education and Science, Alexander Povalko.
Makki Marseilles

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras placed emphasis on education reforms as he presented the newly elected left-wing government’s inaugural statement in parliament.
Tunde Fatunde

The plummeting price of crude oil on the international market is already affecting the operations of Nigerian universities. In addition, the fight against the Islamic sect Boko Haram and sudden postponement of general elections, with anticipated financial implications, have raised fears of severe cuts to higher education funding.
Wachira Kigotho

Expanding tertiary education enrolment and postgraduate training, and improving low graduation rates and conditions of service for academics, are among the priority issues to be debated at the major African Higher Education Summit being held in Senegal next month, says Dr Beatrice Njenga, head of education at the African Union Commission.
Jan Petter Myklebust

Foreign students contribute more to Denmark in financial terms than they cost to complete their higher education degrees, a study has found. The study, by a Danish think-tank on the socio-economic impact of international students, found that they contributed more than $US24 million to the economy in the 12 years to 2008, even after deducting the costs it took to educate them in Denmark.
Wagdy Sawahel

An International Network for Research in Citizenship Education has been launched at a conference held in Marrakech, Morocco, earlier this month. The network’s aim is to advance the contributions of higher education to democracy on campuses and in wider society.
Munyaradzi Makoni

The South African government’s extensive reforms to the skills development and training system over the past decade have failed to deliver adequate skills to business, according to a new report. The focus has been on building supply-side capacity such as sector skills councils and qualifications frameworks and grading, at the expense of actually producing graduates with the necessary skills.
Geoff Maslen

A shift in global economic power away from the established advanced economies in North America, Western Europe and Japan will continue over the next 35 years, says a new report. The ever-continuing expansion of China’s industry and its commitment to educating its citizens will mean the giant Asian nation will be the world’s largest economy by 2030, although its growth rate is likely to revert to the global average in the run-up to 2050, the report states.

Arab governments are investing heavily in the widespread adoption of e-learning in the education sector by implementing specific policies to digitise schools, an international conference in Dubai was told last week.
Maina Waruru

Plans by one of Kenya’s biggest universities to establish a fully-fledged college of health sciences are being frustrated by an ongoing land-grab by more than 2,000 squatters who are occupying property on which Kenyatta University plans to build a teaching hospital.
Jan Petter Myklebust

The greatest risk to world health is the increasing human resistance to antibiotics, and the fact that development of new antibiotics has halted, with not one single antibiotic drug being developed since 1987, says a new report.
NV Varghese, Jinusha Panigrahi and Lynne Heslop

Nine of the largest higher education systems in the world will convene at the Going Global conference in London this year to debate the impact of the greatest global massification of higher education ever experienced. They are facing unprecedented challenges.
John Roddick

In countries around the world, high-cost manufacturing is under threat from low-cost mass production in areas of Asia. This is the situation confronting South Australia which is facing the demise of its car industry, a mining sector yet to fulfil expectations, and the potential end to its historic ship-building plants. Now Flinders University has stepped in with some innovative solutions.
Wachira Kigotho

Gender differences in learning achievement contribute significantly towards girls’ and women’s low participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, based careers in Asia, according to a study conducted by UNESCO’s Asia and Pacific regional bureau.
Michael Schwartz and William M Bowen

Governance processes can threaten academic freedom when they seek to limit the idea generation process and the development of human knowledge in all of its forms.
Anna Magyar and Anna Robinson-Pant

Viewing recruitment agents as part of a collective approach to internationalisation could ensure students are seen not just as an economic but a learning resource.
Angel Calderon

The killing of student protesters in Iguala last September has sparked uproar and created instability in a region where a long history of student activism has been a catalyst for progress.
Rajesh Tandon and Wafa Singh

The announcement of a new scheme involving centres for community-university engagement has the potential to transform both communities and universities if deployed strategically.
Geoff Maslen

Last week’s announcement by the leaders of the three major UK political parties that they will work together to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy has been welcomed by environmentalists around the world.
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Alexandra Kartokhina always dreamed of studying in a big city. She even went to a Russian school in her native Crimea to help her achieve her ambition of studying in St Petersburg. But now that dream has been tainted. After winning a place at a university in Russia's second city on an equal footing with other students, she has to deal with "the eternal squabbles" over accusations that Crimeans are stealing "Russian" places, writes Elizabeth Piper for Reuters.

Advocates for the deaf on Thursday filed federal lawsuits against Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, saying both universities violated anti-discrimination laws by failing to provide closed captioning in their online lectures, courses, podcasts and other educational materials, writes Tamar Lewin for The New York Times.

The presidents of the seven Irish universities have written to the government expressing dismay at plans to introduce legislation which they claim will allow ministers to appoint “cronies” to spy on their operations, writes Joe Humphreys for The Irish Times.

British sixth-formers will be able to apply to continental European universities through the UK admissions system for the first time, under a landmark reform that will transform the higher education market, writes Lucy Ward for the Guardian.

The debate over wearing veils at public universities has resurfaced after reports of professors singling out women for wearing hijabs. Both politicians and the public are struggling to find a balance between French secularism and religious tolerance, writes Liza Malykhina for France24.

Universities have persuaded the federal government to relax new rules on how they hire temporary foreign workers that they say made it more difficult to recruit global academic talent, writes Simona Chiose for The Globe and Mail.

Students from France hoping to take advantage of a partnership extending Quebec’s cheap tuition fees to French citizens will soon be sorely disappointed, reports CBC News.

The suggestion by the Danish People's Party that Denmark's universities should stop offering courses in English was roundly criticised by political opponents and readers, who said that the real losers would be Danish students, reports The Local.

Musician, musicologist, bibliophile and philanthropist William H Scheide, a 1936 Princeton University alumnus who died in November at age 100, has left his extraordinary collection of some 2,500 rare printed books and manuscripts to Princeton University. With an expected appraised value of nearly US$300 million, it is the largest gift in the university's history, reports News at Princeton.

Performance-based funding in higher education is spreading, with 35 states either developing or using formulas that link support for public colleges to student completion rates, degree production numbers or other metrics, writes Paul Fain for Inside Higher Ed.

Universities and colleges churning out substandard teaching graduates risk losing their accreditation, under a sweeping overhaul of teaching degrees, writes Lauren Wilson for News Corp Australia Network.

Universities are pleading with the Abbott government to abandon its threat to axe funding for major programmes supporting 30,000 researchers if the Senate refuses to support the deregulation of university fees, writes Matthew Knott for The Sydney Morning Herald.

Four universities will be banned from accepting foreign students for one year, starting this autumn semester, as punishment for poorly managing non-Korean students, reports The Korea Times.

The Ministry of Defense has been accelerating research with universities, against a backdrop of growing sophistication in the use of technology in defence equipment and concern that Japan risks falling behind the rest of the world if it does not conduct research on cutting-edge technologies. However, there is deep-rooted resistance among universities to aiding military research, reports The Yomiuri Shimbun.

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande last week acknowledged that allegations of fraud and corruption in the National Student Financial Aid Scheme could be contributing to the scheme’s inability to fund all students who qualify, writes Wyndham Hartley for BDLive.
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