|22 March 2015||Issue 0359||Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week||Advanced Search|
NEWSLETTERMiddle East continues to create challenges for the Western world
Two stories in this edition highlight changing events in the troubled Middle East. The first, from our Middle Eastern correspondent Wagdy Sawahel, looks at how Iran is adopting China’s soft-diplomacy policy and opening branch campuses of its universities across the Arab states. The second describes how authoritarian nations such as the United Arab Emirates react to academic criticisms by banning those whose opinions they dislike.
In Features, Jan Petter Myklebust tells the remarkable story of how archaeologists digging in China in 1920 discovered a tooth from Peking Man, thought to be Darwin’s ‘missing link’ between apes and humankind. The tooth was lost for 90 years and then found again, although it took another four years for the researchers to have the find published.
This edition also has the third and last Special Report on the first African Higher Education Summit, held in Senegal's capital Dakar from 10-12 March. The summit covered topics ranging from access to and governance of universities to investment in higher education and graduate employability.
Geoff Maslen – Acting Global Editor
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
In a move aimed at easing Western sanctions and its economic isolation, along with promoting higher education development and regional cooperation, Iran is continuing to establish more branch campuses of its universities across the Arab states.
UAE-UNITED STATESKatherine Mangan, The Chronicle of Higher Education
A New York University professor was stopped while trying to board a plane for the United Arab Emirates at Kennedy International Airport last week and told he had been barred from entering the country. The professor, Andrew Ross, said the ban could have wider ramifications for NYU and other colleges that operated campuses in authoritarian countries.
Many Asian countries have been setting ambitious goals to expand and improve their higher education sectors and are on the way to catching up with and even overtaking the best higher education systems of the West, according to a new book.
The Australian senate has rejected a government higher education reform bill for the second time, leaving the nation’s universities uncertain of their future funding and whether they can charge tuition fees.
UNITED KINGDOMBrendan O’Malley
A group of 20 or more students have begun an occupation of a key administration room at the London School of Economics in protest against “profit-driven education”.
A new committee has been created to advise the federal government on issues concerning its high-tech policies. The 'High-Tech Forum' consists of experts from politics, science and society.
Prepared by medical experts, many health websites that are supposed to provide information about physical and mental problems people may be facing, have been found to be too difficult for lay people to comprehend.
The idea of universities collaborating with others around the world is no longer unusual but, increasingly, university faculties and schools are also forming alliances with their counterparts in other institutions to boost research output, improve graduation rates, attract students to potentially unpopular programmes and improve existing curricula.
SWEDENJan Petter Myklebust
It took 90 years but the Museum of Evolution in Uppsala finally located a canine tooth of Peking Man that had been stored in a box since it was excavated in a dig in China in the 1920s. First discovered in the box in 2011, the finding has now been reported in the February issue of the journal Acta Anthropologica Sinica.
The system for recruiting Chinese students for study abroad serves neither students nor their parents and Western universities have been complicit in its creation.
Scientific innovation and social reform are intrinsically linked in Ukraine but to create an effective scientific ecosystem will require systemic changes.
UNITED KINGDOMMaurits van Rooijen
International students are not just looking at the institution where they want to study, they are equally interested in the lifestyle they offer. And quite rightly so.
GLOBALHans de Wit
The term International University is increasingly being bandied about, but what do we mean by it and how can we define it in ways that actually enhance education?
AFRICAN HIGHER EDUCATION SUMMIT
This is the third and final special report on the African Higher Education Summit held in the Senegalese capital, Dakar from 10-12 March under the theme “Revitalising Higher Education for Africa’s Future”. University World News was a media partner to the summit.
In 2000, former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan marked the beginning of a new approach to Africa’s neglected higher education sector when he said: “The university must become a primary tool for Africa’s development in the new century.” In a thought-provoking keynote at the African Higher Education Summit this month, Annan outlined three priorities that he believes should guide the revitalisation of universities – partnerships, strong data and better-prepared students.
African countries have been urged to explore creative tax strategies as one way to improve the financing of universities. Dr Patrick Awuah, founder of the private Ashesi University in Ghana, told the African Higher Education Summit that to raise Africa’s enrolment ratio from around 7% to 30% meant governments would have to spend 50 times more on the sector.
AFRICAJohn Kirkland OBE
One delegate at the African Higher Education Summit in Dakar warned that, unless higher education was given equal priority to that of the primary and secondary sectors, African education would be like a “pyramid without a roof”. What a wonderful analogy.
At the recently concluded African Higher Education Summit in Dakar, the chair of the African Union Commission Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Senegalese President Macky Sall pledged to undertake a role of critical importance – to lobby their constituencies in support of revitalising higher education at an upcoming heads of state meeting in June 2015.
“There will be no more important issue in the world – not energy, not oil, not water – than that of talent,” says Professor Phillip Clay, former chancellor of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a board member of the MasterCard Foundation. “The places that develop talent, motivate talent and use talent will be the places that move forward in the world.” This must be young Africa’s priority.
Producing university graduates with degrees and skills that have limited practical use in Africa’s job markets constitutes a massive waste of time and money, according to Bridget Crompton, a senior education adviser at Britain’s Department for International Development.
These days, fewer vice-chancellors of African universities are having sleepless nights worrying about students staging violent riots and possibly clashing with a coercive one-party state security machinery, as student activism has been toned down by democratisation.
Delegates at the first African Higher Education Summit in Dakar failed to agree on governance models that could be adopted by African universities in the post-2015 era. Although in the last two decades laws have been passed granting limited autonomy to public universities, many people observed that governments are still calling the shots.
Delegates attending the African Higher Education Summit held in Dakar, Senegal, agreed to promote harmonisation of the continent’s higher education systems through accreditation and mutual recognition of degrees, diplomas and certificates.
Comment has been invited on the Draft Declaration and Action Plan of the 1st African Higher Education Summit on Revitalising Higher Education for Africa’s Future. As a media partner to the summit, University World News urges people working or interested in African higher education to respond.
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Just as casinos have proliferated across Macau in the past 15 years, so too have colleges. When the city returned to Chinese sovereignty in 1999, it was home to two universities and two tertiary institutions. Since then the total has more than doubled to 10. That's a lot of college places for a city of just 600,000 people. Perhaps not surprisingly, most of the slack is being taken up by students from mainland China, writes Elaine Yau for the South China Morning Post.
China is launching a nationwide investigation on the use of foreign textbooks at Chinese universities and colleges, following a previous government pledge to reject texts spreading “Western values” at the nation’s centres of higher education, writes Laura He for MarketWatch.
Their reputations sullied by race-tainted incidents, many colleges are clamping down on campus fraternities. Despite some swift and tough actions by colleges – and in some cases, public humiliation – episodes such as the racist chants by members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter at the University of Oklahoma keep surfacing, write Kimberly Hefling and Jesse J Holland for Associated Press.
Japan's government has budgeted over US$15 million to fund Japan studies at nine overseas universities, including Georgetown and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as part of a ‘soft power’ push to counter the growing influence of China and South Korea, writes Takashi Umekawa for Reuters.
Former students occupied an Oxford building recently to protest the university's failure to decide about divesting funds from fossil fuels, writes Roger Harrabin for BBC News.
Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has blocked tough new laws intended to stop extremist speakers brainwashing university students for terrorism, raising fears that Britain will be left more vulnerable to attack, write Tim Ross and Robert Mendick for The Telegraph.
Roughly 40 miles, or 64 kilometres, from the bustling, historic city of Fez, a public university in a Moroccan mountain range is seeking American accreditation, writes Sarah Lynch for Al-Fanar.
After a week of student protest, the University of Cape Town’s vice-chancellor has given the clearest indication yet that he believes the controversial statue of Cecil John Rhodes should be moved from its "pride of place, at the focal point of the campus". But this will do little to quell the spread of protests against the lack of transformation to other campuses, write Reitumetse L Pitso, Shaun Smillie and Poppy Louw for Times Live.
Seventeen of South Africa’s public universities have backed a proposal to extend undergraduate degree and diploma qualifications by a year, writes Leanne Jansen for The Mercury.
The University Grants Commission is encouraging implementation of skill-based and career-oriented courses in colleges and universities through several new schemes, reports PTI.
Plagiarism at the higher education level has been an open secret, with many suspected plagiarists holding senior faculty positions in different universities across the country. But in a comical turn, the Higher Education Commission recently gave its best research paper award to a scholar who had been blacklisted by the regulatory body in 2008 for publishing a plagiarised paper, writes Riazul Haq for The Express Tribune.
The cash strapped government said last week it had released outstanding salaries of university lecturers and support staff as it scrambled to prevent the riots which rocked the University of Zimbabwe from spreading to other institutions, reports NewZimbabwe.
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