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NEWSLETTERTerrorism continues to stalk Africa with university students the latest victims
As Karen MacGregor reports in our lead story this week, the Somalia-based Islamist militant group al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the brutal attack on Garissa University College in northeast Kenya. Nearly 150 people were killed – most of them Christian students.
In Commentary, Jenny J Lee and Chika Sehoole describe how South Africa has become a regional hub of learning for students from across Africa and also an emerging global destination for international students.
And, going further afield to China, Juan Hu and Jiali Qin raise questions about who wields power over academic matters in the giant nation’s universities: the government, administrators or academics themselves? And on to the United States where William Patrick Leonard argues in this week’s Blog that the era of increased enrolments and ever-rising tuition fees in America’s regional universities must end and institutions should scale back their ambitions to ensure they are sustainable.
Meantime, in our Debates section, three writers present opposing views of the South African student protests to have the Rhodes statue removed from the University of Cape Town and to abolish other symbols of British colonialism. William Saunderson-Meyer describes the student efforts as an “urge to rewrite history – a profoundly totalitarian act”, while Zenobia Ismail relates it more to a sense of alienation that non-white students “still feel about South Africa’s premier universities and the legacy of white dominance”. Cape Town academic Xolela Mangcu, however, says the protests could be an early warning of a racial war.
Geoff Maslen – Acting Global Editor
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
As many as 148 people – most of them Christian students – were killed on Thursday after militants stormed a university in northeast Kenya, in one of the country’s worst Islamist attacks. Several other universities had warned of terror threats and stepped up security in the week before the attack.
New global university rankings released on 30 March and funded by the European Commission, U-Multirank shows the continuing dominance by US universities for their research publications and patents. But the results of U-Multirank’s second edition also reveal that 148 institutions from 29 countries achieved 10 or more top A grades from the 31 institutional indicators used to compile the rankings.
NORWAYJan Petter Myklebust
The Norwegian government has begun the biggest higher education reforms since 1994, when 98 higher education institutions were merged into 26 university colleges. Minister of Education and Research Torbjørn Røe Isaksen said he expected significantly fewer universities and university colleges would exist in the future than the 33 institutions today.
The nation’s leading Group of Eight research-intensive universities has done a sudden about-turn in its support for the federal government’s higher education reforms and called for an independent “depoliticised” review by the learned academies and employer and business organisations.
UNITED STATESMadeline Will, The Chronicle of Higher Education
Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act has stoked national controversy and outrage since Governor Mike Pence signed it into law on Thursday. Meanwhile, for university leaders in the state, it has become a public-relations nightmare.
The Universities Grants Commission should be scrapped and replaced with a national higher education authority, according to a panel set up by the Minister for Human Resource Development, or HRD, to review it.
SRI LANKADinesh De Alwis
Thousands of students from across Sri Lanka gathered in the capital, Colombo, on 31 March to protest against the new government’s failure to bring in promised higher education reforms.
Professor Hans de Wit, an authority on global issues in higher education and a regular blogger with University World News, has been appointed director of the Center for International Higher Education at Boston College in the US.
MYANMARNaw Say Phaw Waa
A new National Education Bill has been passed by Myanmar’s national parliament or upper house – clearing the first of several parliamentary hurdles.
Groupe INSA, the French group of national institutes of applied sciences, and the University Euro-Méditerranéenne of Fes in Morocco have launched INSA Euro-Méditerranée, which will open in September. This first INSA outside France aims to train an internationally mobile, multilingual and multicultural, entrepreneurial engineering elite, and to contribute to development and consolidation of the Euro-Mediterranean region.
Nine African countries partnering in the Square Kilometre Array or SKA – the massive international radio telescope research initiative – approved the readiness strategy and plan of action at their second ministerial meeting in Pretoria last month.
Six of Africa’s top business schools have forged a new association through which they will share resources and expertise, promote academic and student exchanges and conduct research aimed at boosting entrepreneurship, job creation and economic development on the continent.
In line with a growing push to foster collaboration with Asia, an international education research hub developed in Australia has recently been expanded to promote participation from countries across the Asian region.
CHINAJuan Hu and Jiali Qin
The Chinese government is seeking to clarify the powers of university committees to tackle an overemphasis on administrative power. But what effect will this have on academic freedom?
Protests by staff and students at the University of Amsterdam are no reason to doubt the reforms of the 1990s, but they are evidence of a failure to communicate change properly.
EUROPEAgnete Vabø and Jannecke Wiers-Jenssen
Some Nordic countries do not charge fees for international students, but others have introduced them. How will these different approaches impact on recruitment and internationalisation?
SOUTH AFRICAJenny J Lee and Chika Sehoole
A study of student mobility in South Africa revealed that regional agreements matter along with the perceived quality of a university. Emerging economies are unlikely to become major global destinations – with the exception of some very highly ranked institutions, the international role of universities in economies such as South Africa is in regional continental development.
UNITED STATESWilliam Patrick Leonard
The era of increased enrolments and ever-rising tuition fees needs to come to an end and institutions should scale back their ambitions to ensure they are sustainable.
Students at the University of Cape Town won the campus debate over the statue of Cecil John Rhodes, which is to be removed. In the past week several organisations have come out in support of the student view and activism has spread to other campuses, where students are also demanding the fall of symbols of imperialism. Here are three very different points of view.
SOUTH AFRICAXolela Mangcu
The response of University of Cape Town students to a society still drenched in racism may be an early warning of racial war – which South Africans would do well to heed.
SOUTH AFRICAWilliam Saunderson-Meyer
Angry protests by students persuaded the University of Cape Town to agree to remove the statue of Cecil John Rhodes – 19th century Cape prime minister, Southern African mining magnate and British imperialist – from its commanding position over the university’s rugby fields. That its leaders so readily acquiesced does not bode well for academic rigour.
SOUTH AFRICAZenobia Ismail
The protests around the statue of Cecil Rhodes at the University of Cape Town are about how South Africa comes to terms with its colonial past, and about how universities contribute to nation building.
GLOBALYi Liu, Albert van Dijk and Pep Canadell
New investigation of satellite records reveals that the Earth is becoming greener, despite ongoing deforestation in Indonesia and South America. While the news coming out of forests is often dominated by deforestation and habitat loss, our research shows that the world has actually got greener over the past decade.
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The organisation that administers Rhodes Scholarships, the prestigious grant programme that sends promising students to the University of Oxford in the UK, is preparing to expand to the developing world and other countries and will soon begin naming scholars from China, writes David Barboza for The New York Times.
A new study shows that giving more Americans a college education will help lower-income groups, but won't do much to close the income gap, writes Jacob Davidson for Time.
England’s universities risk being “unable to deliver the scale of investment” needed to “remain internationally competitive”. That is the warning from the Higher Education Funding Council for England, which says in a report on 2013-14 sector finances, published late last month, that without increased surpluses and continued government support such a risk is present, writes John Morgan for Times Higher Education.
Their work doesn’t garner as many headlines as police taking down aspiring jihadis, but for the past four years a handful of academics have been paid by the government to study Canada’s homegrown terrorism problem with an eye to giving communities and authorities the tools to prevent people from becoming radicalised, writes Mike Hager for The Globe and Mail.
The Ministry of Education outlined plans late last month to merge universities, as the number of students has been on the decline. The ministry estimates that student numbers will drop by a third by 2023 after years of low birth rates, putting tremendous pressure on universities and colleges as revenue drops, writes Abraham Gerber for Taipei Times.
A senior leader of the Communist Party of China has urged the country's universities to improve education of socialism on campus. Liu Yunshan, a standing committee member of the political bureau of the Communist Party Central Committee, made the remarks at a meeting with party chiefs and presidents of 12 universities, reports Xinhua.
Students occupied buildings at three London universities recently in what they claim is a nationwide protest against an “increasingly neoliberal, undemocratic and restrictive education system”, writes Jack Grove for Times Higher Education.
Chinese students are flocking to Australia, making up a fifth of some 400,000 people seeking an education Down Under. At Federation University in Victoria, more than 44% of the students attending Australia’s newest university come from overseas with most paying fees that are about double those paid by locals, writes David Fickling for Bloomberg Business.
The number of students admitted to higher education institutions in Hungary has fallen by over 20% since 2010, according to a report issued by the Center for International Higher Education Studies. This makes Hungary one of the few OECD member states in which the number of higher education students has declined over the past four years, reports Hungary Today.
It is six months since 43 college students went missing in the Mexican state of Guerrero. They disappeared after clashes with police in the town of Iguala, reports Katy Watson for BBC Mexico.
Governors in nearly a half dozen US states want to cut state spending on colleges and universities to help close budget shortfalls, often sparking vehement opposition among state lawmakers of both parties, writes Elaine S Povich for Stateline.
More school pupils from the poorest areas are being admitted to Scotland’s universities despite many falling short of the exam grades they would normally need, official figures have suggested, writes Simon Johnson for The Telegraph.
The Syrian Ministry of Higher Education and the Iranian Ministry of Science, Research and Technology signed an agreement on cooperation in the fields of education, scientific research and academic exchange, writes Mohammad Nassr for ZAWYA.
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