University World News Global Edition
12 April 2015 Issue 0362 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
Is the narrow focus of
rankings skewing
higher education policy?

In this week’s issue, in our Q&A, Mary Beth Marklein asks expert Ellen Hazelkorn if the US universities that dominate international rankings are driving higher education policy in the rest of the world.
In Features Karen MacGregor reports on the death knell of a controversial former World Bank policy that has been widely blamed for decimating higher education across Africa.
In Commentary, Marina Warner says the current trend towards treating universities like businesses is undermining the very purpose of universities. Roger Y Chao Jr says there is a lack of engagement from development partners with Myanmar’s process of education reform just when it is most needed. And Marcelo Knobel says Latin American countries are struggling to tackle social inequality and must find ways to not only widen access to universities but also ensure that the potential success of every student is realised.
In our World Blog, Margaret Andrews says business schools are being forced to innovate under pressure from rising costs, technology advances and employer dissatisfaction.
Brendan O’Malley – Managing Editor
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Wachira Kigotho

Confusion reigned last week over the number of students missing following the brutal killing of 148 people by al-Shabaab Islamist militants – 142 of them Christian students – on 2 April at Garissa University College. Urgent questions were also being asked about whether the security forces or the university college itself could have done more to avert the massacre. And in Nairobi and Mombasa students were protesting, demanding better protection for universities from the ongoing threat from al-Shabaab.
Brendan O'Malley

European governments and higher education institutions are failing to develop coherent policy approaches to improve access, retention and employability, a Eurydice report has found.
Maina Waruru

The Pan African University Institute for Space Sciences to be hosted by South Africa is on course to enrol its first students in January 2016, completing the creation of research and PhD training nodes for Africa’s five regions and ending years of politicking. A decision has also been made to base the continental university’s headquarters in Cameroon.
Suchitra Behal

The Medical Council of India has asked state councils to investigate the problem of “ghost” teachers in medical colleges following the discovery of more than 400 fake teachers in four colleges in three states.
Ashraf Khaled

An Egyptian military court has handed down varying jail terms of five to seven years to a university lecturer and seven students for holding an illegal protest – the latest rulings in an increasing number of military trials involving civilians.
Maria Elena Hurtado

The barring of Jorge Costadoat from teaching theology at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, the country’s largest and most prestigious private university, has sparked a debate about how free academics are to express their views.
Jan Petter Myklebust

The government has signalled that it intends to increase the level of research funding, boost career opportunities for women and young researchers, and establish a new quality assurance system.
Michael Gardner

In line with government policy to make careers in research more attractive for foreigners, the Max Planck Society will increase funding for young researchers by almost 40%, resulting in overall spending in this area of just over €50 million, or US$54 million a year.
Steve Kolowich, The Chronicle of Higher Education

After years of scepticism, higher education’s upper class has finally decided that online learning is going to play an important role in its future. But what will that role be?
Kudzai Mashininga

In the face of Zimbabwe’s new economic crisis, the Treasury has resolved to slash the number of student beneficiaries of Robert Mugabe’s controversial presidential scholarship programme.
Jan Petter Myklebust

University leaders say the masters reforms designed to speed up graduation time could reduce the amount of time available to do the masters thesis by a third, to four months.

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Mary Beth Marklein

Although rankings purport to measure quality, they largely capture institutional wealth, Ellen Hazelkorn tells University World News, and although in some countries they are useful in opening institutions to the chill winds of competition, are the lessons being learned the right ones?
Marina Warner

Something has gone wrong with the way universities are run. Not everything that is valued can be measured but universities are being beaten into shapes dictated by business and the balance is becoming seriously skewed against independent thought and study.
Roger Y Chao Jr

The international community needs to do much more to encourage dialogue, transparency and policy initiatives to help change the higher education system on the ground.
Marcelo Knobel

Can higher education be accessible to a wider spectrum of the community without compromising quality? It depends on who funds it and why, and on programmes that reach out to disadvantaged sections of the community.
Karen MacGregor

The returns on higher education are growing globally and they are highest in Africa, according to Claudia Costin, a senior director at the World Bank. There is an urgent need for Africa to build quality and capacity in universities and to create skills that remain on the continent – and public investment is central.
Ian Chubb

Over the past four years as Australia’s Chief Scientist, I have had a consistent message – that science matters. And it is too important to leave to chance. But the evidence is mounting that we are paying the price for our unfocused approach and falling behind.
Margaret Andrews

Students can now pick and mix their own MBAs, and businesses and universities are innovating in what they offer potential business students. Business schools are in the frontline for dealing with changes in thinking about and delivering education.
Carol Christ

Michael Kirst and Mitchell Stevens’ recent book, Remaking College: The changing ecology of higher education, asks nothing less than that we reconceive the character of American higher education.
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It is both unethical and untenable for universities around the world to continue to invest in fossil fuel companies whose plans to prospect for more oil, coal and gas endanger future global prosperity, according to an influential global group of academics, writes Emma Howard for the Guardian.

As the number of public sector universities has increased sharply during the last decade, the declining standards of teaching and research work, plagiarism, mismanagement, financial irregularities and establishment of illegal campuses pose a major challenge to policy-makers and higher education managers, writes Riazul Haq for The Express Tribune.

The introduction of £9,000 (US$13,300) tuition fees in England had a greater negative impact on applications to courses that are likely to lead to poorly paid careers, new research suggests, writes Chris Havergal for Times Higher Education.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on Tuesday launched the Malaysian Education Blueprint (Higher Education), aimed at preparing the country's tertiary education system to meet the challenges of the future, reports New Straits Times.

Addressing a function in Kolkata on 2 April, President Pranab Mukherjee stressed the need to expand primary, higher and tertiary education facilities in the country to increase employment opportunities for younger generations, reports Press Trust of India.

A group of around 100 students at Istanbul University have launched a protest, saying they will not leave the campus until Mahmut Ak, who was appointed as the university's new rector after coming in second in elections for the position, hands over his post to Raşit Tükel, the first place winner, reports CIHAN.

More than 800 colleges and universities across North America hold endowment assets of US$516 billion. But the top 10 schools in terms of assets have about US$180 billion of that total, more than one-third of all the holdings. None of that money, nor the gains on it, are taxed, writes Jeffrey J Selingo for The Washington Post.

Japan’s universities are looking to big US college endowments for some investment inspiration, raising the prospect of more Japanese money going into previously shunned areas, such as private equity, writes Eleanor Warnock for The Wall Street Journal.

Subsidy funding for universities in the five-year-plan era will shrink by 15% from next year following a report by the Legislative Yuan’s Budget Center that said the plan has failed to meet three intended targets, as well as noting National Taiwan University’s first-ever slide in its world ranking, write Wu Po-hsuan, Rachel Lin and Jake Chung for Taipei Times.

Tertiary student transfers from one institution to another for the 2013-14 academic year have been deemed unconstitutional by the Greek Council of State, meaning that transferred students must return to their original university. Meanwhile the Education Minister has again declared changes in university entry exams, writes Philip Chrysopoulos for Greek Reporter.

Nestled in a tree-lined gorge on the main railway line between London and Scotland, Durham University is the unlikely seat of Islamic finance teaching in the United Kingdom. Now a swathe of other UK universities want to emulate the worldwide reputation for Sharia finance that Durham has achieved, writes Angela Jameson for The National.

The University of Cape Town decided on Wednesday to remove a contentious statue of British imperialist Cecil John Rhodes which has triggered protests from students over the past month, writes Wendell Roelf for Reuters.

The Peruvian government has initiated various programmes in recent years to bring resources and scholarships to its most vulnerable populations. The goal is to bring underprivileged populations to higher levels of education and opportunity, writes Hillary Ojeda for Peru This Week.
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