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07 June 2015 Issue 0370 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
Corruption is a blight on African universities but there are ways to clean up

In Commentary, Goolam Mohamedbhai says ever-increasing demand and lack of accountability is fuelling corruption across African higher education systems and outlines ways to address bribery, cheating, plagiarism by students; nepotism, extortion, sexual harassment by staff; and the buying and selling of fake degrees.
Pushkar says China is way ahead of India in global quality indicators for universities and patents filed and asks why Indian premier Narendra Modi missed the opportunity on his trip to Beijing to build greater and deeper engagement with Chinese higher education. Morshidi Sirat and CD Wan say Malaysia’s education blueprint articulates the goals of higher education but not the philosophy behind them and this is inhibiting discussion of the overarching approaches to the plan.
And Iván F Pacheco says overproduction of PhDs and deteriorating working conditions for faculty staff in industrialised countries offer an opportunity for developing countries to lure talent.
In Features, Suluck Lamubol says one year on from Thailand’s military coup, the junta is stepping up pressure against exiled academics it has charged under draconian lčse majesté laws.
In our World Blog, Grace Karram Stephenson says funding is the most powerful lever of change for post-secondary systems and Ontario’s higher education system is being skewed by providing incentives only for enrolment.
In the first of two Special Reports on the British Council’s Going Global conference for international education leaders, held in London, Yojana Sharma hears experts argue forcefully that the battle to contain extremist violence across the world should not be allowed to prevent radical thought flourishing on campus. Brendan O’Malley hears Francisco Marmolejo of the World Bank argue that charging tuition fees can be the key to ensuring higher education funding is not contributing to social inequality, and Yojana Sharma reports on calls for the explosive growth in overseas degrees delivered to students in their home country to be underpinned by monitoring and benchmarking to enable comparison of quality.
Brendan O’Malley – Managing Editor
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Wagdy Sawahel

As a result of widespread joblessness, Tunisia’s universities have become fertile ground for recruitment by militants. There are nearly 1,300 Tunisian students currently acting as jihadist fighters in extremist organisations outside the country, most notably for the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria.
Jan Petter Myklebust

Finland’s universities are facing drastic cuts and the introduction of tuition fees for international students following the new government’s announcement of severe austerity measures that will involve lopping €4.5 billion (US$5 billion) off public spending by 2019.
Suchitra Behal

Next month about 500 British students will leave for India to either intern, study or be part of a cultural ‘immersion’ programme. They are the first group in the Generation UK-India scheme, facilitated by the British Council in collaboration with the government of India, which will see as many as 25,000 students from the UK travel to India over the next five years, in the hope of enhancing their career prospects in global Indian firms.
Suvendrini Kakuchi

Although 90% of Japan’s final year students found jobs on graduation this year – the highest figure in many years – an increasing number of students are struggling to repay their student debt. A recent survey on debt repayment found 77% defaulted due to a reduction in income for both full-time and part-time employed graduates.
Brendan O’Malley

Universities UK, the vice-chancellors’ body, has issued a statement restating its opposition to an academic boycott of Israeli universities, saying it is committed to the free exchange of ideas between academics, regardless of nationality or location. This came after the National Union of Students’ executive committee recently voted for boycotts against Israel.
Francis Kokutse

Ghanaian public universities face a bleak future following the refusal of the finance ministry to allow the recruitment or replacement of staff, according to the committee of heads of public universities, Vice Chancellors Ghana.
Wagdy Sawahel

Tahar Hadjar is leaving his post as rector of the University of Algiers to become Algeria’s new minister for higher education and scientific research.
Jan Petter Myklebust

With general elections coming up on 18 June, Lars Lřkke Rasmussen, leader of the opposition Liberal Party, said his party would be more flexible regarding controversial reforms currently being implemented at universities. But Sophie Carsten Nielsen, the outgoing higher education minister, said Rasmussen’s comments smacked of electioneering.
Colleen Murphy, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Many colleges go to great lengths to encourage their students to study abroad. Is the effort worth it? In an attempt to answer that question once and for all, officials at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California, are making an unorthodox appeal to science: They’re scanning students’ brains and looking for signs of growth.
Michael Gardner

A leading North Rhine-Westphalian politician has been caught up in a scandal over a botched-up seminar test. Christian Democrat Armin Laschet failed to observe correct procedures for test papers as a visiting lecturer at RWTH Aachen University.
More than 1,200 participants descended on the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London, across the road from the UK’s Houses of Parliament, last week for the British Council’s Going Global conference, described by the hosts as the world’s largest gathering of international education leaders concerned with the future of tertiary education. University World News is a media partner and this is the first of two special reports on the conference.
Brendan O’Malley

Is international education about bringing in business, funding universities or forging bonds and opening minds? The welcoming session of this year’s Going Global 2015, the British Council’s conference for leaders of international higher education, zigzagged across each one of these perspectives.
Yojana Sharma

Radical thought should be allowed to flourish on campuses around the world as a healthy expression of academic freedom, but universities must be able to help prevent violence, said an eminent panel of university leaders speaking at the British Council’s Going Global conference in London on 2 June. The expert panel sought to draw a dividing line between student ‘radicalisation’ and violent extremism in wider society which too often had become conflated.
Brendan O’Malley

In many countries providing higher education without charging tuition fees is “regressive”, according to a senior World Bank official, because those accessing it are only from advantaged families, and so the system merely prolongs “unfortunate social stratification”.
Yojana Sharma

With explosive growth in transnational education – overseas university degrees delivered to students in their home country – the need for common standards and constant monitoring of transnational degrees has become critical to maintain quality, the British Council’s Going Global conference in London heard last week.
Yojana Sharma

Internationalisation of higher education, the proliferation of branch campuses, joint degrees and international research collaborations can mean navigating an academic, social and cultural minefield and making compromises. Universities could be taking a great risk and could end up compromising on important academic values such as academic freedom.

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Grace Karram Stephenson

Post-secondary education can best be improved through financial incentives, but the current model in Ontario only rewards institutions on enrolment figures, which does not help to enhance quality. A revised funding model for the province is being considered while maintaining respect for institutional autonomy.
Goolam Mohamedbhai

Corruption is a problem in African universities and will only get worse with increasing student enrolments. Many of its forms are common around the world and lessons could be learned on how to combat them. The matter warrants both a regional and an international approach.

China is a fast-emerging higher education powerhouse that supports around 100 elite research institutions. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to China could have been used by India to build bridges in higher education and learn about developing world-class universities. The Prime Minister let that opportunity pass.
Iván F Pacheco

Latin American universities could benefit from the oversupply of PhD students in developed countries. They should look to attract not only their own highly qualified nationals from the diaspora, but also highly skilled researchers and professors from other countries who are willing to cross borders in the quest for a reasonably good job opportunity.
Morshidi Sirat and CD Wan

The new Malaysia Education Blueprint outlines a series of aspirations, but there is a lack of detail on how these should be implemented or the philosophy underpinning them. The blueprint must be seen in the context of a more fundamental change in Malaysia, that is, from dynamic higher education policy to dynamic higher education politics.
Suluck Lamubol

One year after Thailand’s military coup in May 2014, some prominent university rectors have secured high positions within the military government. But the suppression of dissident academics critical of the military junta continues unabated and student protests have been curbed, including three demonstrations on the anniversary of the coup.
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After decades of planning, a new generation of students and researchers will start their first full academic year in September 2015 at the University of Paris-Saclay, a huge ambitious project to bring together a group of 19 higher education institutions alongside a business cluster on the outskirts of the French capital. It has been dubbed the French Silicon Valley, writes Jean-Claude Thoenig for The

Opening branch campuses is now the lowest internationalisation priority for European universities, according to a major study, prompting suggestions that a market dominated by British institutions is now past its peak, writes Chris Havergal for Times Higher Education.

According to an estimate by a US education company, some 8,000 Chinese students were expelled from American universities last year alone – and the main reasons were poor grades and cheating, writes Liyan Qi for The Wall Street Journal.

Fifteen Chinese nationals have been charged with developing a fraud scheme in which they paid impostors to take entrance exams, including the SAT, and gained acceptance to elite American colleges and universities, according to the US Department of Justice, writes Julia Edwards for Reuters.

The University of Oxford is to appoint its first female vice-chancellor since its records began nearly 800 years ago, after Professor Louise Richardson was nominated for the university’s most senior office, writes Richard Adams for the Guardian.

Student members of the Alliance Against the Commoditisation of Education last week staged a protest outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei, calling on the ministry to reject applications by universities to increase tuition fees, writes Abraham Gerber for Taipei Times.

Canadian officials are finding it difficult to keep up with the increasing demand from international students, leading to waiting times for visas that are weeks longer than those in Britain or the United States, and reducing the competitiveness of the international student programme, writes Simona Chiose for The Globe and Mail.

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka announced the dismissal in late May of Education Minister Marcel Chládek – just hours after the daily Mladá Fronta DNES published an article accusing the minister of bullying his subordinates. While many are ready to testify that this was indeed the case, experts in the field of education say it was a welcome pretext to get rid of a minister who was clearly not up to the task, writes Daniela Lazarová for Radio Praha.

The University of Sydney plans to increase its undergraduate courses from three to four years and cut many of its double degrees in a radical overhaul of education that would see the number of degrees reduced by at least 100, writes Alexandra Smith for The Sydney Morning Herald.

Students and university professors took to the streets of five cities across Venezuela on 28 May to demand better working conditions and salaries for educators. Also on their list of demands were an increase in the higher education budget, greater safety on university campuses, and respect for the autonomy of universities, writes Sabrina Martin for PanAm Post.

The government of Nunavut has announced it will take the next step towards creating an Arctic university by funding a feasibility study, reports The Canadian Press.

A number of universities have paid more heed and started taking action to curb plagiarism, which has become a major issue among students and instructors in Vietnam, reports Tuoi Tre News.

Without him, our understanding of the world would be completely different – but world renowned physicist and author Stephen Hawking says that he fears another gifted academic with a condition like his would not be able to flourish in today’s tough economic times, reports
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