University World News Global Edition
05 July 2015 Issue 374 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
University students fear for their lives after threats from Burundi’s agents

In a worrying week for academic freedom, in Features, Andrew Green reports on allegations in Burundi that students are being targeted with harassment, including death threats, by security forces, amid fears that the embattled government has put educated young people on its list of perceived enemies. In News, Yojana Sharma reports on fears that a new law in China will bring the activities of foreign higher education partners under the remit of China’s national security authorities. And in Commentary, Rachael Jolley, editor of the Index on Censorship magazine, says threats to academic freedom are looming large across the world from the USA to India, even in democratic societies.
Also, in Commentary, Martin Cohen says the Greek government is being led by academics and asks if its seemingly reckless negotiating strategy is informed by Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis’s ‘game theory’ analysis of the ‘incredible threat’. And Daniel Obst examines the potential opportunities for collaboration arising from the recent meeting of US and Iranian higher education leaders in Iran.
In our World Blog Martin Ince says if there is one lesson to be learned from Nobel Prize winner Sir Tim Hunt’s life-altering blunder which led to his resignation from his honorary professorship at University College London, it is the need for even stellar academics to have media awareness training.
In Features Brendan O’Malley looks at who the winners were when the European Research Council announced its €445 million (US$493 million) worth of advanced grant awards going to 190 researchers for ground-breaking ideas. And Karen MacGregor reports on the World Bank’s US$150 million programme to strengthen Africa’s 19 centres of excellence.
Brendan O’Malley – Managing Editor
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Yojana Sharma

China’s new draft law on ‘managing foreign NGOs’ has sparked alarm in academic circles with many overseas universities fearing it could have a severe effect on collaboration with Chinese institutions and research organisations by bringing their activities under the remit of China’s national security authorities.
Mary Beth Marklein

Surprising new figures suggest foreign students are favouring masters programmes over PhDs by two to one, a reverse of the expected balance, and a concern because masters students are typically more vulnerable to economic volatility at home than PhD students and are less likely to go on to fuel innovation in the US.
Brendan O’Malley

European member states have taken an important step towards negotiating a unitary patent – a key development for stimulating research, development and investment in innovation – by agreeing a rate for the renewal fee.
Mushfique Wadud

A government decision to charge 7.5% Value Added Tax or VAT on private universities, medical and engineering colleges has sparked anger among students who say it will hit middle and lower income families and curb the basic right to education.
Maina Waruru

The fate of eight satellite university campuses established in the Kenyan capital Nairobi’s central business district hangs in the balance after the higher education regulatory body, the Commission for University Education, issued a six-month closure notice.

Canada’s universities have adopted a set of principles outlining their shared commitment to enhancing educational opportunities for indigenous students and fostering reconciliation across Canada.
Jan Petter Myklebust

Two leading members of the Liberal Party in the City of Stockholm Council have called for the establishment of a branch of a world-leading foreign university in Stockholm. This is the third time since 2013 that high-ranking Swedish officials have called for such a development.
Brendan O'Malley

The new Minister for Universities and Science, Jo Johnson, has pledged to bring in a teaching excellence framework that creates incentives for universities to raise the quality of teaching, and to double the proportion of disadvantaged young people entering higher education.
Meg Bernhard and Mary Ellen McIntire, The Chronicle of Higher Education

The US Supreme Court ruled on 26 June that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage. While gay and lesbian students and faculty members will have more choices on where to enrol or seek a job, as a result of the ruling, religious colleges expressed fears about their tax-exempt status and accreditation.
Wagdy Sawahel

Although the northwest African nation of Mauritania has a proportionately higher budget for universities than most neighbouring countries, it suffers from low education quality, weak management and governance and an aging student population, says a new government report.
Martin Cohen

Academics often lament the fact that they are not consulted on policy issues. In Greece the academics have become the government, but what has been the outcome of putting theory, especially Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis’s work on ‘game theory’, into practice?
Daniel Obst

A recent US higher education delegation to Iran opened a historic new chapter in educational relations and people-to-people exchanges between the United States and Iran.
Rachael Jolley

Whether it is through soft or hard power and in the US or Turkey, academic freedom is under threat from government, commercial and religious pressure, and intellectuals around the world are rising to its defence.
Martin Ince

The furore surrounding Sir Tim Hunt’s recent resignation has some salutary lessons for academics about the need for media awareness and for maintaining an accurate online CV.
Andrew Green

University students in troubled Burundi have claimed to University World News that they are being targeted for harassment, including death threats, by security forces and the police – especially the hundreds who took refuge near the American embassy after the government closed the University of Burundi.
Brendan O’Malley

The European Research Council, or ERC, has announced 190 recipients of its Advanced Grant awards, under the Horizon 2020 research programme. The grants are aimed at supporting groundbreaking ideas that may be risky to pursue but that reap exceptional gains. More than half went to researchers in just three countries.
Karen MacGregor

Most of the 19 African centres of excellence being strengthened through a US$150 million World Bank initiative are up and running. Progress includes 3,510 students enrolled for specialised short courses, masters or PhDs – nearly 1,500 of them from other countries in the region. The project is now expanding from seven West African countries, to East and Southern Africa.
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi has advised the Human Resource Development Ministry to seek the opinion of NITI Aayog – the revamped planning commission – on the matter of inviting foreign universities to set up campuses in India, writes Ritika Chopra for The Economic Times.

Universities have been warned their funding will be cut by 20% almost immediately, an average of A$32 million (US$24 million) a university, if the federal government can get its higher education reform package through the senate by the end of the year, reports The Australian.

The Obama administration continues to dial back once-aggressive plans to rate colleges and draw off federal dollars from the weakest colleges, saying instead they intend to present new information about performance to empower consumers, write Douglas Belkin and Melissa Korn for The Wall Street Journal.

When American politicians laud free college plans overseas, they tend to identify European countries, such as Germany or Sweden, as noteworthy examples. Not as commonly discussed, Brazil also offers free college to its citizens, and its free colleges are actually more prestigious than the private institutions that charge tuition, writes Abby Jackson for Business Insider.

Academics have ripped into Malaysia’s higher education blueprint, saying it made a mockery of higher education, with its focus on turning out employable university graduates, write Tarrence Tan and Mikha Chan for Free Malaysia Today.

The African Union recently inaugurated the council of the Pan African University, established to revitalise higher education and research in Africa by nurturing quality and exemplifying excellence, reports

In the midst of a debate over scientific misconduct, one of the world’s leading scientific journals posted the most comprehensive guidelines for the publication of studies in basic science to date, calling for the adoption of clearly defined rules on the sharing of data and methods, writes Benedict Carey for The New York Times.

Tunisia, often praised internationally as the sole success story from the 2011 Arab uprisings, has the will to improve higher education, but hasn’t yet found the way, writes Ibtissem Jamel for Al-Fanar. The latest terrorist attack, which resulted in the deaths of 38 people at a beach resort, may serve to reinforce the flow of money away from education and towards security efforts.

An internal survey at the University of Michigan of students’ experience with sexual misconduct found that more than 20% of undergraduate women had been touched, kissed or penetrated without their consent, prompting the university to use new tactics to address the problem, writes Eliza Gray for Time.

Taiwan’s Consumers’ Foundation has called on local universities to take responsibility for improving English-language skills among their students, in view of the fact that a certain standard of English proficiency is a prerequisite to obtaining a degree, reports Focus Taiwan.

South African universities and government agencies have banded together against international academic publisher Elsevier’s new hosting and sharing regime, which they argue “curtails scientific progress and places unnecessary constraints on delivering the benefits of research back to the public”, writes Sarah Wild for the Mail & Guardian.

Half of all British universities allow foreign students to use dictionaries in their exams if their English is not good enough, writes Hugo Gye for Mail Online. Among the dozens of institutions which give finalists access to a dictionary are some of the country's most prestigious universities, including 12 members of the elite Russell Group.

The number of Syrian refugees attending universities in Turkey is increasing, as it is nearly impossible for Syrian students to continue their education in Syria because of the ongoing civil war, reports Today’s Zaman.

Aspiring teachers who can't spell or count will no longer graduate, with a new national literacy and numeracy exam being introduced in Australia's universities, writes Chloe Booker for The Sydney Morning Herald.

Seven Britons are among a group of 12 students who have travelled to Turkey in what is believed to be an attempt to join Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria, writes Nadia Khomami for the Guardian and agencies.

Palaeontologists in South Africa have discovered the fossil of a previously unknown dinosaur dating back 200 million years. It was found not on a remote desert plain but in a university storeroom, writes David Smith for the Guardian.
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