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01 November 2015 Issue 388 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
Malaysia sees a 15% cut in higher education spending as economy slows

From Malaysia, where the economy has come under pressure from lower oil and commodity prices, Yojana Sharma reports the news that universities are reeling as their budget allocations for 2016 have been severely slashed. And in Features, Yojana Sharma reports on the vital role that private higher education institutions and foreign branch campuses will play in meeting ambitious plans on widening access and doubling the number of foreign students in Malaysia’s universities. Also in Features, Jan Petter Myklebust reports on an analysis of the top performers in Europe’s Horizon 2020 programme. Sharon Dell reports that the appointment of a top former banker at the helm of South Africa’s student financial aid scheme is intended to help resolve student funding issues. And Brennan Weiss interviews Cornel West, professor at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City, about the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States.
Two of our Commentary articles this week focus on gender equality, with Katrien Maes emphasising the importance of gendered research and innovation, which ensures that gender analysis is properly integrated into the research process, and Ali Reza Yunespour highlighting a new gender and women’s studies programme in Afghanistan, introduced in a system weighted against women. Also in Commentary, Eric Fredua-Kwarteng puts forward a case for ‘developmental universities’ in Africa, which are universities that contribute to the fulfilment of national development needs and priorities.
In our World Blog, Margaret Andrews says it is interesting that ‘soft skills’ are most in demand among business school graduates while many schools spend the majority of their curriculum teaching the ‘hard skills’.
Brendan O’Malley – Managing Editor
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Yojana Sharma

Malaysia’s public universities are reeling after higher education appeared to bear the brunt of cuts announced in the 2016 budget last week, with a 15% cut in higher education spending. Some 19 out of the country’s 20 public universities will see their budget allocations slashed, with the country’s flagship Universiti Malaya the biggest loser, facing a 27.3% cut in government funding next year.
Wachira Kigotho

A committee of the United Nations Security Council has faulted the Kenyan government for failing to act on credible security intelligence about an imminent attack on Garissa University College in the northeast by Somalia-based Al-Shabaab Islamist militants. The subsequent attack on 2 April this year resulted in the deaths of 148 people, mostly students.
Eugene Vorotnikov

The Russian Ministry of Education and Science has announced plans to establish the new position of federal professor in national universities starting from next year. Initially they will be established in the field of mathematics and other exact sciences.
Jan Petter Myklebust

Twenty-two thousand students from more than 40 student organisations in the ‘Student Alliance’ gathered on 29 October in central Copenhagen and Aarhus, according to police estimates, to protest against the DKK8.7 billion (US$1.3 billion) education cuts planned by the Løkke Rasmussen government over the next four years.
Brendan O'Malley

More than 300 academics from across the United Kingdom, including from top universities, have pledged to boycott Israeli academic institutions, in response to Israel’s “illegal occupation of Palestinian land”, “intolerable human rights violations” against Palestinians, and its “apparent determination to resist any feasible settlement”.
Wagdy Sawahel

The Islamic Development Bank and the World Bank have launched an ‘Education for Competitiveness Initiative’ to help equip young people with the knowledge and skills needed to support economies and societies, with a primary focus on the Middle East and North Africa.
Jan Petter Myklebust

The Finnish government plans to introduce a minimum tuition fee for students from outside the European Union or the European Economic Area from 1 January and give higher education institutions the freedom to set higher levels.
Ellen Wexler, The Chronicle of Higher Education

A Twitter-fuelled furore erupted last Thursday after the Renaissance Society of America said that the database firm ProQuest had cancelled the group’s subscription to a key collection of texts. The incident stoked familiar anxieties about the role of companies like ProQuest in the future of scholarly research and publishing.

Australia is welcoming unprecedented numbers of international students in 2015 and changes to the visa rules will stimulate further growth, government ministers said last week.
Katrien Maes

Engaging in gendered research and innovation is vital because it helps research to answer the global societal challenges we are facing, from adaptation to climate change.
Eric Fredua-Kwarteng

Africa needs developmental universities that are agents or nodes of problem-solving and production of knowledge, not citadels of privilege and consumers of scarce national financial resources without any reciprocal contribution.
Ali Reza Yunespour

Is the launch of a gender and women’s studies programme at Kabul University a sign of progress or does it highlight a system that is weighted against women at all levels?
Margaret Andrews

Business school alumni understand the importance of soft skills and want more training in these areas as research shows strong oral communication skills trump strong technical and-or quantitative skills.
Jan Petter Myklebust

An analysis of the top performers in the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme shows that the United Kingdom has strengthened its position, along with the Netherlands and Ireland, compared with the Seventh Framework Programme; and Switzerland is no longer represented.
Sharon Dell

By placing a top former banker at the helm of South Africa’s National Student Financial Aid Scheme, Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande signalled the need for radical changes to the way the scheme should work – and how it should be funded. A major factor behind the #FeesMustFall movement has been the underfunded scheme’s inability to provide loans or grants to sufficient numbers of poor students.
Yojana Sharma

Ambitious education targets including doubling Malaysia’s higher education participation rate and increasing the number of foreign students could be hard to reach without improving the quality of local universities to attract more students. Private higher education institutions and foreign branch campuses in the country will play a crucial role in achieving this, Malaysian officials have said.
Brennan Weiss

Brennan Weiss talks to Cornel West, civil rights activist, professor of philosophy and Christian practice at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City and one of America’s most outspoken critics of race relations in the United States, about the Black Lives Matter movement and how universities can inspire students to care about important issues like race.
Alya Mishra

Universities were meant to adopt the controversial Choice Based Credit System by September, but they are struggling to accommodate the structural changes it demands. Academics feel that unless accommodating systems are put in place and the traditional teaching style of Indian universities shifts, the Choice Based Credit System will fail to provide real choice and flexibility to students.
Kitso Rantao

Protesting students achieved a 0% rise in tuition fees for next year. There are unresolved questions for the future but solidarity was able to secure our present. And we know we can be a ‘rainbow nation’ whose colours don’t only run parallel, but intersect to create a better country.
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The college year simply didn’t start for more than 300,000 students across Venezuela, amid a widespread faculty strike that has closed down 18 public universities, writes Franz von Bergen for Fox News Latino.

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam has urged the Ministry of Education and Training to tailor its policies on autonomy for public universities to the needs of each institution. At a workshop on tertiary education held in Ho Chi Minh City, he said that autonomy was necessary to ensure that universities planned their use of resources wisely, according to their purposes and goals, reports VietNamNet Bridge.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh says there is no need for the public to be concerned regarding an increase in university fees. This came following the announcement that no additional allocations would be made for the ministry under the 2016 budget, writes Rajina Dhillon for The Rakyat Post.

Russian universities will aim to rise in international subject-based rankings, rather than institutional ones due to "a different organisational structure" of Russian institutions, writes Gleb Fedorov for Russia Beyond The Headlines.

A surprising one out of every 14 people who attend community colleges – widely regarded as low-tuition options for the less well-prepared – has already earned a bachelor degree, according to the American Association of Community Colleges. That’s 770,000 students. At some community colleges, the proportion is as high as one in five, writes Matt Krupnick for The Hechinger Report.

A group of Afghan students gathered on the leafy campus of Kabul University recently to embark on an unlikely course – the country's first masters degree in gender and women's studies, write Krista Mahr and Aimal Yaqubi for Reuters.

Cardiff University has rejected a petition to un-invite Australian expatriate academic Germaine Greer from giving a lecture, despite efforts by some of the university's students to have her banned, writes Melissa Clarke for ABC News.

Around 82% of Chinese universities and colleges have opened compulsory or optional courses on entrepreneurship and innovation, according to statistics from the Ministry of Education, reports Xinhua.

After years of pressure to demonstrate their continuing relevance and ability to prepare graduates for the labour market, Canadian universities are signalling a new willingness to embrace real-world education with a set of five new commitments released last week, writes Simona Chiose for The Globe and Mail.

To boost science, higher education institutions in the Islamic world must give students a broad education and become meritocratic, write Nidhal Guessoum and Athar Osama for Nature.

The choice of a single textbook for one section of a course at one university might seem like a decidedly local issue. But a dispute over whether an academic department may impose such a selection on all faculty members in a multi-section course has set off a large debate over how textbook choices should be evaluated, who should select textbooks, whether price should be a factor, and academic freedom, writes Scott Jaschik for Inside Higher Ed.

Since Tuesday last week, when news first broke out about the non-National Eligibility Test fellowship being discontinued for research scholars, students across universities have risen up in protest, writes Aranya Shankar for The Indian Express.

The Supreme Court has reinforced its earlier view that "there should really be no reservation" in super speciality courses in medicine in the general interest of the country, reports the Press Trust of India.

Several Danish universities are struggling with poor students, increased absenteeism, a lack of motivation and a lower quality of education, reports The Copenhagen Post.

Big employers, universities and the National Health Service will introduce blind recruitment policies to prevent bias against "ethnic-sounding" names. The policy is designed to guard against unconscious bias that is holding back those from a black or ethnic minority background, reports Sky News.
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