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29 November 2015 Issue 392 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
Gains in university access, but gains in social mobility still a concern – OECD

In News, Yojana Sharma unpacks the OECD’s Education at a Glance 2015 report, which shows rising higher education participation rates in OECD countries, but troubling indications that social background still plays a big role in university access.
In Commentary, Stephen Wilkins reflects on incidents that have led commentators to question the extent to which international branch campuses are able to operate ethically in countries that may not uphold Western values like civil liberties. Goolam Mohamedbhai says the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals provide a unique opportunity for universities to play a meaningful role in national and global development. And Vangelis Tsiligiris suggests that transnational education will need to be innovative and flexible to address changing student expectations and market conditions.
In our World Blog this week, Patrick Blessinger looks at the challenges in preparing students for a hyper-connected, changing world – a world which has become a global knowledge society of interdependent human activity.
In Features, Jan Petter Myklebust reveals the findings of a Swedish report which looks at how 16 world-class universities are governed. Dror Ben-Naim describes how forward-thinking Australian universities are improving the design of their online offerings to boost student performance and stop disengagement. Reuben Kyama reports from the Young Africa Works summit that the agriculture sector will feature prominently in development in Africa and that universities have a key role to play.
In the Q&A section, Gilbert Nganga interviews Dr Simon Gicharu, the man behind East Africa’s thriving private Mount Kenya University.
Brendan O’Malley – Managing Editor
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Yojana Sharma

Higher education participation rates have increased across the world’s richest countries with some 57% of young adults within the countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development expected to enter a bachelor degree or equivalent during their lifetime, according to the latest statistics in Education at a Glance 2015, just released by the OECD in Paris.
Suvendrini Kakuchi

In a blow to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s aim to boost Japan’s status around the world, the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development revealed last week that Japan ranks at the bottom among 31 member states in the amount of the country’s wealth spent on education, including higher education.
Brendan O'Malley

Student mobility has increased dramatically over recent years along with the exploding demand for education. But “the economic climate, shrinking support for scholarships and grants, as well as tighter budgets for individuals” could yet slow the pace of that flow, the OECD says.
Dinesh De Alwis

Hopes for a better education system are rising as Sri Lanka’s new government has promised to quadruple spending on education in its budget for 2016, with a near 30% increase in spending on universities compared to 2015.
Brendan O'Malley

Exports from Australia’s international education services sector – two-thirds of it comprising income from international higher education students – reached a record high of A$18.8 billion (US$13.5 billion) in 2014-15, the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data have shown.
Brendan O'Malley

The 271 Syrian students awarded 'Leadership for Syria' scholarships in German universities were welcomed in Berlin last week – but such is the demand that they represent only one in 18 of the 5,000 Syrians who applied to the programme organised by the German Academic Exchange Service, DAAD.
Michael Gardner

The German government intends to spend more on education and research next year. Higher education is to benefit from this above all with more places at universities, improvements in teaching quality and extra support for research.
David Jobbins

Students who have already graduated from English universities face higher loan repayments after Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced that the earnings threshold is to be frozen at £21,000 (US$31,700) a year until 2021.
Sithu Aung Myint

Following the dramatic election victory for the National League for Democracy, headed by Aung San Suu Kyi, with two former university rectors elected to parliament, the prospects of education reform are high, but it is still unclear where the priorities will lie.
Gilbert Nganga

When the history of Kenyan higher education is written, the name of Dr Simon Gicharu is likely to feature prominently. In the past 19 years Gicharu has built a downtown college into the thriving private Mount Kenya University, with 50,000 students, a 4,000-strong workforce and campuses across East Africa.
Stephen Wilkins

To what extent should Western university administrators comply with locally expected behaviours – and to what extent should they promote and implement Western ethical values?
Goolam Mohamedbhai

The Sustainable Development Goals are more ambitious and more inclusive than the Millennium Development Goals. They provide a unique opportunity to higher education institutions to contribute to national and global development.
Vangelis Tsiligiris

Transnational education is under pressure from shifting student expectations. Technological advances such as Virtual Reality may offer a way to propel it into a new era.
Patrick Blessinger

Higher education is at the centre of a move to a global knowledge society with challenges including access, quality assurance and the need to produce students who are both specialists and generalists.
Jan Petter Myklebust

Comparative analysis of the strategies of world-class universities, reproduced in a report on higher education leadership in Sweden, provides a rich mine of information on how internationalisation policies can help drive universities towards scientific excellence.
Goldie Blumenstyk, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Eight and a half years ago, Colin Goddard was one of the students taking the bullets, shot four times while sitting in his French class at Virginia Tech. Now he is dedicated to lobbying for checks on gun purchasers and gun safety legislation and believes the gun-violence prevention movement "is finally on an upward trajectory".
Dror Ben-Naim

Both the government and universities are concerned about the impact of publicly supported students dropping out of online courses. But research has shown that students who have access to better designed, and more personalised, courses tend to have higher engagement and better outcomes.
Reuben Kyama

Higher education plays a key role in providing young people with access to employment and micro-business opportunities in Africa, according to experts at a recent summit held in Cape Town, South Africa. Preliminary findings show that the agricultural sector is set to create eight million stable jobs by 2020 and up to 14 million if growth in the sector is accelerated.
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A draconian new regulation that paves the way for the arbitrary closure of private universities and allows the vindictive seizure of their properties has come into effect, deepening concerns over the deterioration of the rule of law in Turkey, reports Today’s Zaman.

A Delhi court has summoned – from Delhi University and the Election Commission – the records of educational qualifications of Union Minister for Human Resource Development Smriti Irani, writes Nirnimesh Kumar for The Hindu.

The University of Winnipeg has officially given the green light to a new requirement that all students, starting in the next university year, take at least one indigenous studies course in order to graduate, reports CBC News.

Princeton University has pledged to consider renaming buildings dedicated to former United States President Woodrow Wilson in the latest US campus effort to quell student complaints of racism by tweaking names, titles and mascots, reports Reuters.

The University Grants Commission and Smriti Irani's Human Resource Development Ministry appear headed for a showdown over a proposal to allow private universities to set up campus outside the parent state and abroad, writes Basant Kumar Mohanty for The Telegraph India.

More than 5,000 academics have signed a petition calling for the release of jailed Colombian academic Miguel Ángel Beltrán, whose detention has been labelled an attack on scholarly freedom, writes Jack Grove for Times Higher Education.

A mind-bending act of political correctness has sparked an international backlash on social media after student leaders at the University of Ottawa halted free yoga classes because of concerns that its practice was not sufficiently sensitive to yoga’s cultural roots, writes Andrew Duffy for Ottawa Citizen.

Maori success in education is being celebrated as new research shows more are graduating from university – with more than half being the first in their immediate family to do so, writes Corazon Miller for NZ Herald.

Members of the American Anthropological Association voted recently in favour of adopting a motion to boycott Israeli academic institutions, reports The Jerusalem Post.

The government last week announced a new formula for funding public universities, designed to ensure efficient use of the funds, reports Malaysian Digest.

Charles University and the University of Economics have filed a criminal complaint with the Prague Municipal Court against Czech President Milos Zeman for not appointing three nominated professors, reports ČTK.

Having barely recovered from the protests over the history curriculum in July, the Ministry of Education finds itself under pressure again – this time over failing to prevent the undue influence of high-ranking officials who serve in positions at private universities right after their retirement, writes Christine Chou for The China Post.

Students in England now pay, on average, the highest university tuition fees in the world, around six times more than those studying in Switzerland and Italy, and fees could rise even higher after it was announced universities could decide how much they charge if they can prove they offer good-quality teaching, writes Lucy Sherriff for The Huffington Post.

The president of the University of Hong Kong showed support for Johannes Chan Man-mun shortly before the institution's governing body blocked him from taking up a key managerial post, a new recording of a key closed-door meeting in September leaked last week revealed, writes Stuart Lau for the South China Morning Post.

Three Chinese university chiefs have been ‘named and shamed’ for allegedly engaging in illicit acts of “hedonism and dishonesty”. The punishments – the latest example of President Xi Jinping’s offensive against corruption within the Communist Party – were dished out to top officials at the Communication University of China, state media reported last week, writes Tom Phillips for the Guardian.

More than 60% of universities in Japan received complaints from students this year about a practice known as owahara, in which companies coerce applicants into halting their job hunt elsewhere in exchange for an informal offer of employment, reports JIJI.

The Malaysian government will take necessary actions to recognise more degree programmes from India, especially in information technology and engineering, reports Bernama.

A government-commissioned review says United Kingdom science funding should be determined by a single independent agency. It argues this body should liaise with a committee of ministers, chaired by a senior cabinet figure, writes Pallab Ghosh for BBC News.
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