University World News Global Edition
07 February 2016 Issue 399 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
Launch of world’s largest research centre focused on higher education

In our World Blog, Hans de Wit outlines a number of new initiatives in the development of research into international higher education, including the launch in London last week of the world’s largest research centre in this field.
In Commentary, Zenobia Ismail dives into the debate over removing the statue of Cecil Rhodes at Oxford University as well as memorials of other contentious historical figures. Robert Tijssen considers the extent to which current university ranking systems are keeping up with changing trends in science and higher education. Also on the subject of rankings, Frans van Vught and Frank Ziegele, as project leaders of U-Multirank, respond to the Coimbra Group’s critique of their university ranking system.
Focusing on Indonesia, Aulia Nastiti reflects on ways the country could enhance a multidisciplinary culture in its universities. And following the suicide in India of Rohith Vemula, a student who campaigned for the rights of Dalits, Ranjit Goswami suggests that the government partner with universities to address root causes rather than responding with knee-jerk reactions to media reports. On a very different subject, Sarah Porter says there is huge potential in the use of data analytics in universities and outlines the recommendations of a recent report on the subject in the United Kingdom.
In Features, Reuben Kyama speaks to Anastacia Mikwa, a student who was shot multiple times but survived the April 2015 terror attack at Kenya’s Garissa University College. And Nicola Jenvey reports on a lecture by the OECD’s Andreas Schleicher saying there is no shortcut to measuring the quality of higher education that bypasses student learning outcomes.
Brendan O’Malley – Managing Editor
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Karen MacGregor

There is a strong call for strengthening universities and research in the new Continental Education Strategy for Africa 2016-2025. Its objectives include boosting postgraduate and post-doctoral education and growing competitive awards to nurture young academics, more international research cooperation and expanding centres of excellence and institutional links.
Michael Gardner

Germany’s Excellence Initiative, aimed at promoting world-class science at German universities, has been evaluated by an international commission of experts. They give the measure good marks but also point to a number of shortcomings that will have to be addressed in future.
Yojana Sharma

Universities in Shanghai have been taken to task for inflating graduate employment figures as the Shanghai City administration, in cooperation with higher education institutions, recently published its first report on the destination of recent graduates.
Brendan O'Malley

The European Union’s Erasmus+ programme offered a record number – 650,000 – of individual mobility grants for people to study, train, work or volunteer abroad in 2014. But an impact study of the previous programme suggests the impact will differ from region to region.
Ameen Amjad Khan

A provincial government inquiry committee into a terrorist attack on Pakistan’s Bacha Khan University on 20 January that left 21 dead and as many as 30 injured has held the university’s vice-chancellor and its security officer responsible, and recommended the removal of Vice-chancellor Fazal Rahim Marwat. But the recommendation has been unanimously rejected by university staff.
Yojana Sharma

A new research university at Savannakhet – the country’s second-largest city – in the western region of Laos is being built with loans and funding of up to US$40 million from the Asian Development Bank to provide skilled graduates for the region’s ‘economic corridor’ that runs through the area.

Australia’s international education is continuing to expand rapidly, according to preliminary data released on 3 February showing export income from education services was A$19.65 billion (US$13.9 billion) in 2015 – an increase of 11.5% since 2014 – according to Australian Bureau of Statistics data.
Jan Petter Myklebust

Copenhagen University – the largest research and education institution in the country – announced last week that it is cutting 532 jobs of professors, researchers and administrative staff, due to government austerity measures. The job losses will amount to 7.4% of the total workforce at the university.

The Institute of International Education has created an Emergency Student Fund initiative to help students from Syria and Yemen on United States campuses whose financial support has been devastated by the ongoing conflict in Syria and escalating violence in Yemen.
John Gerritsen

New Zealand’s government is promising to reinvest in the country’s universities as they face a big drop in enrolments. The Education Ministry has forecast that degree and postgraduate enrolments by domestic students will fall every year until at least 2019 because there are fewer school-leavers and less unemployment.
Zenobia Ismail

The debate over whether to remove the statue of Cecil Rhodes at Oxford University opens up a much broader discussion about historical legacy and the impact of students from former colonies on Western universities.
Robert Tijssen

Rankings are criticised for their focus on research, but even in research they need to adapt to keep pace with big changes in the way scientific research is done.
Frans van Vught and Frank Ziegele

The Coimbra Group’s critique of U-Multirank shows it has misunderstood U-Multirank’s conceptual approach and its methodology, which is radically different to those of existing international university rankings.
Aulia Nastiti

Indonesia needs to be more proactive in promoting interdisciplinary approaches in responding to the world’s problems as its neighbours do. Disciplines have for too long been isolated from each other.
Ranjit Goswami

The suicide of Rohith Vemula, a student who campaigned for the rights of Dalits, has generated a lot of media coverage, to which the government has responded with ad hoc policy suggestions. What is needed, though, is some joined up policy which addresses the roots of this and similar cases.
Sarah Porter

To make the most of the possibilities of data analytics at universities requires a coherent digital strategy and training for staff.
Hans de Wit

The Shanghai Statement of 2013 unleashed a string of initiatives aimed at promoting more research into international higher education, including the world's largest research centre in this field, launched in London last week.
Reuben Kyama

Anastacia Mikwa, a 20-year-old student at Kenya’s Garissa University College when it was attacked by al-Shabaab extremists last April, was shot multiple times and lost her friends. Still traumatised and crippled – but feeling lucky to be alive – she spoke to University World News about the massacre in which 148 people lost their lives.
Nicola Jenvey

Unless we measure learning outcomes, judgements about the quality of teaching and learning at higher education institutions will continue to be made on the basis of flawed international rankings based on idiosyncratic inputs and reputation surveys, says Andreas Schleicher of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Sara Hebel, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Public universities should deepen their engagement with their communities and make those partnerships part of their core academic missions, says Robert J Jones, president of the University at Albany.
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The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology aims to increase the number of foreign students to 300,000 by 2020, from about 200,000 currently, with a strong focus on students from the ASEAN – Association of Southeast Asian Nations – region, reports The Japan Times.

There are now almost 8,000 courses being taught in English by leading universities in non-English speaking countries, according to a project mapping their expansion, with the result that the rise of universities teaching in English, rather than their own local language, has become a global phenomenon, writes Nic Mitchell for the BBC.

The 36 government-run universities in South Korea scored 5.88 out of 10 in a corruption survey by a state-run watchdog, marking a modest improvement from the year before, but indicating an ethical lapse in the research lab in particular, writes Yoon Min-sik for The Korea Herald.

The Labour Party, the main opposition, has announced a multi-billion-dollar plan to provide every New Zealander with three years of free tertiary education, reports the New Zealand Herald.

Academics are concerned that Finns may soon be asked to pay tuition fees to attend local universities. Two prominent academics said they believe that the introduction of the charge for non-EU students may soon extend to locals and other European Union nationals, reports Yle.

The controversial draft Higher Education Amendment Bill only seeks to facilitate state "capture" of universities, while the sector is on the verge of economic collapse, says South Africa’s opposition party the Democratic Alliance, writes Bekezela Phakathi for BDLive.

A major international report suggests that students who are struggling with literacy and numeracy should not be able to go to university, reports the Telegraph.

The University of Sydney will lead the attack on declining standards and falling enrolments in mathematics by requiring students in a range of courses, including science, engineering, commerce and IT, to have passed maths, at minimum of intermediate level, in year 12, writes Tim Dodd for the Financial Review.

America’s most prominent public universities were founded to serve the people of their states, but they are enrolling record numbers of students from elsewhere to maximise tuition revenue as state support for higher education withers, write Nick Anderson and Danielle Douglas-Gabriel for The Washington Post.

After two weeks of massive protests over the suicide of Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula, classes resumed at the University of Hyderabad last Monday, reports The Times of India. Normalcy returned to the campus of the central university after protesting students allowed the administration to conduct classes and lifted the siege of the administrative block.

The United Kingdom’s top universities have rejected criticism they are not doing enough to promote racial diversity after Prime Minister David Cameron said discrimination against minorities in the upper echelons of British life “should shame our country”, writes Andrew Ward for Financial Times.

The government agency Majlis Amanah Rakyat will review its policy of sponsoring students to study abroad, in line with the government's desire to turn Malaysia into a regional education hub, reports Bernama.

Students attending Burundi's public universities are going without breakfast because the government can no longer afford it, underscoring the fragile state of Burundi's economy amid violent unrest, writes Eloge Willy Kaneza for Associated Press.

Cecil Rhodes – or at least the statue of him perched above the entrance of Oriel College, Oxford – isn’t falling. The college announced on 29 January that despite the efforts of Rhodes Must Fall Oxford, a student-led organisation calling for its removal, the 19th-century statue will stay, writes Barbara Speed for New Statesman.

Italian academics have signed a petition calling for a boycott of Israeli universities due to their “notorious complicity” with the country’s “state violence”, reports The Times of Israel.

An expert on international affairs has said Beijing is ramping up efforts to entice foreign elites with university scholarships in a bid to build its “soft power”, writes David Matthews for Times Higher Education.

A powerful foundation has joined the chorus calling for more accurate information to measure what Americans are getting for the hundreds of billions of dollars per year they invest in higher education, writes Jon Marcus for The Hechinger Report.

Rising numbers of European Union students are applying to United Kingdom universities – while the number of home applicants has fallen, writes Eleanor Harding for the Daily Mail. Statistics published by admissions service UCAS show 45,220 EU residents have applied to attend UK universities this autumn, up 6% on the same point last year.
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