University World News Global Edition
27 March 2016 Issue 406 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
What are the effects of ‘academic capitalism’ on US and UK universities?

In Commentary this week, Gary Rhoades questions the business model of US and UK universities which privileges students who are able to pay to play, skewing the range of fields of study offered at the expense of educational balance. Amanda tho Seeth writes that the cleavage between Islamists and secularists in Tunisia also runs strongly through the universities, which have become places of political dissent and activism. Alex Usher says African universities are facing a whole new set of challenges – such as meeting the needs of a modern knowledge-based economy – while still trying to get to grips with the old ones. Mikhail Sokolov argues that the pressure to publish is responsible for the miserable state of Russian scholarly periodicals and wonders whether, on a global scale, a similar process of decay is likely.
In Features, Karen MacGregor reports that the African diaspora fellowship initiative – which will sponsor 1,000 diaspora scholars a year for 10 years to African universities – is being picked up as a global model and that its founder has himself left the US to head up an African university. Andrew Green says an attempt to extend the mandate of the president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo beyond the official end of his final term in November has led to an unprecedented emergence of campus activism. Nicola Jenvey reports that UK universities have set up a task force on violence against women, harassment and hate crimes affecting university students, and are heeding US action on this front.
In World Blog, Roger Y Chao Jr hails the Lisbon Recognition Convention as a significant step forward in recognising refugee educational qualifications and thereby enhancing their integration within Europe.
Brendan O’Malley – Managing Editor
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Karen MacGregor

University ranker QS on Tuesday published the world’s largest subject rankings, featuring 42 disciplines. The United States once again dominates the ranking, topping 31 subjects, with MIT and Harvard clinching the number one spot in 12 subjects each. There are 551 institutions from 49 countries in the top 100 in at least one subject.
Brendan O'Malley

Trinity College Dublin, Ireland’s oldest and highest ranked university, has been censured by Quacquarelli Symonds, or QS, for breaching the rules of its global ranking by running a campaign which they “clearly forbid”.
Brendan O'Malley

Two important steps were taken last week in the drive to support the conversion of the majority of today’s scholarly journals from subscription only to Open Access. The Max Planck Society published an Expression of Interest in collaborating transition to Open Access, signed by 30 organisations including the European University Association; and Springer Nature announced that it is extending its year-long content sharing trial.
Yojana Sharma

European Union officials are suggesting the use of the EU’s Erasmus+ programme – which covers study abroad, professional development abroad for university staff and institutional cooperation between universities – to 'leverage' a possible agreement with Afghanistan to accept back so-called economic migrants from refugee camps in Europe.
Yojana Sharma

The defeat of the world Go champion by a computer has triggered a speeding up of investment in artificial intelligence, or AI, in South Korea, while Japan and China are already trying to compete with the US and it may not be long before their computers can beat students at top university entrance tests.
Karin Fischer, The Chronicle of Higher Education

A new comparison abroad of health and safety data finds that death rates are lower for students on study-abroad programmes than for those on American campuses. Students in the United States are an estimated 2.18 times as likely to die as their classmates overseas.

The new Liberal government has announced a CAN$2 billion (US$1.5 billion) injection of funds over three years into higher education, research and innovation and has promised that there is more to come. Finance Minister Bill Morneau said he was putting forward a “new innovation agenda” that would outline a vision for Canada as a “centre of global innovation".
Gilbert Nganga

Kenya’s Higher Education Loans Board – the agency that disburses student loans on behalf of the government – has launched a fresh drive to attract millions of dollars in long-term funds and recover more than US$120 million in loans. A savings scheme and lotteries are part of the plan.
Jan Petter Myklebust

Norwegian universities and research institutions are characterised by a kind of 'Norwegianness', which makes it difficult for foreigners to get a position at academic institutions, according to a new report. Foreign-born academics are less likely to be employed in higher education and research compared to the majority population.
Michael Gardner

The German Academic Exchange Service and the Association of Leading Russian Universities have established a declaration of intent centring on a new grants programme for highly qualified junior academics and students to support research and study stays in each other’s country.
Gary Rhoades

Universities from the United States and the United Kingdom are managing differently to be largely the same in the way they recruit international students – and by targeting privileged populations in their pursuit of international student fees, they risk losing their public purpose.
Amanda tho Seeth

The fall of authoritarianism introduced an array of democratic reforms in the Tunisian institutions of higher learning, but the impact of Islamists’ victory in university council elections is causing divisions on campus.
Alex Usher

African higher education faces an uphill struggle to address historical problems as well as new ones, such as the need for innovation in a world of state control.
Mikhail Sokolov

Could efforts to increase the publication productivity of Russian scholars lead to a decline in the quality of international academic periodicals?
Christopher Green and Peter Ward

It’s vital that South Korea understands the North so the demise of another North Korean studies department and the lack of interest in North Korean studies is short-sighted and potentially dangerous.
Karen MacGregor

The African diaspora fellowship initiative, brainchild of Malawi-born diaspora academic Dr Paul Zeleza, is building a platform from which to launch a ‘10-10’ initiative that will sponsor 1,000 diaspora scholars a year for 10 years to visit African universities for collaboration. Now Zeleza himself has left a top academic job in America to head up a university in Kenya.
Andrew Green

Activists in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are locked in a battle with President Joseph Kabila’s administration over what they are describing as an attempt to extend his mandate beyond the official end of his second – and final – term in November. In the process, political organisers are drawing on a deep well of support among university students.
Nicola Jenvey

United Kingdom universities have set up a task force on violence against women, harassment and hate crimes affecting university students and are drawing on best practice internationally, including recent United States government efforts.
Roger Y Chao Jr

Could the Lisbon Recognition Convention offer a way to overcome a significant barrier to refugee integration into their host countries?
Kitso Rantao

The distinction between race and language in South Africa is a fine one, and given historical racial politics the line is blurred in many places. Student protests against the use of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in universities have sparked racial tension that cannot be categorised as strictly ‘black’ or ‘white’.
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The terrorist attacks in Brussels last Tuesday prompted universities in and around the city to cancel classes and to organise transportation and shelter for students who were stranded as mass transit there shut down, writes Tyler Kingkade for The WorldPost. Meanwhile, American universities scrambled to locate their students in Europe.

A study for the British Academy to compare the quantitative skills taught by universities in the United Kingdom and 16 leading international universities, has found that many institutions in Europe, North America and Australasia reach “much higher levels of achievement”, writes Matthew Reisz for Times Higher Education.

In the Philippines, where university diplomas are proudly displayed in living rooms, higher education institutions are recession-proof enterprises, writes Felipe Salvosa for Financial Times. But when universities reopen next term, the unthinkable will happen – there will be no freshmen enrolling and thousands of tenured faculty will be made redundant.

After years of campaigning by the union for education and science, the German government has passed a law that will improve the conditions that apply to contract employment in research, writes Andrew Bonnell for The Australian.

At first glance, a huge wave of Chinese students entering American higher education seems beneficial for both sides, write Douglas Belkin and Miriam Jordan for the Wall Street Journal. But on the ground, campuses are struggling to absorb the growing influx – a dynamic confirmed by interviews with dozens of students, college professors and counsellors.

In a blog based on the opening seminar of the UCL Institute of Education’s Centre for Global Higher Education, Paul Ashwin took a fresh look at the thorny concept of the impact of university teaching, reports Times Higher Education.

The heads of Canada’s biggest research universities have added their voices to criticism of reforms at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, calling for a moratorium on further changes until an independent review is held, writes Elizabeth Payne for Ottawa Citizen.

Public research universities in the United States are anchors of stability and growth in their regions – vital to economic development and the creative economy, according to a new report from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Researchers have reasons to cheer. India’s University Grants Commission recently announced that time spent by a student in doing research for a PhD degree will be counted as teaching experience when they apply for direct recruitment to faculty positions in colleges and universities, writes Gauri Kohli for Hindustan Times.

The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology has launched a tender for local firms to help establish MOOCs – massive open online courses – under the Ministry of Higher Education, writes Mohamed Alaa El-Din for Daily News Egypt. It is the first effort to introduce MOOCs at such a scale in Egypt.

India’s Andhra Pradesh government will soon bring in a Common Universities Act, Human Resource Development Minister Ganta Srinivasa Rao informed the state assembly last Monday, reports The Hindu.

Research into the challenges and opportunities facing Pacific Islands and their communities will flourish thanks to the uniting of the resources and expertise of three New Zealand universities, reports Asia Pacific Report.

Structured higher education, provided the environment is conducive, can spur entrepreneurial ambitions, according to research by New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, writes Sadhana Chathurvedula for Live Mint.
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This Week

World Blog

Recognition of prior learning should be a vital part of integration of refugees

How ‘academic capitalism’ turns universities of the US and UK away from their public purpose

Cleavage between Islamists and secularists runs strongly through universities in Tunisia

Pressure to publish has led to the decline of Russian journals. Will this happen globally?

In Africa the new reliance on service industries for development has made universities vital

South Korea: Is the lack of interest in North Korean studies dangerous?

Student View
Kitso Rantao: Some languages are more equal than others in South African universities

Paul Zeleza, founder of African diaspora fellowship initiative, leads African university

Attempt to extend DRC president’s mandate beyond his term prompts student activism