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10 April 2016 Issue 408 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
University rankings must make sure methodology changes are fair

In Commentary, Richard Holmes and Waldemar Siwinski argue that while university rankings are justified in making changes to methodologies, they should play fair in order to limit the serious damage that can be caused to universities. Ross Paul looks into why there has been a sharp rise in the attrition rates of new university presidents in Canada, and concludes that governing boards should shoulder much of the blame.
Julien Jacqmin and Mathieu Lefebvre find that experience in both academia and politics is an ideal combination for a higher education minister, and Michaela Martin describes international research into effective internal quality assurance solutions for higher education systems around the world.
In World Blog, Patrick Blessinger argues that in a rapidly changing world, a framework is needed to understand the global higher education landscape and its trends – many of them positive.
In Features, Nic Mitchell outlines contrasting visions of international higher education presented at the first “Student of the Future” conference in the Netherlands. Andrew Green visits a refugee camp in remote Rwanda where an NGO is providing a university education to people who had little hope of accessing higher education, and Jenny Adams explores the history of student loans.
Michelle Paterson and Karen MacGregor
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Nic Mitchell

The United States’ dominance of the international university rankings is challenged in the latest edition of U-Multirank released last week. Supported by the European Commission, U-Multirank claims to be the largest global university ranking and this year looks in detail at the diversity of strengths of more than 1,300 universities from some 90 countries.
Yojana Sharma

The Indian government last week released its first ever ranking of publicly funded and private higher education institutions even though it acknowledged that some data from universities was incomplete during its evaluation of more than 3,500 institutions.
Unsoo Jung

The South Korean government has announced it will table regulatory reforms to promote overseas expansion of the country’s universities. The reforms will include allowing overseas branch campuses, the education ministry said, as well as increasing recognition for inter-university courses.
Michael Gardner

High-level diplomats and experts gathered in New York last week to discuss measures to support displaced students from the Middle East. Prompted by the ongoing refugee crisis, the meeting was organised by the Institute of International Education and the German Academic Exchange Service.
Stephen Coan

Measures designed to facilitate the enrolment of foreign students and academics at South African universities and to eliminate current bureaucratic chaos centred around immigration regulations were announced at a Research and Innovation Dialogue held in Johannesburg from 7-8 April.
Wachira Kigotho

Africa’s tertiary education and research sector is not ready for global competitiveness and innovation as only 4% of new innovations on the continent are based on research and development, according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the African Union and the African Development Bank. They propose drawing lessons from India.
David Haworth

It is high time universities started to measure more what they achieve in student learning, rather than in enrolments, the Presidents’ Forum of the Worldwide Universities Network has been told in Brussels.
Jan Petter Myklebust

Proposals to redirect funding from Denmark’s student financing system to universities, thus shifting more of the costs of higher education to students, have met with opposition from Akademikerne – the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations.
Stefan Lundberg and Jan Petter Myklebust

“I will not do it – I will not fire my staff – whatever happens to me,” Director of the National Library of Finland Kai Ekholm decided, claiming that Finnish cultural heritage is protected by the constitution, after government ordered heavy staff cuts at universities and libraries due to austerity measures. Ekholm received 100,000 messages of support on social media.
Fernanda Zamudio-Suaréz, The Chronicle of Higher Education

America’s Department of Homeland Security arrested 21 people last Tuesday on charges that they had recruited thousands of students through the promise of fraudulently obtained visas. At the centre of the arrests was the University of Northern New Jersey, the brainchild of federal agents who masqueraded as representatives of a for-profit university to ensnare the recruiters.
Francis Kokutse

Ghana’s Technical University Bill, which will convert a number of polytechnics into universities, has been finalised by the attorney general and is currently under consideration by the National Council for Tertiary Education, President John Mahama has announced.

The 2016 Worldviews Annual Lecture on Media and Higher Education will be held on Wednesday 13 April 2016 at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, Canada, and will be given by Professor Rajani Naidoo of the University of Bath, United Kingdom. University World News is a partner to Worldviews, which is a global forum to advance mutual understanding of the relationships, challenges and potential of the academy and the media.
Nic Mitchell

Contrasting visions of the direction of international higher education – from MOOC-like masters degrees to undergraduate programmes in seven countries for students who want a true global experience – were presented to the first “Student of the Future” conference organised by Dutch-based StudyPortals.
Andrew Green

An innovative non-governmental organisation is breaking some of the toughest barriers to attaining a university education imaginable – offering refugees living in Kiziba, a remote camp tucked away in far eastern Rwanda, access to degree courses. Higher learning was out of reach for its younger residents, for geographical and financial reasons.
Jenny Adams

Medieval universities excluded many groups – minorities, feudal villeins and women – but they did give poor young men with talent a chance and even a type of loan to pay fees if they pawned some gold, silver, or more commonly, their textbook as collateral.
Ross Paul

Canada has seen a big increase in the attrition rate for new university presidents. While boards spend a long time searching for their ideal candidate, very little energy is put into offering them transitional support to deal with a job that requires many different dimensions of leadership.
Michaela Martin

As a quality crisis envelops universities around the world, the importance of internal quality assurance is rising. A research project aims to find out what works and why.
Richard Holmes and Waldemar Siwinski

Change is part of everyday life these days as more data becomes available, but international ranking organisations should play by fair rules when they change the methodologies they use.
Julien Jacqmin and Mathieu Lefebvre

Does hands-on experience of academia make for better higher education ministers? Research suggests that this and political nous are the ideal combination.
Patrick Blessinger

In a rapidly changing world we need a framework for understanding the shifting landscape of higher education and its trends. Many of these trends are positive and will strengthen democracy, such as a focus on the development of personal agency and lifelong learning.
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Switzerland’s École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne has topped the Times Higher Education 150 Under 50 Rankings 2016 – a ranking of the best universities under the age of 50 – for the second year in a row, while the United Kingdom has the most world-class young institutions in the top 150, writes Ellie Bothwell for Times Higher Education.

Canada’s Minister of Science Kirsty Duncan announced last week that the government would launch the application process for a CAN$2 billion (US$1.5 billion) fund that will improve research and innovation infrastructure at universities and colleges across the country, reports Marketwired.

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham says more details of the Australian government’s higher education policy will be unveiled before the election, as he recommitted to de-regulating the sector, writes Francis Keany for ABC News.

Snobbish attitudes among some universities towards their less prestigious peers are stopping cooperation that could save institutions millions of pounds in efficiency savings, a Leadership Foundation study says, writes Jack Grove for Times Higher Education .

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked for a new body to subsume the present higher education regulators, and the National Institution for Transforming India Aayog has been told to suggest a new framework after consulting stakeholders, reports the Hindustan Times.

Israel’s Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who serves as head of the Council for Higher Education, has announced his choices for nine candidates to serve on the council. They will replace the six members who resigned earlier this year following a rift between members of academia and the education minister, writes Lidar Gravé-Lazi for The Jerusalem Post.

Princeton University has announced that its Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs will continue to bear the name of the 28th president, despite protests by student activists seeking to rename the school because of Wilson's record on racial issues, writes David Wright for CNN.

On 2 April Kenyans commemorated the first anniversary of the terrorist attack that killed 148 people, mostly students, at a university college in Garissa in the country’s worst massacre since 1998, reports AFP.

Kuwait has started taking measures to determine reasons behind the spread of fake university certificates and to prevent the use of such certificates in the future, after the Ministry of Higher Education in Kuwait referred 259 people found to be holding fake degrees to the courts, reports Arab Times.

India extended an invitation recently to Canadian faculty members to teach in the country’s institutions of higher learning for short stretches, possibly “during the harsh winter months in Canada”, reports India Today.

A group of prestigious Russian universities has visited Vietnam to seek cooperation opportunities amid a rising trend of study abroad among young Vietnamese, reports VietnamNet Bridge.

The higher education industry in Malaysia is ripe for transformation and public universities must rise to the occasion to continue remaining relevant, said Universiti Sains Malaysia’s vice-chancellor at a global higher education forum held in Penang, writes Phuah Ken Lin for New Straits Times.

Cambridge University in the United Kingdom is to abandon its centuries-old tradition of putting exam results on public display after students complained that it “damages” their welfare, writes Tim Shipman for The Sunday Times.

Chinese universities will soon have their own rowing competitions just like the 162-year-old event between Oxford and Cambridge universities in the United Kingdom, writes Liu Wei for China Daily.

In a move aimed at sparing students and faculty embarrassment, a Japanese private university named Kinki University has ditched its distracting former English name for a more benign moniker, reports Kyodo News.
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