University World News Global Edition
29 January 2017 Issue 444 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
Universities must take the lead in widening access in an age of populism

In Commentary, Graeme Atherton says university leaders who ignore the imperative to widen access to higher education do so at their peril in the face of the populist challenge which is changing the global political landscape, as universities may be perceived as part of the elite and a cause of inequality if access remains limited. Ararat Osipian commends the State of New York for being at the forefront of fighting alleged university fraud in its many manifestations, from the recent diploma mills case to the Trump University settlement. While online learning programmes are still new in Africa, Deirdre Carabine of the Virtual University of Uganda is convinced that it is only a matter of time before their true higher education value is recognised. And Marcelo Knobel and Andrés Bernasconi question why universities in Latin America appear to be lagging behind those in other parts of the world and what can be done to bring them up to speed.
In World Blog, Philip G Altbach and Maria Yudkevich affirm that international faculty are an increasingly important part of the global academic environment, and consider some of the trade-offs for universities in attracting foreign academics.
In Features, Munyaradzi Makoni reports on a new partnership between an Ethiopian and a Canadian university to advance inclusive higher education for young people with disabilities in Ethiopia and Africa; Suvendrini Kakuchi reveals the secrets to success of Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in Japan in luring high-quality international students, who constitute half of the student body; and Sharon Dell reports that South African higher education authorities are hoping for greater stability in the sector in 2017 as a result of progress made in addressing some of the key challenges that sparked last year’s violent protests.
On Wednesday 8 February University World News, in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation and DrEducation, will be hosting a free international webinar, entitled “Are universities crucibles of transformative leadership?” You are invited to register.
Lastly, University World News and International Higher Education are pleased to announce that they have formed a partnership and will be collaborating on future projects, including two forthcoming books on global higher education.
Brendan O’Malley – Managing Editor
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Mary Beth Marklein

United States President Donald Trump has signalled his intent to tighten control on federal funding for and public dissemination of scientific research, a move that appears to be aimed primarily at climate change and energy policy and threatens to "disrupt core operations" of the US Environmental Protection Agency, according to ProPublica, a non-profit news organisation.
Ranjit Devraj

India’s University Grants Commission has moved to crack down on the use of so-called ‘predatory’ academic publishers and drive up the quality of published research by issuing a list of approved journals for publishing research papers. From now on academic promotion and recruitment will be linked to research published on the approved list.
Eugene Vorotnikov

Due to a shortage of funds, the Russian government is making significant cuts to its programme for achieving five top-ranking world-class universities and has forced the suspension of the government-subsidised student loan programme.
Ameen Amjad Khan

Pakistan’s Higher Education Commission this month issued a public notice listing 153 illegal universities and degree-awarding institutions, but academics say the rising trend of fake universities cannot be discouraged without punitive action against management of the bogus institutions.
Tunde Fatunde

Chronic delays in the payment of lecturer salaries by the federal government are causing major disruptions in Nigerian universities and have already brought some to a standstill. Despite the recession, however, salaries and allowances of all political office holders continue to be paid on time.
Maina Waruru

International human rights group Amnesty International is calling on the government of Sudan to launch urgent investigations into allegations of arbitrary arrests, detention, torture and persecution of students from the country’s troubled Darfur region by Sudanese security forces.
Michael Gardner

Concern over the widening persecution of researchers and journalists under autocratic governments was raised by a panel of higher education and NGO representatives at a meeting in Bonn, Germany on 25 January, who called on Germany to apply more leverage to promote academic freedom abroad.
Mushfique Wadud

Amid recent incidents of university graduates being engaged in terrorist attacks, researchers have warned that a growing number of economically inactive graduates in Bangladesh could be turning to extremism.
Jan Petter Myklebust

The introduction of tuition fees for foreign students had only a marginal effect upon the more than SEK23 billion (US$2.6 billion) higher education budget in 2015. But it has been a game-changer at the vast majority of Swedish higher education institutions, which now take internationalisation work more seriously.
Wagdy Sawahel

The Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University opened its first overseas office this month, in Tunisia, in what has been hailed by the university’s president as an opportunity to “bring the world to Harvard and Harvard to the world”. Among local higher education experts canvassed by University World News, hopes for the initiative seem equally high.
Karin Fischer, The Chronicle of Higher Education

A 21-year-old senior at the University of Evansville has a job waiting for him when he graduates, but he doesn’t "know what is going to happen" as a result of an expected presidential order halting resettlement of Syrian refugees and suspending travel from six Muslim countries.
Graeme Atherton

In an age of populism it is crucial for universities to widen access or be seen as a cause of growing inequality. Analysis suggests that policy-makers’ role in improving access is unreliable. Is it not time higher education took responsibility for its own situation?
Ararat Osipian

A high-profile diploma mills case, and the Trump University settlement, show that the state of New York is prepared to take action to prosecute alleged higher education fraud. Many other states are still not confronting the issue strongly enough, and it is likely to grow.
Deirdre Carabine

At the virtual university academics are not teachers so much as curators of knowledge and innovation, able to offer better quality learning materials than the materials that could be delivered in traditional classrooms.
Marcelo Knobel and Andrés Bernasconi

While the world around them is changing at a fast speed, Latin American universities appear to be falling behind. They are rarely places of radical innovation, stellar research performance or forward-looking projects. The system needs a complete transformation in line with 21st century demands and needs.
Philip G Altbach and Maria Yudkevich

The increasing number of academics working outside their home country contribute to internationalisation through their different viewpoints and skills, but some universities are not integrating them into their internationalisation programmes.

As part of its Transformative Leadership series published in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation, University World News is joining DrEducation to host a free international webinar on 8 February entitled “Are universities crucibles of transformative leadership?”

Munyaradzi Makoni

In Ethiopia it is difficult for young people living with disabilities to succeed at university. Even if they gain access to institutions they face enormous challenges once there. A new inclusive higher education initiative is aiming to change that.
Suvendrini Kakuchi

The share of foreign students is five times higher at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University’s global campus than the average in Japan’s universities and its foreign students are nearly three times as successful in gaining employment. So what is its secret?
Sharon Dell

While it is unlikely that South Africa will escape the student unrest at the start of the 2017 academic year, authorities are hoping such action will be moderated by the progress made in addressing some of the key challenges that sparked and sustained last year’s violent and highly disruptive protests over fee-free higher education.
Les Field

The challenge for the new science minister, Arthur Sinodinos, is to defend and champion the nation-building role of research infrastructure within the cabinet and secure the necessary financial commitment.
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The education ministry took disciplinary action against seven senior bureaucrats over their involvement in illegally negotiating to secure their colleague a post-retirement university job, writes Mizuho Aoki for The Japan Times.

Finnish academics fear that government funding cuts could result in long-term damage to the country’s higher education sector after figures showed an increase in the number of highly educated people moving abroad, while evidence mounts that leading academics are leaving to take up positions elsewhere, writes Ellie Bothwell for Times Higher Education.

The University of Oxford is to face a landmark trial following a £1 million (US$1.2 million) compensation claim filed by a former student after he failed to graduate with a first-class degree, writes Rachael Pells for the Independent.

Students pursuing diploma courses in line with national priority areas will soon start receiving educational loans following the scheduled amendments of the Higher Education Students' Loan Board Act contained in the Written Laws (Miscellaneous Amendments) No 4 Bill of 2016, writes Rose Athumani for Tanzania Daily News.

A Chinese technology billionaire is offering the world's most valuable education prize. The Yidan Prize will award nearly US$8 million every year to two research projects that have the potential to “transform" global education, writes Matt Pickles for the BBC.

University admission experts say this year’s surge in the number of Americans applying to Canadian universities is not a clear sign that today’s students are dodging Donald Trump the way their grandparents dodged Vietnam, writes Simona Chiose for The Globe and Mail.

Protesting students shut down about 15 of the 50 public technical and vocational education and training colleges earlier this month as a result of a host of unresolved issues with the department of higher education and training, writes Prega Govender for the Mail & Guardian.

The peak body representing Australian universities has urged the Turnbull government not to pursue a "dramatic overhaul" of the nation's higher education system as it prepares to legislate a new round of university reforms, writes Matthew Knott for The Sydney Morning Herald.

Universities are focusing on enrolling students in majors which are easy to teach and learn and do not require high investments in facilities and laboratories, despite warnings issued by government about the excessive supply of graduates in finance, and business administration, reports VietNamNet Bridge.

There will be no increase in tuition fees for both public and private Egyptian universities, Higher Education Minister Ashraf El-Sheehy said last weekend, reports Ahram Online.

Iraqi employers say English language ability is the top skill they want from graduates as potential employees, writes Michelle Grajek for Al-Fanar Media.

While high prices and shortages of building materials are challenging townspeople returning to Sirte, plans are under way to restart higher education, reports the Libya Herald.

The Swiss students’ union VSS is calling on the federal and cantonal authorities to change the rules to make it easier for refugees to access the Swiss university system, reports The Local.

The Committee of University Heads called last Tuesday on Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who also chairs the Council for Higher Education, to drop his plan to draw up a code of ethics for political expression by academics, writes Yarden Skop for Haaretz.

Applications from European Union students for places at United Kingdom universities have dropped by more than 7%, according to latest figures, a committee of MPs investigating the impact of Brexit on higher education has been told, write Sally Weale and Caelainn Barr for the Guardian.

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh last week warned academics against the threat posed to independent thinking and free expression at Indian universities and urged authorities to zealously guard their autonomy as well as students' right to express dissent, reports The Times of India.

US President Donald Trump has now paid US$25 million to settle three lawsuits against his now-defunct Trump University, signalling that a judge’s approval of a settlement agreement remains on track for 30 March, writes Elliot Spagat for Associated Press.
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