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NEWSLETTERUniversities and their experts can help us ride the wave of disruption
In Commentary, Barney Glover contends that universities are the institutions best equipped to buffer us against the fallout from the disruption which is refashioning the economy, reshaping the way we work and reimagining the way we engage with each other. Ngugi wa Thiong'o encourages every African university and government to become an advocate of African languages, as one step in building an Africa that is economically, politically and culturally empowered and secure in its base. Paul Benneworth, Franziska Eckardt and Matt Bucholski provide evidence that allowing students to learn through research benefits them and universities, as they develop the kind of skills that contribute to innovation. Rosemary Salomone suggests the Italian Constitutional Court’s decision affirming the primacy of the Italian language in the country’s universities may offer insights to universities across the globe as they ride the wave of English in the name of internationalisation. And Lisa Unangst encourages California’s policy-makers to take the lead in promoting equitable access to universities, as an enrolment crisis exacerbates disparities in access for students of colour and lower socio-economic status.
In World Blog this week, Margaret Andrews asks how universities might best prepare people for engaged and productive lives spanning a longer productive life, multiple careers, changing technologies and the new world of work.
And in Features, Munyaradzi Makoni reports on a study in South Africa showing that poor English language competence is hindering the academic performance of large numbers of second-language students but early interventions can help, while Kafil Yamin reports that researchers in Indonesia, especially in poorer parts of the country, are grappling with a 40% cut in research funding due to an economic slowdown, but are adapting by pooling resources in university consortia.
Brendan O’Malley – Managing Editor
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
UNITED STATESBrendan O'Malley
Universities in the United States and Europe have spoken out against President Donald Trump’s new travel ban issued on 6 March, voicing alarm at the impact it will have on international students but also on the US’s ability to attract the best talent.
Among institutions, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology dominate the latest subject rankings. Among countries, the United States and the United Kingdom dominate the top echelons. Countries from Africa, Latin America and the Middle East are absent from the top 10 in almost every subject. But China has increased its share of top-50 places.
Despite the fact that two-thirds of African countries have policies and strategies in place for science, technology and innovation, the capacity of the continent’s higher education institutions and associated research centres to implement them remains very low.
BRAZILMaría Elena Hurtado
Brazilian university students who are awarded quotas for race and low income or receive specific scholarships or loans have similar or better academic results than their classmates, according to a recent study, thus disproving the argument in Brazil that quota receivers displace better-qualified students and become worse professionals.
TAIWANMimi Leung and Yojana Sharma
New guidelines are to be drafted by Taiwan’s Ministry of Education for university agreements with institutions in mainland China after a controversy erupted recently over universities signing agreements not to teach 'sensitive' subjects that criticise Beijing policies as a condition of taking in mainland exchange students.
International students studying in the United Kingdom now generate more than £25 billion (US$30 billion) for the economy and support around 206,600 jobs in university towns and cities across the UK, according to new figures. These students also paid an estimated £4.8 billion (US$5.8 billion) in tuition fees, accounting for more than 14% of total university income.
The Institute of International Education and the Catalyst Foundation for Universal Education have launched an online clearinghouse to connect displaced students with opportunities to continue their education in safety around the world.
Only five African countries have made their pledges and committed to the World Bank's Partnership for Skills in Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology programme since its launch three years ago.
DENMARKJan Petter Myklebust
Despite more than doubling the number of PhD students, Danish PhDs have maintained their high quality, according to new analysis, with three out of four international supervisors judging them to be 'very good' or 'good'. And an influx of international students has heightened the quality of PhD training, most supervisors say.
Teaching and learning is yet to resume at public universities across the country as the unions representing the teaching staff had not, by late last week, reached an agreement with the government over salaries, keeping the studies of thousands of students in 33 institutions on hold.
NORWAYJan Petter Myklebust
In Norway there is a growing resistance to university reforms and the present approach to governance, which is being dubbed 'New Public Management', is seen by academics as eroding autonomy in favour of increased central control that threatens risk-taking in research.
UNITED STATESPaul Basken, The Chronicle of Higher Education
As automation threatens more American jobs, the idea of providing a universal basic income is gaining traction among businessmen and advocates on the left and right. Scientists, unsure of how to tackle the issue or get funding to do so, have largely been stuck on the sidelines. Yet if any policy question needs a thorough examination, experts say, it is this one.
Universities have a vital role to play in standing up for evidence, dealing with disruption and above all asking questions about the complex problems we face today and in the future – and to never rest with the answers.
AFRICANgugi wa Thiong'o
There is a need to intensify resistance to the metaphysical empire of language, literature and scholarship and make African languages and what is produced in them more visible.
GLOBALPaul Benneworth, Franziska Eckardt and Matt Bucholski
Ongoing research shows that students – and their universities – can gain from being allowed to undertake research. Through research, students develop many of the kinds of skills that can be used to contribute to innovation or solving social challenges.
The Italian Constitutional Court’s recent nuanced decision on teaching university courses in English has provoked a popular response in defence of Italian. Could the decision give momentum to a backlash against English and globalisation?
UNITED STATESLisa Unangst
The enrolment crisis in California caused by growing demand, neoliberal policies and budget constraints, is adversely affecting students of colour and those from lower socio-economic groups. California’s policy-makers should follow Clark Kerr’s example and lead the drive for equitable access.
As people live longer and technology evolves, universities should be at the forefront of innovation in teaching and addressing the fast-changing skills the workers of tomorrow will need in a life requiring more frequent retooling for multiple careers.
SOUTH AFRICAMunyaradzi Makoni
By focusing on the quality of their note-taking in and out of class, researchers from the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, have established that poor English language competence is hindering the academic performance of a significant number of undergraduate students for whom the language is not their mother tongue.
Despite an election pledge to double funding, the government has cut the research budget for state universities by 40%, leaving researchers in poor parts of the country grappling with the challenge of how to produce meaningful research with little money – for some pooling resources between universities is the answer.
DNA in hair samples collected from Aboriginal people across Australia in the early to mid-1900s has revealed that populations of the first people have been continuously present in the same regions for up to 50,000 years – soon after their arrival in Australia, according to a paper published in Nature last week.
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A Science Council of Japan committee has proposed continuing a ban on military research by universities and other institutes, a stance based on remorse over such studies under Japan’s wartime government, writes Ryoko Takeishi for The Asahi Shimbun.
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem has become the first Israeli university to recognise the Palestinian Authority’s matriculation exam, known as the tawjihi, writes Dov Lieber for The Times of Israel.
New research reveals that incidents of sexual harassment, misconduct and gender-based violence have reached ‘epidemic’ levels at British universities, writes Richard Black for The Telegraph.
Amazon.com Inc has launched a new programme to help students build capabilities into its voice-controlled assistant Alexa, the latest move by a technology firm to nurture ideas and talent in artificial intelligence research, writes Jeffrey Dastin for Reuters.
Discussions are heating up within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party over how the government should procure funds to make universities and junior colleges tuition-free after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his willingness in his January policy speech to make it happen, reports The Yomiuri Shimbun.
A former Trump University student wants to drop out of a recent US$25 million class action settlement and take President Donald Trump to trial, writes Nancy Dillon for the New York Daily News.
Over the last decade, students have fled the humanities. In response, universities have cancelled individual courses, or entire specialised humanities programmes. Instead of hiring tenure-track professors to replace retiring faculty, they make do with less, or turn to sessional instructors who teach when and if there is demand, writes Simona Chiose for The Globe and Mail.
All through the 160 years of its existence, the University of Mumbai has had one address. Now, it may soon have a second home – in Trumpland, writes Hemali Chhapia for TNN.
SOUTH AFRICA-UNITED KINGDOM
As digital technology continues to influence and disrupt how students learn and are taught, a new transcontinental research project by the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom and the University of Cape Town in South Africa will examine its effect on staff, students and employers, writes Megan van Wyngaardt for Creamer Media.
The University of Sydney has threatened to ban a high-profile financial markets economist and anti-sugar campaigner from its campus, accusing him of intimidating one of its top academics as they feud over the role of sugar in fuelling obesity, writes Adam Creighton for The Australian.
A University of Hawaii professor is working to get an entire curriculum at the university taught in Hawaiian to supplement the language courses taught to children across the state, reports Associated Press.
The National Assessment and Accreditation Council, which accredits and grades universities and colleges, is looking to revise its methodology at a time when it faces corruption charges and possible competition from the Indian Institutes of Technology, writes Basant Kumar Mohanty for The Telegraph India.
The Right2Know Campaign is putting pressure on the University of Johannesburg to come clean about using private security firms to spy on student protesters, reports Times Live.
The Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics has appealed to the federal government to upgrade all polytechnics to universities of technology to end discrimination against technological education in the country, reports the Nigerian Tribune.
Dr Carlo Croce, who is among the most prolific scientists in an emerging area of cancer research involving what is sometimes called the ‘dark matter’ of the human genome, has, over the past several years, been fending off a tide of allegations of data falsification and other scientific misconduct. He now faces new whistle-blower accusations, write James Glanz and Agustin Armendariz for The New York Times.
Controversial British journalist Milo Yiannopoulos is one of 12 names put forward by students for the role of Glasgow University's next rector, a role aimed at representing the interests of the university’s students, reports Douglas Barrie for Stv.
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