University World News Global Edition
2 April 2017 Issue 453 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search


Confusion and anarchy reign in the realm of knowledge communication

   In our World Blog, Philip G Altbach warns that technology, greed, corruption, hyper-competitiveness and a lack of clear rules and norms have resulted in anarchy in the world of scientific communication.

   Academic Freedom comes under the spotlight this week. From Egypt, Ashraf Khaled says a new report concludes that state authorities have crushed a burgeoning democratic movement at universities by committing more than 2,300 human rights violations against students. In the United Arab Emirates, a prominent economist and academic, Nasser Bin Ghaith, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for tweeting criticism of the human rights record of the UAE and Egypt, despite a coalition of human rights organisations calling for his release. Also, Georgiana Mihut and Daniela Craciun contend that the targeting of the Central European University by the Hungarian government is an alarming action against academic freedom, and is part of an emerging trend of seeing universities as a threat. And Marit Egner describes how Scholars At Risk and other programmes have shown her that academic freedom should not be taken for granted.

   In Commentary, Ranjit Goswami says universities have an uphill task dealing with the post-truth era in an information-overloaded world under pressure to provide quality higher education for all, but deal with it they must. Eric Fredua-Kwarteng defends the Nigerian government’s plan to teach science and mathematics in indigenous languages at primary schools and cautions the academics who are opposed to the plan. Wesley Teter asks if the value of national qualifications frameworks has been overrated and what can be done about this given the importance of strengthening the evidence base for quality assurance mechanisms.

   In Features, Jan Petter Myklebust reports on the Norwegian government’s white paper which calls for a strengthened role for the humanities.

   The 2017 Worldviews Lecture on Media and Higher Education entitled “Populism and the Academy: On the ‘wrong side’ of history” will be presented this Wednesday 5 April by Peter Scott.

   And you are invited to register for the free webinar on the following Wednesday, 12 April, on “International Student Mobility Trends: Shifting recruitment priorities and strategies”, which is being hosted by University World News in partnership with DrEducation and StudyPortals.

Brendan O’Malley – Managing Editor

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report


International university ‘in danger’, Ignatieff warns

Brendan O'Malley

A leading international university could be forced to shut down or leave the country after the government tabled a proposal to force foreign-funded universities to meet tough new conditions, including having campuses and offering a similar course in their home country. The Central European University is "in danger" of ceasing operations, according to the rector Michael Ignatieff.


Uproar over violent mob attack on African students

Yojana Sharma

An attack on African students in India last week has caused an uproar among students in the country and has sparked an investigation by India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who called the attack “deplorable”, while students said if the authorities failed to curb attacks, India’s aim to be an international higher education destination would be affected.


Sydney professor barred from leaving China

Yojana Sharma

The barring of China scholar Feng Chongyi from travelling back from China to Australia where he holds a position at the University of Technology Sydney has unsettled academia and could have an impact on China research and collaborations between Australian and Chinese universities generally, academics fear.


New data creates world’s largest university ranking

Brendan O'Malley

U-Multirank has published a new release of data drawn from 1,500 universities, creating the world’s largest university ranking, and throwing a spotlight on high-performing universities that might not be picked up by traditional international university rankings.


American University reopens, defying threats of attack

Shadi Khan Saif

Defying threats of another deadly attack, the American University of Afghanistan has reopened in Kabul with upgraded security. Classes restarted on Tuesday, seven months after militants stormed its compound, leaving 13 dead, including seven students and one lecturer, which forced the university to close down.


Universities pay tribute to struggle icon Ahmed Kathrada

Munyaradzi Makoni

South African veteran activist Ahmed Kathrada, who died on Tuesday aged 87, has been hailed by universities for selflessly dedicating his life to fighting for freedom, justice, non-racialism and democracy.


Stipend delays cause hardship for Kenyan students

Maina Waruru

Kenyan students studying in Germany on government of Kenya scholarships are facing serious difficulties – including losing their accommodation – because of the failure of the Kenyan government to pay its share of their scholarship stipends on time.


Ministry tackles research integrity after NTU scandal

Mimi Leung and Yojana Sharma

Taiwan’s Ministry of Science and Technology has said it will set up an Office of Research Integrity to hold researchers to ethical academic standards in the wake of a major academic fraud scandal at the country’s top institution, National Taiwan University or NTU, which has severely damaged its research reputation.


Universities fear Trump indirect research payment cuts

Paul Basken, The Chronicle of Higher Education

The Trump administration’s plan to cut billions of dollars in research spending by eliminating indirect cost reimbursements – costs reflecting the legitimate expenses of providing scientists with labs and of complying with a host of essential services – would devastate university science, especially at public institutions, experts warned.


UN fellowships realigned to building Africa’s capacity

Christabel Ligami

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa has relaunched its fellowship programme in line with Africa’s transformative agenda to provide a platform for young African graduates to gain professional on-the-job experience in a range of development-related fields.


Controversial German professor ‘hounded by commissars’

Michael Gardner

The University of Bremen's student union has the right to call Berlin Professor of History Jörg Baberowski a ‘right-wing radical’, according to a ruling by Cologne District Court, but not to take his controversial statements about refugees out of context.



The role of universities in the post-truth era

Ranjit Goswami

Universities face a huge challenge in confronting post-truth. It is the challenge of expanding higher education, while providing high-quality teaching at a time when people are required to deal with a tsunami of data and information – verified or unverified – emerging from all quarters.


Language politics and the denial of cultural identity

Eric Fredua-Kwarteng

A government plan to teach science and mathematics in indigenous languages at primary schools has been opposed by some academics. They need to ensure their views are based on evidence rather than a desire to protect the status quo.


Do national qualifications frameworks work?

Wesley Teter

There is limited evidence that national qualifications frameworks do their job, whether improving learning and recognition outcomes or supporting the mobility of students. To build trust in qualifications we need to strengthen the evidence base for quality assurance mechanisms.


Teaching-only roles could end your academic career

Dawn Bennett, Lynne Roberts and Subramaniam Ananthram

Teaching academic roles in Australian universities have tripled over the past decade, making up around 5% of the academic workforce – and further roll outs are expected. But new research suggests that these roles can be a negative career move for academics.



Seeking globally mobile students in a world in turmoil

The United Kingdom and United States are set on a path to creating more barriers to attracting and retaining international students. The two largest source countries of international students – China and India – have experienced economic changes that have decelerated the ambitions and ability of students to go abroad. What strategic options are higher education institutions considering in response to this turbulence?



Anarchy and exploitation in scientific communication

Philip G Altbach

The world of science communication is in turmoil as a result of a perfect storm of complex issues. As fake journals proliferate and academics face pressure to publish, what can be done to bring some order to the chaos?



The strangling of a democratic student movement

Ashraf Khaled

There have been more than 2,300 human rights violations against students since the army's overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013. The ensuing state-led crackdown on universities, including measures to silence students and other critical actors in society, signals an imminent crisis for higher education, according to a new report.


Academic jailed for 10 years for human rights tweets

Dr Nasser Bin Ghaith, a prominent economist, academic and human rights defender, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for tweeting criticism of the human rights record of both Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. Before the verdict was given, a coalition of 10 human rights organisations had urged the United Arab Emirates authorities to immediately and unconditionally release him.


Independent thinking under attack from nationalists

Georgiana Mihut and Daniela Craciun

Amendments to higher education law proposed by the Hungarian government target one international university in particular – the Central European University, which played a central role in rebuilding democracy across the region – and are aimed at forcing it to shut down. It is part of an emerging trend of seeing universities as a threat.


Academia needs to be ready to defend its freedom

Marit Egner

Academic freedom is about the right to freely think, question and share ideas. Now more than ever there is a great need to join forces to promote the academic freedom of university staff, students and higher education institutions around the globe.



An action plan to address the crisis facing humanities

Jan Petter Myklebust

The government has drawn up a white paper calling for more researchers in the humanities and for them to be recognised as a main producer of knowledge, not just a 'helper' to other sciences. Some experts think it should go further, arguing that Norway could establish a 'European cultural brain centre'.



Populism – Is the academy on the wrong side of history?

How universities come to terms with the rising tide of populism highlighted by the election of Donald Trump in the United States and the United Kingdom's Brexit vote is the subject of the 2017 Worldviews Lecture on Media and Higher Education, "Populism and the Academy: On the 'wrong side' of history", for which University World News is a media partner.


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Top university shuttered after conservative assault

Generally, prestigious private universities with hundreds of students don't get shut down over fairly minor, six-month-old technical issues that have since been resolved. But that is precisely the predicament facing the European University at Saint Petersburg, a bastion of Western liberal arts, which has been ordered closed by a district court after a furious conservative assault against it, writes Fred Weir for The Christian Science Monitor.


Iranian graduate students wait in limbo

Hundreds of Iranian students already accepted into United States graduate programmes may not be able to come next autumn because of the uncertainty around President Donald Trump's proposed travel ban, potentially derailing research projects and leaving some science programmes scrambling to find new students, writes Collin Binkley for Associated Press.


The Trump administration’s war on science

Against lofty promises, President Donald Trump’s first budget blueprint is a cramped document that sacrifices American innovation to small-bore politics, short-changing basic scientific research across the government – from NASA to the Department of Energy to the National Institutes of Health – in ways that can only stifle invention and undercut the nation’s competitiveness, writes the Editorial Board of The New York Times.


Universities must uphold liberal values – Vice-president

Indian Vice-President Hamid Ansari said last weekend universities must uphold liberal values and respect dissent, a month after violent protests erupted at a university in the capital Delhi over a speech by a student accused of sedition, reports Reuters.


Free tuition for EU students in Scottish universities

Scotland’s Education Secretary John Swinney has announced that students from the European Union enrolling in Scotland next year will have free tuition throughout their courses, writes Andrew Denholm for The Herald.


EU subsidy for Czech-German research centre

The Czech Technical University in Prague and the Brno University of Technology along with two partners from Germany have received a €400,000 (US$427,000) European Union subsidy for the development of a Czech-German research centre, reports CTK.


Moves to regulate visiting lectureships in universities

The House of Representatives has called on the National Universities Commission to regulate the role of visiting lecturers in Nigerian universities, writes Nasir Ayitogo for Premium Times.


Foreign university student total doubles in 10 years

The number of foreign students at Dutch universities and HBO or higher professional education colleges has doubled to 81,000 over the past 10 years, according to a report by Nuffic, the Dutch institute for the internationalisation of education, reports Dutch News.


Low birth rate challenges higher education – Ministry

The higher education system in Taiwan could face challenges due to the shrinking birth rate, the Ministry of Education said last week, predicting that student populations of universities and colleges will drop by 40% between 2013 and 2028, write Hsu Chi-wei and Lee Hsin-Yin for Focus Taiwan.


Students protest cut in research seats

For most of the week ending 25 March, students at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi were on strike to protest against the University Grants Commission’s new policy that has drastically reduced the number of MPhil and PhD seats available for the coming 2017-18 academic year from 1,000 to 194, writes Shreya Roy Chowdhury for Scroll.


Brexit is an opportunity for Irish universities

A global education firm which is setting up in Ireland to recruit international students to Irish universities says Brexit represents a major growth opportunity, writes Carl O’Brien for The Irish Times.

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