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9 April 2017 Issue 454 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search


Political changes will shake up the international higher education landscape

   In World Blog, Philip G Altbach and Hans de Wit maintain that a revolution is taking place in international student and faculty mobility as a result of political changes in the favoured destination countries.

   In Commentary, Ross Anthony similarly points to a likely bifurcation in global educational mobility as the Euro-American security state deters foreign students and China’s sustained growth offers former colonial preserves like Africa new centres of cosmopolitan learning. Ararat Osipian calls for a response from the global academic community to the harassment of two international universities by their respective ‘autocratic’ ruling political regimes – Russia’s European University at St Petersburg and Hungary’s Central European University. Emmanuelle Perez Tisserant and Philippe Dagneaux explain why they are supporting the Marche pour les Sciences en France on 22 April where French scientists will mobilise alongside others around the world to stand up for the values of critical thinking and analysis.

   In Features, Yojana Sharma reports on increased collaborations in film studies between Chinese and Western institutions as China sets its sights on creating a ‘Hollywood of the East’, while Ranjit Devraj outlines the Indian government’s plans to digitise academic records to tackle the growing problem of fake qualifications.

   Covering the 2017 WorldViews Lecture on Media and Higher Education, Daniel Sekulich reports on Sir Peter Scott’s view that the rise of populism has created a wake-up call for academics that they should speak up more loudly for open societies and recover a sense of social purpose.

   You are invited to register for the upcoming topical free webinar on “International Student Mobility Trends: Shifting recruitment priorities and strategies”, to be held this Wednesday 12 April, hosted by University World News in partnership with DrEducation and StudyPortals.

Brendan O’Malley – Managing Editor

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report


Second university ranking adds new overall category

Ranjit Devraj and Yojana Sharma

India’s second annual round of ranking of its universities and other higher education institutions released last week includes a new overall category, looking at institutions across all disciplines. The Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore came top.


MPs pass law that threatens to close top university

Brendan O'Malley

The Hungarian parliament has passed a controversial amendment to its national law on higher education, changing the regulations for foreign universities, which threatens the continuing operation of the country’s leading university, the Central European University, founded by billionaire George Soros.


Hungarian HE law change criticised by German ministry

Michael Gardner

Germany’s Federal Foreign Office has sharply criticised Hungary’s higher education law amendment, which changes the regulation of foreign universities, maintaining that it restricts academic freedom. It also said it is "incomprehensible" that the activities of the Central European University should be restricted.


Police prosecute pro-democracy students and scholars

Yojana Sharma

Nine academics, former student leaders, former and current legislators involved in the 2014-15 pro-democracy protests are facing criminal prosecution, launched a day after Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s new chief executive, was elected on 26 March by a mainly pro-Beijing 1,194-member electoral college. More than 200 academics from universities in Hong Kong and abroad have criticised the move.


State attorney seeks life sentence for leading scholar

Brendan O'Malley

A prominent academic who has been detained for more than eight months will appear in court on Monday facing charges related to the failed coup attempt last July. He says the state attorney has asked for a life sentence penalty and he fears for his life if the death penalty is re-legalised.


Court rules that half of US student's fee must be repaid

Jan Petter Myklebust

The Court of Appeal has endorsed the verdict in the lower court that Mälardalen University College has to repay tuition fees paid by an international student for a course that was found not to be of sufficient quality – but only half the fees – plus court costs.


Professor allowed to leave after being questioned

Yojana Sharma

A Chinese academic barred from returning to his home in Australia after a research trip looking into China’s crackdown on its human rights lawyers, has been allowed to return to Sydney after a week of being prevented from boarding a flight home. Feng Chongyi said on his return he would continue his work in China.


Call to end government research investment 'inertia'

Francis Kokutse

African governments need to invest heavily in research in order to provide solutions to improve the lives of its people, Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said at the recent launch of the African Research Universities Alliance.


Cut in study places aimed at culling EU student intake

Jan Petter Myklebust

The Minister for Higher Education and Science, Søren Pind, has decided to cut the intake of business academies and professional universities for higher education courses by a quarter – a cut of 1,600 study places. The impact will be to reduce the number of European Union students claiming support grants, which has risen steeply.


Ministry imposes tougher rules on PhD students

Laeed Zaghlami

The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research has announced strict new rules for doctoral students who fail to submit their theses in the requisite four years after ministry figures revealed that over 1,000 PhD projects were outstanding – some for up to nine years.


Ministry sees value in international students

Wagdy Sawahel

While international students studying in Egypt currently generate US$186 million for the Egyptian economy, this figure is low by international standards. An ambitious government plan aims to double the number of international students by 2020-21 and increase their contribution to the country by as much as US$700 million.



Is China the new lodestar for Africa’s students?

Ross Anthony

China is aggressively competing to raise its universities’ international rankings and attract international students. African institutions increasingly hold degrees from China in legitimate esteem. Is this the start of a new world order?


Can autocracies cope with international universities?

Ararat Osipian

The attack on Hungary’s Central European University is not the only attempt by autocratic leaders in Eastern European to crack down on international universities that do not suffer from the same corruption as their local counterparts. Legal pretexts have been found to enforce political conformity on the European University at St Petersburg.


Marching for science and its importance for democracy

Emmanuelle Perez Tisserant and Philippe Dagneaux

French scientists will mobilise alongside others around the world on 22 April to stand up for the values of critical thinking and analysis, which are under threat from politicians such as United States President Donald Trump, and rally all those who spread knowledge throughout society – from scientists to teachers and journalists – to strengthen mutual dialogue.


The importance of universities not being American

Neal Koblitz

No foreign power should be allowed to dominate Vietnam's academic world. For Vietnam’s integrity and national security, it needs to have its own universities that contribute to and provide guidance on following an independent path free of neocolonial domination.



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?



Revolutions ahead in international student mobility

Philip G Altbach and Hans de Wit

A great shake-up is taking place in the world of international higher education as a result of the political changes sweeping the United States and United Kingdom and rising xenophobia in Europe. There are a number of potential winners and losers, but until the dust settles it is all to play for.


The European University Association or EUA 2017 Annual Conference, with the theme “Autonomy and Freedom: The future sustainability of universities”, was hosted by the University of Bergen in Norway on 6-7 April, and discussed how autonomy and freedom of universities can be linked to address the current political, economic and societal challenges in Europe.


Why university autonomy matters more than ever

Thomas Estermann

At a time of great political uncertainty and amid a growing tendency for governments to interfere, university autonomy is more important than ever. A new tool aims to provide a balanced view of autonomy levels across Europe.


Academic freedom – Heart of the higher education project

Alexandra Antonescu and Lea Meister

Universities face numerous threats to academic freedom in an era of ‘alternative facts’ and clampdowns on student protests. We must renew our dedication to their mission of independent inquiry and preparing critical thinkers.



China takes on Hollywood with film studies tie-ups

Yojana Sharma

A rise in film studies collaborations between Chinese institutions and universities in Britain, America and Europe is part of China’s policy to become a post-manufacturing economy. The partnerships will help develop a skills base for a rising ‘Hollywood of the East’ in and around Shanghai.


Digital records to tackle fake qualifications

Ranjit Devraj

The Indian government is planning to digitise academic records as part of a drive against fake degrees and institutions at a time when companies are complaining of rising fraudulent qualification claims and prominent public figures are being challenged to prove that they are entitled to the degrees and qualifications they claim to have.


Private higher education – Competitive or complementary?

Stephen Coan

The instability of the South Africa tertiary education sector, due largely to the student-led #FeesMustFall protest movement as well as quality issues, has seen the role of private universities thrown into stark relief, dubbed either, as one commentator put it, “an escape hatch for the very rich” or competition out to steal students from public institutions.



Rise of populism is a wake-up call for universities

Daniel Sekulich

Sir Peter Scott, in the 2017 WorldViews Lecture on Media and Higher Education, said that the rising tide of populism seen in the triumph of Brexit voters and President Donald Trump has sent academics a warning that they should speak up more loudly for open societies, but also recover that sense of social purpose that universities are in danger of losing.


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All universities commit to releasing sexual assault data

Every one of Australia's universities has committed to simultaneously releasing data on sexual assaults on their campuses after concerns were raised about a landmark survey of 39,000 students that would not reveal how many assaults had occurred at each institution, writes Eryk Bagshaw for The Sydney Morning Herald.


Top university to open in Oxford

One of China’s top universities is preparing to open a campus at the heart of British academic life, just months after President Xi Jinping called for Chinese universities to be transformed into strongholds of Communist Party rule, writes Tom Phillips for the Guardian.


Think tank calls for autonomy for science institutes

The government think tank NITI Aayog is preparing a cabinet note on providing autonomy to science institutes so that they have a free hand in undertaking research and inducting experts at market salaries, reports Press Trust of India.


Universities support legal challenge to Trump travel ban

A group of 31 US colleges and universities is supporting a legal challenge to President Donald Trump’s restrictions on travel to the United States by refugees and visitors from certain Muslim-majority countries, asserting the executive order would harm their efforts to provide quality education and promote the free exchange of ideas, writes Amanda Scott for Voice of America.


University ups security after alleged army attack

Midlands State University in Gweru has intensified security at its campuses following an attack on students at the main campus by soldiers last month, reports New


Industry-academic alliance to combat ‘fake news’

A global alliance of tech industry and academic organisations last week unveiled plans to work together to combat the spread of ‘fake news’ and improve public understanding of journalism, reports AFP.


Report exposes university chiefs’ credit card use

A secret report by Ernst & Young into credit card use at Murdoch University has revealed its four most senior academics racked up almost AU$1 million (US$753,000) in expenses in two years and former vice-chancellor Richard Higgott spent an average of AU$1,800 a month on limousine rides, writes Andrew Burrell for The Australian.


Academic union calls for action on university funding

The Academic Staff Union of Universities has called on the National Assembly to address the issue of low funding of the education sector in the country, reports the News Agency of Nigeria.


High profile figures claim free speech under threat

An Auckland university professor has written an open letter rejecting the "forceful silencing of dissenting or unpopular views" on university campuses, reports the New Zealand Herald.


Higher education is reinforcing Kosovo's ethnic divide

As well as being affected by corruption, political collusion and poor levels of performance, universities in Kosovo also remain ethnically separated. Despite major international efforts, this separation has deepened since hostilities in Kosovo ended, although the topic remains largely absent from public debate, writes Ervjola Selenica for Balkan Insight.


Will tuition ruling impede American University of Cairo?

Egypt’s Administrative Court has ordered the administration of the American University in Cairo to accept tuition payment in Egyptian pounds rather than US dollars, raising fears of a decline in standards linked to reduced funding, writes Amr Eltohamy for Al-Monitor.


Bid to introduce student tuition fees finds resistance

A proposal by the Research Institute of the Finnish Economy to allow higher education institutions to introduce tuition fees for students from Finland and the rest of the European Economic Area has been met with resistance from the ranks of the Finnish government, writes Aleksi Teivainen for Helsinki Times.


University marks second anniversary since terror attack

Garissa University College recently marked two years since a terrorist attack on the institution that left 142 students dead. Unlike last year's ceremony, which was attended by local political leaders, this event was a low-key affair graced by students and a handful of people, most of them college staff, writes Philip Muasya for the Standard.


Toyota and universities team up to study car batteries

Toyota plans to spend US$35 million on partnerships with several universities, including Stanford University, to study ways to make better batteries for electric vehicles, writes Brent Snavely for the Los Angeles Times.


University caught up in year-long naming dispute

Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences in Norway wants to become a full-fledged university, but if its pending application were to be approved, the institution does not yet know what it would be called, writes Carl Straumsheim for Inside Higher Ed.


Students told to use 'gender-sensitive' language

Students at the University of Hull are being told to use gender neutral language in their essays – or risk losing marks, writes Olivia Rudgard for The Telegraph.

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