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
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
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
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
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
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'
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
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
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?
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?
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
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.
EUA 2017 CONFERENCE
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
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
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
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?
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
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.