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23 April 2017 Issue 456 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search


It is time for Bologna to step in and defend academic freedom in Europe

   In our section on Academic Freedom, Anne Corbett and Claire Gordon suggest that the Hungarian government’s attempt to muzzle the Central European University should be a call to arms for the Bologna Process.

   In Commentary, Mohd Mizan bin Mohammad Aslam encourages the Malaysian authorities to formulate a strategy to counter the radicalisation of university students, given the growing number who have been arrested for having ties with Islamic State. Gary Rhoades says universities must learn a lesson from the rise of populism that has swept the world and commit themselves to bridging the social class divide that plagues the academy and society. Mark Ashwill wonders if Vietnam will be exempt from the ‘Trump effect’ that is depressing international student enrolments at US universities as Vietnam bucks the trend in the latest figures. And Jason Arday says racial inequality has long been problematic in UK higher education and university administrators must be held accountable for advancing diversity.

   In our World Blog, Grace Karram Stephenson writes that panellists at the recent Worldviews Lecture said universities need to do more to tackle societal challenges, promote critical thinking and become more open institutions, in order to address some of the issues thrown up by the political upheavals of the past year.

   Finally, in Features, Maina Waruru raises concern that African students seeking overseas study destinations might shun India following last month’s attack on Nigerian students near New Delhi, amid an increase in violent incidents targeting Africans.

Brendan O’Malley – Managing Editor

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report


UNESCO – Affordability is key to inclusive HE expansion

Brendan O'Malley

UNESCO has called on governments never to allow student loan repayments to rise above 15% of their monthly incomes and has recommended a package of measures to ensure that the current rapid expansion of higher education globally does not leave the disadvantaged behind.


Government listens to universities’ fears over visas

Brendan O’Malley

The government has agreed to address concerns raised by universities over proposed changes to 457 work visas, Universities Australia said on Thursday. The Group of Eight, comprising Australia’s eight leading research-intensive universities, voiced fears that the changes would put at risk Australia’s AU$21.8 billion (US$16 billion) international education industry.


University officials linked to lynching of student

Ameen Amjad Khan

Pakistan's apex court has started hearing of the case of the mob lynching of Mashal Khan, a student at Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan, after the crowd heard false accusations that he committed blasphemy. One student has alleged that university officials put pressure on him to testify that Mashal had committed blasphemy, which helped to stir up the mob.


Ministry backs down on greater control of universities

Jan Petter Myklebust

Minister of Higher Education and Science Søren Pind has dropped the ministry’s controversial proposal to select the heads of the governing boards of universities after an agreement in parliament with the Danish People’s Party and the Social Democratic Party. The proposal was strongly opposed by universities and professional organisations.


New bill seeks to turn universities into industrial hubs

Kudzai Mashininga

Zimbabwe’s cabinet has approved a new Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Bill that will, among other impacts, turn universities into industrial hubs and criminalise the issuing or receiving of degrees from unaccredited institutions, according to the country’s higher education minister.


Refugee university student numbers rising steeply

Michael Gardner

Whereas overall numbers of refugees entering Germany have been on the decline since last year, five times more are enrolled on university courses than six months ago, says a survey by the German Rectors' Conference.


World Bank forum calls for private sector to build skills

Christabel Ligami

The private sector should expand its support for skills-building in Africa, with both resources and technology, the World Bank said at its Partnership for Skills in Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology forum in Nairobi.


EU students given pledge on loans and fee status

The government on Friday confirmed that European Union students will continue to remain eligible for undergraduate, masters, postgraduate and advanced learner financial support in the academic year 2018-19 and will pay the same fees as United Kingdom students throughout their course, including after the UK leaves the EU.


Employment status given to all doctoral candidates

Jan Petter Myklebust

The Swedish government has changed the university law to ensure every doctoral candidate is made an employee of the university with a salary. This should strengthen the position of foreign PhD students, who make up more than half of the country’s 19,000 doctoral candidates. But problems with resident status and visa regulations remain.


Europe-North Africa HE cooperation plan unveiled

Wagdy Sawahel

In efforts to promote cooperation in science, technology, innovation and higher education, five countries of the Arab Maghreb Union and five European countries have approved a two-year cooperation plan aimed at stimulating economic growth, job creation and social cohesion in the Western Mediterranean region.


Visa change could hit recruitment of foreign students

Karin Fischer, The Chronicle of Higher Education

A new Trump administration executive order clamping down on the H-1B visa programme for highly skilled foreigners has the potential to roil American campuses and depress their recruitment of international students. For the latter, the opportunity to stay on and work in the United States, even temporarily, after graduation is a key attraction.


Row over politician meddling in university positions

Jan Petter Myklebust and Brendan O’Malley

A secretary of state has demanded that a PhD student give up his grant because of views he gave to a magazine questioning the value to society of people with Down’s Syndrome, but academics say it is unheard of for a politician to interfere in university recruitments.



Steps to counter radicalisation of students by IS

Mohd Mizan bin Mohammad Aslam

Young people are particular targets for Islamic State or IS recruitment drives and several university and college students have been arrested in Malaysia for links with the terrorist organisation. More can and needs to be done to dissuade students from being radicalised.


Why universities need to embrace all types of ‘other’

Gary Rhoades

In response to the rise of right-wing populism, universities need to do more to democratise the societies in which they are situated by improving the opportunities and lives of social class ‘others’ both nationally and internationally, instead of relegating them to educational oblivion via policies, practices and belief systems in academe.


Can Vietnam buck the Trump effect on recruitment?

Mark Ashwill

Latest figures for international students in the United States show significant decreases in students recruited from seven of the top 10 places of origin. The ‘Trump effect’ and the price of oil are among the forces at play. Vietnam is one of the few countries with rising enrolments. Will the trend continue?


Confronting racial inequality in the academy

Jason Arday

Racial discrimination within United Kingdom universities remains problematic and continues to be a persistent barrier for Black and minority ethnic individuals attempting to progress in postgraduate study or in an academic career. University administrators must be held accountable for advancing diversity of staff and student populations.



How to avoid being on the wrong side of history

Grace Karram Stephenson

Charged with elitism and being out of touch, there are a number of things universities can do to address some of the issues thrown up by the political upheavals of the past year, including realigning research to tackle societal challenges, promoting independent thought and becoming more open institutions.



Time for Bologna to stand up for academic freedom

Anne Corbett and Claire Gordon

The attack on the Central European University marks a critical moment for the European Union. Silence implies weakness. It is time for Bologna to break with the convention of not making announcements between political meetings and seize the opportunity to defend academic freedom.



Racist attacks – Will African students shun India?

Maina Waruru

Following what are widely regarded as racist attacks on Nigerian students in India in March, there are concerns that the violence could contribute to making the country a less attractive destination for African students seeking higher education outside the continent.


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Province appoints Party chiefs in private universities

The ruling Communist Party of China piloted a programme in Shandong Province by sending cadres to occupy senior positions in private universities to overhaul weak Party building and ideological work. Unlike public universities, private institutions generally do not have Party chiefs at the core of management, or any strong Party organisations, reports Xinhua.


New HE internationalisation scheme unveiled

The Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel, the Brazilian federal government higher education funding and assessment body, recently announced the introduction of a new international mobility financing regime to replace the Ciências Sem Fronteiras or Sciences without Borders initiative, writes Justin Axelberg for The PIE News.


Shiite militias prepare for education 'revolution'

Iraqi universities have recently become the scene of military and political manoeuvres by the Popular Mobilization Units, which are attempting to set up separate universities which some see as an attempt to reproduce the Iranian cultural revolution in Iraq, writes Hassan al-Shanoun for Al-Monitor.


Minister predicts reduced need to send students abroad

The higher education minister has said the steady improvement of the quality of higher education in Malaysia will soon eliminate the need for the government to send students abroad to pursue their degrees, writes Dawn Chan for New Straits Times.


More college graduates are coming home, figures show

Chinese college students studying in the United States are finding it just as interesting these days to return home to the world's number two economy rather than staying a few years in the world's number one, with some 82.23% of students who studied abroad returning to China last year, up from 72.38% in 2012, writes Kenneth Rapoza for Forbes.


‘We’re in a desperate fight to keep our university open’

On 21 April the European University at St Petersburg was due to have its licence to operate revoked. “When there are 11 state agencies scrutinising you, there might be something political behind it,” Professor Grigorii Golosov told Éanna Kelly from ScienceBusiness.


PM forced to soften stance on foreign student numbers

Prime Minister Theresa May has reportedly been forced to soften her long-held stance on foreign students being included in immigration totals, as part of the price for calling the snap general election, reports the Independent.


Universities redesign libraries for the 21st century

Libraries are 4,000 years old, but the digital revolution is dramatically changing their use on college campuses. From coast to coast, University of California, Berkeley to Harvard University, libraries are removing rows of steel shelving, stashing the books they held in other campus locations and discarding duplicates to make way for open study spaces. Their budgets are shifting away from print, to digital materials, writes Teresa Watanabe for Los Angeles Times.


Private universities urged to improve training, brand

Minister of Education and Training Phung Xuan Nha recently instructed universities to develop their brand by improving training programmes that will attract students, reports VietNamNet Bridge.


Senate approves free public universities

The Philippines Senate unanimously passed the Affordable Higher Education for All Act, which will give free tuition to students at all state universities and colleges, writes Alyssa Walker for


Students could soon get to choose their university

Tanzanian students for eons had no say over one of the most important stages of their lives – choosing a university and a course to pursue, as the final say lay with the Tanzania Commission for Universities. However, this is about to change, writes Hilda Mhagama for Tanzania Daily News.


Call for stronger education partnerships with Europe

Senior economist Djisman Simandjuntak suggests strengthening educational partnerships between the European Union and Indonesia, particularly in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, to improve the quality of the country's human capital to allow it to better compete in a digitally charged world, reports Jakarta Globe.


University law programmes to make changes after review

More than a dozen South African universities will have to make changes to their bachelor of laws, or LLB, programmes following a national review by the Council on Higher Education which started in 2012, writes Monique Mortlock for Eye Witness News.


First-in-family data ‘lacks robustness’

They are the First Fleeters of the university world: household pioneers trailblazing a brave new world of higher education. They wear the ‘first-in-family’ status as a badge of honour, signifying breakthrough and huge personal achievement. But questions are emerging over just what ‘first-in-family’ means, and whether it should be considered a coherent group, writes John Ross for The Australian.

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