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30 April 2017 Issue 457 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search


Law schools and their students fight for justice in Philippines’ dirty drugs war

   In Features, Brennan Weiss reports that university law schools in the Philippines are putting themselves and their students on the frontline in a battle for justice in the anti-drugs war that has seen thousands killed – in legitimate police operations and by unknown gunmen – and witnesses afraid to testify amid alleged injustices committed by government agencies. Also in Features, Gilbert Nakweya writes that mobile learning has the potential to give millions of refugees and displaced people in Africa a chance to empower themselves by bringing tertiary education to people ‘where they are’.

   In Commentary, Savo Heleta and Tohiera Moodien argue that the Sustainable Development Goals have missed the mark by neglecting the need to build capacity in higher education in developing countries and by promoting brain drain in these countries through advocating scholarships for study abroad. Ivan F Pacheco argues that the plans of the government of Juan Manuel Santos in Colombia for higher education reform – while on the right track – are overly ambitious for the time he has left in power. Futao Huang outlines the many challenges facing higher education quality assurance in East Asia and suggests that quality assurance mechanisms need to be more independent of government. And Gabriel Hawawini shares the experiences of France’s INSEAD business school in setting up a successful second campus in Singapore, which may be useful for other institutions seeking a similar internationalisation journey.

   In our World Blog this week, Margaret Andrews wonders how many universities are looking ahead to create the future of higher education, rather than waiting for it to happen to them.

   In our section on Academic Freedom, Janroj Yilmaz Keles calls for an international academic boycott of Turkish universities and targeted action against those who have persecuted hundreds of Turkish academics, including the Academics for Peace signatories.

Brendan O’Malley – Managing Editor

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report


Close Confucius Institutes on US campuses, NAS says

Yojana Sharma

Universities in the United States should close down their Confucius Institutes – teaching and research centres funded directly by the Chinese government – says a report by the National Association of Scholars or NAS, which examines details of the institutes' often-secret operations from contracts signed with dozens of US universities.


MPs warn against Brexit brain drain of EU academics

Brendan O’Malley

The government must end the uncertainty for European Union staff, to avoid a brain drain, and seek continued involvement in Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+ – but develop contingency plans in case agreement is not reached – if it is to avoid damage to the international competitiveness of United Kingdom universities from Brexit, the parliamentary Education Select Committee has warned.


Higher education shake-up gets go ahead from MPs

Brendan O'Malley

The bill heralding the biggest shake-up of higher education in decades, marking a shift towards a market approach by establishing a system of rating the teaching quality of universities, has been pushed through parliament with last minute compromises to secure assent before MPs disband for the General Election.


Record retractions put focus on research misconduct

Yojana Sharma

The research ethics of China’s scientists has come under the spotlight after a major international publisher retracted 107 medical research papers by Chinese authors – the single largest number of retractions ever recorded – after discovering irregularities in the peer review process.


Government aims to double R&D spending by 2020

Munyaradzi Makoni

The government aims to increase the percentage of gross domestic product spent on research and development to 1.5% by 2020 – still below the average spend of 2.4% for countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, but more than double the latest figure of 0.77%.


Universities demand ‘No more cuts’ after AU$4bn saved

Geoff Maslen

As Australians prepare for the release of the annual federal budget on 9 May, universities point out that over the past six years they and their students have faced cuts that have contributed AU$3.9 billion (US$2.95 billion) in net savings in government spending and are now saying “enough is enough”.


March for science leaders pledge to build on momentum

Brendan O’Malley

Following the global March for Science, which was staged in 600 cities across seven continents on 22 April, the organisers have pledged to translate their volunteer network into a global outreach movement. In a joint statement, more than 30 United States science organisations have pledged to carry on fostering public support for engagement in science through their global memberships.


Governments must take responsibility for HE – Rectors

Maria Elena Hurtado

Rectors of the 37 universities that make up the Network of Macro-universities of Latin America and the Caribbean have expressed concern that some governments and parliaments are trying to avoid fulfilling their obligation towards public universities and are delegating responsibility to the private sector.


Public-private research drives international citations

Jan Petter Myklebust

International papers involving public-private collaboration have on average substantially higher impact than international collaborations involving only public research. But for national papers, there is no clear difference in citation impact between public-private collaborations and public research papers, according to new analysis.


Ministry puts a brake on opening of new campuses

Gilbert Nakweya

Kenya has banned the establishment of new satellite campuses by universities without a thorough review by the government.


Trump at 100 days – More shadow than substance for HE

Adam Harris, The Chronicle of Higher Education

As President Donald Trump approaches his 100th day in office, several observers say his administration has yet to scratch the surface of setting or pursuing significant higher education policy. However, the Education Department, and the Trump administration writ large, have made moves that directly affect various sectors of higher education.



SDGs and higher education – Leaving many behind

Savo Heleta and Tohiera Moodien

The Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, claim no one will be left behind in the world by 2030, but they neglect the need to build capacity in higher education in developing countries and advocate sending their most talented young people abroad to study – a recipe for brain drain.


The perils of trying to transform HE too quickly

Ivan F Pacheco

The government of Juan Manuel Santos has announced plans to overhaul its higher education system and strengthen technical education in particular, but are they too ambitious for him to fulfil in the relatively short time he has left in power?


The multiple challenges facing HE quality assurance

Futao Huang

Quality assurance measures in East Asia are often overly bureaucratic, too controlled by central government, lack any student voice and need an international dimension. Too often it appears that the frameworks are not embedded in a real institutional ‘quality culture’.


Outward internationalisation in action at INSEAD

Gabriel Hawawini

What makes for a successful internationalisation policy? INSEAD’s journey from France to Singapore highlights some of the factors that make a difference and might be useful for others considering similar internationalisation strategies.


Why are some companies shedding degree requirements?

Joshua Krook

While more people than ever are graduating from universities, some companies are abandoning degree requirements altogether. The question is whether these few companies are outliers or the forerunners of a new trend of preferencing merit over qualifications. And what does that say about the value of a university degree?



Imagining the future and higher education’s role in it

Margaret Andrews

Companies are creating innovation plans, but how many universities are not just planning to take their institution to the next level, but really sitting down and imagining the future, and their place in it, rather than just waiting for it to happen?



Call for academic boycott to end unlawful intimidation

Janroj Yilmaz Keles

Signing petitions of support for the academics facing persecution in Turkey is not enough. We need to take much more vigorous action. An international academic boycott of Turkish universities, research institutions, trusts and foundations, and targeted action against those initiating intimidatory and unlawful action against academics, can no longer be avoided.



Law schools fighting for justice in a dirty drugs war

Brennan Weiss

University law schools are putting themselves and their students on the frontline in a battle to ensure justice in the anti-drugs war that has seen thousands killed during legitimate police operations and thousands murdered by unknown gunmen. In many cases witnesses are too fearful to provide evidence.


Mobile learning – Empowering refugees ‘where they are’

Gilbert Nakweya

Mobile learning opens the possibility of thousands of displaced people in Africa having the chance not only to empower themselves individually, but to bring positive change and development to those societies among which they find refuge.


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Ministry seeks to double foreign student numbers

Increasing the number of foreign students in Iran is one of the priorities of the ministry of science, research and technology, which seeks to double foreign student numbers, reports the Financial Tribune.


Ideological purge hits universities with Western ties

China is stepping up pressure on education institutions, including many that run joint programmes with leading Western universities, as President Xi Jinping’s ideologically infused anti-corruption campaign takes aim at the country’s intellectual establishment, reports the Financial Times.


Universities may be made to hire more women researchers

Canada's science minister says universities are not doing the heavy lifting to appoint more female research chairs, so she wants to force their hands, reports The Canadian Press.


EU launches legal action against Hungary

The European Union has begun taking legal action against Hungary over a law that would effectively shut down Central European University, founded by billionaire George Soros in 1991, writes Emily Tamkin for Foreign Policy.


University confirms US citizen detained amid tension

A foreign-funded university in North Korea has confirmed the arrest of a United States citizen who was lecturing there – the third American held in the country amid growing tensions between Pyongyang and Washington, reports AFP.


Ministry ratifies first law on education

The Palestinian education ministry recently announced the ratification of their first law on education to bring significant changes to the educational and academic process in the Palestinian territories, writes Ahmad Melhem for Al-Monitor.


Ministry considers standardised HE admission test

The higher education ministry is working on reviving a proposal to form the National Egyptian Council for Evaluation and Assessment which would manage students' university admissions, writes Al-Masry Al-Youm for Egypt Independent.


Copyright agency diverts funds meant for authors

Australia's government-mandated copyright collection agency has been diverting payments intended for journalists and authors to a AU$15 million (US$11 million) ‘future fund’ to fight changes to the law, writes Peter Martin for The Sydney Morning Herald.


New education plan faces some criticism

Myanmar is launching a long-term plan to improve its education system after years of neglect under its former military leaders, writes Paul Vrieze for VOA News.


Abusive teachers, lecturers risk losing qualifications

Lecturers in universities and colleges as well as teachers in public and private schools who are found guilty of abusing students risk having their degrees and diplomas cancelled by the government to curb rampant abuse, especially of female learners, reports


Over 20% of university courses below standard – Probe

According to the Office of the Auditor General of Thailand, more than 20% of higher education courses run by Thai universities fail to meet required standards, writes Dumrongkiat Mala for the Bangkok Post.

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