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7 May 2017 Issue 458 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search


United Kingdom risks a drop of 30-40% in international student numbers

   In Commentary, Simon Marginson says the UK general election in June will not help resolve the uncertainties facing the higher education sector, which include the effects of Brexit on international student numbers with a possible 30-40% drop, on EU citizens working in British universities and on UK participation in European collaborative research. Catherine Paradeise names some of the higher education issues that should be on the agenda of a new presidency in France – university autonomy, government micromanagement, building excellence, resources – and favours Emmanuel Macron’s approach. Ellen Hazelkorn and Andrew Gibson suggest the time has come for universities to make a case for how they work for the public good, or risk creeping government intervention and accusations of being too self-serving. Angel Calderon says every higher education reform in Australia since the late 1980s has seen the system further eroded and the latest package of measures is no exception. Eric Fredua-Kwarteng and Catherine Effah examine the issue of the underrepresentation of women in engineering programmes in African universities and suggest that these universities advocate for girls’ education at all levels. And Danny Quah writes of the need to prepare students – as the next generation of global leaders – for a world which is becoming more Asia-focused and to alert them to the intelligent management that globalisation requires in the face of major disruptions.

   In our World Blog, Patrick Blessinger discusses how open education has become an important element in democratising knowledge and tertiary education, creating a culture of openness and inclusion in society.

   In Features, Wagdy Sawahel reports that the latest Africa Wealth Report shows a growing number of super-rich Africans – and they have the potential to make their mark as philanthropists supporting higher education in Africa. And Brendan O'Malley reports on a timely study on levels of public confidence in higher education in the United States, which shows why universities need to engage in particular with Evangelicals, political conservatives and Blacks to demonstrate the value of higher education.

Brendan O’Malley – Managing Editor

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report


New Asian universities’ alliance to increase mobility

Yojana Sharma

A new alliance of Asian universities has held its inaugural meeting in Beijing pledging to increase student and faculty mobility between Asian countries to counter the tendency of professors and students to look towards the West.


Universities alarmed by further cuts to government funding

Geoff Maslen

The federal government has confirmed university fears that it plans further cuts to higher education spending along with sharp increases in student fees. Education and Training Minister Simon Birmingham announced the cuts last Monday night after noting that university funding was at record levels and had grown "above and beyond the costs of their operations".


Inquiry heralds reform of HE governance and funding

Jan Petter Myklebust

The government has announced that Professor Pam Fredman, rector of the University of Gothenburg and president of the International Association of Universities, has been selected to lead a government investigation into university governance and financing and propose reforms.


Court challenge to drastic PhD programme cuts at JNU

Ranjit Devraj

The implementation of drastic cuts to MPhil and PhD programmes at India’s prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University, or JNU, in New Delhi must now await a final decision by the Delhi High Court, which is hearing a writ petition filed by a group of students challenging the reductions.


Tuition fees and cuts hit internationalisation of HE

Jan Petter Myklebust

Finland is facing a sharp drop in applications by non-European Union and European Economic Area students and an outflow of scientists, according to media reports. The introduction of tuition fees for international students and cuts in university funding are being blamed.


University admission reform – Pushing private education?

Tunde Fatunde

Two civil society organisations have said they will jointly mount a legal challenge to recent changes to university admissions criteria that require all candidates to list at least one private university in their applications for admission.


Universities should be flexible on admitting refugees

Brendan O'Malley

National authorities and higher education institutions should take a flexible approach to the recognition of degrees, periods of study and prior learning of refugees, in line with the Lisbon Recognition Convention, according to a new study by the European Students’ Union.


New semester system forced on private universities

Mushfique Wadud

Bangladesh’s private universities are opposing a government move to reform the existing academic year ostensibly to streamline the curriculum and reduce tuition costs for students. In April Bangladesh’s University Grants Commission sent letters to private universities directing them to introduce a two-semester system by 2018.


Student protest over ‘sex for marks’ scandal

Wagdy Sawahel

Protesting students at the public Abdelmalek Essaâdi University have called for an investigation into allegations against a professor of mathematics accused of promising female students high marks in exchange for sexual relations, in a case that has rocked the institution and reignited concerns about sexual harassment in Moroccan universities.



A stronger Theresa May but for what, especially in HE?

Simon Marginson

What will the United Kingdom general election mean for higher education? Although a skilled migration scheme might provide openings if – as seems likely – European Union free movement for academics ends, a reduction of 30%-40% in international student numbers remains on the table, and the future of research collaboration is unfathomable.


Higher education priorities after the French election

Catherine Paradeise

French higher education has been pulled in two opposing directions. A new administration needs to reduce government micromanagement and strengthen university autonomy, rethink the discrepancy in resources between grandes écoles and universities and build research and teaching excellence. But what can it expect from Marine Le Pen or Emmanuel Macron?


New ways to make the case for the public good of HE

Ellen Hazelkorn and Andrew Gibson

As the public asks questions about how universities serve society, it is time for the academy to make a case for how it works for the public good and change its one-way engagement with the wider population, inviting citizen participation in deliberative processes, or risk creeping government intervention.


Universities and students lose out in ‘reform’ package

Angel Calderon

Every higher education reform in Australia since the late 1980s has seen the system further eroded – making it less unified and egalitarian. The latest package of measures is no exception. Government policy is the main driver of change in Australia’s education system.


How to get more women into engineering at university

Eric Fredua-Kwarteng and Catherine Effah

African universities have low numbers of female students in their engineering departments. Some have attempted to address this through affirmative action to improve access, but they do not make a dent in the fundamental causes of gender disparity in engineering. The problem begins at a much earlier stage – with school curricula.


Students today, leaders of globalisation tomorrow

Danny Quah

We need to prepare students for a future in which the world is becoming more Asia-focused but also, in the light of rising populist movements and disruptive factors such as the refugee crisis, we must teach them about the pros and cons of globalisation – and the intelligent management of it.



Strengthening democracy through open education

Patrick Blessinger

The open education movement – which seeks the reduction or elimination of barriers such as cost, distance and access – is part of the wider movement to democratise knowledge, and to democratise tertiary education in particular, and to treat lifelong learning as a human right.



Super-rich Africans – A source of university funding?

Wagdy Sawahel

The latest Africa Wealth Report highlights the fact that Africa is home to a growing number of super-rich individuals who have the potential to make their mark as African philanthropists. But how close are we to an African equivalent of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation focused on higher education, scientific research and innovation?


Which sections of the US public do not trust HE?

Brendan O'Malley

A timely new study on levels of confidence in higher education shows why universities need to engage in particular with Evangelicals, political conservatives and black people to counter harmful perceptions of universities and demonstrate their value.


Policy gaps fuel sexual harassment in tertiary education

Tonderayi Mukeredzi

The death of a female student … the loss of an ear during a fight with her boyfriend … These are some of the more horrific manifestations of sexual harassment at tertiary education institutions in Zimbabwe where sexual harassment ranks as one of the biggest challenges for women students – over and above unequal representation in decision-making processes, shortages of accommodation and exorbitant tuition fees.



Will the robot war on jobs change higher education?

Steve Kolowich, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Andrew McAfee told a group of tech luminaries in January that the war between robots and humans, long anticipated by science-fiction novelists, has already begun in the American heartland. The war is for jobs, he explained, and the robots are winning. And to adapt to this, future higher education will have to change a great deal.


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Part-time student numbers collapse by 56% in five years

Despite rhetoric from government, part-time student numbers are plummeting, which experts believe is down to a lack of financial support from the government, writes Anna Fazackerley for the Guardian.


Antipathy to Le Pen presidency unites research leaders

The French science and higher education community appears virtually united in its opposition against Marine Le Pen, the far-right candidate who could become France’s next president during the second round of elections on 7 May, writes Elisabeth Pain for Science.


Vocational training drives international student rise

The number of international students in Japan grew to 239,287 last year, up 14.8% from the year before, as the country inches closer to its target of hosting 300,000 international students by 2020, writes Natalie Marsh for The PIE News.


President accepts EU demands around higher education law

According to his party, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told leaders of his centre-right EU political group that he would comply with demands from Brussels to change measures branded an attack on academic freedom, reports Reuters.


University chiefs demand return of post-study visas

Students, staff and principals at Scotland’s universities are calling for the reintroduction of a post-study work visa for international students, warning businesses and public services are missing out on vital talent without it, writes Stephen Naysmith for Herald Scotland.


Top universities could take more poor students – Study

Far more low-income students are qualified to attend the nation’s most selective colleges and universities than they enrol, despite the fact that most have budget surpluses they could use to subsidise the neediest applicants, a new study contends, writes Jon Marcus for The Hechinger Report.


Donations to universities rise above £1bn for first time

Philanthropic income to United Kingdom universities rose a record-breaking 23%, last year reaching over £1 billion (US$1.3 billion) for the first time, writes Melanie May for UK Fundraising.


Website continues to sell theses despite complaints

The authors who accused a website of selling their dissertations against their consent cannot demand the removal of the theses from the platform as, according to intellectual property experts, the sale does not constitute copyright infringement, writes Deng Xiaoci for Global Times.


Finance company to end university degree job requirement

A leading finance company will let year 12 students bypass university and begin working as accountants and risk management consultants straight after high school from this year, and at least five other companies are in talks to do the same, writes Pallavi Singhal for The Sydney Morning Herald.


Top universities will be free to prepare curricula

In a bid to incentivise excellence in higher education, the government plans to ensure top-ranked colleges and universities enjoy full autonomy in framing curriculum and hiring faculty, writes Manash Pratim Gohain for TNN.


Experts call for reduction in number of universities

A working group of specialists last week proposed a reform of state universities which would see the number of universities shrinking from 14 to eight in a bid to increase the quality of higher education and save administration costs, reports Xinhua.


Why talented women are disappearing from universities

Equal numbers of men and women do PhDs in Switzerland, but by post-doctoral level the number of women dwindles. One university is bringing women back to academia thanks to an innovative programme, writes Isobel Leybold-Johnson for


Universities to dedicate wall to war heroes

Universities across the country will now have a ‘wall of heroes’, a display of portraits or photographs of 21 Param Vir Chakra ‘War Warrior’ recipients, to inspire students and inculcate feelings of nationalism, writes Vasudha Venugopal for The Economic Times.

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