University World News Global Edition
11 June 2017 Issue 463 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search


Universities in East Asia and the Pacific continue to rise in global rankings

   In Commentary, Angel Calderon says the latest QS world university rankings confirm the trend for universities in East Asia and the Pacific to rise and strengthen, challenging the standing of many leading Western universities. Kathleen Fincham reports on research which highlights some of the complex challenges Syrian refugees face in accessing higher education. James Leibold questions whether a centre such as the Australia-China Relations Institute belongs in a publicly funded Australian university. And Emma Sabzalieva outlines the findings of her survey on how the global trend to study abroad is evolving in Tajikistan.

   In World Blog this week, Grace Karram Stephenson explains why full-time faculty are also feeling increasing strain due to the rise in precarious part-time contracts for teaching staff.

   In Features, Karen MacGregor reports that four higher education systems have come out at the top of the latest European University Association autonomy scorecard – those of Finland, England, Estonia and Luxembourg. Christabel Ligami unpacks the Africa Competitiveness Report 2017’s warning that, despite progress in reducing education gaps, skills shortages are still hampering development on the continent. And Jan Petter Myklebust describes how Habib Frost, who three years ago was Denmark’s youngest medical graduate, is fast building a reputation for life-saving innovations.

Brendan O’Malley – Managing Editor

NEWS – Our correspondents worldwide report


US and UK universities slip in new QS world rankings

Brendan O'Malley

United States universities take all top four positions, and five of the top 10, in the QS World University Rankings 2018, released last week, with the United Kingdom also taking four top 10 spots. However, both the US and UK are losing ground lower down the rankings, which, QS says, provides evidence that “both nations are at risk of becoming less international”.


Universities defy Trump and sign up to climate action

Brendan O’Malley

Hundreds of university leaders have signed up to a commitment to continue to help meet America’s carbon emissions reduction pledge under the Paris Agreement in defiance of President Donald Trump’s decision to cease implementation of the accord.


International students must study language and culture

Yojana Sharma

International students enrolled in universities in China will have to attend compulsory courses in Chinese language and culture beginning from next month, according to new rules announced by China’s ministry of education in conjunction with the ministries of foreign affairs and public security.


One in three HE students say university is poor value

Nearly as many United Kingdom students (34%) now think they are receiving poor value as good value (35%) from their higher education. However, two-thirds (65%) of students in UK higher education say they have learnt ‘a lot’, according to the 2017 Student Academic Experience Survey.


Elite universities say budget is an ‘incoherent mess’

The Group of Eight, representing Australia’s eight leading universities, has described the government’s budget plans for higher education as “a contradictory, incoherent mess” and warned that they will mean students paying more for less and leave universities with less capacity to assist those who most need it.


Pan African space sciences institute forges ahead

Maina Waruru

Amid plans to open two new institutes and deliver seven more postgraduate programmes, an agreement regarding the establishment of a fifth Pan African University institute, focused on space sciences, is due to be signed later this month.


Grave concern over academic given 10 years in jail

Brendan O’Malley

Scholars at Risk along with the Committee of Concerned Scientists and three other human rights organisations have expressed grave concern over the case of Bahraini academic and activist Khalil Al-Halwachi, who they say has been tortured, wrongfully convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison.


Students eager to study in US but put off by high costs

Laeed Zaghlami

The United States began a charm offensive in Algiers last month, hosting the first higher education exhibition in the Algerian capital in an attempt to woo what appeared to be very eager students to the United States, but the high cost of courses shocked some potential applicants.


High court eases restriction for foreign PhD students

Jan Petter Myklebust

A high court ruling will put an end to a bureaucratic catch-22 implemented by the Swedish Tax Agency that ultimately has made it more difficult for foreign PhD students to live and study in the country.


AAU celebrates 50 years as voice of higher education

Francis Kokutse

African governments should never have to make a choice between basic and higher education and would not want to get into arguments with foreign agencies about priorities around education, according to Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo at the opening of the 50th anniversary conference of the Association of African Universities in Ghana last week.


Vice-chancellors fear ‘worst-case scenario’ on funding

Michael Gardner

A collapse in talks over universities’ new funding arrangements in advance of the summer recess and federal elections due in the autumn could force universities to freeze admissions and suspend teaching of some subjects, vice-chancellors have warned.



The continued rise of East Asia and the Pacific in HE

Angel Calderon

An analysis of QS’s latest rankings show a continuing decline for Western universities and a rise in numbers of universities from East Asia and the Pacific. This is before the latest political shocks in the United States and United Kingdom have trickled down to university level.


Complex barriers to refugees accessing university

Kathleen Fincham

Research on Syrian refugees shows an extremely high level of interest in higher education, but complex issues associated with accessing it. These included gendered issues such as women not being allowed to take places at university without being accompanied by a male.


Does ACRI belong in a publicly funded university?

James Leibold

China is fundamental to Australia’s tertiary education sector, but what are the opportunities and costs of the relationship and is the basing of the Australia-China Relations Institute at the University of Technology Sydney, for example, a step too far?


Who are Tajikistan’s international students?

Emma Sabzalieva

What are Tajik students’ motivations for studying abroad and what do they study and gain from their experience? A study shows the pull factors of study abroad outweigh the push factors. They want to improve their academic knowledge and their career prospects.



Why part-time conditions matter to full-time faculty

Grace Karram Stephenson

Full-time faculty are affected by the growth in precarious contracts for teaching staff. They face increasing demands as most part-time instructors do not have a seat on governing councils or departmental committees. It is in the interests of both parties to work together to improve working conditions.



No uniform university autonomy trends, scorecard finds

Karen MacGregor

Four higher education systems have emerged as the very top of the latest European University Association autonomy scorecard. Finland scored 90% or higher across three of four autonomy dimensions, followed by England, Estonia and Luxembourg in two dimensions.


Skills shortages still blocking development – Report

Christabel Ligami

Despite some progress in reducing education gaps, skills remain an important barrier for development on the continent, according to the Africa Competitiveness Report 2017. And while higher education participation in advanced economies is still growing significantly, in Africa it has only progressed from approximately 6.5% to 8.5% over the past 10 years.


Youngest medical graduate leads life-saving innovation

Jan Petter Myklebust

Three years after becoming the youngest person in Denmark to graduate with a medical degree, Habib Frost, now 26, is about to take his first significant step as an innovator.


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Flight of EU academics spurs fears of Brexit brain drain

More than 1,300 academics from the European Union have left British universities in the past year, prompting concerns of a Brexit brain drain, writes Michael Savage for the Guardian.


University heads decry government science reforms

Foreign researchers have been dropped from evaluating Romanian science projects and Romanian scientists working at foreign universities removed from the national science councils. At the same time, the rules around the funding of national research and development have been changed. The largest universities in the country are not happy, writes Florin Zubascu for Science Business.


Modi government to install single HE regulator

Big-bang education reform is on its way – the Narendra Modi government is all set to scrap the University Grants Commission and the All India Council for Technical Education, and replace them with one higher education regulator, tentatively christened the Higher Education Empowerment Regulation Agency, writes Anubhuti Vishnoi for The Economic Times.


NIH plan to reduce overhead payments draws fire

President Donald Trump's administration has brought a long-simmering debate over how the United States government supports university research back to a boil. In its 2018 budget proposal, the White House proposes cutting so-called indirect cost payments that the National Institutes of Health, or NIH, makes to universities, hospitals and research institutes by about two-thirds, to 10% of each grant, writes Jocelyn Kaiser for Science.


Government allocates funds to universities to expand R&D

The government has set aside THB2.5 billion (US$73 million) of this fiscal year’s THB190 billion additional budget to help 27 universities extend their research projects with commercial purposes as a way to promote the ‘Thailand 4.0’ economic policy, reports The Nation.


Trump misunderstood MIT climate research – Officials

Massachusetts Institute of Technology or MIT officials said United States President Donald Trump badly misunderstood their research when he cited it recently to justify withdrawing the US from the Paris climate agreement, writes Emily Flitter for Reuters.


More universities linked to places-for-sale saga

As the University of KwaZulu-Natal medical school’s places-for-sale saga develops, more information has emerged regarding the alleged syndicate’s national links to other universities, writes Nabeelah Shaikh for Independent Online.


Universities’ Qatar campuses monitor diplomatic chaos

American universities last Monday said branch campuses in Qatar were operating normally while they monitored diplomatic developments in the Gulf nation, writes Carolyn Thompson for The Associated Press.


Al-Azhar admits first Christian dental resident

A Christian dental student was recently granted admission to complete his final year of experiential training at Al-Azhar University’s faculty of dentistry in Assiut, an unprecedented rarity in the prestigious Islamic university, writes Ola Noureldin for Egypt Independent.


PhDs’ promised university jobs fail to materialise

As many as 500 PhDs who have completed their higher studies from both abroad and within the country, have been left running from pillar to post for teaching portfolios or research positions by the Higher Education Commission, reports The Express Tribune.


Universities open as students vote to end strike

After 69 days of protests shutting down the University of Puerto Rico, students have voted to end the strike and return to classes as the movement is set to continue "evolving the struggle" to protect public education in the face of austerity measures, reports TeleSUR.


Mumbai University seeks to set up Dubai campus

If everything goes according to plan, the University of Mumbai will become the second Indian university to start a campus on foreign soil. Pune University went international in 2009 after setting up a campus in Ras al-Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates, writes Musab Qazi for Hindustan Times.


Record number of university students caught cheating

A record number of Swedish university students were suspended in 2016 because of cheating, according to a fresh review, reports The Local.


University students protest tuition fee increases

The Ministry of Education should reject requests for tuition fee hikes and force universities that fail to meet student-teacher ratio standards to cut their fees, student protesters said last week in a demonstration outside the ministry building in Taipei, writes Abraham Gerber for the Taipei Times.


More earned from foreign than domestic students

New South Wales universities earned more from overseas than domestic enrolments for the first time last year, as international education plugged the gap left by flatlining Australian student numbers and slow growth in government grants, writes John Ross for The Australian.


Police carry out raids at universities

Local media reported that Turkish police conducted two raids at the country’s universities on 2 June detaining at least six students, reports News.Az.


Look to rest of Africa for solutions – Harvard professor

South Africa needs to look at models and methods deployed by other African states to decolonise and fund higher education, according to a Harvard professor of African history, writes Michelle Gumede for Business Live.

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