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25 June 2017 Issue 465 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search


Do we understand how the forces of globalisation affect higher education?

   In Commentary, Marijk van der Wende asks what steering mechanisms would allow the two seemingly conflicting aims of global excellence and national relevance within an open higher education system to combine? Simon Marginson says a hard Brexit would constitute serious threats to the viability and global competitiveness of UK universities and much will depend on whether the government can maintain the UK and its universities as internationally engaged and open. Stamenka Uvalić-Trumbić and Sir John Daniel hail the DeTao Masters Academy in China as a pioneer in the development of innovation in higher education, but question its scalability. David Santandreu Calonge says massive open online courses or MOOCs have been hailed for increasing access to higher education, but they may in fact be amplifying educational divides, as many would-be students in developing countries remain excluded. And Ayenachew A Woldegiyorgis highlights the serious challenge Ethiopia faces in simultaneously expanding access to higher education and improving the quality of the education delivered.

   In our World Blog, Patrick Blessinger, Barbara Cozza and Milton Cox examine some of the principles of effective faculty learning communities, a peer-led self-organising form of continual professional development which seeks to transform teaching and learning practices.

   In Features this week, Jalal Bounouar reports that a rise in the number of foreign African students seeking to study in Morocco is largely the result of proactive government policy.

   Finally, in the second part of a Special Report covering the 14th Association of African Universities General Conference and Golden Jubilee Celebrations, Sharon Dell and Ard Jongsma report on a significant milestone in the harmonisation of higher education in Africa, while Damtew Teferra writes about a new higher education cluster created to realise the implementation of the Continental Education Strategy for Africa.

Brendan O’Malley – Managing Editor

NEWS – Our correspondents worldwide report


Russia to triple the number of international students

Eugene Vorotnikov

Russia plans to more than triple the number of foreign students studying at its universities over the next eight years, with a 50% increase by 2019. New courses will be introduced and Russian citizenship offered to top applicants to attract more international students.


Elite universities stumble in first teaching ratings

Brendan O'Malley

Top research-intensive universities are among those achieving the lowest rating in the first results of the Teaching Excellence Framework – which rates teaching quality and student outcomes at universities and is believed to be the first scheme of its kind globally.


Abducted US, Australian professors plead for release

Shadi Khan Saif

The two senior professors of the American University of Afghanistan under the custody of the Taliban have appeared in another video released by the militants, urging Washington and Canberra to enter prisoner swap deals to secure their liberty.


Five countries set to align university fees this year

Christabel Ligami

Students in higher learning institutions from the five East African countries of Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi are likely, before the end of this year, to start paying the same fees for courses as part of wider plans to harmonise higher education in the region and increase student mobility.


Violence closed Kashmir colleges for most of last year

Haroon Mirani

With violent incidents, shutdowns and curfews making a return to Indian-administered Kashmir, police data and a government survey have revealed that the colleges and universities in the restive state were closed for around 65% of the time in 2016.


Pan-African institute tackles academic decolonisation

Sungula Nkabinde

The University of Johannesburg in South Africa continues to play a leading role in what is increasingly being viewed as a national imperative to decolonise higher education, as one of its institutes last weekend hosted a conference focused on the revival of Pan-Africanism and decolonisation of university curricula.


Jail terms set for Ewha university admissions favours

Aimee Chung

Choi Soon-sil, the friend of South Korea’s former president Park Geun-hye who was impeached in March, was last week sentenced to three years in prison for soliciting university favours for her daughter. Choi Kyung-hee, the former president of the university, was also sentenced.


Humanities to be strengthened and made more relevant

Jan Petter Myklebust

A broad consensus was reached in parliament this month on a White Paper on the strengthening of the humanities in universities, including in research, making them contribute more to the grand societal challenges and be more relevant to working life.


NRW brings back tuition fees for non-EU students

Michael Gardner

North Rhine-Westphalia’s new conservative-liberal government has become the second of Germany’s 16 states to reintroduce tuition fees for non-European Union students in order to raise funds for higher education. Fees were abolished under the predecessor Social Democrat-Green government.


UK leads rivals on international student satisfaction

Brendan O’Malley

The United Kingdom ranks number one for overall international student satisfaction among rival destination countries – ahead of Australia, Canada, France, Germany and the United States – according to a new report drawing data from 137,000 students internationally, published last week.


How the right twists faculty views into national news

Chris Quintana and Brock Read, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Conservative media outlets, feeding off each other, are taking liberal academics’ views and distorting them to the point where they mutate into controversial news stories, which in some cases leads to campus violence or death threats against professors. How do these stories metastasise?



How do globalisation forces affect HE systems?

Marijk van der Wende

As internationalisation comes under increased scrutiny, higher education experts need to ask the big questions about the complex interplay between it and globalisation. This represents a challenge for the study of higher education systems as conceptually positioned within national state boundaries.


Can UK universities stay open?

Simon Marginson

The referendum campaign only focused marginally on the impact of Brexit on scientific research. But freedom of movement goes hand in hand with research networks. As the Brexit talks begin, can the United Kingdom remain internationally engaged?


A model for teaching innovation in HE worldwide?

Stamenka Uvalić-Trumbić and Sir John Daniel

The DeTao Masters Academy has just graduated its first cohort of students. It has been named a pioneer in the development of innovation in Chinese higher education through student-centred learning and real-world project work. But is it a useful model for other countries and is it scalable?


Are MOOCs deepening divisions in higher education?

David Santandreu Calonge

Massive open online courses or MOOCs have been hailed as increasing access to higher education for many, but are they creating more divisions between the developed and developing world? Lack of access to high-speed internet or wi-fi and cultural barriers such as the language of instruction are key challenges.


Transformation of HE must defeat the quality trap

Ayenachew A Woldegiyorgis

Higher education is expanding fast in Ethiopia but the overall poor quality of university education, its graduates and its research infrastructure represents a real danger to the national economy and the country’s development agenda. Immediate responses are needed to address these concerns.



A collective way for faculty to transform education

Patrick Blessinger, Barbara Cozza and Milton Cox

Faculty learning communities are international social networks that create new knowledge and skills and are able to respond to teacher and student needs. When combined with other high-impact inquiry-based learning practices such as research-based learning and creative learning, they can be transformational.



‘Proactive policy’ fuels rise in foreign African students

Jalal Bounouar

Morocco is becoming an increasingly attractive destination for African students seeking to study abroad, and is now their second most popular destination on the continent after South Africa, a trend attributed largely to proactive government policy.


The Association of African Universities marked its Golden Jubilee Celebration at its 14th General Conference held in Accra, Ghana from 5-8 June under the theme ‘AAU@50: Achievements, Challenges and Prospects for Sustainable Development in Africa’. We capture some of the highlights of the conference in this second of our two-part special report.


Standards and guidelines – A step towards harmonisation

Sharon Dell and Ard Jongsma

In a significant milestone in the process towards harmonisation of higher education in Africa, the first draft of the African Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in Higher Education was distributed for discussion among participants at the 14th Association of African Universities General Conference in Ghana earlier this month.


New cluster to implement continent-wide education strategy

Damtew Teferra

A new multi-stakeholder Higher Education Cluster has been created in order to realise the implementation of the Continental Education Strategy for Africa approved in 2016 by African heads of states.


Of life and death – Universities and the environment

Sharon Dell

The issue of resource constraints features consistently in all discussions on the role of universities in environmental management – a sub-theme of the recent 14th General Conference of the Association of African Universities, held in Ghana earlier this month. But as Tanzanian lecturer Simon Ngalomba reminded the conference, climate change is now a “life and death” concern.


Climate change and universities – Time to act

Simon Ngalomba

Climate change is emerging as a life and death concern, and its effects will increase in the future. Universities have a critical role to play in adjusting to and mitigating the emerging realities of climate change.


Higher education and the challenge of democracy

Sharon Dell

In 2000, former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan said universities should become primary tools for Africa’s development – not only because they can help develop African expertise and enhance analysis of African problems, but because they could strengthen domestic institutions and serve as model environments for good governance, conflict resolution and respect for human rights. Are African universities living up to this challenge?


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Universities accused of ideological weakness

China’s anti-corruption watchdog has accused 14 top universities of ideological infractions after a months-long investigation, as the country’s ruling Communist Party broadens its political control over educational institutions, reports the Financial Times.


West Bank settlement university to double in size

Ariel University is to double in size within the next five years, according to a plan now being promoted by Education Minister Naftali Bennett. Ten or 12 new buildings are to be added for new faculties in research and teaching at the university, located in the West Bank settlement of Ariel, in occupied Palestinian territory, as well as a new medical school, to be named after US billionaire businessman Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam, write Lior Dattel and Ronny Linder-Ganz for Haaretz.


Students can opt for fully online degree courses soon

Students and working professionals will soon be able to obtain a degree online and it will be recognised by higher education regulator, the University Grants Commission. The human resource development ministry has decided to allow universities to offer such degrees and is drafting rules, writes Neelam Pandey for Hindustan Times.


Unions denounce unequal R&D investment

Labour unions and PhD student associations in Italy have criticised the government’s focus on research and development that comes at the expense of the nation’s universities after €200 million (US$223 million) was allocated to the Italian Institute of Technology in Genoa at the end of May, writes Santiago Sáez Moreno for Chemistry World.


Researchers probe the roots of youth radicalisation

The ministry of higher education and scientific research has allocated TND2.5 million (US$1 million) over four years to support academic efforts to better understand the roots of radicalisation in young people, and how to combat it. Four research projects have been selected for support under the initiative – one in the humanities and social sciences, and three in engineering and technology, writes Khaoula Sliti for Al-Fanar.


Universities face strikes as market revolution bites

Academics in Crewe are waiting in limbo. The campus, which is run by Manchester Metropolitan University, is the main centre for higher education in south Cheshire. But in February it was confirmed it would close in the summer of 2019, with 160 academic jobs at risk, and last week those academics were planning to stage a two-day walkout in protest. Welcome to life at the sharp end of the market revolution in English higher education, writes Rebecca Ratcliffe for the Guardian.


At colleges, demographic changes everywhere but the top

Although diversifying the makeup of student bodies has been a major effort on college campuses in recent years, when it comes to the college president’s office, there has been little change: a new national survey has found that the typical college president continues to be a white man in his early 60s, writes David W Chen for The New York Times.


Research shows universities' reliance on foreign donors

A key finding of the Annual Survey of Philanthropy in Higher Education is a heavy dependence on overseas donors by South African higher education. While comprising only 7% of supporters, they contribute more than half (52%) of philanthropic income for local universities, reports BizCommunity.


Universities of technology start €75m investment fund

Dutch universities Eindhoven, Enschede and Wageningen are each putting €1.5 million (US$1.6 million) into a €75 million investment fund, Innovation Industries, which will help finance projects stemming from their own R&D programmes, reports Dutch News.


Students protest to demand universal education

The Confederation of Chilean Students held a march on 21 June to reject and oppose the proposed reforms to higher education offered by the government, continuing the movement for universal higher education in Chile, reports TeleSUR.


Cambridge University refuses to return Aboriginal spears

The University of Cambridge has refused a request by an Australian man to return important Aboriginal artifacts taken by British explorer Captain James Cook nearly 250 years ago, writes Harry Pearl for Reuters.


Talking with Turkey for release of jailed students

The Zimbabwean government is seeking the release and extradition of three Zimbabwean students who are being held in prison in northern Cyprus for drug trafficking, reports Zimeye. The news follows revelations that Zimbabwean students studying in Cyprus were being forced into crime and prostitution after being offered fake university scholarships.


Thousands mourn death of student detained by N Korea

Celebrating the life of an American college student who was detained in North Korea for over a year and died shortly after returning home in a coma, a packed crowd of mourners gathered last Thursday as Otto Warmbier's loved ones shared stories about his affinity for hugs, thrift-store clothes-shopping and little-known rap music, writes Dake Kang for Associated Press.


More universities add blockchain to course lists

In recent months, there has been a surge in the demand for blockchain professionals. Recognising this opportunity, several universities have added blockchain studies to their fields of study to tailor their educational offerings to these new developments in the job market, writes Alex Lielacher for Bitcoin Magazine.

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