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9 July 2017 Issue 467 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search


Shanghai ranking by subject opens a new battlefront in university rankings

   In Commentary, Angel Calderon says the Shanghai ranking by subject has expanded significantly in the past year and has opened a new battlefront in an already saturated rankings space by ranking subjects based on research output, impact and prestige. The results suggest we will see an uplift in the overall standing of universities from China, Singapore and Malaysia over the next few years. Darren J McDermott highlights one noteworthy area where the Association of Southeast Asian Nations is making progress on Southeast Asian integration – the harmonisation of higher education, which he believes is ‘moving in the right direction‘. Eugene Sebastian says while new, less risky transnational education models are emerging, universities must continue to rely on a fundamental focus on the student experience as integral to any offshore strategy. And Jenni Case asks what higher education’s role is in the struggle for social justice in South Africa and how education researchers can broaden our understanding of contemporary problems.

   Also in Commentary, Caitríona Taylor encourages universities to make health and wellness a part of their institutional mission to deal with a growing global obesity crisis, particularly in the developing world where the younger generation is experiencing a growth in obesity rates. John Bassett believes now is the time to invite a dialogue with US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos about accreditation and quality oversight of higher education, while Mark Ashwill finds that Vietnamese students and their parents still view a US education favourably, despite poor ratings for US President Donald Trump.

   In World Blog this week, Ka Ho Mok says returning Chinese students get a competitive advantage from study abroad, but universities and governments need to be careful to ensure that the wider social benefits of international learning are understood and that those at home don’t miss out.

Brendan O’Malley – Managing Editor

NEWS – Our correspondents worldwide report


High Level Group says EU must double research budget

Jan Petter Myklebust and Brendan O’Malley

A group of experts selected by the European Commission to recommend what changes to make to the current European Union research programme Horizon 2020 when it ends in three years’ time, has called for a doubling of the budget and for it to pay more attention to the gap between science and innovation.


Surveys split on outlook for international enrolment

The results of two surveys give conflicting messages about the willingness of international students to take up places they have been offered on courses in United States universities, with cautious optimism over undergraduate enrolment and widespread gloom over postgraduate enrolment.


Tuition fee regime is no longer progressive, says IFS

Brendan O’Malley

The current regime of high tuition fees and large student maintenance loans is giving universities 25% more funds per student per degree, but is leaving poorer students with debts one-third higher than richer students, according to an Institute for Fiscal Studies or IFS report.


Governments called to invest more seriously in research

Kudzai Mashininga

Academics attending the inaugural Africa Conference for Research, Innovation and Development, organised by the University of Zimbabwe in conjunction with the European Alliance for Innovation, urged African countries to invest more in research and innovation to help in the continent’s development.


One in four humanities academics have not published

Jan Petter Myklebust

There are pockets of excellence but no institutions reached the highest levels of international performance and more than one in four research staff have not published, according to the first critical evaluation in three decades of Norwegian research and higher education in the humanities.


Government rushes closure of Kashmir universities

Haroon Mirani

The government has rushed colleges and universities in Kashmir into a surprise early summer break in advance of expected political protests on the anniversary of the death of a popular rebel commander, which last year pushed Kashmir into five months of curfews, demonstrations and shutdowns.


Engineering union to introduce test for graduates

Ashraf Khaled

Egypt’s engineering union is planning to introduce licensing tests for graduates in an effort to boost professional standards and curb the number of engineers attending private engineering schools, amid complaints about the quality of graduates.


Universities in push to meet new PhD coursework rules

Maina Waruru

Kenyan universities are rushing to enforce a new rule requiring that their PhD programmes include at least one year of coursework, but questions are being raised over the practicality of the new rule and the impact it might have on the rate at which Kenyan PhDs are produced.


Ministry makes comparing admissions information easier

New benchmarks for admissions information will make it easier for students to compare entry requirements for institutions as they weigh up different study options, an issue that has become more important as the number of pathways into university has broadened to reflect the diversity of student demand.


Higher education cooperation plan unveiled

Wagdy Sawahel

In what has been described as a ‘win-win’ deal, South Korea and Egypt have unveiled a higher education cooperation plan that includes the establishment of a joint institution, networking among universities in the two countries, and enhanced student and academic mobility.



The new battlefront in university subject rankings

Angel Calderon

The Shanghai ranking by subject has expanded significantly in the past year and opens up a new front by ranking subjects based mainly on bibliometric data related to their research output. It is part of a new higher education world based on big data.


Towards a Southeast Asian Higher Education Area

Darren J McDermott

As the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN celebrates its 50th anniversary, what progress has been made to date on its ‘One Vision, One Identity, One Community’ integration journey in higher education? How far along the road are we to the creation of an ASEAN identity through increased mobility?


Student experience is core to an offshore strategy

Eugene Sebastian

New, less risky forms of doing transnational education, such as via dual degrees, need to ensure they don’t lose a focus on the student experience. As competition increases, the student experience is becoming increasingly important to decisions on where to study.


Changing society through higher education research

Jenni Case

What is higher education’s role in the struggle for social justice? For education researchers it surely lies in deeper analysis and asking the right questions about how we got to where we are now and where we go from here.


Universities’ role in tackling the obesity crisis

Caitríona Taylor

Developing countries must intensify their efforts to increase higher education student engagement in physical activity programmes, a key plank in dealing with a growing global obesity crisis that can only be halted and reversed through education and participation.


The changing face of accreditation in higher education

John Bassett

Now is the time to tackle the new Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on accreditation and look at how to make sure that quality and standards accommodate the profound changes taking place in higher education – including the rise of technology and the for-profit sector.


Trump is not deterring Vietnamese from studying in US

Mark Ashwill

Echoing the findings of the Institute of International Education’s Shifting Tides report that interest in the United States as a study destination is holding firm, recent statistics show that, despite poor ratings for President Donald Trump, Vietnamese students and their parents view a US education favourably.



What can we learn from returning Chinese students?

Ka Ho Mok

Returning students get a competitive advantage from study abroad, but universities and governments need to be careful to ensure that the wider social benefits of internationalisation are understood and that those at home don’t miss out.



Is your website accessible to deaf and blind people?

Peter Schmidt, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Marcie Lipsitt doubts it and she says it takes her only half an hour to alert the United States Education Department that a college may be violating disability-rights laws – and she will “make as much noise as I can” and “won’t stop” in her battle for disadvantaged students.


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Global south universities launch climate consortium

Universities from the world’s least developed countries have launched a cooperative programme aimed at ending their dependence on climate experts and expensive consultants from rich countries, writes Mantoe Phakathi for Climate Change News.


Win for university staff as 457 visa eligibility relaxed

Lecturers, vice-chancellors and other leading staff members in Australian universities can now breathe sighs of relief as the government has restored the four-year visas with a pathway to permanent residency for this particular group, reports Study International.


Bill proposes 25% hike in international student fees

The Knesset plenum recently passed a bill 32-0 that proposes allowing universities and colleges subsidised by the state to raise their annual tuition by up to 25% for international students, writes Udi Shaham for The Jerusalem Post.


Universities start rebuilding in post-Islamic State era

As the Iraqi-led coalition reclaims territory from the Islamic State, some of Iraq’s 10 shuttered universities are showing signs of recovery as teachers and students volunteer or raise money to reconstruct their campuses, and government officials prepare Iraqi higher education for the post-Islamic State era, writes Gilgamesh Nabeel for Al-Fanar Media.


Hong Kong’s new leader in education spending spree

School leavers looking to continue their studies and contract teachers hoping for full-time jobs will benefit as Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor outlined her extra funding plan for education, writes Peace Chiu for South China Morning Post.


Big data reveals patterns in HE names lists

Using lists of names collected from publicly available websites, two University of Chicago researchers have revealed distinctive patterns in higher education systems, ranging from ethnic representation and gender imbalance in the sciences, to the presence of academic couples, and even the illegal hiring of relatives in Italian universities, reports Science Daily.


Open University issues warning over £2bn skills gap bill

Inaugural research by the Open University suggests that a severe skills gap is costing United Kingdom businesses more than £2 billion (US$2.6 billion) a year as companies struggle to find workers with the right attributes, writes Bradley Gerrard for The Telegraph.


Universities attack higher education reform package

Universities have taken aim at Education Minister Simon Birmingham’s higher education reform package in submissions to a Senate inquiry, singling out changes to the way postgraduate places are allocated and performance-contingent funding for particular derision, writes Julie Hare for The Australian.


Universities paralysed as staff strike resumes

Activities were paralysed in public universities after employees downed tools to protest the delayed payment of their salary awards, reports the Standard.


Climate change report reveals strong research linkages

A joint report by the Department of Science and Technology and the Academy of Science of South Africa on the impact of climate change has revealed strong international research linkages, with many South African scientists serving in leadership positions in international climate change research and assessment bodies, reports the Cape Argus.


Universities are agents for city-wide change – Minister

Universities can play a huge part in transforming cities as they help to transform knowledge into new ideas, new businesses and new jobs, said Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung last week, writes Prisca Ang for The Straits Times.


PhD scholars protest lack of jobs

Members of the PhD Doctors' Association Pakistan staged a protest demonstration last week against the Higher Education Commission for failing to provide them with regular jobs, writes Muhammad Faisal Kaleem for the Daily Times.


Fighting to keep leaders who are academics

Faculty members at the University of Wisconsin at Madison want to kill a state budget proposal that would ban the university system’s Board of Regents from requiring that the system president and campus chancellors and vice-chancellors be academics themselves, writes Coleen Flaherty for Inside Higher Ed.


Student claims university censored her political thesis

A PhD student in Algeria says her university is withholding her degree because of objections to the political content of her thesis, writes Ahmed Rouaba for the BBC.


Cabinet approves university and subject ranking system

Ministers have approved the drafting of a by-law to establish a ranking system linked to specific criteria, including scientific research and publications, the number of faculty members and enrolled students, in addition to the ratio of foreign students to the total number of students, among others, according to Higher Education Minister Adel Tweisi, writes Laila Azzeh for The Jordan Times.

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