NEWS – Our correspondents worldwide report
Federal spending on higher education looks set to fall by AU$1 billion (US$797 million), according to Universities Australia Chair Professor Margaret Gardner, who said government’s spending on higher education would cut funding for universities and increase fees for students so they would pay more for less.
A Japanese government plan to set up world-class centres for basic research in regional universities will strengthen its international competitiveness and narrow the gaping divide between Japan’s elite research institutions and regional universities.
India’s prestigious Indian Institutes of Management or IIMs are set to gain increased autonomy after the lower house of parliament passed a bill anointing them ‘institutions of national importance’.
The National University of Singapore has terminated the employment of Professor Huang Jing, identified on 4 August as a spy by Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs. The university said in a statement on the same day that Huang had been suspended without pay “with immediate effect”.
A United States decision to ban all travel by US citizens to North Korea from September will affect Pyongyang’s only private university, Pyongyang University of Science and Technology in the North Korean capital, which employs a significant number of US citizens on its teaching staff.
Jan Petter Myklebust
Summer time in Norway, from June to mid-August, is normally quiet for universities. But not this summer – possibly due to general elections looming in September. Internationalisation has been high on the agenda, with controversy over the growing number of international researchers and a proposal to impose a quota on their numbers.
In a widely criticised move, the Zimbabwean government has announced plans to build a US$1 billion science and technology university named after its long-time ruler, 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe.
Jan Petter Myklebust
Nineteen European cities have bid to host the European Medicines Agency, which will be relocated from London as a result of Brexit. The agency does not conduct research but draws on hundreds of top scientists from across the world for expert working groups.
AUSTRALIA – Campus sexual harassment
More than half of Australian university students say they were sexually harassed on at least one occasion last year, and one in 14 were sexually assaulted at least once in 2015 or 2016, a survey of more than 30,000 students at 39 universities has found.
Australian postgraduates suffer from widespread sexual harassment and assault by staff they work with, according to the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations. National council President Peter Derbyshire says anyone who has spent time with postgraduate students knows it is “the worst kept secret in academia that such behaviour occurs”.
Australian universities have a serious problem with sexual assault and sexual harassment, as revealed by the Australian Human Rights Commission. Rather than adopting tokenistic measures aimed at reassuring parents and international students, universities must step up and implement comprehensive, long-term and multi-pronged prevention strategies.
Middle-income countries, with the exception of China, are significantly under-represented in the top echelons of the Global Innovation Index and breaking into the rankings is an uphill struggle, although they are making progress.
Dean Hristov and Sonal Minocha
China’s universities are competing globally with regard to research. But with the rapid expansion of a more open and competitive Chinese economy, they could do more to promote innovation, entrepreneurship and the kind of skills employers are now looking for.
Grace Karram Stephenson
While some may think Canada will become a base for liberal activism against the far right and a bastion of academic freedom, the reality is that most academics are moving there for security and are unlikely to rock the boat.
Recruitment of Vietnamese students to Canada is hampered by slow visa permit processing time. Canada should continue the Canada Express Study visa for Vietnam as it cuts down on bureaucracy and expense for those Vietnamese looking to study there.
Roger Chao Jr
Malaysia’s increasing capacity and focus on international and comparative education and Southeast Asian education research have confirmed its vital position with regard to international higher education in the region – and beyond.
Sometimes we need to take a step back and remember why we’re in higher education. Professor Alan Dundes was the best teacher I ever had, but what made him great?
Data analytics is becoming increasingly important to improving the effectiveness of almost every profession and academia is no different, but knowing what data is important and how to use it is critical.
Newly appointed Makerere University Vice-chancellor Professor Barnabas Nawangwe has vowed to position the Ugandan university as the leading institution for academic excellence and innovation in Africa.
Sarah Brown, The Chronicle of Higher Education
Dozens of campuses across America have created diversity officer positions in the past 15 years, often in response to pressure from student activists, but the role is still relatively new. In a new survey of chief diversity officers, fewer than half of respondents said they began with adequate resources to carry out their responsibilities effectively.
ALLIANCE FOR AFRICAN PARTNERSHIP
The Alliance for African Partnership is a new initiative of Michigan State University or MSU, which aims to support sustainable, effective and equitable long-term partnerships among African organisations, MSU and other international organisations. The launch took place in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania from 18-20 July, featured prominent African leaders from higher education, research institutes and other sectors, and focused on the theme of “Putting vision into action together”.
Inspired by the need for a new approach to African partnerships, Michigan State University’s Alliance for African Partnership was launched in Tanzania recently.
The power of the arts and literature as tools for self-determination and asserting cultural identity has complicated the formation of partnerships between Africa and the rest of the world, resulting in the need for a more reflective approach to building effective and transformative partnerships.
The landscape for partnerships between African and international organisations is changing, with the centre of gravity shifting towards the physical area in which the research and development are being conducted. A desired outcome of this relocation is a more effective functioning of the overall development ecosystem, according to delegates at the launch of the Alliance for African Partnership, held in Tanzania last month.
Michigan State University’s new initiative, the Alliance for African Partnership, has raised interest among vice-chancellors across Africa, who hope to address some of their research and teaching challenges through partnerships.
Partnerships are inherent to the human condition, but action is urgently needed to improve the quality of the ‘sub-optimal’ partnerships that Africa continues to develop within the continent and with the outside world, according to Célestin Monga, chief economist and vice-president for economic governance and knowledge management at the African Development Bank in Côte d’Ivoire.
While it is widely known that few partnerships between African and international organisations benefit all the parties involved, how to change that imbalance remains a key challenge, but one that the recently launched Alliance for African Partnership is determined to tackle.
Scholars at Risk has called on the global academic community to join a campaign urging the Thai authorities to release from prison and drop lèse majesté charges against law student and activist Jatupat ‘Pai’ Boonpattararaksa for a Facebook post.