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13 August 2017 Issue 469 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search


Emerging countries battle to bridge innovation gap with developed world

In Commentary, Anand Kulkarni finds a growing global innovation gap between developed and emerging economies, with the exception of China – though some middle-income countries are making real progress. Dean Hristov and Sonal Minocha look at the role of universities in promoting innovation and entrepreneurship in China, and in meeting burgeoning demand for new kinds of skills.

   Grace Karram Stephenson writes that in a politically fraught world, the movement of top academic talent to Canada is a long-term trend with long-term benefits, while Deren Temel calls on Canada to cut down on the bureaucracy and expense hampering growth in international student numbers from Vietnam.

   Roger Chao Jr reveals how Malaysian academics are working to position the country as a focal point for educational research in Southeast Asia and a contributor to the field globally. In World Blog, Margaret Andrews pays tribute to the late Alan Dundes of Berkeley, a professor of folklore who was the best teacher she ever had and embodied what higher education is all about.

   In one of two Special Reports, Geoff Maslen unpacks a global-first survey by the Australian Human Rights Commission that has exposed high levels of sexual assault and harassment in universities.

   In the second special, Munyaradzi Makoni reports on the launch in Tanzania of the Alliance for African Partnership, brainchild of Michigan State University, which will innovate research collaboration between African institutions and international universities to tackle global challenges. Penina Mlama argues for a more reflective approach to building partnerships in the arts and literature with Africa.

Karen MacGregor

NEWS – Our correspondents worldwide report


Funding package to cost universities a billion dollars

Geoff Maslen

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.


Regional universities a new focus of research excellence

Suvendrini Kakuchi

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.


IIMs gain greater autonomy, award MBAs under new law

Ranjit Devraj

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’.


University suspends professor after foreign spy charge

Yojana Sharma

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”.


US travel ban will hit teaching at private university

Yojana Sharma

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.


Debate over foreign researcher numbers, quota proposal

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.


Criticism over planned Robert Mugabe university

Kudzai Mashininga

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.


19 cities bid for European Medicines Agency post-Brexit

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


Sexual harassment rife on university campuses

Geoff Maslen

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.


Postgraduates endure university staff sexual abuse

Geoff Maslen

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”.


How to tackle campus sexual assault and harassment

Michael Flood

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.



Index shows the global innovation gap is growing

Anand Kulkarni

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.


Are universities helping China compete on skills?

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.


Canada offers US, UK academics security, not activism

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 limited by red tape

Deren Temel

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.


Malaysia consolidates its position as a regional HE hub

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.



Remembering what higher education is all about

Margaret Andrews

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?



Mining the power of data to boost student success

Sungula Nkabinde

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.


New Makerere vice-chancellor designate aims high

Christabel Ligami

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.


College diversity officer – Demanding job, low resources

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.


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”.


A new model for African partnerships launched

Munyaradzi Makoni

Inspired by the need for a new approach to African partnerships, Michigan State University’s Alliance for African Partnership was launched in Tanzania recently.


Building better academic partnerships in the arts

Penina Mlama

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.


Institutional partnerships – Shifting the centre of gravity

Munyaradzi Makoni

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.


Vice-chancellors pin hopes on stronger partnerships

Munyaradzi Makoni

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.


‘Sub-optimal’ partnerships continue to impede progress

Munyaradzi Makoni

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.


Creating equal partnerships calls for a paradigm shift

Munyaradzi Makoni

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.



Call for release of student imprisoned for Facebook post

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.


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Universities take on Dutch publishing giant Elsevier

A consortium of German universities, research institutes and public libraries has rejected the latest offer from Dutch publishing giant Elsevier for a new countrywide licensing agreement for its research portfolio. Germany’s chief negotiator says the offer does not meet the requirements of German researchers, writes Ned Stafford for Chemistry World.


Duterte makes education free in state universities

President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law making education free at all state universities in the Philippines, despite warnings from his economic advisers that the country cannot afford it, reports Agence France-Presse.


Universities need urgent Brexit 'clarity' from ministers

United Kingdom universities could lose talented European Union staff unless they receive "greater clarity" from the government on the post-Brexit rights of EU nationals, according to the Russell Group. The group of top research universities says Brexit is causing EU staff "uncertainty and anxiety" and making the recruitment of others harder, reports the BBC.


Sidelining of British students to be stopped

Universities admissions will be monitored from next year to ensure British students are not being discriminated against in favour of foreign applicants who can pay more, writes Sarah Knapton for The Telegraph.


Controversial bill on higher education clears parliament

One member of Greece’s parliamentary majority voted against the controversial bill on higher education that was approved in the House on 2 August, writes Tasos Kokkinidis for The Greek Reporter.


Evidence of Trump impact on international admissions

Since many international students would have started planning their application strategies before Election Day 2016, many experts think this coming admissions cycle may be more telling about the impact of a Trump administration, writes Scott Jaschik for Inside Higher Ed.


Three universities accused of diploma trafficking

Three Moroccan universities – the Mohammed V University in Rabat, Abdelmalek Essaâdi University in Tangier-Tétouan and Hassan I University in Settat – were allegedly involved in diploma trafficking and corruption in 2016, according to a draft report by the Court of Auditors, reports Morocco World News.


Fake institutions – HE body seeks heftier penalties

Grappling with mushrooming fake universities across India, the University Grants Commission is set to send a ‘gentle reminder’ to the Ministry of Human Resource Development to amend the archaic UGC Act 1956 that stipulates a paltry INR1,000 (US$15.6) fine for offenders involved in running fake universities, writes Sweta Dutta for India Today.


Concern over end to US funds for food security project

Termination of a US$30 million food security project by USAID has drawn criticism from experts and stakeholders who fear that the abrupt decision will affect ongoing research and scholar exchange programmes in Pakistan, writes Shamsul Islam for The Express Tribune.


University study less attractive to young people – Poll

The proportion of young people in the United Kingdom who think they are likely to go to university is at its lowest level in years, new figures suggest, with many citing cost as a primary concern, writes Rachael Pells for the Independent.


Over 210,000 university quotas unfilled this year

Over half of students who entered Turkey’s national university exam this year did not fill out the necessary application form indicating which university they wished to be placed in, according to student selection and placement results announced on 8 August, reports Hurriyet Daily News.


Deputy higher education minister appears in court

South Africa’s Deputy Higher Education Minister Mduduzi Manana arrived at a court in Johannesburg last Thursday ahead of his first court appearance after he allegedly assaulted a woman at a Johannesburg nightclub, writes Thando Kubheka for Eyewitness News.


Ministry to review private university students’ degrees

The Ministry of Higher Education in Afghanistan wants to review the degrees of private universities from now onwards before those institutions issue qualifications to students, writes Tamim Hamid for TOLO News.


Officials warned to behave online as two lecturers fired

As the ruling Chinese Communist Party gears up for an all-important political congress later this year, the administration of President Xi Jinping has issued new rules aimed at limiting what party members can do online. The rules follow the axing of two university lecturers for “inappropriate comments” on social media, reports Radio Free Asia.


Public universities’ endowment funds net US$430 million

A total of MYR1.85 billion (US$430 million) was collected through the endowment funds of the 20 local public universities as of June this year, the Malaysian house of representatives, the Dewan Rakyat, was told last week, reports Bernama.


Commission considers 200 private university applications

The National Universities Commission in Nigeria said it is currently processing over 200 applications for new private universities in the country, reports Premium Times.


Relief as universities cut fees in new academic year

Prospective applicants for higher learning studies in the 2017-18 academic year have something to smile about as some private institutions in Tanzania are slashing tuition fees in efforts to attract students, reports The Citizen.

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