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17 September 2017 Issue 474 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search


What can be done to oppose far-right threats and fascist recruitment on campus?

   In Commentary, Clayton J Plake and Edna Bonhomme, both members of the Campus Antifascist Network, write about how their organisation is mobilising opposition to increasing fascist and far-right threats to students and academics in the US and worldwide. Philip G Altbach and Hans de Wit say it is likely the academic community will carry the burden of maintaining a globalist vision of the university in the face of the rise of nationalist movements and governments.

   Also in Commentary, Peter Scott argues that high vice-chancellor salaries in the UK could become an obstacle to the effectiveness of leaders if they are perceived to be serving knowledge businesses run along corporate lines rather than institutions serving the public good. John Aubrey Douglass and John N Hawkins propose the ‘New Flagship University’ model as an alternative framework for leading universities in Asia, rather than the ‘World-Class University’ model, which they describe as a vaguely defined fad. Alan Ruby and Matthew Hartley say the Indian government’s proposal to create 20 ‘institutions of eminence’ will mean finding a path through a maze of competing options. And Harris Andoh points to a four-decade period during which research at African universities was a ‘lost mission’ and says they have huge challenges to overcome in re-establishing that purpose.

   In World Blog this week, Nita Temmerman writes about the challenges of setting up a new university in a developing country but encourages governments in these countries to tap into the right support and persevere, as the results can be transformative.

   In a Special Report on the OECD’s Education at a Glance 2017 report, which was published last week, Brendan O’Malley gives an overview, highlighting the rapid expansion in tertiary education globally but pointing out some pitfalls. Geoff Maslen looks at the variation in tuition fee charges across the OECD, and in another article highlights Australia’s low public investment in tertiary education compared to other nations.

Brendan O’Malley – Managing Editor

NEWS – Our correspondents worldwide report


Top universities banned from using foreign funding

Ranjit Devraj

An interior ministry order banning several top institutions, including the University of Delhi and Jawaharlal Nehru University, as well as major research bodies such as the Indian Council of Medical Research, from receiving foreign funds has raised questions around the autonomy of these institutions, as well as the future of foreign-funded projects.


Up to 88 Makerere staff face degree forgery prosecution

Christabel Ligami

Up to 88 people at Makerere University, one of Africa’s most prestigious universities, have been apprehended for possible prosecution over the alteration of student marks in an investigation that is expected to see the withdrawal of some of the university’s law degrees dating back to 2011.


China tells Hong Kong universities to curb ‘separatists’

Yojana Sharma and Mimi Leung

China’s official media has hit out at the unfurling of banners backing Hong Kong independence from China at a number of Hong Kong’s universities, putting pressure on the Hong Kong government and on university management to curb such activities.


Universities to be punished for admissions ‘arms race’

Aimee Chung

In a drive against excessive tutoring and elite private schools that prepare students for the best universities, the South Korean government has ordered almost a dozen universities – including its top three – to bring their admissions tests more in line with the normal high school curriculum.


Election pledges address student fees and allowances

John Gerritsen

New Zealand’s opposition parties are promising more financial support and lower fees for tertiary students in an attempt to woo youth voters – and their parents – ahead of this week’s general elections. But little is being offered for universities and other tertiary institutions.


Pressure mounts as universities hike residence fees

Ashraf Khaled

Egyptian authorities have announced an increase in accommodation fees for students living in university dormitories, putting mounting pressure on students and their families living through the country’s worst economic crisis in decades.


Students to mobilise against university budget cuts

Jan Petter Myklebust

The Education Alliance, comprising more than 40 Danish student organisations, is calling for a demonstration in central Copenhagen and elsewhere in Denmark on 5 October against government education cuts that are resulting in ‘quality deterioration’ in higher education.


Universities told to issue regular financial reports

Gilbert Nganga

Kenya’s universities have been ordered to publish regular financial performance reports as part of sweeping regulations which take effect this year, aimed at lifting the veil of secrecy that has shrouded institutions’ financial status and effectively put millions of dollars at risk.


Anne Frank honours given to JRS and Scholars at Risk

The Jesuit Refugee Service, an NGO providing higher education to refugees in their camps and urban settings, and Scholars at Risk, a scholar rescue organisation, have been given the Anne Frank Award and Anne Frank Special Recognition Award respectively for their commitment to the rights of refugees.



Opposing far-right and openly fascist groups on campus

Clayton J Plake and Edna Bonhomme

In the United States, Europe and Asia, far-right and openly fascist formations have ventured into the political mainstream and are recruiting at universities. Defeating them requires coordinated actions by networks of scholars and activists to promptly mobilise their forces on campuses and beyond.


The new nationalism and internationalisation of HE

Philip G Altbach and Hans de Wit

Europe and North America are entering a profoundly difficult period for higher education internationalisation. It is likely academics will carry the burden of maintaining a globalist vision of the university in the face of the rise of nationalist movements and governments.


Serving the knowledge industry or the public good?

Peter Scott

The controversy over vice-chancellors’ pay is painting universities as knowledge businesses run by corporate elites rather than institutions that serve the public good. That is the damaging message being received and rejected by many. It is undermining university leaders' legitimacy, making them less effective.


The ‘World-Class’ fad – Time to pursue a grander vision

John Aubrey Douglass and John N Hawkins

The ‘World-Class University’ model is a vaguely defined fad which does not provide the basis for the kind of leading universities Asia needs for the future – universities that give the same weight to economic engagement and civic responsibility as research output.


What freedoms do ‘institutions of eminence’ need?

Alan Ruby and Matthew Hartley

The Indian government’s proposal to create 20 ‘institutions of eminence’ – another attempt to create world-class universities – presents a maze of difficult choices. The authorities need to avoid over-regulation and select leaders wisely, while broadening access and lifting research and innovation.


Research – The lost mission of African universities

Harris Andoh

Due to periods of military dictatorship, research at African universities has been held back. To establish themselves as research universities, African universities will need to overcome enormous challenges, including lack of funding, and define what their research priorities are.



Ambition tapered by reality for new universities

Nita Temmerman

Setting up a new university in a developing country presents huge challenges, given the social, political, cultural and economic context, but, by tapping into the right support from internal and external stakeholders, it can transform societies.


The Education at a Glance 2017 report, published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, or OECD, on 12 September, provides key information on the state of education around the world. University World News highlights its findings on tertiary education.


Tertiary enrolment exploding but benefits vary – OECD

Brendan O’Malley

Tertiary enrolment is expanding rapidly, with very strong returns for individuals and taxpayers, but new evidence shows that universities can fail to offer, and individuals fail to pursue, the fields of study that promise the greatest labour market opportunities, according to a new OECD report.


Most university students in OECD now pay tuition fees

Geoff Maslen

Full-time university students in America pay the highest tuition fees among the 30 nations covered in the latest OECD report, Education at a Glance 2017. The United States is by far the most expensive, while public universities in a third of the countries evaluated by the OECD do not impose any charge at all for bachelor degree students.


What HE students pay and what support they are given

Countries around the world can be roughly divided into four groups according to two factors: the level of university tuition fees charged and the financial support available through each country’s student financial aid system, according to the latest OECD report, Education at a Glance 2017.


Higher education spending among world’s lowest – OECD

Geoff Maslen

Australia spends a smaller share of its national income on public investment in tertiary education than countries like Estonia, Turkey and Latvia, according to the OECD’s latest Education at a Glance report. The report ranks Australia’s public investment in tertiary education among the bottom four of the world’s advanced economies – 30th out of 34 nations at 0.7% of gross domestic product.


Germany has leading position in tertiary STEM subjects

Michael Gardner

Germany has attained a leading position in education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics or STEM subjects, according to the latest OECD Education at a Glance report, with 40% of first-year tertiary students choosing them. However, the report criticises stagnation in upward mobility in the country’s education system.


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Universities face risks by protecting DACA recipients

Hundreds of higher education leaders, from the Ivy League to community colleges and advocacy groups, have vowed to protect students on their campuses affected by the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, programme – announced on 5 September – and have urged congress to pass new legislation before the programme expires in March, writes Simona Chiose for The Globe and Mail.


Refugee scientists and researchers are being ‘lost’

Many refugee scientists and researchers fleeing conflict in the Middle East and North Africa have been lost in the diaspora – neither continuing their research, nor being welcomed by the countries of forced exile, write Mohamed Elsonpaty, Tareq Hmaidi and Adel Fakhir for SciDev.Net.


Jobs, harassment push up PhD dropouts

Nearly 40% of researchers in some of the country's top institutions may be dropping out because of personal problems, job opportunities and alleged harassment by guides or supervisors, according to data on admissions versus granting of PhDs, writes Basant Kumar Mohanty for The Telegraph India.


Universities body stresses need to curb radicalisation

The Higher Education Commission of Pakistan has urged universities to institute effective protocols and programmes to curb opportunities for radicalisation of students and university staff, while strengthening security arrangements on campuses, reports The News.


National agriculture project to benefit 75 universities

In a move to revolutionise higher education in agriculture in India, the World Bank and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research have recently launched the National Agricultural Higher Education Project, an INR11 billion (US$171 million) project that will benefit all 75 agricultural universities under the research council, reports Express News Service.


Move to standardise university data to help rankings

A draft amendment to the higher education law proposes clarifying university assessment measures and making them uniform so that university rankings can be more precise in the future, reports VietNamNet Bridge. The amendment follows the recent launch of the country’s first university ranking by a group of independent experts.


Top Australian university opens campus in Dubai

An Australian university that is ranked in the top 1% of universities worldwide has opened its campus in Dubai, writes Sarwat Nasir for Khaleej Times.


Top African universities slip on rankings list

The University of Cape Town and the University of the Witwatersrand – the top two universities in Africa – dropped in the Times Higher Education 2017 rankings, with researchers warning South African universities could disappear from the top 200 if the trend continues, writes Michelle Gumede for Business Live.


Universities begin biometric registration of students

It will now be easier to identify students in universities after a number of the institutions rolled out a biometric registration of learners this month. The move to register students biometrically was due to terror threats after it emerged that university students were easy targets of terror networks, writes Ouma Wanzala for Daily Nation.


100 university students caught cheating

More than 100 Greek university students have been caught in a mass cheating scandal, reports AFP. The group at the University of Patras, most of them first-year students, submitted the same paperwork in four separate coursework exercises. They have been banned from sitting the rest of their exams in September.


MPs demand answers after R14 million student deposit

Members of Parliament have rejected assertions by the Walter Sisulu University‚ service provider Intellimali and the National Student Financial Aid Scheme that there was foul play in the ‘erroneous’ payment of R14 million (US$1 million) into a student’s account, writes Thabo Mokone for Times Live.


Cambridge considers typed exams as handwriting worsens

The increasing illegibility of students’ handwriting has prompted Cambridge University to consider ending 800 years of tradition by allowing laptops to replace pen and paper for examinations, writes Mattha Busby for the Guardian.


California universities win grant to develop bionic suit

People with paraplegia may someday be able to hit their stride in a so-called bionic suit, thanks to an US$8 million federal research grant to three Southern California universities, officials announced on Wednesday, writes Dana Bartholomew for the Los Angeles Business Journal.

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