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24 September 2017 Issue 475 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search


Universities need to evolve along with the trend towards learning throughout life

   In our World Blog this week, Margaret Andrews concedes that change is difficult but says universities need to adapt to support lifelong learning as the students of the future will want and need to learn throughout their lives.

   In Commentary, Norbert Sabic says the Hungarian government somehow seems able to reconcile its desire for increased student mobility and academic cooperation with nationalistic tunes, but warns that some higher education principles – and even entire institutions – may fall victim to right-wing political agendas. Thomas Jørgensen suggests that the easiest path forward for UK universities after Brexit is an agreement with European Union research and student mobility programmes because trade deals would be subject to individual countries’ agreement and restrictions. And Damtew Teferra contends that the best way to elevate universities in Africa to world-class, research-oriented institutions would be to strategically consolidate the existing flagship universities.

   Also in Commentary, V Santhakumar says using higher education to achieve social inclusion of lower castes in India could do with a different approach – and India could learn some lessons on this from Brazil. And Bruno Morche argues that Latin American universities need to embrace a more international outlook to improve the region’s performance in global rankings and enable it to compete on a global stage.

   In Features, Shuriah Niazi reports that the suicide of a student who achieved top marks in school subjects has highlighted the despair of thousands of students from India’s lower caste who have been denied entry to medical college following changes in medical admissions policy that have been upheld by the Supreme Court. And Jan Petter Myklebust reports that initiatives in Finland towards new educational export projects have been given government support and are mushrooming.

   In a Special Report on African scholarly publishing, Thierry Luescher and François van Schalkwyk look at how African presses are faring under the global publishing industry’s current market conditions, while Veronica Klipp writes with regret that the overwhelming proportion of South African research goes to international publishers, and says university presses in Africa would have to radically improve their capacity to remedy the situation.

Brendan O’Malley – Managing Editor

NEWS – Our correspondents worldwide report


SDGs – Universities are moving from what to do to how

Rebecca Warden

The Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs, including one on education, were agreed at a United Nations summit two years ago and aim to solve the world’s biggest problems by 2030, but how far have universities gone in helping to achieve them?


One in six state-funded university places axed

Eugene Vorotnikov

The number of state-funded places at domestic universities has been cut by 17% this academic year in line with Ministry of Education and Science proposals under the ongoing reform of the Ukrainian national system of higher education, which includes dropping specialist degrees.


Universities warn court of harm caused by travel ban

Brendan O’Malley

Higher education associations have submitted an amicus brief to the United States Supreme Court warning that the Executive Order banning entry to the US from six countries will send a “clarion message of exclusion” to foreign students and researchers around the globe.


Universities told to step up anti-extremism measures

Ameen Amjad Khan

With a rising tendency towards extremism among university students from privileged backgrounds, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal last week urged university vice-chancellors to step up anti-radicalisation measures on campuses.


UK minister signs umbrella science agreement with US

Brendan O’Malley

United Kingdom Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson has signed a UK-US Science and Technology Agreement with United States Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Judith G Garber, marking the first umbrella agreement between the United States and United Kingdom.


Public backs higher funding for university research

Brendan O’Malley

The overwhelming majority of Canadians believes in the importance of university research for Canada’s future as an innovation leader and its importance in tackling pressing global challenges, and that university research should be funded at globally competitive levels, according to a new survey.


Drastic population drop to hit higher education funding

Suluck Lamubol

Without reforms to the higher education sector, Thailand’s drastic population drop in recent years could affect the funding and quality of universities – and put many universities at risk – education experts warn after the university central admissions exam saw a 20% drop in numbers of applications.


Experts call for radical changes in higher education

Bianka Siwinska

Experts say Poland needs to take radical steps to address underfunding, mission diversity, quality assurance weaknesses and gender bias, and improve research excellence, doctoral training and internationalisation. But not all of their ideas made it into the higher education law proposed last week.


Universities face an age of cyber crime

Wagdy Sawahel

An increasing number of cyber attacks targeting African higher education institutions and universities points to the need for more effective security and greater emphasis on university-based education and research, according to experts.



A nationalist approach to internationalisation of HE

Norbert Sabic

The nationalist policies of the Hungarian government sit side by side with a desire to continue to attract international students, but there is a danger that some higher education principles – and even entire institutions – may end up falling victim to right-wing political agendas.


What can Brexit Britain expect from a trade agreement?

Thomas Jørgensen

Questions about partnerships with European Union universities and branch campuses have been raised since the Brexit referendum. The easiest path forward for United Kingdom universities after Brexit remains an agreement with EU programmes because trade deals would be subject to individual states’ agreement and restrictions.


In defence of flagship universities

Damtew Teferra

The best approach to building 'world-class' universities in most African cases would be elevating existing flagship universities which already have some brand, history and visibility, and human and material resources.


Changing higher education to achieve social inclusion

V Santhakumar

Indian academics are stuck in their ways. It is easier to follow the traditional teaching path and methods – such as using books used in universities in the United States and the United Kingdom – than look at what could really make a difference to those from lower social castes. They could borrow some ideas from Brazil.


Universities need to embrace a more global outlook

Bruno Morche

The latest rankings are not good news for Latin American universities. They should serve as a catalyst for more internationalisation which will drive greater innovation.


Rich lessons from implementing internationalisation

Shaheen Motala Timol and Kevin Kinser

Mauritius’ internationalisation efforts over the past few years have offered a rich learning experience for the country so it can use its unique contextual advantages to design a culturally informed regulatory framework which fits its vibrant higher education sector.



Lifelong learning requires an evolving university

Margaret Andrews

Universities need to adapt to a changing world where students will need to learn throughout their lives. That means selectively forgetting some ways of doing things from the past in order to fully invent and realise the future of higher education – and it isn’t easy.



New cyber law threatens academic freedoms and activism

Zachariah Mushawatu

A proposed Cyber Crime and Cyber Security Bill is likely to have a devastating effect on academic freedom and student activism in Zimbabwe, where the law and legal system are used to thwart dissent from ordinary citizens, academics and student activists.



Despair over new medical college admissions changes

Shuriah Niazi

The suicide of a student who achieved 98% in school subjects has highlighted the despair felt by thousands of India’s lowest caste and poorest students who have been denied entry to medical college following changes in medical admissions policy that have been upheld by a Supreme Court ruling.


Can Finland capitalise on its educational reputation?

Jan Petter Myklebust

At a time of layoffs of staff at universities due to economic cutbacks, initiatives towards new educational export projects have been mushrooming, spurred on by government ambition, supported and staffed with experts, and seeking to build on and export ‘Global Education Brand Finland’.


Why Beall’s blacklist of predatory journals died

Paul Basken, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Jeffrey Beall, an academic librarian at the University of Colorado, Denver, abruptly shuttered a blacklist of journals he deemed untrustworthy nine months ago. But while the project has ended, debates over its merit and impact live on – and questions it raised about open access remain unresolved.


African scholarly publishers based in South Africa, Senegal, Cameroon and Uganda, as well as the global book distributor African Books Collective, met in Johannesburg, South Africa, recently to discuss the challenges they face and opportunities to strengthen monograph publishing through collaboration. This Special Report kicks off a new African Scholarly Publishing section that will run regular articles on developments in the academic book and journal publishing sector on the continent.


Universities need imaginative, ICT-enhanced presses

Thierry Luescher and François van Schalkwyk

How are African university presses faring under the global scholarly publishing industry’s current 'market' conditions and the contradictory developments of 'robber capitalism' on the part of large commercial publishers and hyper-marketisation on the one hand, and the emergence of 'social capitalism' and open access knowledge sharing on the other hand?


Network aims to strengthen African scholarly publishing

Karen MacGregor

A small group of African scholarly publishers has launched a network for collaboration, experience-sharing and advocacy – and they have invited other publishers of scholarly monographs across Africa to join. Work has already begun on initial projects including building a shared database of peer reviewers and developing peer review standards.


ABC – Taking African scholarly books to the world

Justin Cox

African-published books are as easily available as any book published anywhere and the international market for African scholarship is healthy. But African books are now far more accessible outside than within the continent. Through the African Books Collective, African publishers worked together to successfully sell their books to the North – now they must operate in the same way in Africa.


Desire for knowledge – Langaa and publishing in Africa

Francis B Nyamnjoh and Kathryn Toure

Can enhanced circulation of African worldviews help shape the evolution of humanity? This is our vision at Langaa Research and Publishing Common Initiative Group which, along with other African publishers, stirs the imagination and contributes to cultural development and renaissance.


The costs of losing local research to global publishers

Veronica Klipp

The overwhelming proportion of South African research goes to international publishers, and the academy is forced to buy back its own knowledge – often at exorbitant prices. As Africa’s research output grows, university presses will have to radically improve capacity to have any chance of controlling research outputs in the global knowledge economy.


Research offers ways forward for university presses

The first research to provide an empirically-based overview of African university presses reveals a bleak landscape – but also a group of active presses that are deploying technology to reduce production costs, enhance visibility and widen their reach. It offers ways forward for universities and presses keen to respond to the remarkable growth of research in Africa.


The African university press – A gloomy picture

Hans Zell

While the university press is a non-commercial enterprise, it must be run with strictly commercial and business-like efficiency. Evidence from many dormant African university presses – their frequently low profile and visibility, and meagre publishing output – paints a gloomy picture and suggests this is not always the case.



Joint project to tackle disaster from space

Australia’s top science organisation, the CSIRO, is to conduct joint research with United States-based Radiant.Earth into satellite imagery and earth observation data for promoting disaster resilience and tackling critical issues in health, climate change and sustainable water management, mainly in the Asia-Pacific region.


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Universities shut the door on North Korean students

Some Chinese universities are restricting the admission of North Korean students and even blacklisting their scholarship applications as the nuclear weapons crisis escalates on the Korean peninsula, according to several college enrolment officers, writes Stephen Chen for South China Morning Post.


Country aims for 40 world-class universities by 2020

The ‘double first-class’ project university list, a new impetus for the development of China's higher education sector, will soon be announced by China’s Ministry of Education and some universities have already informed the public that they are on the list, writes Li Yan for People’s Daily Online.


Higher education set for overhaul

The higher education sector is set for a makeover as the government plans to implement a slew of measures such as a qualifying examination for PhDs, mandatory use of anti-plagiarism software for evaluating PhDs, assessment and accreditation of higher education institutions by third party agencies and granting full autonomy to top-ranked institutions, writes Mahendra Singh for TNN.


State pays millions for predatory journal articles

The South African government spent between R100 million (US$7.5 million) and R300 million (US$23 million) over a 10-year period in subsidies for academic articles published in predatory journals, according to a South African Journal of Science study, writes Sarah Wild for Quartz.


Survey exposes weaknesses in university quality control

Only five out of 17 Arab countries surveyed by Al-Fanar Media have a follow-up mechanism in place to monitor quality once a university has been established, writes Rasha Faek for Al-Fanar Media. The survey aimed to examine the legal requirements for opening and operating universities.


State to probe universities operating multiple accounts

The federal government says it will immediately begin to investigate universities operating multiple accounts in violation of the Treasury Single Account policy of the government in order to tackle corrupt practices in the nation’s universities, adding that concrete efforts would be made to protect whistle-blowers, reports The Nation.


Higher education body closes 110 PhD programmes

The Higher Education Commission has closed down as many as 110 PhD programmes in public and private sector universities over lack of quality. This was said by the commission’s chairman, Dr Mukhtar Ahmed, on 13 September at a seminar organised by the Institute of Policy Studies, Islamabad, reports Daily Times.


Disillusion among Chinese has HE sector on edge

The worsening job prospects for graduates returning to China could send a chill through Australia’s third largest export market – international education – which is worth AU$21.8 billion (US$17 billion) annually, Australian trade officials have told Fairfax Media. The trend is so marked that the once affectionate moniker for Chinese students returning home, “sea turtles”, has changed to “seaweed”, writes Kirsty Needham for The Sydney Morning Herald.


New plans to drive commercialisation of innovation

The Singapore government has announced new plans to drive the commercialisation of deep tech projects developed by startups and research agencies, as well as help polytechnic students and alumni grow their business ventures, writes Yon Heong Tung for e27.


University students forced to salute national flag

Egypt’s public universities started the academic year last week by forcing all students to salute the flag and sing the national anthem in an effort to boost patriotism, reports Ahram Online. The new tradition was announced recently by the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Khaled Abdel Ghaffar.


How can universities nurture international students?

There’s never been a more important time for United Kingdom universities to nurture their international student population. With the number of applications from European Union students falling after Brexit and the government’s approach to immigration deterring some of those from further afield, the quality of the student experience is key for recruitment and retention, writes Ruth Stokes for the Guardian.


Is China punishing a US university for Dalai Lama visit?

There is speculation that the Chinese government may be punishing the University of California, San Diego, for inviting the Dalai Lama to be its 2017 commencement speaker after claims emerged that the China Scholarship Council may have put a freeze on funding scholars to the institution, writes Elizabeth Redden for Inside Higher Ed.


Students await president’s verdict on tertiary fees

President Jacob Zuma’s delay in releasing the Heher Commission report on the feasibility of free higher education has left tertiary students worried that institutions could increase fees next year, writes Msindisi Fengu for City Press.

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