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1 October 2017 Issue 476 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search


What impact will China’s Double World-Class Project have in China and globally?

   In Commentary, Futao Huang predicts that China’s Double World-Class Project will have a significant impact on the global higher education landscape and the global status of Chinese universities and disciplines by 2050. Also in Commentary, Roger Brown suggests some steps higher education could take to address the problem of increased inequality – one of the greatest challenges now facing the Western world – instead of exacerbating the problem. Lisa Unangst outlines some of the higher education changes the far-right ‘Alternative für Deutschland’ party, which garnered 13% of the vote in Germany’s general election, is likely to seek, and warns against the normalisation of positions of the nationalist, anti-immigrant party. And Ly Pham applauds the maturity of the academic community in Vietnam in their discussions of the recently-published first Vietnamese university ranking.

   In World Blog this week, Fay Patel calls for a re-alignment of the international higher education agenda with the Sustainable Development Goals, to be more inclusive and equitable, as internationalisation as currently practised, she says, imposes Western ideas on the rest of the world and is about making money from foreign students.

   In our section on Academic Freedom, Brendan O’Malley writes that the Free to Think 2017 report of Scholars at Risk reveals an ongoing ‘global crisis’ of attacks on higher education communities, involving violence and suppression. O’Malley looks at what the report reveals about the situation in Turkey, where higher education is under ‘near-constant attack’, while Umut Ozkirimli and Pinar Dinc write that Turkish academics who were purged from public universities in the crackdown since the 2016 coup attempt have been coming together in acts of resistance to give ‘atypical’ lectures and continue their work however they can.

   Lastly, in Features, Wagdy Sawahel reports on efforts to provide higher education programmes for inmates of African prisons, with evidence showing that university education is an excellent rehabilitation tool.

Brendan O’Malley – Managing Editor

NEWS – Our correspondents worldwide report


Universities told to credit propaganda as publication

Yojana Sharma

Ideologically-correct articles posted online or even in a publication linked to the Communist Party of China, could earn academics credits that could lead to promotion within the university, similar to credits earned from papers published in academic journals, according to universities that have received the diktat.


Trump’s new travel ban opposed by educators, scientists

Brendan O’Malley

President Donald Trump’s latest proclamation on travel restrictions directed at whole countries on security grounds opens some doors slightly and closes others, but will continue to create uncertainty with damaging consequences for universities, according to leaders in international higher education and science.


Islamic bank invests in SDG-aligned science capacity

Maina Waruru

Twenty-five African countries that are members of the Islamic Development Bank are set to benefit from support to grow their high-level science, following the signing of a cooperation accord between the bank and the World Academy of Sciences, aimed in part at helping the countries achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs.


1,200 women students charged over harassment protest

Pavitra Crossette

Clashes over protests by students at one of India’s top universities over the molestation of a female student by motorcycle assailants on campus have highlighted the government’s deteriorating record on gender issues. The state government has ordered a judicial probe into the campus violence.


Half of the public does not trust research – Survey

Jan Petter Myklebust

Almost one in two members of the public – 46% – think that research results published by industry or public offices cannot be trusted, and 40% think research results are influenced by researchers’ opinions, a new survey commissioned by the Research Council of Norway has found.


Black graduates struggle the most to find employment

Nicola Jenvey

Black South Africans remain economically disadvantaged and are the group least likely to find employment – even after achieving higher education qualifications, according to the latest statistics from Statistics South Africa.


Student leaders say AfD is a threat to science and HE

Michael Gardner

The far-right 'Alternative für Deutschland' or AfD party’s entry into the German federal parliament has sent shockwaves through the political establishment. Most of its members of parliament are academics, but the student union, FZS, is warning of a threat to science and a rollback to undemocratic governance structures in higher education.


Wanted by the Next Einstein Forum – More female fellows

Maina Waruru

The Next Einstein Forum fellowship programme, run by the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, is offering eligible scientists another opportunity to join its 2017-19 fellows, in a move intended to push up the number of women fellows to a minimum of 40%.



Double World-Class Project has more ambitious aims

Futao Huang

The Double World-Class Project is similar to previous projects aimed at creating world-class universities, but more ambitious in scope. It is part of a Chinese attempt to build its soft power globally and is set to have a significant impact on the global higher education landscape.


Does higher education contribute to rising inequality?

Roger Brown

Inequality in the United States and United Kingdom has been rising for decades, but what can higher education do to address this and is it exacerbating the problem through a focus on commercial rankings and preparing students for the labour market?


What changes does the AfD seek in higher education?

Lisa Unangst

The far-right ‘Alternative für Deutschland’ or AfD won 13% of the vote in Germany’s general election. Its policies on higher education are set against a nationalist, anti-immigrant agenda and through its parliamentary position there is a clear danger that it will be able to normalise its positions.


First national ranking shows maturity of the system

Ly Pham

The first university ranking in Vietnam was published in early September and has brought a wide discussion of its merits and faults, showing the maturity of the academic community in Vietnam. Nevertheless, the results still shocked some people.



Internationalisation of HE needs to be replaced

Fay Patel

Internationalisation as currently practised imposes Western ideas on the rest of the world and is about making money from foreign students. University leaders need instead to focus on acting as a catalyst for social change and delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals.



‘Global crisis’ of violence against higher education

Brendan O’Malley

Scholars at Risk’s latest annual monitoring report maps an ongoing ‘global crisis’ worldwide of violence and suppression being used to target and retaliate against universities as spaces in which everyone is free to think, question and share ideas.


Higher education under ‘near-constant attack’ – SAR

Brendan O’Malley

State and university authorities in Turkey are continuing to take sweeping and targeted measures – including investigations, detentions, prosecutions, firings and travel restrictions against academics – that pose an “unprecedented threat” to higher education, according to Scholars at Risk or SAR.


Resisting Turkey’s ‘war on academe’

Umut Ozkirimli and Pinar Dinc

Turkish academics who have been purged from public universities in the crackdown since the July 2016 coup attempt are defying the authorities, coming together in acts of resistance and continuing to do their jobs, despite the ongoing repression.


Student protests blocked by tear gas and bullets

Brendan O’Malley

Student protests have frequently been met with violent retaliation, including by state security forces, resulting in deaths and injuries from bullets, rubber bullets, shotgun pellets, tear gas and pepper spray, according to Scholars at Risk’s annual report on threats to higher education.



University in prisons – The ‘best rehabilitation tool’

Wagdy Sawahel

Prison services across Africa are joining forces with local and foreign universities to provide higher education programmes for inmate students in a bid to rehabilitate prisoners and improve the effectiveness of incarceration.


Is Helsinki catalysing innovation in higher education?

Jan Petter Myklebust

Universities are waiting to see if the growing innovation culture in Finnish higher education will be strengthened by the findings of the Ministry of Education and Culture’s ‘Vision for Finnish higher education and research 2030’ project, due to be published later this month.


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Globalisation of HE has raised stakes for spy agencies

The globalisation of higher education has raised the academic stakes for foreign and domestic intelligence services. In hidden ways, they are penetrating college campuses more deeply than ever, with troubling implications for national security and democratic values, writes Daniel Golden for The Boston Globe.


Kurdistan referendum ‘yes’ vote means uncertainty for HE

The expected resounding ‘yes’ vote in the Kurdish independence referendum on 25 September will throw the fate of non-Kurdish students and the governance of the region’s 30 universities into uncertainty, write Gilgamesh Nabeel and Jacob Wirtschafter for Al-Fanar Media.


Rector under investigation for influencing appointments

The rector of Suor Orsola Benincasa University of Naples, Lucio D’Allesandro, is under investigation for allegedly helping the son of former minister Ortensio Zecchino get a research position at the institution, reports ANSA.


Refused visas prompt concern over university conferences

A Nigerian lawyer and at least 14 African academics were unable to attend an international African studies conference held at Cambridge University in September because of visa problems and academics from different disciplines across the United Kingdom are reporting similar frustrations, warning that Britain is quietly closing its doors and damaging vital academic collaboration, writes Anna Fazackerley for the Guardian.


More autonomy helps universities meet global standards

The government’s decision two years ago to allow autonomy for a number of universities has helped them meet international standards and improve quality of training, according to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Education and Training, reports Viet Nam News.


Stanford tops list of innovative universities – again

The most innovative university in the world, for the third consecutive year, is Stanford University, according to the Reuters’ annual ranking of the World’s Most Innovative Universities, a list that ranks the educational institutions doing the most to advance science, invent new technologies and power new markets and industries, writes David Ewalt for Reuters.


HIV prevention pills now available to students

For the first time university and college students – the age cohort most at risk of contracting HIV – will be able to access an anti-retroviral prevention medication called Truvada which reduces the risks of contracting the disease by at least 90% if taken daily, writes Katharine Child for Times Live.


Attorney General attacks universities over free speech

Attorney General Jeff Sessions attacked American colleges and universities last week for being “politically correct”, infringing on students’ free-speech rights and capitulating to the demands of loud protesters, write Sari Horwitz, Debbie Truong and Sarah Larimer for The Washington Post.


Indian community appeals for more university places

The Indian community is appealing to the government to provide more places for Indian students in public universities, reports Bernama. Universiti Malaya Indian studies lecturer Professor M Rajantheran said the quota system in public universities had hampered the educational advancement of the Indian community.


Another university aims to eliminate all student loans

Brown University has initiated a US$120 million campaign to drop all loans from financial aid packages awarded to their undergraduates, writes Catherine Campo for In doing so, Brown will become the 16th United States institution, and the sixth in the Ivy League (excluding Cornell and Dartmouth), to offer all of its undergraduates a loan-free education.


Ministry examines requests to establish new universities

The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research has examined about 10 requests to establish private and national universities before the end of this year. The ministry also plans to transform about 45 technical institutions affiliated to technological colleges into specialised technical colleges before the end of June, writes Abdel Razek Al-Shuwekhi for Daily News Egypt.


Black-white student gap fuels concern over reading lists

Scottish universities have been urged to develop broader reading lists with fewer white authors amid concerns over a ‘stark’ attainment gap between black students and their white counterparts, writes Andrew Denholm for Herald Scotland.


Radical changes to university entrance system

A number of radical changes regarding entrance to universities in Turkey are on the way that will put the Turkish language and mathematics at centre stage, reports Hurriyet Daily News.


New law spurs fears over independence of universities

Legal experts and academics have expressed concerns over new laws contained in the 2016 Higher Education Amendment Act which they believe will undermine the independence of South Africa’s universities, reports BusinessTech.


Government adds extra funds to universities' budget

The Czech government's leadership has agreed to raise the universities' budget by CZK3 billion (US$136 million) in 2018, Deputy Prime Minister Pavel Belobradek said during the government meeting last Monday, reports CTK. Belobradek also proposed a compromise of CZK35.6 billion (US$1.6 billion) for science and research.

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