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12 November 2017 Issue 482 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search


What can universities in Europe do to regain the trust of the general public?

   In Commentary, Wilhelm Krull urges European universities and scholars to engage with the public, listen to them and take their concerns seriously in order to regain trust in scholarly expertise and confront the rise of anti-elitism sweeping the continent. Roger Chao Jr suggests ways in which education systems need to be reconstructed to better educate people – young and old – for the fourth industrial revolution. And V Santhakumar says there is an urgent need to pursue alternative models of higher education to the ‘world-class’ universities model in developing countries like India in order to create a more inclusive society and add social value.

   In our World Blog, Nita Temmerman shares her thoughts on decisive action that should be taken to improve teacher education because, she says, the success of any education system depends on the phenomenal impact of good teachers.

   In Features, Brendan O’Malley writes about the role universities in Colombia are playing in helping to build a sustainable peace after a protracted armed conflict and what lessons can be learned from their strategies. From Africa, Wachira Kigotho reports on a World Bank study that paints a grim picture of how countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have failed to move their tertiary education systems from elitist to mass-based when compared with other regions in the world, while Munyaradzi Makoni reports on a study commissioned by the Academy of Science of South Africa which calls for an overhaul of agricultural education and training in order to help realise the country’s considerable agricultural potential.

   Lastly, we ask readers to consider the new University World News partnership programme for universities and higher education organisations wishing to raise their profile internationally and connect with a key audience of university leaders, academics, administrators and policy-makers.

Brendan O’Malley – Managing Editor

NEWS – Our correspondents worldwide report


Ruling cracks down on rogue distance or open courses

Shuriah Niazi

The Supreme Court of India has issued a restraint on all deemed universities preventing them from conducting distance or correspondence degree courses from 2018-19 without specific permission and inspection, after annulling degrees awarded by three such institutions found to be operating illegally.


Over 8,000 non-PhD lecturers face job loss, demotion

Gilbert Nganga

More than 8,000 lecturers in Kenya risk losing their teaching jobs or being demoted in the next two months as a government directive setting a new appointment threshold for tutors takes effect.


Universities can help drive change on sexual harassment

Universities could have an important role to play in driving a cultural change regarding sexual harassment, but having policies and strategies is not enough – they must be accompanied by activities to support cultural change, Universities UK President Janet Beer has warned.


Elite universities invest endowments via tax havens

Brendan O’Malley

Elite universities in the United States and the United Kingdom have been secretly investing endowment funds offshore in order to pay little or no tax, and to hide controversial investments, for instance those related to fossil fuels, according to details revealed in the so-called Paradise Papers.


Institutions move to cut international student numbers

Jan Petter Myklebust

Enrolment in Danish business academies and professional universities fell by nearly 28% in 2017 following action taken by the institutions to reduce the number of foreign students, according to the Ministry of Higher Education and Science, with students from Eastern Europe most affected.


University funding to be linked to gender equality

Universities that do not make progress towards achieving gender equality will lose access to research funding. State funding will be linked to institutions’ performance and will be withheld if they fail to meet agreed targets, a minister has announced.


Are universities picking the right research partners?

Jan Petter Myklebust

A new report mapping out world trends in research productivity argues that Swedish universities should reconsider how they develop international collaboration to take into account the fast pace of growth in research in countries that are not among Sweden’s main partners.


Makerere to host two centres of scientific excellence

Esther Nakkazi

Makerere University’s science-based colleges have secured US$12 million in twin grants from the World Bank to run two African centres of excellence aimed at strengthening training and research in two critical areas of science – nanotechnology and crop improvement.


Most students don’t see value of two-year UG degrees

Only 26% of respondents in a survey of international students said they would be willing to pay a higher annual tuition fee for intensive undergraduate degree courses taken over two years instead of three, pointing to a low level of understanding of the concept of two-year degrees.


International students add US$627 million to economy

Jan Petter Myklebust

The net contribution to the economy of the 5,046 international students graduating with masters degrees in 2007-11, when deducting for all costs incurred for higher education and welfare expenses, including for those receiving Danish student financing, was DKK4 billion (US$627 million) in 2007-11.



In turbulent times trust is crucial for universities

Wilhelm Krull

Universities, scientists and scholars need to do more to engage with the public, listen to them, pay attention to the social pressures they face, and take their concerns seriously if they want to confront the rising wave of anti-elitism sweeping the continent.


Educating for the fourth industrial revolution

Roger Chao Jr

Higher education needs to start a proper conversation about how we educate people – from young to old – and also how we train teachers in the skills and knowledge we will need for the fourth industrial revolution and those that follow it.


Why the world-class model doesn’t work for India

V Santhakumar

Governments are wasting time on developing ‘world-class’ universities and ideas of quality that are not fit for countries such as India, entrenching inequality rather than adding social value. It would be better to tackle the existing constraints such as a lack of funding.



Time for decisive action to improve teacher education

Nita Temmerman

Who delivers the instruction and how is the most important determinant of a young person’s educational success. For any education system to be successful there must first and foremost be good teachers and that requires tough entry and exit criteria and a relevant curriculum.



Where universities are active agents of peace building

Brendan O’Malley

Universities in Colombia are playing a multi-faceted role in helping to build a sustainable peace after decades of protracted violent conflict that cost tens of thousands of lives each year. There may be important lessons for other countries in knowing which strategies have worked best.


Higher education failing to challenge inequity – Report

Wachira Kigotho

Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have failed to move their tertiary education systems from highly elitist to mass-based when compared with other regions in the world, according to a new World Bank study.


Report calls for overhaul of agricultural education

Munyaradzi Makoni

South Africa is unable to realise its considerable agricultural potential in part because agricultural education and training systems are in need of a major overhaul, according to a recent report commissioned by the Academy of Science of South Africa.



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Academics call for continued university collaboration

Myanmar academics have urged international universities to continue collaborating with local universities in order to strengthen educational development. Since 2013, universities in the United Kingdom, United States, Australia and elsewhere have established partnerships with once prominent universities in Yangon and Mandalay to help improve Myanmar’s education system, writes Nyein Nyein for The Irrawaddy.


Lawlessness gripping university campuses

Greece’s universities are increasingly coming into the grip of lawlessness, as evidenced by a spike in attacks on students and staff. The assaults, most of which go unreported, are apparently ideologically motivated and carried out by individuals who have no affiliation to the institutions – often self-styled anarchists occupying parts of campuses, reports


Universities respond to gender balance message

Six months after Science Minister Kirsty Duncan threatened universities with cuts to their research funding over a “dismal” gender balance among scientists nominated for lucrative research posts, she says they have heard her message and have started to respond, reports The Canadian Press.


Powers to investigate universities spark autonomy fears

Universities accused of wrongdoing face the prospect of being investigated by government-appointed inspectors with the power to enter their premises and access sensitive internal records. The move has sparked concern among university presidents over the scope of these powers and whether it will undermine their autonomy, writes Carl O’Brien for The Irish Times.


Bid to root out radical Islam shines light on education

Indonesia’s recently launched campaign against extremism in education comes amid a rise of a hardline, politicised Islam in the country, which until recently had occupied the fringe of the nation’s politics, write Ed Davies and Agustinus Beo Da Costa for Reuters.


Are universities responsible for student suicides?

The recent death by suicide of 25-year-old Han Nguyen has sparked a contentious legal battle headed to Massachusetts’ highest court over whether universities can be held responsible when students take their own lives. The case is being closely watched by colleges and universities, who say a decision against the Massachusetts Institute of Technology would place an unreasonable burden on untrained employees to stop suicides, writes Alanna Durkin Richer for Associated Press.


Ex-minister lambasted over placement system delay

After Gloria Sekwena, a 47-year old psychiatric nurse who had queued with thousands to help her son find a university place, died at the University of Johannesburg’s gates in 2012, then higher education and training minister Blade Nzimande vowed that a seamless university placement system would come in within three years. But, in a shocking turn of events, it has emerged that the system, called the Central Application Service, is earmarked to start operating only in 2024, writes Bongani Nkosi for The Star.


I'm a lecturer, and I don't feel I can speak freely

As lecturers, we’re supposed to teach our students how to examine arguments critically. How can we do this when we’re accused of bias and stifling free speech? writes an ‘anonymous academic’ for The Guardian.


AI ambitions revealed by most cited research papers

In a testament to China’s advances in artificial intelligence or AI, two of the country’s universities are among the top 10 in a ranking of sources of the most frequently cited research papers in the AI field, writes Shigenori Arai for Nikkei Asian Review.


Free university education plan gets a 'Z' from expert

A leading educationalist has said that if President Jacob Zuma moved ahead with an alleged plan to announce free education across the board through a controversial funding scheme, it would spell disaster for the country, writes Ranjeni Munusamy, Qaanitah Hunter, Sabelo Skiti and Ernest Mabuza for TimesLIVE.


Pakistan to pay for research chair at LSE

The London School of Economics and Political Science, or LSE, has welcomed the announcement by Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi that a ‘Jinnah Chair’ will be established under the auspices of the LSE South Asia Centre and it will be funded by the government of Pakistan, writes Murtaza Ali Shah for


Colleges mobilise to fight proposed endowment tax

Higher education leaders are mobilising against a House Republican proposal to tax the endowments at dozens of private schools, including Ivy League universities and liberal arts colleges in the nation’s heartland, write Nick Anderson and Danielle Douglas-Gabriel for The Washington Post.


Government approves US$50m for National Research Fund

The government has agreed US$50 million as seed money for the establishment of the National Research Fund. The cabinet has already given approval for the establishment of the fund and a draft bill will be presented to parliament shortly to give it the necessary legal backing, reports GhanaWeb.


Oxford University puts Islamic scholar on leave

Islamist academic Tariq Ramadan took a leave of absence last week from the University of Oxford following multiple rape and sexual misconduct allegations, which he has denied, reports AFP.

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