University World News Global Edition
3 December 2017 Issue 485 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search


Are universities standing up to the rising nationalism around the world?

   University World News was the media partner for a conference on New Nationalism and Universities held at the University of California, Berkeley in the United States in November. In a Special Report on the conference, we cover a presentation by John Douglass in which he asks whether universities are challenging or reinforcing the existing political order as nationalism rises across the globe. In her presentation, UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ shared her view that the ‘alt-right’ was testing US universities on free speech as part of a narrative to discredit them. A presentation on Brexit looked at the stakes for UK universities in the upcoming Brexit negotiations but also how they could respond to the drivers of the vote for Brexit. Marcelo Knobel and Renato HL Pedrosa write about the rising violence and threats associated with recent student protests in Brazil, a topic covered at the conference.

   In a second Special Report on digitalised credentials, Herman de Leeuw and Stig Arne Skjerven hail the technological advances that could be a game changer in educational qualification verification and moving towards digital student portability, while Saha Al-Nahi explains how new blockchain technology, which allows academic records to be secured and accessed from any location, could help refugees in particular.

   In Commentary, Emiliano Bosio shares the benefits of transformative global citizenship education, which assists young people in acquiring social, civic and global-intercultural aptitudes. Chau-Duong Quang says Vietnam’s private higher education institutions are increasingly likely to be in the hands of corporations not educators. And Teboho Moja discusses the role of science granting councils in Africa, which she argues sit at the intersection between governments, the higher education sector and society, and have a crucial role to play in the transformation of society.

   In World Blog this week, Patrick Blessinger, Jaimie Hoffman and Mandla Makhanya discuss the need for change and the tensions of change in ensuring a culture of inclusion in higher education.

   In Features, Geoff Maslen unpacks an OECD report on science and technology, which states that new digital technologies are enabling a future of ‘smart everything’ that will require changes in science and innovation policy. And Christabel Ligami considers the impact on female students of the lack of sexual harassment policies at Kenyan universities – a situation which is slowly being addressed.

   In a Special Report from the Inyathelo Ninth Leadership Retreat held in South Africa, Mark Paterson looks at how the practice of advancement – the practice of raising funds as part of efforts to effect institutional transformation – is improving governance and leadership. And Karen MacGregor reports on the analysis of Dr Bhekinkosi Moyo, CEO of the Southern Africa Trust, of the extraordinary growth in philanthropy in African universities.

Brendan O’Malley – Managing Editor

NEWS – Our correspondents worldwide report


Call for higher education reform after student suicide

Shadi Khan Saif

The tragic suicide by a female student at Afghanistan’s Kabul University recently has unveiled major deficiencies in the war-ravaged country’s higher education system, forced the resignation of the higher education minister, and prompted calls for root and branch higher education reform.


Non-African partners influence research agenda – Study

Sharon Dell

A scientometric study to be published in a forthcoming edition of the South African Journal of Science indicates that non-African research collaborators have a high impact not only on the quantity of co-authored publications, but also the research disciplines in which co-authored research is undertaken.


English test requirement for university sparks debate

Suvendrini Kakuchi

New government plans for reform of the country’s university admissions examination system requiring students to pass a new standardised English test in 2020 have sparked strong but mixed reactions among higher education institutions, including over the use of privately run tests.


Republicans plot sweeping changes in higher education

Adam Harris, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Capping student loans, ending student loan forgiveness and banning campus free speech zones are among the measures proposed by the United States House of Representatives as it introduced its bill to overhaul the Higher Education Act of 1965 last week.


Performance-related university funding reform agreed

Jan Petter Myklebust

The Danish parliament has agreed a new model for university funding, placing less emphasis on the taximeter model in which institutions are awarded funds based on the number of students who have graduated, and introducing elements of results-based and quality-related funding.


Children’s University opens doors to future students

Wagdy Sawahel

Egypt has inaugurated the third phase of a 'Children’s University' programme which is aimed at enhancing children's scientific and innovation abilities, as well as preparing them for the transition from secondary school to university education.


Launch of ambitious national digital research agenda

Jan Petter Myklebust

The Association of Universities in the Netherlands has presented a Digital Society Research Agenda for “people-oriented” digitisation, with key themes ranging from democratic decision-making and eHealth to cyber security and responsible algorithm design.


Students unhappy over 30% fee hike

Gilbert Nganga

Kenya is set to increase fees for state-sponsored students in public universities by 30% from next year, following recommendations by the University Fund, the government agency mandated to set fees. Students have vowed to oppose the increase.


Record student numbers lead to calls for more housing

Michael Gardner

There has been a further slight increase in the number of students in Germany, bringing the total close to the three million mark. The new figures have prompted further calls for a government housing programme to tackle the growing student accommodation crisis.


University World News was a media partner of the New Nationalism and Universities international conference held at the University of California, Berkeley, in the United States to celebrate the 60th anniversary of its Center for Studies in Higher Education. Alumni and leading scholars from around the world discussed rising nationalism and populism in its many forms, and the impact on the missions and activities of universities. This is the first of two special reports on the conference.


Do universities take a stand against nationalism?

Nationalism is rising around the world, in many guises and with different consequences for universities, and one key question for universities is whether they are challenging or reinforcing the existing political order, argued John Douglass, senior research fellow at the Center for Studies in Higher Education, University of California, Berkeley, introducing its New Nationalism and Universities conference.


Alt-right battle on free speech is a trap – Chancellor

The ‘alt-right’ is testing United States campuses on free speech as part of a narrative to discredit them, according to Carol Christ, chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, an institution that has been at the centre of public protests against right-wing speakers.


UK universities must face Brexit drivers and outcomes

For universities, a significant share of funding for and influence over research, study abroad support, student mobility and the future of 12% of staff are at stake in the Brexit negotiations, but they must also address the drivers behind the vote to leave the European Union, University World News Managing Editor Brendan O’Malley told the conference.


New trends in the student activism

Marcelo Knobel and Renato HL Pedrosa

Some of the recent student protests in Brazil have resulted in violence and threats. The causes of this extremism are not wholly understood, but universities should be wary of any attempt to curb academic freedom and tolerance.



Data mobility in the Fourth Industrial Revolution age

Herman de Leeuw and Stig Arne Skjerven

Global learning should no longer be hampered by a reliance on paper-based credentials and identification systems. Technological advances will enable people to share their academic and professional achievements digitally in a safe and trustworthy manner with whomever they want, whenever.


Blockchain technology will help refugees to access HE

Saha Al-Nahi

Many refugees cannot access higher education in their host country because their educational records have been destroyed in conflict back home. But new technology will open up a way for them to both secure their records and enable access to them from any location.



How do we create transformative global citizens?

Emiliano Bosio

We need a higher education curriculum that challenges traditional views and assumptions, allows students to introduce and access non-dominant perspectives and encourages new ways of thinking – and sets the stage for them to act in ways that are inspired by their course of study.


The rise of the corporation-affiliated university

Chau-Duong Quang

Corporates are increasingly playing a role in Vietnam’s private higher education sector, whether through establishing their own universities or, as is increasingly the case due to tightened regulations, acquiring existing ones. It is a phenomenon worth the attention of both policy-makers and academics.


HE in the context of science diplomacy and merit reviews

Teboho Moja

Science granting councils sit at the intersection between governments, the higher education sector and society, and have a crucial role to play in the transformation of society. The challenge ahead is for the science granting councils to coordinate or find means to coordinate the knowledge enterprise internally and across borders in the region, as well as globally.


Linking internationalisation and open education

Kirk Perris

A Spanish university’s recent conference on advancing ‘open education’ and ‘open educational resources’ discussed the benefits and remaining barriers for online forms of learning and how they can effectively complement attempts to widen access to higher education and to internationalisation.



Inclusive higher education for the benefit of all

Patrick Blessinger, Jaimie Hoffman and Mandla Makhanya

If one of the key goals of education is to foster personal growth and agency within students, educational structures and culture must continually be renewed through innovation, creating a culture of inclusion at all levels and a commitment to lifelong learning.



Prepare for a worldwide digital transformation

Geoff Maslen

Mobility, cloud computing, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and big data analytics are transforming science, innovation, the economy and the way people work and live – requiring science, innovation and industry policies to be adapted to a future of “smart everything”, says the OECD.


Female students ‘too scared’ to report sexual harassment

Christabel Ligami

When Mercy (not her real name), a third-year bachelor of arts student at the University of Nairobi, was unable to write her final examination due to illness, her lecturer agreed to let her retake the exam and told her to meet him in his office in the evening to discuss the details. Instead of receiving the information she needed, he informed her that there was no need for her to take the examination and forced her to have sex with him.


The Inyathelo Ninth Leadership Retreat was held in South Africa recently with the theme “The Best of Times, the Worst of Times – Positioning institutional advancement in times of challenge and change”. Vice-chancellors and senior advancement officers discussed how universities might engage stakeholders in transformation, and tap deeper into growing philanthropic support to help higher education meet development goals.


Advancement – Engaging stakeholders in transformation

Mark Paterson

The practice of advancement plays an important role not only as a source of funding but in positioning and differentiating universities, supporting strategic initiatives, and improving institutional governance and leadership. However, continued transformation cannot be achieved by mere branding; it requires comprehensive engagement and dialogue between universities and their local communities built around a civic sense of interdependence.


Universities gain from growth in philanthropy

Karen MacGregor

There has been extraordinary growth in philanthropy in Africa – and universities have been major beneficiaries – according to Dr Bhekinkosi Moyo, CEO of the Southern Africa Trust. Also, the nature of philanthropy has transformed along with its relationship to governments as they seek to meet development goals.


Advocating the public mission of research universities

Karen MacGregor

Universities need to convince themselves of the high value of diverse talent and inclusivity, of democracy and the civic sense of togetherness and interdependence on which the knowledge economy depends, before they can sell themselves to a questioning public, says Nancy Cantor, chancellor of Rutgers University–Newark, a leading public research institution in the United States.



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Universities to prove real-world impact of research

Starting in 2018, Australian universities will be required to prove their research provides concrete benefits for taxpayers and the government, who fund it, writes Pauline Zardo for The Conversation. Until now, research performance assessment has mostly been focused on the number of publications, citations and competitive grants won. This new metric changes the focus from inputs and outputs to outcomes.


Bath resignation shines light on university governance

Higher education institutions in the United Kingdom are set to face tough questions about their governance after the resignation of the University of Bath’s vice-chancellor shone a light on lax rules that enable university leaders to vote on their own pay, writes Robert Wright for the Financial Times.


Academic charged for sharing her research findings

Brooke Harrington, an American professor of business and politics at Denmark’s Copenhagen Business School, travels the world studying tax havens and sharing her findings with academics, policy-makers and the general public. Harrington sees public scholarship as an essential part of her work as an academic. But Danish immigration authorities are calling it something else: a crime, writes Collen Flaherty for Inside Higher Ed.


Private universities increase focus on research

According to the University Grants Commission Annual Report 2016, 86 private universities in Bangladesh have placed more emphasis on research than before, resulting in a rise in research expenditure, writes Rashid Al Ruhani for the Dhaka Tribune.


Universities accused of free speech clampdown

British universities have been accused of threatening free speech on issues such as Palestine by insisting on tough yet ill-defined rules that events must be chaired by approved ‘independent’ moderators, writes Areeb Ullah for Middle East Eye.


Admission fees to be cut at private universities

The Ministry of Education announced last week that from 2022 all private universities in South Korea will stop receiving admission fees, the amount and use of which has remained murky and controversial at times. The government had already decided to scrap admission fees at public universities from next year, reports the Korea JoongAng Daily.


Scottish universities call for clarity over EU funding

Scottish universities have called for clarity over the future of post-Brexit research funding after the latest figures showed the sector continues to punch above its weight in securing European Union support, writes Paris Gourtsoyannis for The Scotsman.


Universities fail to fill disabled student quota

A survey has revealed that 32 of India's top universities and institutions of higher learning, including the Indian Institutes of Technology, Indian Institutes of Management, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Delhi University, have together filled barely 16% of the minimum quota for people with disabilities, writes Manash Pratim Gohain for The Times of India.


Country deports 30 for selling drugs in universities

Kenya has deported 30 people involved in drug trafficking within universities, following investigations launched in April into drug cartels, writes Nancy Agutu for The Star.


Over-valuing of degrees leads to skills shortage

A new report has found that Australia is facing a looming trade skills shortage as "aggressive marketing" by universities leads to a sharp downturn in people taking up traineeships. This, combined with an ageing workforce and negativity around the future of trade jobs, is leading to concern about a potential future labour skills shortage, writes Patrick Wood for ABC News.


Graduate students protest Republican tax plan

Graduate students at more than 40 universities across the United States staged rallies and walk-outs against the Republican tax plan last week, urging lawmakers not to include in the final bill a provision that would turn their tuition waivers into taxable income, writes Katie Reilly for Time.


Student aid scheme unprepared for ‘missing middle’

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme has told members of parliament that it could encounter difficulties if President Jacob Zuma decides it should also cater for the so-called ‘missing middle’ in the 2018 academic year, writes Bianca Capazorio for TimesLIVE.


Universities offer free tuition to transgender students

In April, Manonmaniam Sundaranar University in the Southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu waived tuition for transgender students at all 10 of its campuses up to doctoral level. Last month, Allama Iqbal Open University in Islamabad, Pakistan, followed suit, writes Kristina Marusic for New Now Next.


Higher education body asks universities to research smog

The Higher Education Commission of Pakistan has decided to task universities, particularly those located in Punjab, to conduct comprehensive research to ascertain the reasons behind the rising smog in different parts of the country during winter, reports APP.


Ministry to phase out old university curricula

The Higher Education Ministry has been introducing a new curriculum while phasing out the old curriculum for universities to ensure that institutions keep up with rapid changes in technology and shifts in local and global economies, write Fernando Fong and Veena Babulal for New Straits Times.


Should academic honours have clawbacks?

Last month, Arizona State University and the University of Kansas rescinded honours bestowed upon the television newsman Charlie Rose, following multiple allegations of sexual harassment. The two universities, once eager to embrace Rose – a broadcasting figure seen to embody class and intellect – were now equally quick to distance themselves from him. Almost overnight, Rose went from role model to pariah, writes Ted Gup for The Chronicle of Higher Education.


Oxford University to sell a bond - It's a first

The University of Oxford, the oldest university in the English-speaking world, was last week planning to sell its first bond armed with a newly-minted triple A credit rating, writes Marc Jones for Reuters.

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