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11 February 2018 Issue 492 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search


More evidence needed that international scholarships foster social change

   In Commentary, Robin Marsh says the case for international scholarships as an effective investment for economic development and social change requires some rethinking and improved evidence. Roger Chao Jr commends the Philippines on their education reforms that aim to advance quality higher education for all and points this out as a promising case study that could be replicated in other countries. Ann M Brewer suggests that instead of ‘keeping their eyes on the ranking speedometer’, universities should take a wider view and consider how they can benefit their own regions. And Gerard A Postiglione predicts that the future of higher education in Hong Kong will hinge upon whether it can sustain the values – such as university autonomy – that have made Hong Kong a centre of global higher education.

   In World Blog this week, Nita Temmerman gives valuable advice to academics on making sure that research happens among the myriad of other responsibilities they carry, which is vital considering the importance of research output to career advancement.

   In Features, Brendan O’Malley unpacks a new British Council research report that warns of a sharp drop in global student mobility growth. Stuart Miller writes that US universities need to address racial issues on campuses to attract more blacks and Hispanics to STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – professions. And Craig Blewett outlines his research on the role Facebook has played in shaping how the new generation consumes and shares content, with the aim of using technology to teach in the digital age.

   In our Q&A section, Munyaradzi Makoni interviews Professor Thandwa Mthembu, who moves into the position of chair of Universities South Africa at a time when South African universities are under pressure to implement a new fee-free higher education dispensation.

Brendan O’Malley – Managing Editor

NEWS – Our correspondents worldwide report


African Union devises 10-year plan to stem brain drain

Wachira Kigotho

The African Union has devised a new 10-year plan of action to stop migration to developed countries of African professionals with critical technical skills – estimated to reach up to 70,000 annually.


Death sentence handed down for campus student lynching

Ameen Amjad Khan

An anti-terrorism court in Pakistan has handed down a death sentence and 25-year sentences to five others for the horrific lynching last April of a student on the campus of Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan, after falsely accusing him of committing blasphemy.


Overhauling strategies for HE internationalisation

Jan Petter Myklebust

Sweden is slipping behind on internationalisation, but hopes to rectify the situation, driven by the findings of a special investigation into increasing internationalisation. One of its first recommendations is to ensure that all students experience either outbound mobility or internationalisation at home.


Scandinavia’s biggest inquiry into internationalisation

Jan Petter Myklebust

The Swedish inquiry into internationalisation of higher education is likely to be the most comprehensive ever conducted in Scandinavia, with a long list of proposed action points, but curiously it has received almost no discussion in the Swedish university press or in the Swedish public sphere.


International masters programmes turn slump around

Jan Petter Myklebust

The introduction of tuition fees for international students from outside Europe hit hard at demand for places from such students at the University of Helsinki, but a year later demand has more than recovered after a radical change of strategy to attract foreign students.


Lawsuit battle over campus free speech security costs

Katherine Mangan, The Chronicle of Higher Education

The University of Washington’s College Republicans sued the university last week over its decision to charge the group US$17,000 in security fees for a rally featuring a controversial conservative speaker. The group said the charge represented an illegal restriction on protected speech.


International UG applications break 100,000 barrier

Brendan O’Malley

A jump in undergraduate (UG) applications from European Union countries and a steep rise in non-EU applications have brought the total over 100,000 for the first time, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service has reported. The rises may be fuelled by a last-minute rush to beat Brexit and by a weaker pound.


Corruption among factors affecting HE quality process

Francis Kokutse

The Association of African Universities has identified corruption and threats to officials of accreditation bodies as some of the issues affecting the quality of some higher education institutions across the continent, its Secretary General, Etienne Ehile, has told University World News.


Minister denies visa hike is tuition fees by back door

Jan Petter Myklebust

The new minister of research and higher education has denied claims that the government is bringing in tuition fees by the back door by steeply increasing visa fees for international students, but said the government will look to strengthen internationalisation.


US academics not exempted from travel ban to Pyongyang

Yojana Sharma

No special exemptions have been given so far for academics who are United States citizens to teach at the private Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, which has been hard hit by the US ban on travel to North Korea in the wake of the death of US student Otto Warmbier last year.



Can international scholarships lead to social change?

Robin Marsh

International scholarship programmes in higher education have been around for some time, but until recently there has been little focus on documenting and analysing their ability to break down barriers and foster long-term social change. More and better evidence is needed.


A shift towards good quality higher education for all

Roger Chao Jr

Recent reforms in the education system in the Philippines have helped the country towards achieving education-related Sustainable Development Goals and increased internationalisation of higher education – a promising case study that could be replicated in other countries.


Regional strategy needed to counter homogenisation

Ann M Brewer

Global rankings can contribute to a one-size-fits-all approach to higher education, blocking the path to innovation and discouraging distinctive characteristics. A regional strategy is a better response in a transnational environment, providing a balance between the extremes of ‘global’ and ‘multinational’ approaches.


Hong Kong’s higher education – 20 years after handover

Gerard A Postiglione

Much of Hong Kong’s higher education success in the past 20 years – it arguably developed more world-class universities than any other city – has been due to confidence in the autonomy of universities and an openness to new ideas. But will that last?


Government looking to encourage branch campuses

Ruwayshid Alruwaili

Saudi Arabia is looking to attract foreign universities to its soil, but there are big questions that need to be addressed first, including tax exemptions and subsidies from the Saudi government, how to lure international staff, and whether there will be academic freedom.


Graduate employability – Whose responsibility?

Wondwosen Tamrat

Individual universities have been handed an enormous responsibility in the Ethiopian government’s new plan to dramatically improve graduate employability. Will they be able to meet these expectations in the context of ongoing expansion of the sector?



Planning the development of your research profile

Nita Temmerman

Think you don’t have time for research? You can’t afford not to. Unless you are teaching only, when it comes to promotion you will generally be measured by your research output and your standing in your discipline. So make a long-term plan and stick to it.



‘Sharp drop’ expected in global student mobility growth

Brendan O’Malley

Global outbound student mobility will suffer over the next decade as countries invest more domestically in developing their own higher education provision, according to forecasts in a new British Council research report, which warns of “massive, speedy” change.


STEM universities must do more to close racial gaps

Stuart Miller

To attract more blacks and Hispanics to science, technology, engineering and mathematics or STEM, universities must address racial issues on campus. Currently they don’t do enough to make students feel welcome and end persistent racial underrepresentation at graduate levels and across STEM professions, students and experts say.


Designing pedagogies for the digital age

Craig Blewett

Technology like Facebook can amplify great teaching, but it requires an understanding of the opportunities technology provides and a shift from passive ways of teaching – consumption – to active approaches involving curation, conversation, correction, creation and chaos.



Steering the HE sector through turmoil and change

Munyaradzi Makoni

University World News interviews Professor Thandwa Mthembu, the new chair of Universities South Africa – the peak body for the country’s 26 public universities – at a time when universities are under enormous pressure to implement the new fee-free higher education dispensation announced with scarce warning in December by President Jacob Zuma.



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HE bill could hit student loan borrowers hard

College students would lose US$15 billion in federal student aid over the next decade if House Republicans succeed in turning their higher education bill into law, according to a report released last Tuesday by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, writes Danielle Douglas-Gabriel for The Washington Post.


Universities call for greater autonomy

The higher education law that was recently released is being criticised by students and teachers for not giving universities in Myanmar the autonomy they require to increase efficiency and competitiveness, although some improvements are under way, writes Ei Shwe Phyu for Myanmar Times.


Fall in number of international students

Applications by international graduates to study in the United States have fallen for the first time in more than a decade, according to new data from the Council of Graduate Schools. In another first for the last 10 years, the number of new graduates joining US universities from overseas has also fallen, writes Rebecca Trager for Chemistry World.


13 top universities form climate change coalition

Leading universities across North America have launched the ‘University Climate Change Coalition’ to leverage their research and resources to spur local climate action, reports Climate Action Programme. With universities from the United States, Canada and Mexico, the new initiative will help fill the rising gap in climate action left by the Trump administration’s cuts to science agencies and roll-back of environmental regulations aimed at tackling climate change in the US.


Backlash forces university to drop big tobacco grant

Utrecht University has U-turned on a decision to accept a €360,000 (US$441,000) research grant from Philip Morris International last September to fund a study on cigarette smuggling, despite its public health importance and a guarantee of academic freedom for the lead researcher, Law Professor John Vervaele, writes Martin Enserink for Science Magazine.


Universities to set their own admissions quotas

Vietnam’s ministry of education and training will allow universities to set admission quotas and take into account the number of visiting lecturers they will have based on the number of admitted students, according to the ministry’s newly released draft circular on admissions practices in higher education institutions, reports Viet Nam News.


Universities ‘angry’ over student aid scheme non-payment

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme owes South African universities an estimated R1 billion (US$82 million) for students they enrolled last year, writes Prega Govender for the Times Select.


Tech universities boost economy by billions – Report

Switzerland’s federal technology institutes account for 100,000 jobs and CHF13 billion (US$13.7 billion) in added value to the economy, a new report calculates. This represents a fivefold return on investment, reports Swiss Info.


Sub-standard universities will be closed, warns minister

The Mozambican government has repeated its warning that sub-standard institutions of higher education will be forced to close down if they do not improve their performance by October, reports Mozambique News Agency.


Students demand compensation over lecturer strikes

Students whose studies will be hit by what unions claim will be “the most extensive strike action ever seen” on campuses in the United Kingdom are planning to demand compensation from their universities for disruption to their degrees, writes Sally Weale for The Guardian.


Government allocates funds for university reforms

More than MAD70 billion (US$7.6 billion) is reportedly being dedicated to improving material resources and educational conditions for Moroccan university students during the current academic year, said the head of government, Saad Eddine El Othmani, on 5 February while speaking before the House of Representatives in Rabat, writes Sana Elouazi for Morocco World News.


Two top universities divest from fossil fuels

The University of Edinburgh and the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London have separately announced they will both have fully divested from fossil fuels within three years, following up on previous climate action pledges made by the two institutions, writes Michael Holder for BusinessGreen.


Struggling universities advised to merge for survival

The Minister of State in charge of Tertiary Education, Professor Kwesi Yankah, has advised private universities having challenges in getting the right numbers for admission to merge in order not to fizzle out, reports Ghana Web.


University defends awarding of PhD to Grace Mugabe

The vice-chancellor of the University of Zimbabwe has defended the awarding of a PhD to Grace Mugabe for her work on orphanages. The former first lady’s thesis has been subject to intense scrutiny since it was posted on the university’s website last month, with critics saying it falls far short of the normal standard required for a doctorate, reports Eyewitness News.


Universities, colleges expand marijuana-related courses

From growing the perfect crop to marketing within restrictive rules, Canadian colleges and universities are cultivating courses for those wanting to work in the booming marijuana industry, writes Gemma Karstens-Smith for The Canadian Press.

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