NEWS – Our correspondents worldwide report
Bill would hold universities to account for sexual abuse
In the wake of the Larry Nassar abuse scandal, which led to the resignation of Michigan State University’s president, three United States senators have introduced legislation to hold universities accountable for sexual abuse and require university leaders to review sexual abuse cases involving employees.
University quality assessment system to be revamped
The rationalisation of universities has been completed and the Russian government is now set to radically change the system of quality assessment of higher education institutions. This will see inspections concentrated on universities deemed at risk, the education ministry has announced.
H2020 failing to ease Europe’s research funding divide
Jan Petter Myklebust
The European research funding divide between longstanding European Union member states and the newer ones has barely improved in the EU’s eighth framework programme, Horizon 2020. Eastern European states are urging strengthening of the ‘Widening Participation’ measures.
Court orders speedy hearing in Axact fake degrees case
Ameen Amjad Khan
On 9 February Pakistan's Supreme Court ordered the high courts to decide the long-pending cases against employees of the Karachi-based firm Axact – several of whom are charged with massive global fake degree fraud – within three weeks after hearing that fake degrees are still being sold.
Universities urged to do more to nurture women in science
African universities have been urged to foster gender equality, parity and mentoring of girls and early career women scientists in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, in order to facilitate economic transformation and other developmental challenges affecting the East African region.
Family demands inquiry into jailed academic’s ‘suicide’
Yojana Sharma and Shafigeh Shirazi
The family of Kavous Seyed Emami, an Iranian-Canadian academic and environmental activist who died in an Iranian jail in early February, has queried the official Iranian version that he committed suicide in jail and demanded an independent investigation into the case.
Sharp rise in international students, but mobility falls
Benchmark data shows more than 10% growth in international student recruitment and nearly 8% growth in revenue from international students’ fees in 2016 – but also suggests a sharp drop in outbound mobility participation.
New general staff union to tackle university challenges
A nation-wide union of university staff has been established to represent both academic and non-academic employees. The move comes in the wake of discontent over the passing last year of the 2016 University Law, which university staff believe does not serve their interests.
Top university’s next president mired in controversy
The president-to-be of Taiwan’s top higher education institution, National Taiwan University, has been unable so far to take up his post amid a controversy over a conflict of interest with a private company and allegations of plagiarism, as lawmakers sought to block his appointment.
Private universities have the potential to ‘take over’
Some investors in private universities are cutting corners by not maintaining quality assurance levels, short-circuiting official quality assurance bodies and procedures and generally giving a bad name to the sector. But there are exceptions, according to the acting chairman of Ghana’s Council of Independent Universities.
Lessons from Asia on road to world-class universities
Asia is now a breeding ground for some of the world’s top universities. Indian universities could learn a lot from looking at how their Asian peers have managed to climb the rankings, and urgently become more enterprising and stop being so dependent on state intervention.
Why the skills debate matters – Short and long term
The United Kingdom is at the centre of a debate on fees and employability, but we are now in the midst of the digital revolution and cannot easily predict what skills we will need in the future and what kind of jobs will exist. It is vital we ensure that our education system is based on teaching a range of skills for a rapidly changing world.
Knowledge diplomacy or knowledge divide?
What connects international higher education with international relations and pressing global challenges such as climate change, epidemics, food security and terrorism? Is it knowledge diplomacy, strengthening relations between countries to address pressing issues, or a growing knowledge divide?
How can universities address spiralling enrolment?
Eric Fredua-Kwarteng and Samuel Kwaku Ofosu
A big growth in student enrolment across Africa, combined with drastically declining funding, is having a damaging impact on the quality of teaching and learning in public universities. They need greater autonomy to find their own solutions to the problem.
Most vice-chancellors can have say in setting their pay
At 19 in every 20 universities in the United Kingdom, the vice-chancellor either sits on the committee that sets their pay or is allowed to attend its meetings, according to new research. The findings will add to growing pressure on universities to rethink how they set pay for their senior staff.
Students invest in universities, so pay them a dividend
Vice-chancellors are enjoying fat pay cheques while students rack up debts from rocketing fees. Is it time to revolutionise the financial model, treat fees as an investment and share some of the surplus, whenever there is one, with staff and students?
VC salaries are a sign of what’s wrong with universities
Kristen Lyons and Richard Hill
The United Kingdom’s top-paid vice-chancellor, whose salary caused a furore, earns less than most of her Australian peers. The row has drawn public attention to the inflated salaries of university leaders and the huge pay disparity with low-paid casualised academics, driven by government policies and corporatisation.
Utrecht plots new way to tackle societal challenges
Jan Petter Myklebust
Utrecht University is investing on an unprecedented scale in 14 profiled hubs to tackle key societal challenges in a multidisciplinary way with other social partners – knowledge institutions, businesses, government authorities, non-governmental organisations and lobby groups.
Promoting the value of useful and used research
The Africa Evidence Network at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa, recently launched the first annual Africa Evidence Leadership Award to honour and recognise those who have increased awareness of evidence-informed decision-making in Africa.
Students protest against extended military conscription
Students have been campaigning against new legislation on military service which forces them to serve an extra year if they defer to undertake their undergraduate studies, and prevents them from deferring until after completing postgraduate studies.
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