NEWS – Our correspondents worldwide report
Rise of Asia slows in university subject rankings
Asian countries’ improvement has decelerated for the first time in this year’s QS World University Rankings by Subject, and the supremacy of United States’ universities has slipped further. The United Kingdom, China, Switzerland and Australia are rising, but France is falling.
Science academy calls for STI policy reform to meet SDGs
The African Academy of Sciences has called for urgent reform of African national science, technology and innovation (STI) policies to sharpen their focus on the social and environmental dimensions of development and bring them in closer alignment with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Xi Jinping power grab disturbs students, scholars abroad
The removal of the text in the constitution limiting China’s president and vice-president to two terms, cementing Xi Jinping’s leadership possibly for the next two decades, will mean a further ideological tightening in universities, an extension of ‘Xi Jinping research’ in institutions, and may deter students and scholars overseas from returning home.
China’s equal status policy causes Taiwan brain drain
Mimi Leung and Yojana Sharma
Moves by Beijing to give Taiwanese students and graduates equal status with mainland Chinese, granting them greater access to mainland universities, professional qualifications and jobs, has caused consternation in Taiwan, which has seen a major brain drain of qualified people.
Rising concern over influence of Confucius Institutes
Dan Bauman, The Chronicle of Higher Education
As Americans and their policy-makers focus on Russian interference in the 2016 election and broader efforts to stoke discord in American society, China’s relationship with the nation’s colleges and universities is drawing renewed attention as well.
Minister looking for a revolution in accountability
The new universities minister, Sam Gyimah, announcing the new regulatory framework, pledged to press on with the marketisation of higher education – including funding via high tuition fees – with the aim of creating a new “age of the student” where choice and data bring accountability.
Universities seek to strengthen commercialisation
Leading Russian universities are planning to significantly strengthen their cooperation with business, by increasing active sales of their scientific developments to producers and seeking investment for their further development, according to recent statements of representatives of some of Russia’s leading universities.
Plan to seek EU-wide initiative on unpaid student debt
Jan Petter Myklebust
Danish Tax Minister Karsten Lauritzen and Minister for Higher Education and Science Søren Pind are seeking support for an initiative across the European Union to tackle the problem of students leaving the country without paying off their student loan debt.
English teaching reform to boost international trade
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has announced plans to expand the teaching of English in secondary schools and higher education, including internationally recognised qualifications, as part of France’s strategy to boost international trade and exports.
Lecturer issues warning over loss of academic freedom
Ghanaian universities have traditionally enjoyed high levels of academic freedom, but a law academic at the University of Ghana is concerned that recent developments suggest a threat to those freedoms and said academics need to develop “thick skins” in order to resist political interference.
How to get to automatic recognition of qualifications
Jenneke Lokhoff and Katrien Bardoel
By 2020 all countries within the European Higher Education Area are expected to automatically recognise each other's bachelor and masters degrees. Can this ambition set by the 48 ministers of education in the 2015 Yerevan Communiqué be achieved?
Why don’t Vietnam’s universities rank higher in Asia?
The Vietnamese press has been questioning the country’s lack of highly ranked universities, but rankings do not accurately portray the issues facing countries like Vietnam or their universities’ wide social role. Universities should concentrate instead on pursuing their stated missions.
Raising standards in student safety and security
Baroness Ruth Henig
Universities need to work together to raise standards in student security amid growing concerns about mental health, sexual harassment and crime – particularly for those living far away from home. For international students, especially, safety is a significant factor in their choice of university.
Universities need to confront their past, not omit it
Whitewashing the history of our institutions obscures the lessons we must learn for our present. It is universities’ role to search for the truth and to accept whatever we may find out about ourselves, however uncomfortable that may make us.
Why we should train scholars to think across disciplines
If researchers want to make an impact on public health, they can’t just have a thorough grounding in their own discipline. They will benefit from also being literate in other research approaches and methods, as one programme for Sub-Saharan African scholars is demonstrating.
Towards a national system of journal accreditation
The introduction of a national system for the assessment and standardisation of Ethiopian journals could have considerable impact on the quality of future research in the country, and proactive government action is needed to see it materialise.
Subject data show areas Asian universities must work on
Asian universities continue to climb the rankings, but subject-specific data highlight weaker areas that they need to address – as well as the growing role of university networks. They should leverage partnership, collaboration and research opportunities with institutions that outperform them.
The question of trust in science requires many answers
Science communicators and advocates need to take on board the complex multiplicity of attitudes towards science to be effective in their outreach, according to new research into trust in science for the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
African Leadership Academy celebrates 10-year milestone
“When you leave here the idea is not that you will get a job, but that you will create a job,” said 19-year-old James Sloane from Cape Town, a first-year student at the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa. What he says perfectly encapsulates the entrepreneurial spirit that the academy seeks to develop and send forth into Africa.
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