University World News Global Edition
11 March 2018 Issue 496 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search


What are the implications of the recent ‘closing’ of Chinese higher education?

   In Commentary, Philip G Altbach and Hans de Wit say the ‘closing’ of Chinese higher education due to rising authoritarianism in the country will hamper Chinese universities in their aspirations to world-class standards and in their collaborations with Western universities. Eric Fredua-Kwarteng and Samuel Kwaku Ofosu give some pointers on how lecturers in African universities can introduce innovative pedagogies to improve the quality of higher education on offer. Roger Brown asks why universities in the UK have been under such strong and sustained public and media attack of late – could the various criticisms be linked to government policies? And Anand Kulkarni writes that for India the latest QS World University Rankings by Subject highlight challenges in terms of the breadth of its higher education offerings and the need to address areas that are key for the country’s future.

   In our World Blog this week, Patrick Blessinger, Jaimie Hoffman and Mandla Makhanya say the challenge before higher education leaders and policy-makers is to put in place policies and practices that support ‘inclusive excellence’ – high quality teaching and learning as well as a culture of inclusion.

   In Features, Munyaradzi Makoni reports on a roundtable organised by the Academy of Science of South Africa to debate the relevance of global university rankings to African universities.

   In a Special Report on the international IE University ‘Reinventing Higher Education’ conference held in Spain last week, Paul Rigg reports on a discussion between the president of IE University, Santiago Íñiguez, and Thabo Mbeki, former president of South Africa and chancellor of the University of South Africa, on the global impact of higher education from an African perspective. Rigg also reports on a discussion on the future of work and whether universities will be able to adapt quickly enough to the changes that are coming, as well as another discussion on whether and why universities should fight the trend of anti-globalisation.

Brendan O’Malley – Managing Editor

NEWS – Our correspondents worldwide report


Thousands more university places set aside for women

Shadi Khan Saif

The Afghan government said it will earmark up to 7,000 additional seats for women in public sector universities across the country for the new academic year starting later this month, in a bid to encourage higher participation, the ministry of education announced last week.


Record rise in international student numbers announced

Brendan O’Malley

A record number of international students studied in Australia in 2017, as a result of the largest increase recorded in a single year. However, postgraduate associations warn that international students face workplace exploitation as they try to support themselves.


Luring back talent is top priority to fuel innovation

Yojana Sharma

Attracting Chinese students back from abroad has become policy at the highest level of the government in a bid for world-class talent to fuel an innovation boom and move China away from reliance on manufacturing as its main engine of economic growth.


Warning over rising university enrolments from China

Geoff Maslen

More than 135,000 students from China are enrolled in Australian universities, nearly 40% of the total number of foreigners on campus here. Now vice-chancellors have been warned of the dangers of an over-reliance on one market.


New scheme to boost black academics’ research capacity

Stephen Coan

South Africa’s National Research Foundation and the public benefit organisation FirstRand Foundation have joined forces to create a sabbatical programme aimed at boosting research capacity among black African academics, and academics with disabilities.


University dons dominate new list of AAS fellows

Maina Waruru

Scholars and researchers based in African and foreign universities have dominated the latest list of 32 senior scientists named as 2017 fellows of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS). Out of the list of 32 scientists, 17 of them are university-based scholars, some working in higher learning institutions in North America and Europe.


First investigation by education Sexual Abuse Task Force

Aimee Chung

The education ministry and Seoul police have begun an investigation into a college following a petition by dozens of students revealing sexual misconduct against female students and violence against male students. It is the first investigation by the education ministry’s Sexual Abuse Task Force.


Student deportation case triggers more calls for change

Jan Petter Myklebust

United States citizen Miranda Andersson from Atlanta, Georgia, is of Swedish heritage and was starting her last term out of four for her masters degree at Uppsala University this spring term when the Swedish Migration Agency did not renew her application for a residence permit. Her case has triggered more calls for changes to Swedish immigration laws.


In a fight against depression, UCLA relies on technology

Bianca Quilantan, The Chronicle of Higher Education

In what amounts to a research moonshot, the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) aims to "cut the burden of depression in half" by 2050 and to eliminate it by the end of the century. But before the university starts treating the world, it’s begun treating its own students.


New measures developed for performance-related funding

Jan Petter Myklebust

Among seven announcements made by the Danish higher education ministry last week was a plan to develop new ways of assessing the quality of higher education in order to facilitate the development of performance-related basic funding of universities.


Student teachers protest over admission contract changes

Wagdy Sawahel

Students from teacher-training institutes Ecole Normale Supérieure in Algeria are continuing their open strike and cyclical protests which began in November last year over changes to the rules in their admission contracts determining employment and postgraduate studies.



The closing of China will affect universities worldwide

Philip G Altbach and Hans de Wit

Recent moves towards greater authoritarianism in China and greater interference by China in other countries will damage Chinese universities’ aspirations to world-class standards, will mean fewer Chinese students return home and will make collaboration with Western universities more difficult.


Improving the quality of university education in Africa

Eric Fredua-Kwarteng and Samuel Kwaku Ofosu

Quality university education in Africa should include innovative pedagogies that highlight active learning and increase the prospects of transfer of learning from the university to the larger society. Too often learning does not teach students the skills they need in the outside world.


Universities under attack for their corporate culture

Roger Brown

The past few months have seen an unremitting attack on United Kingdom universities. Is this a smokescreen to distract from government higher education policies and Brexit? Or an animosity primed by the adoption, encouraged by government, of corporate methods of governance and management?


What do the latest subject rankings mean for India?

Anand Kulkarni

The latest subject rankings from QS highlight some challenges for Indian higher education around the breadth of what they offer and the need to work on areas that are crucial for the country’s future.



Towards a more equal, inclusive higher education

Patrick Blessinger, Jaimie Hoffman and Mandla Makhanya

Achieving equity and inclusion in education requires a change in mindset and practices that aims to foster inclusion, respect differences and value the contributions of all. Institutions must seek to achieve inclusive excellence – whereby inclusion and excellence are approached as interdependent.



Campus free speech – Challenges for rights and values

At this year’s fourth annual Worldviews Lecture on Media and Higher Education, Professor Sigal Ben-Porath, author of Free Speech on Campus, will address the increasingly heightened debate around free speech at universities and the challenge to minority rights and democratic values. The lecture is supported by University World News.



The great global rankings debate

Munyaradzi Makoni

The jury is still out on whether African universities should ignore international university rankings or create their own, but senior academics and administrators agree there’s room for improvement, particularly on sensitivity to the relationship between size and density of a university and research output.


Meeting the need for higher education on a massive scale

Munyaradzi Makoni

Professor Love Ekenberg, a computer and systems sciences expert and mathematician at Stockholm University, Sweden, talks to University World News about his new role for the International Council for Open and Distance Education, overseeing the establishment of large-scale PhD programmes across Africa.


The ninth annual international IE University conference on ‘Reinventing Higher Education’ was held on 5-6 March at Madrid-based IE University, which is a private non-profit business owned by the Instituto de Empresa SL in Spain. University World News reports.


‘Pan-African HE centres are the way forward’ – Mbeki

Paul Rigg

This year, the ninth annual international IE University ‘Reinventing Higher Education’ conference kicked off with a conversation between Thabo Mbeki, former president of South Africa and chancellor of the University of South Africa, and Santiago Íñiguez, president at Madrid-based IE University, on African perspectives on the global impact of higher education.


Can universities adapt to the demand for relearning?

Paul Rigg

The future will belong to those who can ‘unlearn and relearn’. To succeed, people will need to anticipate change and retrain – and universities will have a vital role in adapting to and serving this need, but can they adapt quickly enough? The issue was discussed at the ‘Reinventing Higher Education’ conference in Madrid.


Why universities should fight anti-globalisation

Paul Rigg

There is a trend within universities of people who want less internationalisation and less cross-collaboration, and this must be challenged, but universities must also fight the broader trend of anti-globalisation, experts argued at a Madrid conference on ‘Reinventing Higher Education’.



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Russell Group reports fall in European PhD applications

Early figures from the Russell Group universities reveal a 9% fall in non-British European Union students starting postgraduate research courses in 2017-18, compared with last year – a big concern in universities that rely on European talent, writes Anna Fazackerley for The Guardian.


New university head denies any pressure from Beijing

The new head of the Chinese University of Hong Kong last week insisted he had come under no pressure from central government officials following a recent meeting with Beijing’s liaison office, writes Sum Lok-kei for South China Morning Post.


No deal in Central European University stand-off

The stand-off over the future of a university in Hungary, which became a symbolic international power struggle, shows no sign of being resolved, writes Sean Coughlan for BBC News.


Nearly 50 universities urge repeal of endowment tax

Nearly 50 college and university presidents are urging federal lawmakers to repeal the endowment tax that the Republican-controlled Congress passed last year, writes Deirdre Fernandes for The Boston Globe.


Government to build technology hubs in universities

The federal government has revealed its plan to build technology hubs in Nigerian universities across the nation’s six geopolitical zones as a means of promoting science and technology development in the country, writes Fikayo Olowolagba for the Daily Post.


City in big data partnership with AWS and universities

The Taipei City Government last Tuesday announced a two-year collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and seven universities to increase the number of databases available for big data research by academics and to nurture the development of big data professionals, writes Lee I-chia for the Taipei Times.


Coursera joins expansionists with six new online degrees

Online learning provider Coursera, which works with university partners around the world, is launching six new fully online degree courses. The news comes just weeks after FutureLearn, another provider of global online degrees, announced an expansion of its full degree offerings, writes Patrick Atack for The PIE News.


Islamic university bans burqas on campus

An Indonesian state Islamic university faced criticism from Muslim groups and activists last week after it banned female students from wearing full-face veils citing fears over the spread of radical ideology on the campus, reports Reuters.


Educationist criticises ‘craze’ for university degrees

A top educationist in the country has criticised the conversion of technical institutions into universities. Professor George Magoha, the chairman of the Kenya National Examinations Council, recently said Kenya could end up with an insufficient number of technicians necessary to support key sectors of the economy, writes Justus Ochieng’ for Daily Nation.


How universities make cities great

When thinking about how to revive economically lagging regions, especially in the Rust Belt, universities have an important role. Big, high-quality research universities have been essential for creating technology clusters in Austin, Raleigh and San Diego. But even small colleges in rural areas can have big benefits for the surrounding area, writes Noah Smith for Bloomberg.


Why corruption is flourishing in universities

Cases are not uncommon in Ukraine where courts take the side of rectors, deans and professors who were not just involved in scandals and fights with government officials but were caught red-handed in blatant corruption acts, reports UNIAN.


Universities ignoring a rich resource – Their alumni

Universities across Africa are sitting on – and ignoring – a potential gold mine: their graduates. Research from the Global North, where tracking and keeping in touch with alumni is common practice for universities, shows that this reaps huge benefits, writes Peter Ngure for The Conversation.


Alarm over ‘dumbing down’ of new universities criteria

Universities have expressed alarm that their reputation could be damaged due to the ‘dumbing down’ of criteria required for institutes of technology to secure new technological university status, although officials in the Higher Education Authority have disputed claims criteria have been watered down, writes Carl O’Brien for The Irish Times.


New push to drop drug offences as barrier to student aid

If Republicans and Democrats can agree on one priority for re-authorising the law governing higher education, it’s cutting down the lengthy application for federal student aid. Student advocacy groups hope that a student aid simplification push will include eliminating a question about drug convictions while receiving federal aid – and a corresponding section of federal law denying aid to students with such convictions, writes Andrew Kreighbaum for Inside Higher Ed.

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