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25 March 2018 Issue 498 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search


One Belt One Road could see a China-dominated higher education area emerge

   In Features, Yojana Sharma reports on an international seminar where delegates discussed the potential for China’s massive One Belt One Road initiative to reshape global higher education, in the same way that it has the potential to reshape international trade as it connects economies along its route.

   Also in Features, Gilbert Nakweya reports on a meeting in Kenya organised by the African Academy of Sciences in collaboration with Yale University to discuss the power of partnerships in strengthening university research in Africa.

   In our World Blog this week, Hans de Wit reaffirms the opinion expressed in a previous commentary that recent political changes are likely to have a significant impact on higher education internationalisation after his article elicited some critical reactions.

   In Commentary, Fernando Leon-Garcia writes about New York Times columnist and author Thomas Friedman’s talk during the CETYS Global Impact Series about how universities ought to prepare students for a rapidly-changing world. Michaela Martin contends that higher education needs to be backed by funding and admission policies that support the common good principle of higher education. And Marcello Scalisi says the Mediterranean Universities Union has petitioned the European Commission for the expansion of the Erasmus+ programme in the Mediterranean as it has become a powerful catalyst for cooperation in this politically important region.

   Also in Commentary, Aisi Li and Alan Ruby examine the conundrum in Kazakhstan’s universities, asking whether internationalisation can lift higher education quality or whether improving quality will drive internationalisation. And Sioux McKenna says South African universities, like those in many other countries, are losing hold of the academic project by becoming business-like administrative institutions.

Brendan O’Malley – Managing Editor

NEWS – Our correspondents worldwide report


Double EU budget, say European university associations

Jan Petter Myklebust and Brendan O'Malley

European university associations have published an open letter to the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Council, calling for a doubling of the European Union budget for research, innovation and education – to €160 billion (US$198 billion) for the period 2021-28.


Landmark decision gives more freedom to top universities

Shuriah Niazi and Yojana Sharma

The government of India has granted greater autonomy to 62 top higher education institutions to start new courses, decide admission procedures and enter into international collaborations – and 25 top-ranked institutions will have greater freedom to hire foreign staff and enrol foreign students.


Science ministry expands power over research funding

Yojana Sharma

China’s Ministry of Science and Technology is to be given more powers over the country’s research and innovation drive and will also coordinate, assess and oversee research funding. Universities fear that smaller research projects may not see as much funding in future.


Loan scheme will fund world-class research facilities

Ranjit Devraj

An ambitious new funding initiative will replace annual grants for India’s top centrally-run higher education institutions with repayable loans. It will enable research institutions to build world-class laboratories, research centres and other facilities to improve research and help push them up international rankings.


300,000 extra university places needed by 2030 – HEPI

Brendan O’Malley

Universities in England will most likely need to provide an extra 300,000 places by 2030 to meet rising demand caused by a demographic bulge and rising rates of participation among disadvantaged groups, with implications for student subsidies, the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) says.


Proposed new curriculum heralds changes for universities

Christabel Ligami

Higher learning institutions in Kenya may be required to transform their current education systems in accordance with a proposed new education curriculum aimed at producing employable graduates, expected to be rolled out next year.


Putin aide’s claim of end to brain drain is disputed

Eugene Vorotnikov

The outflow of scientists and technologies from Russian universities that began after the collapse of the Soviet Union is over, a presidential aide and former minister of education and science has claimed, but other experts disagree and blame the ‘Bologna process’.


Scholar who defended colonialism now defends himself

Vimal Patel, The Chronicle of Higher Education

When Bruce Gilley issued a full-throated defence of colonialism in a respected journal, saying it had improved many lives while anti-colonial regimes had taken a ‘grave toll’, there was an uproar – and the journal received death threats. What has he learned from the experience?


Minister urges students to lobby BRICS over Palestine

Munyaradzi Makoni

South African students should lobby for the issue of Palestine to be included in the BRICS’ agenda as part of a multipronged approach to tackling the long-standing Palestinian question, the South African higher education minister has said.


Students unite to raise concerns about HE quality

Wagdy Sawahel

A new student-centred 'diagnosis' of higher education in Mauritania depicts a system defined by inadequate infrastructure, poor opportunities for postgraduate study, threats to academic freedom and unilateral decision-making by the ministry – all of which are having a negative impact on the students’ experience.



Preparing students for a rapidly-changing world

Fernando Leon-Garcia

Universities need to focus on creating agile, internationally aware learners to prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow and for an interdependent world without borders. They need to enable students to be lifelong learners, which will become the single most competitive advantage.


Action required to support HE as a common good

Michaela Martin

Higher education has multiple benefits to individuals and society and should be considered a common good, but to do so requires adequate funding and equal access admissions policies. These should include affirmative action policies for admissions where there is entrenched disadvantage for certain groups.


Time to create a Mediterranean Erasmus generation

Marcello Scalisi

Extending the Erasmus+ programme in the Mediterranean region will create a generation led by common values and identity and forged in international cooperation – and will promote greater intercultural understanding in a politically important region.


The quality conundrum in higher education

Aisi Li and Alan Ruby

It’s a chicken and egg situation for universities in Kazakhstan, where cross-border competition is shaping the higher education ecosystem – can internationalisation lift Kazakh universities’ quality or will improving quality drive internationalisation?


Five signs universities are turning into corporations

Sioux McKenna

Many universities across the world are buckling under multiple financial, societal and political demands. This has led to loud calls for ‘enhanced efficiencies’, with some institutions becoming administrative universities without truly understanding how this chips away at the very purpose of higher education: the academic project.



Is the era of internationalisation at risk – or not?

Hans de Wit

The idea that recent political changes are likely to have a significant impact on higher education internationalisation has been criticised by those who think normal service will continue. But the signs are already emerging and universities would do well to heed them.



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.



One Belt One Road towards a China-led global HE area?

Yojana Sharma

As China includes higher education, science and research in its massive One Belt One Road infrastructure and trade project with Asia, Europe, the Middle East and East Africa, a China-dominated global higher education area could emerge, an international seminar of experts heard last week.


Universities ponder the power of North-South partnerships

Gilbert Nakweya

African universities need to increase partnerships and collaborations with institutions of higher learning from the Global North, especially in research and publication, to help spur sustainable development, say international experts.



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Cambridge staff fought man at centre of Facebook furore

The University of Cambridge resorted to external arbitration in an attempt to resolve a bitter dispute between Aleksandr Kogan, the academic at the heart of the Facebook scandal, and colleagues concerned by how he was planning to use data in work with Cambridge Analytica four years ago, writes Aliya Ram for Financial Times.


Public confidence in universities tumbles

Soaring tuition costs, degrees of dubious value and non-stop student activism have combined to bring public confidence in the ivory tower tumbling down, write Bradford Richardson and Jennifer Harper for The Washington Times.


Staff cuts loom as universities adopt new funding model

Public universities should consider sacking some of their workers to cope with reduced funding, according to the National Treasury. This was part of proposed austerity measures as the government implements a new funding formula that has substantially reduced capitation for universities, writes Augustine Oduor for the Standard Digital.


College to become the country’s first private university

Israel’s Council for Higher Education last week approved the upgrading of the status of the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, making it the first ever privately-run university in Israel, writes Lior Dattel for Haaretz.


Academics protest against threat to university autonomy

The Karachi University Teachers Society has vowed to remain committed to the revocation of the Sindh Universities Law Amendment Bill 2018 as members marched last Monday from the Arts Lobby to Azadi Chowk to express their dissatisfaction with the bill, reports The Express Tribune.


Academics oppose 'graded autonomy' for universities

The University Grants Commission’s decision to grant graded autonomy to 60 institutions of higher education has invited criticism from various quarters with many teachers and academicians calling it merely "financial autonomy", while others have expressed concerns the move will make higher education more expensive as it will allow self-financed courses and a departure from public accountability, writes Sumi Sukanya Dutta for Express News Service.


ATAR losing relevance for university admissions – Study

New analysis released recently by Victoria University's Mitchell Institute shows a pronounced disconnect: schools and students place an enormous importance on the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR), but the higher education sector uses it less and less as a basis for admission, writes Megan O’Connell for ABC.


The impact of #MeToo revolution on higher education

It was only a matter time before the #MeToo movement that first grew in force within the American entertainment industry gained traction in other countries. In South Korea, the impact has also been felt in Korea’s higher education system, writes Edward Choi for Inside Higher Ed.


Threat to deregister universities not doing research

Higher Education Minister Nkandu Luo says both public and private universities must prioritise research activities as they are a cornerstone of academia, and has threatened to deregister universities not doing research work to college level, reports


Minister directs universities to steer clear of politics

Iraq’s Higher Education and Scientific Research Minister Abdul Razzaq al-Issa announced recently that he will not play a “part in any political or electoral agenda” in the upcoming 12 May parliamentary elections and directed all Iraqi universities to keep campuses clear of election campaigns, writes Hamza Mostapha for Asharq Al-Awsat.


Top Hong Kong scientist seeks alliances with mainland

Professor Nancy Ip Yuk-yu, an internationally renowned scientist and one of the city’s 36 deputies to the National People’s Congress, said she has proposed to China’s top legislature lifting the ban on local scientists getting mainland funding for their research, writes Kimmy Chung for South China Morning Post.


South Africa’s universities not untouched by xenophobia

On 23 February, a Tanzanian PhD student at the University of Johannesburg was killed in what may be South Africa’s first known violent xenophobic attack on a university campus. While university settings are normally considered relatively safe, international students have reported xenophobic and neo-national experiences both on- and off-campus, write Laura Freeman and Jenny Lee for the Daily Maverick.


Open University plans major cuts to staff and courses

Open University chiefs are planning significant reductions in the number of courses the institution offers and the number of lecturers it employs, writes Diane Taylor for The Guardian.


University campus in bid to drop 13 arts majors

The University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point has proposed dropping 13 majors in the humanities and social sciences – including English, philosophy, history, sociology and Spanish – while adding programmes with ‘clear career pathways’ as a way to address declining enrolment and a multimillion-dollar deficit, writes Valerie Strauss for The Washington Post.


Plans for new '21st century' university in Milton Keynes

Plans for a new ‘21st century’ university in Milton Keynes have been confirmed after the council selected a lead education provider in the form of Cranfield University which will provide a curriculum focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics at the facility called MK:U, reports the BBC.

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