University World News Global Edition
8 April 2018 Issue 500 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search


A spotlight on the major changes and challenges in higher education worldwide

   In celebration of our 500th edition of University World News, our correspondents and commentators around the world were asked to focus on the most significant change or challenge facing their country or region in the 10 years since our first edition, or the one that will have the most impact in the 10 years ahead. The outcome is a unique Special Report highlighting some of the major changes and challenges in higher education worldwide.

   Jane Knight says the bright future of higher education internationalisation rests on growing and sustaining collaboration, reciprocity and mutual benefits among nations, and shifting international student recruitment patterns are but one dimension of internationalisation. Also focusing on the global picture, Patrick Blessinger and Hans de Wit hail academic freedom as essential to democracy and highlight some of the new and complex threats to academic freedom, including from nationalist-populist trends, social media and fake news.

   Our Asia editor, Yojana Sharma, explores the likely effect on higher education of dramatically declining birth rates in many countries in East and Southeast Asia, which are set to cause upheaval and fierce competition between universities. In contrast, our Africa editor, Sharon Dell, says rapid population growth in African countries, if the right policies are put in place, has the potential to power the ‘Africa rising’ narrative. And board member of University World News – Africa Goolam Mohamedbhai looks at shifts in the patterns of student mobility in Africa, with China investing more and increased regional mobility.

   Our correspondent in the United States, Mary Beth Marklein, picked rising fees as the most significant challenge faced by US higher education in the past decade, saying “the economics of college is chipping away at the soul of US higher education”. Geoff Maslen, founding editor and Australian correspondent, says the momentous decision by a Labor government in 2008 to lift federal restrictions on university enrolments opened the door to thousands of young Australians who may never have gained entry to a campus, but a federal conservative government is now responding by slashing university funding.

   From Europe, Managing Editor Brendan O’Malley describes how the UK government’s 2010 decision to triple tuition fees could prove politically disastrous and has already played a decisive role in the battle for Brexit. Jane Marshall, our correspondent in France, focuses on the past decade of university reforms under three successive French presidents, while our correspondent in Germany, Michael Gardner, looks at the country’s increasing popularity as a destination for international students which is threatened by the recent rise of the far-right in Germany’s politics, who want to see a U-turn in internationalisation. Our correspondent in Greece, Makki Marseilles, is hopeful that universities can play a role in the recovery of Greece after the imposed austerity programme brought the country to its knees, with traumatic cuts in university funding and academics’ wages. And Jan Petter Myklebust, our Scandinavia correspondent, wonders if ongoing reforms in Nordic countries will change the Nordic model of higher education, which is characterised by high levels of public funding.

   Our South American correspondent, María Elena Hurtado, highlights the free higher education policy introduced in Chile in recent years, which was instigated by massive protests by a vocal student movement.

Brendan O’Malley – Managing Editor

NEWS – Our correspondents worldwide report


Military use of research pushback in Japan, South Korea

Suvendrini Kakuchi and Aimee Chung

As dozens of the world’s artificial intelligence (AI) researchers threatened to boycott a top South Korean research university due to its links to a weapons manufacturer to help develop AI-directed weapons, Japanese universities have been asked to set up procedures to identify military uses of research.


Cryptocurrency mining attacks mainly target universities

Wagdy Sawahel

Potentially damaging cryptocurrency mining behaviours are increasingly targeting higher education institutions – they now suffer from more than half of such known mining activities – with Asian countries the most affected, followed by North America and Europe, a new report has found.


Dismay over pro-China hounding of Hong Kong scholar

Mimi Leung and Yojana Sharma

A group of Hong Kong scholars has expressed concern to the United Nations over a barrage of criticism from pro-China groups against a Hong Kong law scholar over purported remarks on independence. They say the coordinated attack is the most serious against an academic in recent years.


Universities mourn ‘Mother of the nation’ Winnie Mandela

Munyaradzi Makoni

The country’s universities last week mourned the death of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, anti-apartheid icon and former wife of democratic South Africa’s first president Nelson Mandela, who passed away in Johannesburg on 2 April at the age of 81 after a long illness.


Universities told to deliver rankings data or face cuts

Yojana Sharma

India’s minister responsible for higher education has told public universities that they must take part in the country’s rankings or face penalties, possibly funding cuts, after several universities failed to provide data and documentation for the latest national rankings released last week.


10 universities launch centres to boost entrepreneurship

Wagdy Sawahel

In a bid to tackle graduate unemployment and contribute towards developing a knowledge-based economy, 10 universities in Libya have launched entrepreneurship and innovation centres to produce entrepreneurs equipped to run their own businesses.



The quest for truth in the age of demagogues

Jon Nixon

In an era of populism and alternative facts, universities’ role is to insist on the distinction between truth and untruth. They can also challenge a legacy of inequality and provide hope, social mobility and a renewed sense of civic engagement.


International partnership solution to the bioscience gap

Carol Ibe

Lack of resources including basic laboratory infrastructure seriously hampers the education of bioscientists that Africa needs. A partnership approach that focuses on teaching techniques and sustainable solutions can address some of the challenges.


The need for a harmonised approach to refugee education

Marco Di Donato

As a result of seven years of conflict, young refugees from Syria are growing up without the skills they need to access higher education. Higher education must help ensure there are educational pathways that will stop them from becoming a lost generation.


Towards more achievable university vision statements

Wondwosen Tamrat

Overly ambitious and unrealistic vision statements will not be able to drag Ethiopian universities higher up the regional and international ranking ladders. Instead, universities might be better off focusing more seriously on what they can achieve locally.



Seeking good-quality, socially engaged universities

Rajesh Tandon

Could concerns about the quality of higher education in the Middle East region be in part addressed by not just modelling universities on Western institutions and adopting global best practice, but also drawing on local traditions and creating systems that are more locally engaged?


To celebrate our 500th edition, University World News asked its correspondents and commentators around the world to pick the most significant change or challenge facing their country or region in the 10 years since our first edition, or the one that will have the most impact in the 10 years ahead.


A look on the bright side of HE internationalisation

Jane Knight

Shifting international student recruitment patterns do not signify the end of internationalisation. Programme mobility has been growing fast over the 10 years since University World News was founded and there remains a strong case for knowledge sharing across nations.


Academic freedom is essential to democracy

Patrick Blessinger and Hans de Wit

Without academic freedom, critical thinking cannot be cultivated and higher learning cannot be nurtured, yet academic freedom has come under new and more complex threats in the years since University World News’ first edition, including from nationalist-populist trends, social media and ‘fake news’.


Declining populations point to a sombre future for HE

Yojana Sharma

Many countries in East and Southeast Asia saw two decades of unprecedented expansion in higher education, but continuing dramatically declining birth rates will cause upheaval and fierce competition between universities, and in some cases restructuring, in the next 10 years.


Economics is chipping away at the soul of US colleges

Mary Beth Marklein

The United States was heading into the Great Recession of 2008 when University World News published its first edition in 2007. So it should not be surprising that the most significant challenge faced by US higher education in the past 10 years is nothing new: rising tuition and other fees paid by students.


An optimistic narrative for higher education ahead

Sharon Dell

Africa is expected to account for more than half of the world’s population growth in the next 30 years or so. This presents a challenge and an opportunity for higher education, which, with the right policies in place, could power the ‘Africa rising’ narrative.


The changing pattern of internationalisation in Africa

Goolam Mohamedbhai

Patterns of student mobility in Africa have been undergoing significant shifts in the past decade, with China investing more and greater emphasis on regional mobility, which is set to grow over the decade ahead, especially if opportunities outside Africa become more constrained.


Momentous university open door policy abandoned

Geoff Maslen

A decision by the Labor government in 2008 to lift federal restrictions on university enrolments opened the door to thousands of young Australians who might never otherwise have been given the opportunity to attend university. But now a federal conservative government is responding by slashing university funding.


How the decision to triple tuition fees changed history

Brendan O’Malley

For a good case study in unintended consequences, it would be hard to beat the decision passed in December 2010 to allow a tripling of the tuition fee cap. The political fallout could yet imperil years of higher education reforms but arguably has already delivered the vote for Brexit.


A decade of reforms under three presidents rolls on

Jane Marshall

The election of Nicolas Sarkozy as president of France in 2007 triggered a series of ongoing university reforms that have increased autonomy, funded elite public-private partnerships and supported the creation of elite clusters aimed at making French higher education more internationally competitive.


Internationalisation confronted with far-right gains

Michael Gardner

Nineteen years into the Bologna Process, Germany can look back on a bumpy transition to Europe-wide recognised university degrees, but has also experienced increasing popularity as a country to study in. However, the AfD, the country’s largest opposition party, wants to see a U-turn in internationalisation.


Universities can lead recovery from shock of austerity

Makki Marseilles

The austerity programme imposed on Greece brought the country to its knees and universities, students and academics suffered traumatic cuts in funding and wages and drastically reduced access to knowledge and resources. Nevertheless, universities can have a vital role in recovery.


Will Nordic model of higher education survive reforms?

Jan Petter Myklebust

Will the ongoing reforms in Scandinavian countries change the Nordic model of higher education, characterised by high levels of public funding, for both education and research, high levels of support staff at universities and high numbers of PhD grants?


Free university tuition is ‘in the law and here to stay’

María Elena Hurtado

Registration and free education for the most vulnerable 60% – a policy instigated by Chile’s vocal student movement that staged massive protests demanding quality, free, not-for-profit education – will be remembered as Chile’s greatest achievement in higher education in the past decade but universal coverage remains the objective.



Court outlaws second screening of university candidates

Tunde Fatunde

The Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board has indicated it will appeal a recent high court ruling outlawing the 13-year-old practice among individual universities of re-screening university candidates who have already passed the national admission test known as the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination.



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Study finds widespread hunger in colleges

A report has found that more than one-third of college students in the United States say they don't have enough money for food, with some even going whole days without eating as they simply cannot afford meals, writes Ewan Palmer for Newsweek.


Anger over university forum to 'convert' LGBT students

A Malaysian university has held a forum to ‘convert’ lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students, drawing condemnation from rights activists, reports The Straits Times.


Countries map out stronger research partnerships

United Kingdom and Australian universities are mapping out plans for a closer partnership post-Brexit, with a focus on student mobility, research collaboration and mutual recognition of academic and professional qualifications, writes Claudia Civinini for The PIE News.


Universities cancel subscriptions to Springer journals

French research organisations and universities have cancelled their subscriptions to Springer journals, due to an impasse in fee negotiations between the publisher and, a national consortium representing more than 250 academic institutions in France, writes Diana Kwon for The Scientist.


Iranian hackers target four Singapore universities

Iranian hackers have targeted four Singapore universities in a wave of attacks believed to be part of last month's security breach involving global education institutions, writes Eileen Yu for By The Way.


Cambridge ranked last in university fair-access table

A new measure looking at how successful individual universities have been in trying to widen participation to students from all backgrounds has ranked the University of Hull as the best-performing institution and Cambridge as the worst, writes Sally Weale for The Guardian.


Legal action possible against errant private universities

Education Minister Nurul Islam Nahid said legal action will be taken if any private universities are found defying the government’s regulation around access and student fees, reports The Daily Star.


Public university graduates more employable – Survey

Graduates from private universities continue to fall behind their counterparts from public universities, even as more of them are doing part-time work, a survey on employment outcomes has found, reports The Straits Times.


President calls for committed agriculture students

Agricultural universities should admit students who know the countryside and the way things are done in agriculture, said Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko at a nationwide conference on 3 April to discuss the development of the countryside and ways to bolster agribusiness effectiveness, reports Belarus News.


HIV self-test kits on sale in Shanghai universities

Three universities in Shanghai have begun offering HIV self-test kits in vending machines to promote HIV testing on campus while protecting privacy, reports Xinhua. Students at Shanghai Lixin University of Accounting and Finance, Shanghai University and Tongji University can buy a kit for CNY30 (US$4.8), take a urine sample and return the kit to a deposit drawer in the machine.


Sexual misconduct by staff rife at universities – Report

Research shows sexual misconduct by university staff is rife on campuses in the United Kingdom, with more than four in 10 students reporting that they have suffered unwelcome advances and assault, including sexualised comments, inappropriate touching and rape, writes David Batty for The Guardian.


New head for Balkan universities association

Professor Mircea Dumitru, the rector of the University of Bucharest, was unanimously elected chairman of the Balkan Universities Association by members of the general assembly at the fourth conference of the Balkan Universities Association, which took place in Tetovo in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on 30-31 March, reports Agerpres.


Calls for 50% of universities to be vocational centres

A media and business expert has called on the federal government to consider converting about 50% of the universities in Nigeria into vocational centres to enable young people to gain skills in different vocations, writes Providence Emmanuel for Vanguard.


California universities in battle over fees hike

Under intense pressure not to raise tuition for the second consecutive year, California's public university systems have delayed votes to increase student fees and turned their attention back to the Capitol to lobby the state for more money, writes Alexei Koseff in The Sacramento Bee.


How universities should manage innovation

Innovation has reached buzzword status with higher education institutions creating innovation offices and chief innovation officer positions, launching various online and competency-based offerings, and, in some cases, answering to nervous boards of trustees regarding whether their institutions are doing enough to prepare students for an increasingly uncertain future, writes Michael Horn for Forbes.


Complaints over special treatment of foreign students

While competition at universities for locals is fierce, it has become easier for foreigners to receive a diploma at a Korean university as more institutions are seeking to make a ‘quick buck’ off overseas students, writes Kim Hyun-bin for The Korea Times.


Venezuela inaugurates Martin Luther King university

Venezuela paid tribute last week to Martin Luther King on the 50th anniversary of his assassination when Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro inaugurated the Martin Luther King University Complex in Barquisimeto, the capital of Lara state, reports teleSUR.


Police teargas striking public universities’ staff

Police last week teargassed public universities’ staff who were protesting at the ministry of education offices in Nairobi, writes Faith Nyamai for the Daily Nation.

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