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22 April 2018 Issue 502 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search


Research study shows the importance of internal quality assurance for universities

   In Commentary, Michaela Martin unpicks research by the UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning that demonstrates the importance for universities of developing flexible and qualitative internal quality assurance tools in support of quality and employability – but also the need to balance them to avoid excessive specialisation of university graduates. Samuel Ofosu and Eric Fredua-Kwarteng propose that universities in Africa reform their admissions policies for mature students, with more emphasis on relevant work experience and bridging programmes. And Wondwosen Tamrat adds to discussions on changing patterns of international student mobility by looking at internal student mobility patterns on the African continent.

   In our World Blog, Namrata Rao and Anesa Hosein appeal to universities that aim to internationalise their workforce to consider that migrant academics may require support and training in a new and different teaching environment.

   In part two of the Special Report on the 2018 Centre for Global Higher Education conference, Rajani Naidoo questions the major share of national resources that are consumed by universities identified as world-class and their role in perpetuating inequality and explores options to remedy the situation. Karen MacGregor reports on Claire Callender’s presentation on the unintended consequences that higher education policies of successive English governments have had on student choice. And Eileen Kennedy and Diana Laurillard explore how massive open online courses or MOOCs, using a ‘cascade model’ for professional development of teachers, might help us meet the expected doubling of global demand for higher education by 2030.

   In Features, Jan Petter Myklebust reports on the achievement by Sweden’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology of attracting three European Research Council grants in the humanities in three years.

Brendan O’Malley – Managing Editor

NEWS – Our correspondents worldwide report


Fee waivers bid to draw top students from Asia, Africa

Shuriah Niazi

The government has begun a drive to attract more international students to India’s leading higher education institutions, allocating 15,000 places a year at the top 160 universities and colleges, supported by a new system of fee waivers. The aim is to make India an ‘affordable hub’ to attract top talent from Asian and African countries.


Political row stokes ‘ongoing academic corruption’ fears

Paul Rigg

A row over allegations, denied by the president of the Community of Madrid, that she used her influence to obtain a masters degree has led to 30 university professors from across Spain signing a petition to denounce ongoing ‘academic corruption’ in Spanish educational institutions.


EUA condemns ‘intimidation’ of academics via blacklist

Brendan O'Malley

The European University Association (EUA) has strongly condemned the “intimidation of academics” by the Hungarian media after a pro-government magazine published a list of 200 people it claimed were likely to be "mercenaries”, allegedly funded by financier and philanthropist George Soros to topple the government.


Minister resigns over NTU president appointment fiasco

Mimi Leung

Taiwan’s Minister of Education Pan Wen-chung has resigned over his refusal to sign off the highly controversial appointment of a new president for National Taiwan University (NTU) until key questions surrounding the appointment had been cleared up. He has been replaced by Wu Maw-Kuen, a Taiwanese-American physicist.


Norway sends 250-strong research delegation to China

Jan Petter Myklebust

Norway’s Minister of Research and Higher Education, Iselin Nybø, led a huge delegation of university leaders and scientists on a visit last week to Beijing and Shanghai, to deepen Norwegian-Chinese research cooperation. The visit was hosted by China’s Minister of Science and Technology, Wang Zhigang.


Academics earn some of the best salaries in Commonwealth

Munyaradzi Makoni

Among Commonwealth countries, South African higher education institutions offered the highest overall average salaries in 2017 and enjoyed the highest salary increases from 2016 – after cost of living is considered – according to a recent Association of Commonwealth Universities’ survey on academic salaries.


Caution greets private universities twinning requirement

Wagdy Sawahel

New private universities will not be allowed to operate in Egypt unless they have collaboration agreements with institutions rated among the top 50 universities in the world, according to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. The move has received mixed reviews from higher education experts.


Inclusion vs free speech a challenge, say HE presidents

Karen MacGregor

In a survey by the American Council on Education, 471 university and college presidents stressed the importance of both promoting an inclusive society and protecting free speech on campuses. But an overwhelming 96% said it was more important for students to be exposed to all types of speech than to “protect students by prohibiting offensive or biased speech”.


Court ruling backs rights of international students

Jan Petter Myklebust

A Supreme Court of Sweden ruling on the case of an international student suing for repayment of tuition fees clarifies that Swedish universities are required by law to ensure that courses offered to fee-paying students from outside Europe are of a high academic standard.


Scholars look for ways to restore respect for expertise

Mary Beth Marklein

Scholars attending the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association last week explored how they and their work can remain relevant at a time when fake news is able to make its way around the world in a matter of seconds.


Universities appeal to president to end lengthy strike

Tunde Fatunde

University stakeholders have issued an ultimatum to President Patrice Talon, urging him to resolve a three-month-long strike which has shuttered the country’s four universities, or face mass action that will render his government illegitimate and the country ungovernable.



How internal quality assurance can drive success

Michaela Martin

The results from a UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning study on how to enhance quality and employability in higher education institutions highlight best practice and important success factors and underscore the importance of an evidence-based approach to improving quality.


Mature student admissions should reflect modern life

Samuel Ofosu and Eric Fredua-Kwarteng

Universities in Africa need to reform their admission requirements for mature students in keeping with the changing circumstances in which students find themselves, with more emphasis placed on relevant work experience and preparatory or bridging programmes.


The importance of understanding inward student mobility

Wondwosen Tamrat

The patterns and causes of internal mobility of students on the African continent are an increasingly important part of the debate on the internationalisation of higher education.



Do we provide the right support for migrant academics?

Namrata Rao and Anesa Hosein

It is important that universities recognise that migrant academics come from different teaching contexts and have a range of different teaching training needs. This will ensure that they are appropriately supported to enable them to contribute effectively in their new teaching contexts.


The third international conference of the Centre for Global Higher Education or CGHE, held in London on 11 April and titled “The New Geopolitics of Higher Education”, explored issues such as the growth of research, universities and inequality, implications of populist politics, free speech and social rights, and the changing global balance of power in higher education. This is the second of two Special Reports on the event.


World-class systems rather than world-class universities

Rajani Naidoo

Focusing scarce national resources on world-class universities is leading to greater inequality in higher education within countries and between countries. World-class institutions have a responsibility to build higher education systems that promote equality and fairness.


Unintended policy consequences constrain student choice

Karen MacGregor

The policies of successive English governments, aimed among other things at enhancing student choice through income-contingent loans tied to rising tuition fees, have had the opposite effect for many students, especially for part-time degree students, according to Claire Callender, deputy director of the Centre for Global Higher Education.


Scaling up global higher education – The viable option

Eileen Kennedy and Diana Laurillard

Massive open online courses or MOOCs work best for people who already have degrees and with the help of research they can help us meet the expected doubling of global demand for higher education by 2030 through their value in supporting professional development of higher education teachers.



Three ERC humanities grants in three years for KTH

Jan Petter Myklebust

European Research Council (ERC) grant applications have a mere 12% success rate, but KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm has this month been awarded its third ERC grant in the humanities in three years – a remarkable achievement for a technological university.



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Economic crisis forces slowdown at universities

Teachers unable to pay the bus fare to get to class; students stuck in long supermarket lines in the quest for affordable food: Venezuela’s academics say the deep economic crisis is paralysing the country's universities, writes Alex Vasquez for AFP.


Communist Party setting up cells in US universities

Chinese Communist Party cells made up of Chinese students and faculty have appeared in California, Ohio, New York, Connecticut, North Dakota and West Virginia. The cells appear to be part of a strategy, now expanded under Chinese President Xi Jinping, to extend direct party control globally and to insulate students and scholars abroad from the influence of ‘harmful ideology’, writes Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian for Foreign Policy.


Universities, publishers agree on open-access deals

Despite some difficult negotiations, academic institutions in the Netherlands have been securing subscriptions that combine publishing and reading into one fee, with many universities pushing for scholarly journals to become open access, writes Diana Kwon for The Scientist.


Universities being held back by old problems – Ministry

A ministerial assessment has found that many Vietnamese universities and institutes are unable to guarantee an adequate education despite rising enrolment of new students at the country’s 235 universities, of which 170 are public and 65 private institutions, writes Thanh Thuy for Asia News.


Ruling party rams through controversial university bill

The ruling Pakistan Peoples Party once again used its numeric power in the Provincial Assembly of Sindh to pass a controversial bill pertaining to handing over powers of the 24 public sector universities to the chief minister despite a protest and walk-out from opposition parties who termed the bill a bid to destroy the education system, reports The Nation.


Union accepts proposals in universities pensions dispute

A second wave of strikes at universities in the United Kingdom over a pensions row has been suspended after 64% of members of the University and College Union voted in favour of proposals aimed at resolving the issue, writes Gemma Toulson for the Nottingham Post.


Universities welcome foreigners as permanent lecturers

Indonesian state universities have welcomed a decision by President Joko Widodo’s administration to allow foreign academics to serve as permanent lecturers in the country’s universities, suggesting that they can be a catalyst in boosting the country’s academic achievements, write Moses Ompusunggu, Bambang Muryanto and Apriadi Gunawan for The Jakarta Post.


Assad gives nod to Iranian Islamic university branches

A senior advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader on international affairs, Ali Akbar Velayati, said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has issued a directive to open branches of the Iranian Islamic Azad University in Syria, reports Middle East Monitor.


Banking giant launches global student payment service

Global banking giant HSBC has launched an international education payment service, aimed at Chinese students studying abroad, enabling them to pay tuition fees in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Hong Kong, writes Enoch Yiu for South China Morning Post.


Sharp rise in premier papers from universities

An assessment of Brazil’s contribution to high-impact science from 1980 onwards, analysed from the number of papers published in Nature and Science from three of the country’s leading universities, has shown that there was a dramatic increase in their publications in these prestigious journals over the period, write Gabriel José de Carli and Tiago Campos Pereira for Nature.


AI set to shape the future of universities

Artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming many human activities ranging from daily chores to highly sophisticated tasks. But unlike many other industries, the higher education sector has yet to be really influenced by AI, write Nafis Alam and Graham Kendall for The Conversation.


Three out of five students lose interest in study

Three out of every five students from universities in Kabul lose interest in study midway through their time on campus because of the ‘teaching method’ and ‘lack of hope for jobs in future’, reports Pajhwok Afghan News.


Government approves two more private universities

The government has approved two more private universities – Khan Bahadur Ahsanullah University in Khulna and Ahsania Mission University of Science and Technology in Rajshahi – increasing the number of private universities in the country to 99, reports The Daily Star.

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