University World News Global Edition
29 April 2018 Issue 503 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search


Real university rankings must reflect the teaching and learning processes

   In Commentary, Waldemar Siwinski and Richard Holmes say the IREG Observatory on Academic Ranking and Excellence’s efforts to establish what is a real university ranking show the urgent need for solid databases covering the teaching mission of universities. Mark Ashwill highlights new data showing that the enrolment of Vietnamese students in Canada has shot up in the past three years, with Canada benefiting from comparatively low costs and a more progressive, peaceful image than the United States. And Nan Yeld says two new projects in Sub-Saharan Africa are showing how data on higher education could be collected more cheaply and reliably and how staff capacity to use it can be enhanced – to help African universities raise quality.

   In a review, Catherine Gomes writes that the book Transnational Education Crossing ‘Asia’ and ‘the West’ by Phan Le-Ha shows that the relationship between East and West is more interdependent than in the past, but being able to provide a complete English-language learning environment is key.

   In our World Blog this week, Hans de Wit says optimism about internationalisation of higher education is justified, especially regarding the heightened interest in ‘internationalisation at home’ in the developing world, but it would be naïve to ignore the dark clouds hovering above.

   In a Special Report on the Studyportals Academy 2018 on ‘Embracing Change’, Nic Mitchell reports on a warning from Michelangelo Balicco that universities in some European countries are in danger of ‘cannibalising’ their own courses in the rush to introduce programmes taught in English. Mitchell also reports on a panel of study-abroad students agreeing that above all they wanted more responsive and better informed university staff.

   In Features, Wagdy Sawahel reports that draft legislation to regulate the performance of foreign university branch campuses in Egypt was recently approved, amid concerns that the opening of foreign universities will exacerbate inequality. And Emma Sabzalieva reports on the revelation that more than 25 doctoral dissertations from Tajikistan were found to contain significant elements of plagiarism, including that of the first deputy prime minister and a professor who is the minister of education’s son.

Brendan O’Malley – Managing Editor

NEWS – Our correspondents worldwide report


As funding falls, China emerges as key research partner

Suvendrini Kakuchi

With declining research funding in Japan and huge year on year rises in China’s research budget in recent years, China is fast emerging as a partner for Japanese scientific research collaboration, pursuing its interest in tapping Japan’s strengths in basic research.


Working-class students unable to afford food, heating

Brendan O’Malley

Students from ‘working-class’ backgrounds in the United Kingdom face a ‘poverty premium’, often paying higher costs in order to access post-16 education, leaving many unable to afford heating and food, according to new research from the National Union of Students’ Poverty Commission.


Supreme Court orders removal of VCs as nepotism rises

Ameen Amjad Khan

The Supreme Court of Pakistan last week ordered the removal of a number of university vice-chancellors in Punjab province because the appointments were made in violation of the merit-based system. The decision comes amid rising concern about nepotism and political favouritism in filling top university roles.


Call for reform of admissions for international students

Jan Petter Myklebust

Norway should introduce a centrally coordinated national admission system for international graduate students, a government-commissioned report has recommended. It would replace the current system in which each university and university college selects the students themselves.


University still in ruins three years after earthquake

Binod Ghimire

Only 10% of funds needed to rebuild universities after the 2015 earthquake have been released. Most of the buildings of Tribhuvan University, which caters for 80% of the country’s 400,000 university-level students, still lie in ruins, and many colleges are renting houses to conduct classes.


Fallout as Peking University tries to silence student

Yojana Sharma

A student at Peking University, China’s top institution, has been allowed to return to the campus after being barred for days – after she and her family were hounded by officials – for asking questions about campus sexual harassment and rape cases dating back to the 1990s.


Mobility scheme shows results, but challenges persist

Maina Waruru

An impressive 1,255 African beneficiaries, including 722 masters and 346 doctoral students and 187 staff, have gained from a continent-wide mobility scheme implemented over seven years as a joint initiative of the African Union and European Union. But challenges to the mobility of academic staff and students and the greater harmonisation of higher education systems persist on the continent, according to a recent report.


Guides to ‘being not-rich’ spring up on elite campuses

Emma Kerr, The Chronicle of Higher Education

As the low-income experience begins to shed its social stigma, students in some of the country’s elite universities are taking on the task of making one another feel welcome by creating their own guides to ‘being not-rich’. Should administrators adopt them?


US$5 million allocated for university technology hubs

Kudzai Mashininga

The Zimbabwe government has set aside more than US$5 million to put in place technology hubs at six state-run universities in a move that it hopes will spearhead the country’s industrialisation and modernisation.


Leadership programme supports 200 Syrian students

Michael Gardner

More than 200 Syrians have received funding support for their studies in Germany via the ‘Leadership for Syria’ programme, which ends this month. The programme was designed to support Syrians who would one day contribute to the reconstruction of the country. New initiatives to support Syrian students are being discussed.



Vietnamese students look at the US and head north

Mark Ashwill

New data shows recruitment of Vietnamese students by Canada has shot up, and among the factors are the stark contrast between the country’s more enlightened immigration policy, relatively low costs for high-quality education and more progressive, peaceful image in comparison to the United States.


What makes a real international university ranking?

Waldemar Siwinski and Richard Holmes

The spread of university rankings throws up some big questions about the quality of information, the use of – and excessive weight given to – outdated indicators related to reputation, and the need for ways to compare data on the teaching and learning processes.


Big data could be key to Africa’s graduate employability

Nan Yeld

Lack of reliable data and lack of high-level management support in using it makes it difficult for African universities to plan to raise quality and relevance. Two new projects are showing how data could be collected more cheaply and reliably and how capacity can be enhanced.



When East meets West in transnational higher education

Catherine Gomes

A new book on transnational education in Asia shows that the relationship between East and West is more complex and interdependent than in the past and that quality remains a major issue, along with the ability to provide a complete English-language learning environment.



Don’t ignore the dark clouds among the bright spots

Hans de Wit

Optimism about internationalisation of higher education is justified and there are some fantastic examples of internationalisation at home being pioneered in developing and emerging countries in particular. However, ignoring the dark clouds hovering above it is naïve and dangerous.


The Studyportals Academy 2018, held in Amsterdam in the Netherlands from 25-26 April, brought higher education stakeholders together to look at embracing change in higher education and international student recruitment. University World News covers the event.


European universities ‘cannibalising’ their own courses

Nic Mitchell

Universities in some European countries are in danger of 'cannibalising' their own courses in the rush to introduce programmes taught in English, the head of international marketing at a leading Italian university warned a conference in Amsterdam last week.


Study-abroad students want more responsive staff

Nic Mitchell

Study-abroad students in the Netherlands have many different reasons for deciding to enrol in a foreign university, but they are agreed on one thing, that they want a better service from the lecturers teaching them, a Studyportals Academy was told last week.


Parents a key player in offspring studying abroad

Nic Mitchell

Parents are a key player in influencing their offspring to study abroad, according to a worldwide survey to get inside the applicant’s mind and understand the study abroad decision-making process. But the relative influence of the student’s father or mother varies across nations.



Will foreign branch campuses exacerbate inequality?

Wagdy Sawahel

Egypt has approved a draft law to regulate the performance of foreign university branch campuses to be set up in Egypt’s new administrative capital. But will it be enough to assuage concerns that the opening of foreign universities will exacerbate inequality and class division?


Fake dissertation scandal taints politicians, academics

Emma Sabzalieva

A Russian networking community has revealed that more than 25 doctoral dissertations from Tajikistan defended between 2004 and 2015 contained significant elements of plagiarism, including those of the first deputy prime minister and a professor who is the minister of education’s son.


Transgender identity issues on universities’ agenda

María Elena Hurtado

Transgender students, referred to as ‘trans’, are battling to overcome barriers and prejudices in higher education and change policies and protocols – with achieving recognition for their identity in a country without a gender identity law among the greatest challenges. How are universities responding?


University expansion a signal of stability and growth

Ramadhan Rajab

In a move widely welcomed as a signal of future growth, national unity and stability, the Somali National University is setting up its first new campus outside the capital Mogadishu in a semi-autonomous region of the country.



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New bill foresees establishment of 15 new universities

The Turkish government has submitted a bill to parliament that foresees the establishment of 15 new universities across the country. According to the proposed legislation, some of those planned 15 new universities will be created by splitting 10 existing universities, reports Hurriyet Daily News.


Chief scientist urges review of university entry system

Schools, universities and the ATAR system are driving students away from vital science, mathematics and technology subjects, according to Australia’s Chief Scientist Alan Finkel, who has strongly defended the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in a report to the country's education ministers, writes Michael Koziol for The Sydney Morning Herald.


Universities increase fees for foreign students

Kwantlen Polytechnic University is one of several universities in British Columbia and elsewhere in Canada that have imposed steep fee increases for international students, who already pay tuition rates as much as seven times higher than their Canadian counterparts, writes Xiao Xu for The Globe and Mail.


Plagiarism allegations surface against acting rector

The acting rector of COMSATS Institute of Information Technology in Pakistan has allegedly been found to be involved in plagiarised research work relating to a paper of which he was a co-author published in a national research journal in 2007, writes Rahul Basharat for The Nation.


Vice-chancellors cannot set their own pay – Minister

The universities minister has said vice-chancellors should not be allowed in discussions around setting their own pay and he wants to see them kicked off remuneration committees, writes Camilla Turner for The Telegraph.


Several hurt as army raid forces closure of university

Al-Quds University, the Palestinian university in Jerusalem, suspended classes at its Abu Dis campus outside of the city last Monday following a raid by Israeli forces, students told Middle East Eye.


Universities accuse Trump of putting off foreign students

Universities have blamed President Donald Trump for a dip in foreign student enrolment in the United States, citing his anti-immigration stance as a contributing factor, writes Harriet Sinclair for Newsweek.


Universities accused of racial profiling of applicants

Black students seeking a place at university are 21 times more likely to have their applications investigated for suspected false or missing information than their white counterparts, writes Eleanor Busby for the Independent.


Digital universities to offer higher education

As part of its Digital India programme, the government has started the process of formulating a policy for digital universities across the country, writes Mansi Taneja for DNA India.


Academic leaders discuss quality of university lecturers

Close to 100 academic experts are meeting in Kigali, Rwanda, to discuss how they can increase the number of qualified senior university lecturers to meet demands from ever-expanding postgraduate and mentorship programmes, writes Gashegu Muramira for The New Times.


Government races to integrate student aid scheme

As it prepares for the rollout of free higher education, the South African Department of Higher Education and Training is working on ensuring that the National Student Financial Aid Scheme is integrated into college and university systems, writes Bekezela Phakathi for Business Day.


Vice-chancellors urge action to stop fall in EU students

Universities in the United Kingdom, including the world-renowned London School of Economics and Political Science, are drawing up lists of courses that could face closure after Brexit and lobbying the government to save them by changing its policy on student fees, writes Anna Fazackerley for The Guardian.


Higher education body’s budget slashed by 50%

At a time when the government is announcing its budget, the development budget of the Higher Education Commission has been slashed by 50% for the second consecutive fiscal year in order to control expenses, writes Riazul Haq for The Express Tribune.


Police raid Paris university campus to evict protesters

French riot police raided a university in Paris on Friday 20 April to force out dozens of students who shut down the campus for a month in protest over President Emmanuel Macron's higher education reforms, reports AFP.


University suspends 23 students for having love affairs

A Ugandan university has suspended 23 students for one year after they were found guilty of engaging in love affairs, consuming alcohol and drugs and committing offences of theft, contrary to the institution’s regulations, writes Daniel Mumbere for


Chinese university hosts 'grenade-throwing' event

Local Chinese news reports indicate that a Chinese university, noting earlier reluctance of students to take part in annual javelin and discus contests, has decided to liven up its annual sports day by hosting a grenade-tossing event, writes Kerry Allen for BBC News.

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