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13 May 2018 Issue 505 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search

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Attacks on schools and universities have increased over the past five years

   In our lead News story, Brendan O’Malley reports on the disturbing findings of the latest Education under Attack report that deliberate and indiscriminate attacks on schools and universities have become more widespread over the past five years.

   In Commentary, Rosie Birchard wonders if universities in Europe – in their haste to internationalise their programmes – have misjudged the scale of the problem mobile students face in finding suitable and affordable accommodation. Hakan Ergin and Bruno Morche contend that distance learning is a key pathway – particularly for emerging countries – to facilitate equal opportunities for higher education internationalisation that go beyond physical mobility. Futao Huang and Tsukasa Daizen outline the findings of a survey of university leaders in Japan showing that internationalisation of Japanese higher education is highly valued and academically prioritised, with revenue generation viewed as a low priority, unlike the US and UK where generating money is a prime driver of internationalisation. And Peter van der Hijden says the upcoming Paris Ministerial Conference is an opportunity to rethink European higher education and to revitalise the Bologna Process.

   In our World Blog, Kirk Perris writes about how blended learning – combining distance and face-to-face learning – can boost access to higher education in countries such as Nigeria where universities are facing immense enrolment pressures.

   In Features, Yojana Sharma reports on China’s ambitious plans for ‘global dominance’ in artificial intelligence and its efforts to boost research and the training of talent in this high-tech field of the future. Wagdy Sawahel discusses a research report on corruption in higher education in Ukraine, which looks at the possible reasons behind this scourge and suggests a range of changes to combat corruption. And Christabel Ligami reports on recommendations put forward by the Commission for University Education in Kenya to boost quality in higher education.

Brendan O’Malley – Managing Editor

NEWS – Our correspondents worldwide report


Attacks on schools and universities are on the rise

Brendan O’Malley

Deliberate and indiscriminate attacks on schools and universities, their students, and staff have become more widespread over the past five years, the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack said in the 2018 edition of its flagship report, Education under Attack.


Academic positions rigged at Swedish universities?

Jan Petter Myklebust

An investigation by the university teachers and researchers’ union into hiring practices at three Swedish universities suggests that in their recruitment processes many universities may not be following the requirements of the law to find the best candidates and many academic appointments may be rigged.


US pull-out of Iran deal will hit academic cooperation

Wagdy Sawahel

United States President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the US out of a landmark international nuclear accord with Iran and reimpose bilateral sanctions will hamper US-Iran higher education cooperation and have a negative effect on the Iranian academic diaspora in the US.


US professors released from North Korean detention

Yojana Sharma

Two professors who taught at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology were among three United States-Korean citizens released last Wednesday from detention in North Korea, in advance of a planned summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.


Survey highlights unequal educational opportunities

Michael Gardner

The results of a new survey by the German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies on students’ parent backgrounds have prompted the German National Association for Student Affairs to reiterate its call for a better social infrastructure in higher education.


Local satellite opens new frontiers for universities

Gilbert Nganga

A recently launched satellite developed by students and researchers from the University of Nairobi marks Kenya’s most ambitious venture into space science, a field dominated largely by Western and Asian powers.


Connectivity is common factor in top HE systems

Brendan O’Malley

The five top-performing higher education systems are the United States followed by Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Denmark, according to the latest Universitas 21 Ranking. Connectivity between universities, government and the private sector is a key factor.


China’s elite universities top emerging nations ranking

China dominates the Times Higher Education Emerging Economies University Rankings 2018 – an evolution of its BRICS rankings – taking one in six places in the table, but the gap between its elite universities, where the World Class 2.0 initiative is intensifying competition, and the rest of its pack is widening.


Brexit hits European interest in studying in the UK

Brendan O’Malley

Nearly two in five prospective students from within the European Union are less interested in studying in the United Kingdom because of Brexit, but interest from outside the EU is rising as a result of Brexit, largely due to the falling value of the pound.


PhD training – Why African government funding is needed

Gilbert Nakweya

While international donor funding for PhD training programmes in Africa helps to accelerate progress and achieve results more quickly, financial contributions to such programmes by African governments are critical and have a range of long-term benefits, higher education experts suggest.


Academics strike over freedom of speech

Geoff Maslen

The University of Melbourne faced a strike by members of the National Tertiary Education Union last Wednesday over claims the university intended to remove current academic and intellectual freedom protections at a time when there are concerns over freedom of speech.



Why accommodation is a key barrier to studying abroad

Rosie Birchard

Internationalisation has often far outpaced the infrastructural developments that it needs to work, with accommodation being a major problem. Universities and others need to work together to overcome this barrier, which prevents many students, particularly poorer ones, from accessing international study opportunities.


Internationalisation of HE through distance learning

Hakan Ergin and Bruno Morche

Distance learning presents a key pathway for internationalisation at home and could be particularly useful for emerging countries prepared to go beyond physical mobility to get the input of international students into their education programmes.


The benefits and risks of HE internationalisation

Futao Huang and Tsukasa Daizen

A survey of institutional leaders shows internationalisation of Japanese higher education is highly valued and academically prioritised, with generating money being viewed as a low priority, unlike countries such as the United States and United Kingdom where generating revenue is a prime driver of internationalisation.


Time to innovate and revitalise the Bologna Process

Peter van der Hijden

The upcoming Paris Ministerial Conference is a unique opportunity to refresh the Bologna Process and rethink European higher education with the aim of presenting an inspiring, innovative approach that makes Europe the destination for students.



Co-operation for HE access using new modes of learning

Kirk Perris

A recent workshop in Nigeria brought universities together to discuss how blended learning – combining distance and face-to-face learning – can boost access to higher education by shifting some learning away from the campus and onto the computer.



Global ambition behind Beijing’s bid to boost AI talent

Yojana Sharma

China has initiated a multi-pronged effort to swiftly boost the training of artificial intelligence (AI) talent and AI research within its universities in order to prop up its ambitious plans for ‘global dominance’ in AI, backed by a huge injection of central government funding.


Roadmap for corruption-free higher education proposed

Wagdy Sawahel

Corruption is spreading across most of the public Ukrainian universities, particularly education and administrative corruptions, due to low academic salaries, low motivation of students to prepare for exams, lack of law enforcement and punishment mechanisms and a corruption-prone culture, according to a new report.


Radical shake-up to boost quality in higher education

Christabel Ligami

As part of a broad set of recommended changes to higher education aimed at raising quality, all PhD holders admitted via executive masters degrees will no longer be eligible to teach at universities in Kenya.


Does Nigeria need a new military university?

Alex Abutu

A new military university focused on nuclear technology is to be located in the town of Biu in Borno State, a uranium-rich area and the epicentre of the Boko Haram insurgency which has ravaged the country for the last eight years. While the new institution will be open to civilians, not everyone agrees that Nigeria needs another military university.



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Alarm over poaching of computer science academics

The dean of the University of Warwick’s King’s Cross campus in London, which coordinates its artificial intelligence projects, fears the poaching of top computer science brains in higher education in the United Kingdom by United States groups such as Amazon, Google and Uber is threatening Britain’s ability to build on a leading position in machine learning, writes Aliya Ram for the Financial Times.


Universities’ hostels are crime and drug dens – Report

University hostels have become dens of criminal gangs, prostitution and drug abuse, according to a report by the Commission for University Education, which blames poor collaboration between universities and the National Security Council for rising crime in the institutions of higher learning, writes Augustine Oduor for Standard Digital.


Enrolment at top tech universities shoots up

Switzerland’s federal technology institutes – ranked in the top 10 in a recent ranking of the most innovative universities in Europe – are attracting a record number of students, particularly in the fields of information technology and engineering sciences, reports Swiss Info.


Universities warned to stop charging tuition fees

Nigeria’s Federal Executive Council will investigate reports of federal universities collecting tuition fees from students as it maintains that it is illegal to do so, writes Leon Usigbe for the Nigerian Tribune.


Students head to the Great White North over fees, Trump

Tertiary education in Canada, known as the Great White North, is proving attractive to students from the United States, where Americans owe nearly US$1.2 trillion in student loan debt, writes Susan Donaldson James for the Pacific Standard.


Push to raise universities, colleges to ASEAN standards

Education authorities in Vietnam’s largest metropolis, Ho Chi Minh City, will undertake programmes this year to improve its universities and colleges to meet Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) accreditation standards, reports Viet Nam News.


Fears of ‘Brexodus’ of academics is myth, figures show

Fears of an academic ‘Brexodus’ have been exposed as myth after figures revealed the numbers arriving have actually increased in the last year, writes Christopher Hope for The Telegraph.


Universities urged to keep separate maintenance account

Zambian Minister of Higher Education Professor Nkandu Luo has ordered all public universities and colleges in the country to open separate bank accounts to be specifically used for maintenance as a way of enhancing accountability, reports the Lusaka Times.


‘Earn while you learn’ stipend scheme for students

Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has asked agriculture universities in the state to prepare an ‘earn while you learn’ stipend scheme funded by the state government for students to carry out field work, reports the Press Trust of India.


Universities sign scientific cooperation deal

Iran’s prestigious Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences and the renowned Paris Descartes University have signed a memorandum of understanding to boost mutual scientific collaboration and academic exchanges, reports Iran Front Page.


Realignment of universities to deal with student decline

The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry in Japan has hammered out a reform plan for promoting cooperation and realignment among universities aimed at dealing with a decline in the population of 18-year-olds, reports The Yomiuri Shimbun.


New school model to reduce pressure on universities

The Department of Basic Education hopes its new ‘three-stream model’ for boosting technical skills at school level will make studying at technical and vocational education and training colleges more attractive and reduce demand for university places, writes Tamar Khan for Business Live.


What universities must do to ensure they are cyber secure

Cyber-attacks on educational institutions have grown in number and severity. In the first six months of 2017, globally, there was a 164% increase in stolen, lost or compromised digital records compared to the last six months of 2016. During this period, the education sector witnessed a 103% increase in breaches – one of the highest jumps among all industries, writes Leonard Kleinman for Today.

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