What are the costs to higher education of free speech on American campuses?

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2 September 2018 Issue 518 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search


What are the costs to higher education of free speech on American campuses?

   In our series on Pacific Rim higher education and research, Howard Gillman urges American universities to resolve the debate about free speech on campus as the costs are high, both financially due to the security costs and politically due to conservatives feeling campuses are hostile to their views.

   In Commentary, Sjur Bergan and Stig Arne Skjerven hail Canada’s ratification of the Lisbon Recognition Convention as another step towards international recognition of qualifications and hope this establishes a precedent for US ratification. Ludovic Highman and Simon Marginson say a hard Brexit will hit some of the UK’s renowned global beacons of higher education excellence hard because these universities rely heavily on non-UK postgraduate research student numbers, with postgraduates being ‘the DNA of university enterprise’. Anita Schjøll Brede writes that it is time to revolutionise scientific publishing and some have already begun using the blockchain and its secure solutions to start decentralising publishing. Wondwosen Tamrat discusses graduate unemployment in Ethiopia and ways to address the yawning gap between university education and the skills needs of the labour market. And Alex Usher says international students have been an excellent hedge against uncertain domestic funding in Canada, but asks where Canadian institutions will turn if they need a hedge against international student volatility?

   In our World Blog this week, Hans de Wit says the time is ripe to consider what has gone well and what has gone wrong in internationalisation of higher education over the past 25 years, and he invites readers and contributors to send him their essays on this theme.

   In Features, Mark Paterson and Nico Cloete relate Spanish sociologist Manuel Castells’ warning during a recent presentation in South Africa that if universities succumb to the temptation to promote social equity at the expense of knowledge production they will merely end up providing “poor education for all”. And Suvendrini Kakuchi reports that a Japanese medical university’s manipulation of entrance exam results of women candidates to reduce the number of female doctors has prompted a survey of medical school exam practices countrywide to root out discrimination.

Brendan O’Malley – Managing Editor

NEWS – Our correspondents worldwide report


Spanish university caught in China-Taiwan crossfire

Yojana Sharma

One of Europe’s few Taiwan studies programmes, at the University of Salamanca in Spain, was forced to cancel the public parts of a Taiwan cultural event on campus after Beijing insisted the university adhere to the Spanish government’s foreign policy principles on ‘one China’.


New PM urged to act on higher education funding

Geoff Maslen

Universities have called on Scott Morrison, the new Australian prime minister, to overturn an ‘effective cap’ on student numbers imposed by his predecessor Malcolm Turnbull and end the two-year freeze on funding for higher education which they say amounts to a AU$2.1 billion (US$1.5 billion) cut.


Chilling impact of no-deal Brexit on Horizon 2020 role

Brendan O’Malley

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, the United Kingdom could lose access to 45% of high-value Horizon 2020 grants, and its role as coordinator in a third of projects in which it participates could vanish, seriously hurting its ability to attract top scientific talent.


Grants to help address knowledge gaps in agriculture

Evelyn Lirri

Major universities from six African countries will next year stand a chance to develop regional hubs for agricultural learning with the help of grants worth US$20 million from the World Bank via the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture.


DeVos drafts new policies on campus sexual misconduct

Brendan O'Malley

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has drafted new policies on sexual misconduct at United States universities which would strengthen the rights of students accused of assault, harassment or rape and reduce the liability for institutions of higher education. The policies will also encourage provision of more support for victims.


Ministry orders cut in international student numbers

Jan Petter Myklebust

The Danish ministry of higher education and science is to cut the number of international students studying technology and engineering by 1,000 to 1,200 in 2019, targeting university programmes where a large share of international students do not stay on to work in the country.


Wrangle over unfair selection of university applicants

María Elena Hurtado

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has been sent fresh evidence on petition 13.575 that alleges unfair discrimination against some 40% of secondary school students that sit for Chile’s national admission test for university, the Prueba de Selección Universitaria.


Universities form consortium to aid threatened scholars

Brendan O'Malley

Eleven higher education institutions, led by The New School in New York, have created a consortium of universities that are providing temporary academic homes for refugee scholars threatened by authoritarian governments and wars in their home countries.


Women-only fellowships – 30 future scientists selected

Christabel Ligami

Thirty young female postgraduate students in scientific fields from Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zambia, Uganda and Malawi have been selected for the 2018-19 World Bank masters fellowships under its African Centres of Excellence programme.


Smallest university seeks security in potential merger

John Gerritsen

After years of financial problems, New Zealand’s smallest university, which is about one quarter the size of the next largest of the country’s eight universities, is seeking a merger or partnership with a much larger neighbour.



Lisbon Recognition Convention moves to North America

Sjur Bergan and Stig Arne Skjerven

Canada’s ratification of the Lisbon Recognition Convention is another step towards international recognition of qualifications and could encourage similar action by the United States in the future. That would require a change from the current administration’s attitude to international cooperation, however.


Hard Brexit – The risk to postgraduate research

Ludovic Highman and Simon Marginson

Postgraduate research students are the DNA of university enterprise, particularly of research-intensive universities and particularly in the kind of STEM subjects that are vital for industry in the United Kingdom. A hard Brexit will hit some of the UK’s renowned global beacons of excellence hardest.


Letting scientific publishing as we know it perish

Anita Schjøll Brede

Is it time to diversify how we reward scientists for publishing beyond counting the number of publications? Blockchain can help revolutionise scientific publishing by enabling researchers to use their contributions to validating knowledge generated by other people to generate their own new knowledge.


Education and the workplace – Addressing the yawning gap

Wondwosen Tamrat

Several reasons account for the rising incidence of graduate unemployment that has now become a common issue of concern across the globe. While an oversupply of graduates to the market is regarded as one cause, an equally pressing problem is the yawning gap between the education given at universities and the skill needs of the labour market.


Canada’s growing international student addiction

Alex Usher

International students have allowed Canadian universities to flourish as government funding was cut after the 2008 crash, and for a long while the shift in funding has been largely consequence-free. But increasing political volatility around the world means they are not necessarily a safe bet as an income stream.



Internationalisation of HE – Successes and failures

Hans de Wit

With growing interest in and critical views of internationalisation of higher education and amid rising nationalism, the time is ripe for academics to consider what has gone well and what has gone wrong over the past 25 years.



The cost to higher education of free speech on campus

Howard Gillman

It is hard to overemphasise how much the issue of free speech on campus has preoccupied American higher education over the past few years. The implications are enormous – both politically due to conservatives feeling campuses are hostile to their views and financially due to the cost of security.



Protecting universities’ knowledge-production mandate

Mark Paterson and Nico Cloete

If universities succumb to the temptation to promote social equity at the expense of knowledge production they will end up merely providing “poor education for all”, Spanish sociologist Manuel Castells warned South African academics and students at a recent meeting at Stellenbosch University, South Africa.


Medical school scandal points to wider discrimination

Suvendrini Kakuchi

Reports that a Japanese medical university systematically manipulated entrance exam results of women candidates to reduce the number of female doctors came as little surprise in Japan but has prompted a survey of medical school exam practices in a bid to root out discrimination.



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Universities urged to name ‘sex-for-marks’ offenders

The National Universities Commission of Nigeria has asked universities to take active steps to curb sexual harassment in tertiary institutions across the country by naming academics found guilty of sexual harassment, reports Sahara Reporters.


Strict new laws clamp down on immigration programmes

The Central European University, established by Hungarian-born United States billionaire George Soros, has suspended its programmes for refugees and asylum seekers as well as the European Union-funded Marie Curie research grant on migration policy that the university manages, in response to new legislation designed to curb illegal immigration, which imposes a 25% tax on organisations managing programmes and activities that promote immigration, reports the Budapest Business Journal.


Universities face state crackdown on predatory journals

The Indian government is to clamp down on predatory journals forcing universities to revise their recommendations for the journal white list to avoid predatory publications, which actively solicit manuscripts and charge authors hefty fees without providing the services they advertise, such as editing and peer review, writes Subhra Priyadarshini for Nature.


Seven universities attacked by ‘Iran-linked’ hackers

Iranian government-linked hackers are believed to be responsible for recent attempts to hack into the computer systems and databases of seven leading Australian universities to steal secret research, according to a senior computer researcher, writes Duncan Hughes for the Australian Financial Review.


Case sparks call for ban on student-faculty liaisons

A former student who made allegations of sexual misconduct against author Steven Galloway that preceded his firing from the University of British Columbia has called on the university to ban relationships between students and faculty, something post-secondary institutions in Canada have resisted, writes Marsha Lederman for The Globe and Mail.


US$50 million sexual harassment lawsuit against ex-dean

Attorneys at public interest class-action litigation law firm Sanford Heisler Sharp have filed a US$50 million sexual harassment suit against Columbia University, with Tom Harford, the former dean of students of Columbia University’s School of General Studies, cited as a defendant in the matter, reports Markets Insider.


Politics is taking its toll on university presidents

Hong Kong’s fractious politics is proving challenging for universities, says Tony Chan Fan-cheong – the third man to leave a top university job early in the past year. Chan, the outgoing president of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, said political storms of the Occupy movement and recent calls for the city’s independence from China had put universities “between a rock and a hard place”, writes Kimmy Chung for the South China Morning Post.


University criticised for study on gender dysphoria

Trans campaigners have criticised Brown University for a study, which suggested that there is a recent “rapid-onset” of gender dysphoria in young people. The controversial research and a news article promoting it have been removed from the university’s website, following criticism from LGBT+ activists, writes Ella Braidwood for Pink News.


One in four students know someone with drinking problem

One in four students know someone at university who they believe is an alcoholic, according to a new poll, writes Eleanor Busby for the Independent.


World first as blockchain university seeks accreditation

Woolf University, the brainchild of an Oxford research fellow Joshua Broggi, could become the first blockchain-powered university in the world. It won’t be an online university but is to save costs by automating administrative procedures, running on blockchain technology, writes Priyeshu Garg for BTC Manager.


Strike ballot over paltry pay offer for lecturers

Lecturers from universities across the United Kingdom are to be balloted on strike action in a row over pay with almost 70,000 members of the University and College Union being asked to back the move unless there is an improved offer from employers, writes Andrew Denholm for The Herald Scotland.


Cash boost for STEM gender diversity research

As part of an ongoing effort to significantly increase the number of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland has secured £500,000 (US$650,000) in funding, writes Colm Gorey for Silicon Republic.


Professor charged with wife’s murder ‘suicidal’

A professor at the University of Hong Kong who was charged with murder after the body of his wife was found inside a suitcase at his office, will be put on suicide watch in jail, a court heard last week, reports The Straits Times.


Deadly secrets in university library collection

Poison-laced library books sound like part of a murder mystery plot, or perhaps an elaborate plan to get out of doing college work, but they are just another day’s work for some scientists in Denmark. Researchers from the University of Southern Denmark have recently uncovered that some of the 16th and 17th century books in their library collection held a deadly secret, writes Tom Hale for IFL Science.

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