Why limiting the number of academic publications would be a grave mistake.

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16 September 2018 Issue 520 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search


Why limiting the number of academic publications would be a grave mistake

   In Commentary, Jenny J Lee and Alma Maldonado-Maldonado disagree with Philip Altbach and Hans de Wit that too much academic research is being published, saying that reducing research publications overall would reinforce issues of dominance of the global knowledge production system by the Global North. Ellen Hazelkorn, Hamish Coates and Alexander C McCormick ask whether the prevailing approaches to higher education quality assurance are still ‘fit for purpose’ and how we can better measure important outcomes and compare them across countries. Linda J Børresen and Stig Arne Skjerven say while fake university degrees will continue to pose a threat to higher education in the years to come, recent initiatives involving digital diplomas in secure databases hold promise for combating false qualifications in the future. Anatol Itten writes that many universities make the mistake of applying the same methods to resolve conflicts over values as conflicts over facts – they should rather step back and use mediators who may be able to find some overarching common ground. And Joanne Pyke and Kate White contend that implementing gender targets and quotas in the recruitment of academics in Australian universities will speed up progress in achieving gender equity.

   In our World Blog, Nita Temmerman says universities in developing countries should not overlook the expertise within their own institution that can support the development of a quality curriculum and ensure successful external programme accreditation.

   In Features, Maina Waruru reports that African scholars were cautioned against falling prey to predatory journals by Professor Jennifer Thomson, president of the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World, at a research grants conference in Tanzania. And Geoff Maslen reports that Australian students, unlike their counterparts in other countries, are reluctant to study outside their own nation, preferring Sydney or Melbourne to anywhere else in the world.

Brendan O’Malley – Managing Editor

NEWS – Our correspondents worldwide report


Call for action to combat China’s campus influence

Yojana Sharma

United States universities should collaborate to counter growing Chinese government influence on US campuses which undermines academic freedom and promotes Beijing’s political views overseas, including on geopolitics, according to a wide-ranging report on China’s political influence on American higher education.


China seeks action against ‘secession talk’ on campus

Yojana Sharma

China has renewed pressure on Hong Kong’s universities, making it clear that at the start of the academic year university and education officials have not come down strongly enough against campus speeches that refer to Hong Kong independence from China.


Degree scandal puts pressure on PM and opposition leader

Paul Rigg

A second politician has resigned in Spain in the row over alleged ‘irregularities’ and ‘favourable treatment’ of politicians in the awarding of degrees that has also led to Supreme Court scrutiny of the degree of the leader of the opposition and pressure on the prime minister to make his degree public.


Asian universities on the rise in employability ranking

Asia’s 10 highest ranked institutions performed better in the latest QS Graduate Employability Rankings than in the QS World University Rankings, as did China’s 10 highest ranking universities. Asian universities – along with Australian universities – are leading the way in offering students career-connected learning experiences.


Fourth Industrial Revolution – Keeping people at the core

Sharon Dell

Is the Fourth Industrial Revolution merely the latest buzzword describing inevitable technological advancements, or is it a phenomenon that will fundamentally change the way the world works, the way we educate students, and what it means to be human?


MEPs vote for action over Orbán’s breach of EU values

Brendan O'Malley

The European Parliament has voted to invoke Article 7 of the European Union treaty, paving the way for disciplinary action against Hungary for breaches of European values, including academic freedom, freedom of expression and the right to and freedom of education.


Will anti-plagiarism rules improve research credibility?

Shuriah Niazi

New rules, binding on all universities, were brought into force last month by India’s higher education regulator, the University Grants Commission, to prevent plagiarism and academic misconduct by students, researchers and faculty in higher education institutions. But experts are sceptical about whether they can end rampant plagiarism.


Demand to shelve cut in international student intake

Jan Petter Myklebust

Higher education and business leaders have united to condemn a government decision to cut the number of international students studying technology and engineering because not enough of them stay on to work. The cut is allegedly a concession to the right-wing populist Danish People’s Party.


Professor investigated after calling for a border wall

Michael Gardner

Following allegations of containing radical right-wing ideas, a new book written by a professor at a German federal government university, who calls for a protective wall along Germany’s borders, is currently under scrutiny by the country’s foreign intelligence service, whose staff he trains at his university.


Students defend professor accused of sexual harassment

Wagdy Sawahel

Masters students in the faculty of legal, economic and social sciences at the University of Hassan II Mohammedia Casablanca in Morocco have protested the faculty’s decision to suspend a professor in response to an accusation of sexual harassment by one of his married female students, a case currently the subject of a criminal investigation.



Not enough diverse academic research is being published

Jenny J Lee and Alma Maldonado-Maldonado

Contrary to assertions by Philip Altbach and Hans de Wit that too much academic research is being published, limiting the number of academic publications being produced would entrench the structural inequalities characterising the global knowledge production system and would constitute a grave mistake if we are seeking a truly global dialogue.


No easy way to clarify higher education quality

Ellen Hazelkorn, Hamish Coates and Alexander C McCormick

Are prevailing approaches to quality assurance still ‘fit for purpose’ and how can we better measure outcomes and compare them across countries? These are among many perplexing questions made more urgent by the current questioning of the purpose and value of higher education.


Detecting fake university degrees in a digital world

Linda J Børresen and Stig Arne Skjerven

Fake diplomas are not new and will continue to pose a threat to higher education for the foreseeable future, but recent initiatives involving digital diplomas in secure databases may be one of the most promising ways to combat false qualifications in the future.


How can we resolve campus disputes based on values?

Anatol Itten

Many of today’s campus conflicts are caused by differences based on values rather than facts and universities are laymen when it comes to resolving them. To tackle them we need to take a step back and use mediators who can find some overarching common ground.


Gender targets and quotas could boost gender equity

Joanne Pyke and Kate White

There are concerns about the implementation of targets and affirmative action in the recruitment of academics, but they should directly speed up progress in achieving gender equity. The alternative is to allow the same inequalities to prevail for another few decades.



Don’t ignore the expertise within your university

Nita Temmerman

Universities in developing countries should not overlook the expertise within their own institution – which often includes many with overseas experience, who can support the development of a good-quality curriculum that drives external programme accreditation and share good practice with all relevant stakeholders.



Academics are cautioned to avoid predatory journals

Maina Waruru

African scholars were cautioned against falling prey to predatory journals which lure them with simple conditions for publishing but whose primary motive is profit, at a research grants conference hosted by the World Academy of Sciences in Tanzania.


Australian students reluctant to study abroad

Geoff Maslen

Unlike their counterparts in other countries, notably America and many European nations, Australian university students show little enthusiasm to study outside their own nation. Instead, they prefer to stay home and show more interest in studying in Sydney or Melbourne than anywhere else.



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Decline in foreign students at US colleges, universities

For the second straight year, the number of new international students coming to study at United States colleges and universities is expected to decline from the 300,743 who came in 2015-16, according to the Institute of International Education, writes Janet H Cho for Cleveland.com.


Turkey to stop sending students to the US

Turkey is to stop sending students to the United States for postgraduate studies and limit the number it sends to European and Asian countries, Yeni Safak newspaper quoted Turkish Deputy Education Minister Mustafa Safran as saying, reports Ahval.


16 African universities to tackle poor research output

Given Africa’s low research output, which is 1% of the total global output, 16 African universities, under the banner of the African Research Universities Alliance, have risen to the challenge of making African universities more visible on the global research map, writes Mojeed Alabi for the New Telegraph.


Genetic screening helps pinpoint roots of breast cancer

Scientists have sifted through thousands of genetic sequences in search of those that could foster tumours. The massive study of nearly 4,000 variants in a gene associated with cancer could help to pinpoint people at risk for breast or ovarian tumours, writes Heidi Ledford for Nature.


Higher education one of worst at handling cyberattacks

Higher education ranks as one of the worst business sectors to handle cyber threat crises. Nearly three-quarters of participants took three or more days to create and apply a patch after notification of an attack, said EfficientIP’s 2018 Global DNS Threat Report, writes Macy Bayern for Tech Republic.


Angry overseas-trained medics in ‘go back to class’ jab

South African students who study medicine abroad will have to go back to university on their return home after graduating. Since 1 July, a new policy by the National Department of Health compels all foreign-trained doctors to complete a one-year bridging course at a local university, writes Nabeelah Shaikh for the Sunday Tribune.


University staff face higher workloads, lower pay rises

University staff in Australia should brace for higher workloads, lower salary increases and, in cases where student numbers are low, redundancies, according to Professor of Management at the University of Melbourne, Danny Samson. His warning came after Victoria University put a tough new enterprise agreement direct to staff without union endorsement, writes Robert Bolton for the Australian Financial Review.


Rise in university students accessing hardship funds

More university students are struggling to pay their bills despite extra financial assistance from the New Zealand government. Figures collated by NZME show an increase in hardship funds given out and applications for financial help at three of New Zealand’s biggest universities, writes Emme McKay for the NZ Herald.


Twelve universities launch first risk methods courses

Twelve universities in Africa have launched Africa's first risk methods school courses to tackle risk and management of disasters likely to affect the continent. The ‘Partners Enhancing Resilience for People Exposed to Risk Universities’ is a consortium of 12 universities in Africa, writes James Kandoya for IPP Media.


At Hebrew University, all students study entrepreneurship

In Israel, which boasts the greatest number of start-ups per capita in the world, entrepreneurship courses have been sprouting at universities and colleges throughout the country to meet a grassroots demand. These aim to arm students with much needed theory and a toolbox of mentorships, networking and tips on how best to approach investors for funding, writes Shoshanna Solomon for The Times of Israel.


Vice-chancellor warns female students about ‘sponsors’

Kenyatta University Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Wainaina has cautioned female students against affairs with old men, popularly known as sponsors. Addressing first year students at the university, Wainaina said such relationships threaten a learner’s ability to perform well academically and could ruin her future, writes Mary Wambui for the Nairobi News.


Notable sports university sacks ‘violent’ director

Nippon Sport Science University, a private institution in Japan known for cultivating world-class athletes, has dismissed the director of its ekiden road relay team over allegations of power harassment and violence against its members, the latest in a string of scandals that have rocked the country’s sporting world, reports Kyodo.


Chinese international students dominate student elections

Organised factions of Chinese international students are dominating elections at Australia's major universities, beating the established political parties at the same time as national authorities warn about foreign influence, writes Michael Koziol for The Sydney Morning Herald.


University of South Wales closes IT skills gap

For years, the IT skills gap – the shortfall between jobs and the skilled workers to fill them – has challenged companies in the United Kingdom. But the University of South Wales is closing the skills gap, say IT professionals, writes Tom Allen for Computing.

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