As Chinese largesse increases, African countries need their own China expertise.

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23 September 2018 Issue 521 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search


As Chinese largesse in HE increases, African countries need their own China experts

   In Commentary, Ross Anthony says while Chinese investments in African higher education should be welcomed, countries need to develop their own expertise on China to help preserve academic freedom amid concern over a growing culture of academic censorship in China. Anand Kulkarni examines the 2018 Global Innovation Index, noting there is little movement in the top echelons, but further down the field other countries are rising up in the ranks, particularly China and to a lesser extent India. Rowell D Madula outlines a study of internationalisation at two universities in the Philippines which, he argues, shows there is a way to develop internationalisation without compromising national identity. Marcelo S Perlin, Takeyoshi Imasato and Denis Borenstein outline their research showing the alarming rise of predatory journals in the Brazilian academic system in the hope of helping to combat this scourge in academia. And Damtew Teferra says the first step towards addressing the fraud and malpractice that is threatening the academic enterprise in Africa is recognising its nature and scope.

   In our World Blog this week, Philip G Altbach and Hans de Wit respond to a commentary in last week’s edition, saying they do not advocate that knowledge production be concentrated in rich countries but rather that it be concentrated in research universities in all countries.

   In Features, Aimee Chung reports on media investigations into university researchers in South Korea using academically questionable conferences to lift their research profiles. Brendan O’Malley unpicks a new report which says targeted free tuition is becoming an increasingly popular choice for governments across the world as a viable alternative to blanket free higher education or a progressive student loan system. And Mary Beth Marklein highlights a critical current concern of university leaders in the United States – creating a campus environment where diverse perspectives can come together to address the nation’s social problems.

Brendan O’Malley – Managing Editor

NEWS – Our correspondents worldwide report


Universities face new tax over student loans

Geoff Maslen

Australia’s higher education institutions face a heavy and unexpected new tax for every student who takes out a federal loan to cover the cost of their studies. Under legislation introduced in federal parliament, universities will be liable to pay the unexpected tax every year to support the cost of running Australia’s student loan scheme.


Bill could end discrimination against activist students

Shafigeh Shirazi and Yojana Sharma

A bill approved by the government of President Hassan Rouhani last week has been tabled in the Iranian parliament to end the discrimination against and expulsion of students engaging in political activities on campuses and other students that have been discriminated against by the regime.


Universities demand more funds and more freedom

Brendan O’Malley

Irish universities have launched a new charter for the university system, spelling out the commitments required to fulfil the government’s target of becoming the best system in Europe by 2026 – including significant increases in state funding, more autonomy, and more freedom to hire staff.


Critics say gender bias survey does not go far enough

Suvendrini Kakuchi

The government in Japan has been criticised for lack of transparency after releasing only partial results of a survey of gender bias against women who took entrance exams for medical schools, carried out after a sexism scandal was made public in August.


Five-year higher education disability strategy approved

Wagdy Sawahel

A five-year strategy to empower people with disabilities at institutions of higher education and scientific research was approved by the Sudanese Council of Ministers from this year to 2022, in order that students with disabilities qualify, integrate into society and play a role in sustainable development.


Conflict of interest row over minister’s university role

Anil Netto

The appointment of Malaysia’s new education minister as president of the International Islamic University Malaysia, a public university, has sparked controversy among academics and civil society organisations, who argue that there is a conflict of interest between his two roles.


President announces further boost to national research

Kudzai Mashininga

Zimbabwe’s new president has announced that his government will enact a law establishing a research institute that will contribute towards the economic growth that will turn the country into a middle-income nation by 2030.


International students are key to plugging STEM gap

Jan Petter Myklebust

A new report into private funding of competence building recommends introducing tax incentives to encourage the funding of grants for international students to help plug a historic shortfall in graduates in STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – subjects.


‘Misled’ parents call for lower private university fees

Tunde Fatunde

Since the advent of private universities in Nigeria in 1999 – most of which are faith-based – there have been calls for them to reduce their fees which are several times higher than public universities. Leading these calls are those church members whose investments of time and money made possible the establishment of such institutions in the first place.



African universities need their own China expertise

Ross Anthony

Chinese investments in African higher education are welcome, but the growing culture of academic censorship in China raises concern about how far this will curb critical thought in African universities. Countries need to develop their own expertise on China to preserve academic freedom.


Global innovators should watch out for China

Anand Kulkarni

The Global Innovation Index shows little movement in the top 10, but further down the field other countries are rising up the ranks, particularly China – thanks to large-scale, long-term investments in capability building, particularly human capital – and to a lesser extent India.


Internationalisation without loss of identity

Rowell D Madula

A study of two universities in the Philippines shows how, despite their key role in shaping a post-colonial national identity, institutions are finding ways to internationalise without compromising their culture. Their goal is to achieve academic rather than economic growth through internationalisation.


The alarming rise of predatory journals

Marcelo S Perlin, Takeyoshi Imasato and Denis Borenstein

The proportion of the research literature made up of predatory journals is increasing at an alarming rate with local quality ranking systems playing a key role. If not identified and combatted, predatory publishers may consume important research funds at the expense of proper scientific endeavour.


The need for action in an era of academic fraud

Damtew Teferra

The first step towards addressing the academic malpractices and fraud which are threatening the academic enterprise in Africa is to become aware of their nature and scope.


Contradiction behind Egypt’s embrace of branch campuses

Jason Lane

The Egyptian government hopes international branch campuses can help build a ‘new Cairo’ and be a catalyst for further international partnership. But for foreign universities, will the benefits be enough to outweigh the risk of curbs on academic freedom?



The problem is the publishing system, not the scholars

Philip G Altbach and Hans de Wit

Attempting to solve the academic publishing crisis by reducing the number of articles published by academics is not about concentrating knowledge production in rich countries but boosting the role of teaching. Diversity of knowledge production from research universities in all countries is vital.



Media probes raise questions over quality of conferences

Aimee Chung

Researchers at some of South Korea’s top universities have used their university’s research funds to attend academically questionable international conferences and submit their conference reports as examples of internationally excellent journal publications to the national research database, media investigations have found.


An alternative to high tuition fees or fully free HE

Brendan O’Malley

Targeted free tuition is becoming an increasingly popular choice for governments which are deterred from offering blanket free higher education but find the logic of a progressive student loan system hard to sell to students and the electorate alike, a new report says.


Make campuses great centres of civil discourse again

Mary Beth Marklein

How to create a campus environment that lives up to the ideal of college as a place where diverse perspectives come together to address, and perhaps even solve, the nation's most difficult social problems has become a critical concern of university leaders in the United States.



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International student numbers have doubled in 20 years

The number of international students in higher education programmes worldwide has more than doubled in less than two decades – rising from two million in 1998 to five million in 2016 – with a strong focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and doctoral programmes, according to OECD’s latest Education at a Glance report, writes Kerrie Kennedy for The Pie News.


Commissioner calls for free speech code for universities

Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner says universities should consider a code of conduct that ensures controversial figures can speak more freely on campus, as the Morrison government grows increasingly concerned about campus politics, writes Michael Koziol for The Sydney Morning Herald.


Oxford spends £108,000 on each low-income student

The University of Oxford spends £108,000 (US$141,000) for each additional student from a poor background it admits every year, according to a new analysis of its efforts to improve access, writes Richard Adams for The Guardian.


New policy to protect research community from harassment

The National Science Foundation in the United States has taken the next steps in its agency-wide effort to ensure the research and learning environments it supports are free from harassment, publishing a term and condition that requires awardee organisations to report findings and determinations of sexual harassment, as well as establishing a secure online portal for submitting harassment notifications, reports the National Science Foundation.


100% completion of student sexual harassment training

Harvard College mandated for the first time this year that undergraduates complete an online sexual harassment training, or else face consequences. Failure to complete the module, college administrators warned over the summer, would result in students being barred from enrolling in classes, writes Jamie D Halper for The Harvard Crimson.


Colleges told they must have counsellors on campus

The Visvesvaraya Technological University in India is taking stress and emotional disturbances among its students seriously – all its affiliated colleges have been told that they must have counsellors on the campus. The order is: Counsel the students and hand-hold them in all times of difficulty and give them career advice, writes Kumaran P for the Bangalore Mirror.


Kenyan university, Chinese to build cancer institute

The University of Nairobi, one of Kenya’s top universities, has signed an agreement with Guangzhou Cherami China-Africa Investment Management to construct and operationalise a cancer institute in Nairobi. The proposed University of Nairobi-Cherami Cancer Institute is envisioned to be the premier cancer diagnosis, treatment and referral centre in Sub-Saharan Africa, reports Xinhua.


Universities the weak link when hackers strike Japan

Overseas hackers are thought to have made off with information on Japan's maritime strategy in a March attack on specific people at national universities, which a Nikkei survey has found to be growing targets for their relatively lax security and sensitive knowledge, write Masaharu Ban and Tadao Gen for the Nikkei Asian Review.


Student backlash over call to end free tuition for Scots

Students have hit out at suggestions that free university tuition in Scotland should end as senior academics questioned the sustainability of the Scottish National Party’s flagship policy. A university principal, speaking on condition of anonymity, said “it is time to look at a gradual increase in tuition fees for Scottish students – or at least consider it”, as the current funding model is “unsustainable”, reports The Herald Scotland.


Women now lead half the public HE institutions in Utah

Women now lead half of the eight public colleges and universities within the Utah system of higher education, a percentage higher than the national average of female presidents of higher education institutions, writes Monica Levitan for Diverse Education.


Judge upholds right to rescind degree over plagiarism

An Alberta judge says the University of Calgary can rescind a masters degree awarded to a student 15 years ago before allegations he plagiarised parts of his thesis, reports The Canadian Press.

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