Trading in higher education services post-Brexit will not be easy for the UK.

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Trading in higher education services post-Brexit will not be easy for the UK

   In Commentary, Howard Davies says contrary to what the United Kingdom government thinks, striking trade agreements with foreign partners post-Brexit will be a daunting challenge, as all trade negotiations are lengthy and tortuous, and UK attempts to trade in higher education services will be no exception. Gerhard Duda contends that the concept of ‘distributed excellence’ is a promising but volatile guiding star for the European university system that should be developed carefully. And Andrew Norton writes that a good vocational education funding system is needed in Australia to fill jobs requiring vocational rather than higher education and solve the problem of oversupply of graduates.

   In our World Blog this week, Paul Schulmann says the downward trend in international student mobility to the United States should be taken seriously and US institutions should mitigate further declines in new enrolment and prepare for their potential impact.

   In our series on Transformative Leadership, published in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, Dag Rune Olsen, rector of Norway’s University of Bergen, outlines how his institution is demonstrating that universities can play a leading role in addressing the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Sharon Dell asks Professor Yusuf Karodia, one of the founders of a pan-African higher education network dedicated to educating the next generation of African leaders, about his views on transformative leadership. And Stephen Coan and Brendan O'Malley outline how the fourth tracking study for the Ford Foundation’s International Fellowships Program shows that scholarship programmes can be effective in promoting social change.

   In Features, Munyaradzi Makoni and Sharon Dell highlight a new book that explores the development of young scientists from more than 50 African countries and the factors that are holding them back. And Kalinga Seneviratne reports on the proliferation of international programmes taught in English at universities in Thailand, which now hosts some 30,000 foreign students, up from under 2,000 two decades ago.

Brendan O’Malley – Managing Editor

NEWS – Our correspondents worldwide report


Universities involved in crackdown on student activism

Yojana Sharma

Students from China’s top universities are among a dozen being held after a series of coordinated raids carried out during 9 to 11 November by security officials in a number of major cities to quash a student support of labour rights in China. But the increasing role of universities in the repression of activist students is also causing concern.


International student growth is the slowest since 9/11

Mary Beth Marklein

Last year the growth rate of international student recruitment at universities in the United States was the slowest since the 2001 terrorist attacks, a new report says, but experts differ on whether this is due to the Trump administration’s immigration policies or competition from other destinations.


Universities in dispute over copyright fees legal action

Geoff Maslen

Australia’s 39 universities could face a huge increase in their copyright fees following legal action by the Australian Copyright Agency to claim a bigger return from institutions copying and sharing material in published work.


Low university scholarships fuel student discontent

Eugene Vorotnikov

Discontent is rising among Russian university students over the small amount students receive for state scholarships and the ever-growing cost of tuition, according to recent statements of some representatives of a local student union and analysts in the field of higher education.


Networks eye bid for ‘European University’ status

Jan Petter Myklebust

The pilot for French President Emmanuel Macron’s initiative to create ‘European universities’ is attracting interest from consortia of higher education institutions, but what can they achieve on a tiny budget and if non-European Union countries such as Switzerland and the United Kingdom post-Brexit are excluded?


Top academic in ambitious bid to groom future scholars

Edwin Naidu

The former vice-chancellor of South Africa's University of the Free State, Professor Jonathan Jansen, has launched the Future Professors Group, an ambitious fortnightly seminar for postdoctoral fellows and young academics that aims to accelerate their paths to professorship.


Populism a threat to internationalisation, rectors say

Jan Petter Myklebust

Five leaders at two of Sweden’s top universities have written a joint article raising concern that the rising support for nationalism and populism sweeping Sweden is threatening internationalisation in higher education and the benefits it brings to societal development.


Freedom of speech review arouses campus debate

Geoff Maslen

A debate has erupted on Australian campuses following a government decision to hold an investigation into university freedom of speech. Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan has announced that the rules and regulations protecting freedom of speech on university campuses would be reviewed.


DeVos proposes new rules on sexual misconduct in HE

Sarah Brown and Katherine Mangan, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Students accused of sexual misconduct would gain greater protections – including being guaranteed the right to cross-examine the accuser – and colleges investigating complaints could face reduced liability under sweeping new regulations proposed on Friday by the United States Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.


Practice-oriented German universities reach Africa

Wagdy Sawahel

Egypt is to host the German University of Applied Sciences as a model for practice-oriented academic training that will be operational by 2020 and will be the first of its kind in the North Africa region.


Student support proposals meet with mixed response

Michael Gardner

A government benchmark paper on federal student grants has been given a cautious welcome by the German National Association for Student Affairs, although it states that increases in support referred to in the paper still fall short of actual needs.


Women’s NGO fights sexual harassment at universities

Tonderayi Mukeredzi

Katswe Sistahood, a women-focused non-governmental organisation, has set up a campus programme aimed at addressing the myriad challenges facing women students in Zimbabwean higher and tertiary education institutions, including widespread sexual harassment and discrimination.



Trading in HE with the EU post-Brexit will not be easy

Howard Davies

The United Kingdom government insists it will be easy to strike trade agreements with foreign partners post-Brexit. But all trade negotiations are lengthy and tortuous, and UK attempts to trade in higher education services, particularly with the European Union, will be no exception, experts warn.


‘Distributed Excellence’ – A model for European HE

Gerhard Duda

French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposal to establish ‘European Universities’ is based on the concept of distributed excellence, which Germany has pioneered through its excellence initiatives. Academics have welcomed the European Commission’s modestly funded pilot as potentially the starting point for something big.


Vocational education can solve oversupply of graduates

Andrew Norton

Overqualification frequently co-exists with skills shortages in jobs that require vocational not higher education, but vocational education is consistently underfunded. A good vocational education funding system is therefore an essential complement to a good higher education funding system.



How ‘America First’ puts international students last

Paul Schulmann

The latest Open Doors report shows significant falls in international student mobility to the United States. Institutions need to mitigate further declines in new enrolment – which are most notable from long-time top source countries – and prepare for their potential impact.



Leading role for universities in fight for sustainability

Dag Rune Olsen

The University of Bergen is demonstrating within Norway and worldwide how universities can play a leading role in addressing the United Nations 2030 Agenda via education and research, providing scientific advice and building partnerships to ensure research-based knowledge underpins global sustainability.


Putting reflective practice at the heart of leadership

Sharon Dell

At the centre of transformative leadership stands the reflective practitioner, an individual learner who is open to a constant exchange of knowledge, cultures and world views, says Yusuf Karodia, one of the founders of a pan-African higher education network dedicated to preparing Africa’s next leaders.


Study tracks how scholarships promote social change

Stephen Coan and Brendan O'Malley

How effective can scholarship programmes be in preparing and encouraging students to return to their communities to promote social justice? The fourth tracking study for the Ford Foundation’s International Fellowships Program shares important insights from alumni in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Palestine.


Transformation through teaching excellence

Christian Jowers

A multi-university project in Israel which partners with academics and student representatives in Europe aims to transform the way institutions of higher education approach teaching so that students receive the excellent teaching that is so crucial to their education.


How Latin American universities can be drivers of change

Alicia Cantón

Latin American universities are embedded in societies facing multiple challenges – including poverty, inequality and slow economic growth – and some are demonstrating the crucial role they can play in educating future leaders in the skills they will need to transform their region.


Social sciences and humanities vital for change-makers

Roger Chao Jr

ASEAN universities need to increase their focus on the humanities and social sciences if they are to develop the kind of transformative leaders the region needs, who will take collaborative action to ensure regional and global development and peace.


Developmental universities need strong leadership

Eric Fredua-Kwarteng

Africa needs developmental universities that focus on producing research for the purpose of national development. These require leaders who can communicate their vision and be role models for the kinds of attitudes and behaviour they seek to inspire.



What’s holding Africa’s young scientists back?

Munyaradzi Makoni and Sharon Dell

The continued dependence of African higher education on international science funding, along with insufficient mentoring programmes and the legacy of the brain drain, are among key constraints to the progress of young African scientists, according to a comprehensive new book.


International programmes proliferate at universities

Kalinga Seneviratne

From less than 2,000 foreign students two decades ago, Thailand now hosts 30,000, including short-term exchange students, and is the third-most popular study destination in Southeast Asia after Malaysia and Singapore. Many universities have introduced international programmes teaching courses in English.



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Ireland tackles gender gap with women-only professorships

Ireland has announced a new plan to combat gender inequality in higher education by creating women-only professor positions across its universities and technology institutes. Minister for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O'Connor said the project would ensure that 40% of Ireland's professor-level positions would be held be women by 2024, writes Kara Fox for CNN.


British universities drop down employability rankings

British universities are struggling to keep pace with global institutions in preparing students for the modern workplace, a new report on world rankings suggests. The United Kingdom has experienced a sharp drop in performance for graduate employability at its universities over this decade following intensified global competition, writes Eleanor Busby for the Independent.


Extra AU$135 million for regional universities

The Morrison government has pledged an extra AU$135 million (US$98 million) for regional universities, study hubs and scholarships for students in regional and rural areas, offsetting a funding squeeze on universities hit by a AU$2.2 billion cut when the former government froze commonwealth grants in 2017, writes Paul Karp for The Guardian Australia.


Vice-chancellors get ‘massive salaries’ in South Africa

The executives in charge of South African universities are rewarded with very large pay cheques, according to weekend newspaper, the Sunday Times. Many university vice-chancellors received salaries of over ZAR4 million (US$280,000) for 2017, writes Jamie McKane for My Broadband.


Downloads of pirated research papers rampant in Japan

Academic papers were freely downloaded more than 1.27 million times in Japan last year from a ‘pirate’ website, highlighting the growing reluctance to pay subscription fees for such publications, a study team said. But Japanese scientists are not the only ones doing this, writes Ryosuke Nonaka for The Asahi Shimbun.


Spain to ban pseudo-therapies from universities

The Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party government of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has put forward a plan to eliminate so-called alternative therapies that have no scientific evidence to prove their positive health impact from health centres and universities, writes Oriol Güell for El País.


Universities better under Buhari, says state governor

Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi has criticised the decision of the Academic Staff Union of Universities to embark on a strike, saying that institutions in Nigeria had fared better under President Muhammadu Buhari, writes Wale Odunsi for the Daily Post.


Academics urge public to vote for nuclear power shutdown

Hundreds of researchers in Taiwan have signed an open letter urging the public to vote to continue the phase out of nuclear power in an upcoming referendum. Last year, Taiwanese legislators added a clause to the island’s electricity act to shut down all nuclear power plants by 2025, writes Andrew Silver for Nature.


Ministry wants foreign universities to join education hub

The Ministry of Education in Malaysia wants to attract more foreign universities to establish branch campuses at the Pagoh Higher Education Hub and will approach universities in Indonesia, Japan and South Korea, reports the Malay Mail.


University in Iowa drops controversial conference

After finding itself caught up in national debate – and, at times, outrage – over the practice of ‘facilitated communication’, University of Northern Iowa administrators have decided to no longer host an annual conference featuring the controversial technique, writes Vanessa Miller for The Gazette.


Flexible study can make UK universities more accessible

Three academics from the University of Bristol have come up with a series of recommendations which, they say, would make United Kingdom universities more accessible and responsive to a changing economy, reports FE News.


Quebec university allows students to use preferred names

A major Quebec university is joining a growing movement towards allowing students – including transgender students who’ve long sought the provision – to use a name other than their given name on campus, reports The Canadian Press.


Universities told to stop making students beg for aid

Many students applying for financial aid at Chinese universities find that submitting written documents isn’t enough – to win the cash, they must give speeches in public about their plight and hope their stories are ‘moving’ enough to earn the audience votes they need to qualify, write Ding Jie, Mo Xiaotian and Teng Jing Xuan for Caixin.

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