World Access to Higher Education Day aims to address inequalities worldwide.

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25 November 2018 Issue 530 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search


Higher education can and should take a strategic role in tackling inequality

   In our series on Transformative Leadership, published in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, Graeme Atherton says higher education should take the lead in pressing governments to commit to strategies for achieving equity for students from marginalised groups, a key message of the first ‘World Access to Higher Education Day’. And Simon Marginson discusses how universities – both the research-intensive universities in the global cities and universities outside the global capitals – can address the problem of economic inequality driven by rising global cities and declining regional hinterlands.

   In Commentary, Alejandro Caballero discusses how educators can prepare workers for the transition to a ‘gig economy’, where traditional jobs are likely to be replaced by workers performing a series of individual freelance gigs. Bob Birrell and Katharine Betts warn that selling higher education has become precarious for Australia’s universities due to the Group of Eight’s overdependence on Chinese students and other universities’ overreliance on Indian students. And Tony McMahon, Anne Scott and Colin Scott argue that the Irish government’s controversial plan to fund 45 women-only professorships is needed to correct historic inequalities.

   In our World Blog this week, Valerie Clifford and Martin Haigh take stock of internationalisation of the curriculum and its ultimate goal of creating global citizens who promote the welfare of the future world and are prepared to tackle its most serious problems.

   On the topic of Academic Freedom, Brendan O’Malley and Wagdy Sawahel write that the sentencing of UK doctoral student Matthew Hedges to life imprisonment in the UAE is setting off alarm bells for academics conducting research in the Middle East, who are already shaken by the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Turkey last month.

   In Features, Wagdy Sawahel reports on the Tunisian government’s plans to tackle terrorism at higher education institutions in the wake of a suicide bomb attack carried out by a jobless female university graduate last month.

Brendan O’Malley – Managing Editor

NEWS – Our correspondents worldwide report


Non-EU international students to pay much higher fees

Jane Marshall

The French government is proposing to raise fees tenfold to sixteenfold for foreign students from outside the European Union from the next university year, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has announced. At present these students pay the same fees as French and EU students.


UK student sentenced to life for ‘spying’ is ‘terrified’

Brendan O'Malley

United Kingdom Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has indicated that he has had constructive discussions with United Arab Emirates officials about the case of UK researcher Matthew Hedges, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in the UAE after being accused of spying while researching his PhD thesis.


International student boom could evaporate, experts warn

Geoff Maslen

Australia has been enormously successful in selling higher education to foreign students. But experts warn the situation facing the nation’s top universities has become dangerously precarious with universities relying too heavily on students from China and becoming vulnerable to Chinese government intervention.


Report explores tensions behind the failure of education

Wachira Kigotho

A new World Bank report identifies the tenuous link between credentials and skills as one of four key “tensions” behind the failure of the Middle East and North Africa region to fully reap the personal, social and economic benefits of education.


Government proposes lower-cost fast-track degrees

Brendan O'Malley

The United Kingdom universities minister has unveiled plans to allow universities to charge higher annual fees for two-year accelerated full degree courses – which will cut the total cost to students by 20% – to encourage more institutions to offer them and drive up student choice.


Former MSU president charged with lying in abuse probe

Brendan O’Malley

Lou Anna K Simon, the former president of Michigan State University (MSU), has been charged with lying to state police during an investigation into sexual abuse by Larry Nassar, the disgraced former MSU sports doctor who abused hundreds of young women.


Decision to cut international student numbers backfires

Jan Petter Myklebust

The political agreement between the government and the right-wing Danish People’s Party to cut the number of international students by 1,000 is forcing masters degree programmes taught in English to close, with severe consequences for Danish students.


New strategy promotes women in HE and research

Munyaradzi Makoni

Women’s participation in higher education, research and innovation is one of two cross-cutting themes at the heart of the updated Africa Strategy of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, which was introduced earlier this month.



Navigating the world’s transition to a gig economy

Alejandro Caballero

Educators need to prepare workers for the labour changes that are coming. Doing so will create workforces that can prosper in the future. Universities will need to embrace alternative credentials and lifelong learning and teach their students enterprise and grit.


Selling higher education has become precarious

Bob Birrell and Katharine Betts

The Group of Eight universities’ overdependence on Chinese students puts them at risk from political interventions by the Chinese government but also from reputational harm due to low outcomes for Chinese students. Other universities’ overreliance on Indian students makes them vulnerable to visa regime changes.


Why women-only professorship appointments are needed

Tony McMahon, Anne Scott and Colin Scott

The plan for 45 women-only professorship appointments has split opinion. But it is right to take a temporary measure to seek to correct historic inequalities in promotional opportunities for women academics, both on fairness grounds and to further improve the effectiveness of universities.


Are global rankings relevant to sustainable development?

Juliette Torabian

International university ranking systems have a short window in which to reflect on their relevance and reinvent themselves in an era where the focus of universities is on global sustainability. If they don’t, they will get left behind.



Internationalisation of the curriculum comes of age

Valerie Clifford and Martin Haigh

Internationalisation of the curriculum is not just about getting graduates good jobs. Its ultimate goal is to create global citizens who promote the welfare of the future world and are prepared to tackle its most serious problems.



Higher education can take a lead in fighting inequity

Graeme Atherton

The first World Access to Higher Education Day aims to show that higher education can and wants to become more equal and should take the lead in pressing governments to systematically commit to clear strategies for achieving equity for students from marginalised groups.


The new politics of higher education and inequality

Simon Marginson

Universities outside the global capitals are looking to develop a new politics of higher education – one that is both locally and globally engaged at the same time and which seeks to address growing inequalities between global cities and the regions.



Life sentence sends a message of fear to other academics

Brendan O’Malley and Wagdy Sawahel

The sentencing of United Kingdom doctoral student Matthew Hedges to life imprisonment in Abu Dhabi is causing further shock and alarm for academics undertaking research in the Middle East, who are already shaken by the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Turkey in October.



Staff strike reflects frustration over broken promises

Tunde Fatunde

Beyond the specific salary and benefits-related grievances behind the latest strike by academic staff is intense frustration over the Nigerian government’s failure over several years to meet the terms of its own agreements with respect to adequately funding the sector’s growing public universities – most of which are in a state of perilous infrastructural decline.


In wake of bombing, plan to fight extremism on campuses

Wagdy Sawahel

Formal steps to tackle terrorism at higher education institutions have been announced by the Tunisian Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research in the wake of a suicide bomb attack carried out by a jobless female university graduate last month.



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Chinese researchers angry over US backtrack on visas

The United States embassy in Beijing has revoked 10-year multiple-entry visas issued to some researchers specialising in China-US relations, a further tightening of entry controls as ties between the two countries worsen, writes Wendy Wu for the South China Morning Post.


Call for review over UAE ties after academic jailed

It is no longer safe for British academics and students to work and study in the United Arab Emirates, experts and lecturers’ unions have warned, after a court in the Gulf state jailed for life Durham University PhD student Matthew Hedges, who was accused of spying, writes David Batty for The Guardian.


Turkish academic jailed after raids linked to financier

A court in Turkey has jailed an Istanbul academic pending trial following raids on professors and activists deemed to have links to an imprisoned prominent financier of civil society activities, reports Al Jazeera.


Re-imagine, reconstruct higher education system – VP

Indian Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu said there was a need to re-imagine and reconstruct the higher education system in tune with the requirements of the 21st century and sought the participation of government as well as the private sector for quality education, reports IANS.


Cheating on the rise in Irish universities

Cheating is on the rise in Irish universities and colleges with business studies students most likely to be accused of ‘academic dishonesty’, write Peter McGuire and Carl O’Brien for The Irish Times.


Governor cautions universities on political activities

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Shah Farman has cautioned the administrations of all public sector universities in the Pakistani province about ‘unwanted’ political activities on campus and directed them to submit reports about it to him on a monthly basis, reports Dawn.


University chiefs want change to unconditional offers

Unconditional offers are “reducing the motivation and quality” of sixth-form education and lead too many students to the wrong university or degree, according to several college leaders in the United Kingdom, writes Rosemary Bennett for The Times.


Politician says fees-free tertiary policy has failed

New Zealand politician and former deputy prime minister Paula Bennett says the government's fees-free tertiary education policy, which came into effect on 1 January, has been a “complete failure”, writes Sophie Bateman for Newshub.


Polish law gives universities more power in R&D push

A new research and education reform is paving the way for universities in Poland to become international research and development players, giving more autonomy to universities in setting research priorities and making research financing simpler, writes Florin Zubascu for Science Business.


Universities must respond swiftly to business demand

Business is showing signs of losing patience with universities and other traditional sources of talent and are actively considering the task of developing talent themselves, writes Nick Wailes for Australian Financial Review.


First female chancellor of Women’s University in Africa

The first female chancellor of Zimbabwe’s Women’s University in Africa, Ghanaian Professor Naana Opoku-Agyemang, has pledged to support the university in advancing the dreams of the institution’s two visionary founders – Professor Hope Sadza and Dr Fay Chung – who took action to create a pathway for women to access higher education, reports Ghana Web.


150 academics urge ‘robust’ climate action

Robust, emergency action is needed in response to the “deepening ecological crisis” of climate change, according to a letter to the New Zealand government signed by 150 academics and researchers, writes Michael Daly for Stuff.


Experts call for a ‘take your son into university day’

Experts seeking to address male academic underachievement among boys and young men are calling for the introduction of a ‘take your son into university day’ in an effort to increase male participation in higher education, writes Sally Weale for The Guardian.

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