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NEWSLETTEROver-regulation threatens universities in South Africa – Vice-chancellor
In Africa Analysis Ihron Rensburg, vice-chancellor of the University of Johannesburg, warns that over-regulation is threatening academic autonomy in South Africa. In Africa Features, Yojana Sharma investigates the International Finance Corporation’s US$150 million equity investment in Laureate Education, which will help the US-based for-profit education company push into Africa.
Stamenka Uvalic-Trumbic writes in Commentary that, while they are all the rage, MOOCs present new challenges for quality assurance. Murray Hunter contends that business studies courses in South East Asia are drawing too heavily on Western management paradigms and need to promote original thinking and homegrown ideas.
In World Blog, Curt Rice argues that making universities workplaces where women do not feel excluded will improve them for everyone.
Nick Holdsworth describes a boom in Russian cartoon films that has spawned the country’s first privately sponsored state university course in computer graphics and animation. Also in Features, Alecia D McKenzie finds that education and research are key to China’s campaign to develop renewable energy sources in the battle against rising pollution. And Alya Mishra reports on a conference in New Delhi where experts urged India to learn from countries such as China and the US in creating world-class universities.
Karen MacGregor – Africa Editor
Kenya has kicked off plans to upgrade 15 colleges into fully fledged universities as it seeks capacity to enrol at least 10,000 extra students annually. The upgrade will more than triple the number of public universities, from seven to 22.
Kenya's Commission for Higher Education is receiving rare accolades from both academia and the public for showing its teeth during the current electioneering period – it is refusing to clear politicians’ degree certificates if they are from unrecognised higher education institutions.
More than 500 students have been evicted from halls of residence at the University of Zimbabwe for protests staged in December last year, throwing learners from poor backgrounds onto the streets.
Five North African countries – Algeria, Egypt, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia – along with 38 European and Mediterranean states will benefit from an initiative to enhance higher education cooperation in the fields of food production, security and safety, and rural development.
Malawi’s parliament risks plunging the country back into academic freedom protests if it passes a controversial law that academics charge is restrictive.
The Supreme Court of Nigeria has rejected a request for sabbatical leave pay from 49 lecturers of the University of Ilorin, who were reinstated by the same court in 2009 after being unjustly expelled for eight years.
Human rights lawyer and activist Nana Oye Lithur was sworn in as minister for gender, children and social protection last Monday, despite strong protest from church elements and the national student union over her liberal views on g ay rights.
The Chinese influence in Tanzania looks set to become further entrenched after the University of Dodoma announced that it would introduce a Chinese language course. The university said the move was aimed at reducing communication barriers between the Chinese and Tanzanians, who have enjoyed a cordial relationship for over 50 years.
A US$150 million equity investment by the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation into US-based for-profit education company Laureate Education will help spearhead a push into Africa, in line with World Bank aims to develop post-secondary education and skills training on the continent.
SOUTH AFRICAIhron Rensburg
Are all South African universities in systemic crisis? One would imagine so, given the recent legislative and policy actions of Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande. In recent months, he has been responsible for three sets of regulatory interventions, all of which erode university autonomy.
Pharmacy graduates who studied in Eastern Europe have protested against being ordered to take an examination before their qualifications were recognised as equivalent to the national diploma. The timing meant they missed the deadline to apply for public sector posts.
A frame of reference for quality self-assessment has been agreed for 10 universities in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia under the Aqi-Umed project, part of the European Commission’s Tempus programme.
Standards of quality assurance adapted to the economic needs of states and recognised at an international level were the theme of a conference of REESAO, the Network for Excellence of Higher Education in West Africa, in Dakar in January.
Students in the science and technical faculty at the University Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar went on strike in protest against new criteria for selection to masters courses. They were demanding the right of all bachelor degree graduates to have access.
As more and more young Madagascans learn English, the first students have graduated from the English Access Scholarship Program in Antsahavola, funded by the United States.
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
The University of Düsseldorf has withdrawn the doctoral title of Annette Schavan, Germany’s education and research minister, claiming that she lifted material for her thesis. While Schavan is seeking to contest the university’s verdict, the opposition in parliament has called for her resignation.
The Russian government has started implementing its ambitious plans to boost the country’s leading universities' performance in the international arena. According to Igor Fedyukin, the deputy minister of education, this year 15 universities will receive special state grants and at the initial stage the subsidies will be worth RUB9 billion (US$270 million).
EUROPEJan Petter Myklebust
Negotiations in Brussels last week on the European Union’s long-term budget for 2014-20 could mean a total budget for the Horizon 2020 research programme of €69 billion (US$92 billion) – far short of the €80 billion proposed by the European Commission and parliament.
Young Australians are facing fierce and increasing competition from foreign-born graduates for a declining number of jobs, according to a new report. Australians are losing out, given that the 100,000 new jobs created since 2011 have almost all been taken up by migrants – many of them foreign students who stayed on after graduating.
DENMARKJan Petter Myklebust
When Denmark’s Minister of Education Morten Østergaard returned from paternity leave last Monday, he was met by students protesting outside his office and claims on a student union Facebook page that making cuts to student loans was “like wetting your pants to get warm in a snowstorm”.
The University of British Columbia in Canada is offering all full-time female faculty a 2% salary raise in an effort to correct gender-based salary inequities.
A boom in Russian cartoon films has brought an unexpected bonus to students with graphic ambitions at a provincial university. Voronezh State University, 480 kilometres south-east of Moscow, has launched Russia’s first ever privately sponsored state university course in computer graphics and animation.
CHINAAlecia D McKenzie
In the battle against worsening air pollution, China’s government has made clean and renewable energy a priority, with education and research being an integral part of the campaign, according to spec ialists in the sector.
India can learn much from countries such as China, Japan and the United States in order to create and run world-class universities, according to a panel of experts at a higher education conference held in New Delhi last week.
Gender equality and gender balance are key to improving the university workplace, making for better universities and better research.
MOOCs were the talking point of 2012, but how can their quality be monitored? MOOCs are part of a movement towards disaggregated international higher education, which will present a new challenge for quality assurance.
Business courses in South East Asia tend to be based on Western management ideals that reflect the needs of post-industrial society rather than of developing economies. Original thinking is required to construct homegrown management ideas appropriate to the region.
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China’s State Council announced last Wednesday that the country would begin charging tuition fees to all postgraduate students while offering more flexible choices of student financial aid, reports the official agency Xinhua.
A group representing some of Europe's leading universities has withdrawn its support for a new ranking system funded by the European Union, warning that it could pose "a serious threat" to higher education, writes Jack Grove for Times Higher Education.
Students may soon be able to receive credit for the free online courses that are reshaping higher education, reports Associated Press. The American Council on Education announced last Thursday that it is recommending degree credit for five undergraduate courses offered by Coursera, a company that provides massive open online courses – MOOCs – from leading universities.
Free interactive online university courses known as MOOCs – massive open online courses – are quickly spreading far beyond the United States, writes Simon Bradley for the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation. Lausanne’s Federal Institute of Technology and other Swiss universities are keen to experiment.
Higher education, 2060: academics are out of a job. All the brand name universities have made all their courses free online, easily doing away with one side of the teaching and learning equation, writes Phillip Riley of Monash University for The Conversation. Pretty soon all the universities realised how much money they could save.
Last week, President Barack Obama and a bipartisan group of senators outlined a plan for comprehensive immigration reform. Like the DREAM Act that has stalled for years in Congress, the proposal’s outline hints at an expedited pathway to citizenship for young people who came to the US as children if they attend college or serve in the military, writes Wendy Kopp for TIME.
UK universities increased spending on marketing to potential students by nearly a quarter in the run-up to the introduction of higher fees, a Times Higher Education investigation has found, reports David Matthews. Yet they suffered a 7.4% fall in applications.
On 16 December 2011, Kazakhstan state security forces opened fire on striking oil workers in the Caspian Sea company town of Zhanaozen. The massacre seemingly went unnoticed by Western faculty members and administrators working at the recently opened Nazarbayev University, located in the country’s ostentatious capital Astana, write Allen Ruff and Steve Horn for The Real News.
Majdi Alsaqaf, a final-year student at Sana'a University, is excited about the prospect of pending graduation. But a coordinated strike by administrative staff at Sana’a, Dhamar, Taiz, Ibb and Amran universities against new legislation has put the fate of thousands of final-year students in jeopardy, writes Ali Ibrahim Almoshiki for Yemen Times.
Graduate student borrowers are defaulting on almost US$1 billion in federal loans that were given out to the poor. Universities in the United States such as Yale, Penn State and George Washington are going after them in the courts, suing for non-payment, reports RT.
Vice-chancellors representing 137 public and private sector universities in Pakistan last Tuesday expressed reservations to members of a National Assembly standing committee regarding the proposed Higher Education Commission Amendment Bill, reports Pakistan Today.
China's rich are showing increasing enthusiasm for making big donations to the non-profit sector and most of their donations, including pledges, went to universities in 2012, according to a new report, writes He Dan for China Daily.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak last week launched the Skim Prihatin Pendidikan 1Malaysia (SPP1M) scheme to assist students at the tertiary level with obtaining additional study loans, reports the official Bernama news agency.
The Indonesian government says it has increased assistance funds for higher education institutions so that state universities can eliminate initial student enrolment fees starting this year, reports The Jakarta Post.
With Indian universities repeatedly failing to figure among the top 200 universities in the world, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in a surprisingly candid speech last Tuesday, acknowledged that the quality of higher education in India left much to be desired, reports India Today.
The Kappa Sigma fraternity at Duke University in the United States was suspended by its parent organisation after throwing an Asian-themed party – complete with conical hats, geisha outfits and intentional misspellings – that sparked protests by Asian students on campus, writes Kristene Quan for TIME.
A club at the former elite French college of shamed ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn advocated gang r ape and suggested carrying out a simulated s exual attack on a feminist organisation, writes Daniel Miller for the Daily Mail.
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