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NEWSLETTERHow to protect academic freedom and institutional autonomy in North Africa
This week in Africa Features, Wagdy Sawahel outlines discussions on the role of higher education following the Arab Spring in North Africa, and how to protect academic freedom and autonomy.
Gilbert Nganga reports on a 30% funding boost for higher education in Kenya that will bankroll 15 new public universities, and John Grobler finds that draconian new regulations for research in Namibia are threatening to strangle science.
In World Blog, Elliot Storm and Grace Karram probe whether Hugo Chávez's death will bring universities and the Venezuelan government closer together.
In Commentary, Ronald Barnett argues that there is a need for more imaginative ideas on the university and suggests that one ‘feasible utopia’ could be the idea of the ‘ecological university’. Allan E Goodman describes a trip to Myanmar by the largest-ever US delegation of universities, aimed at helping the country’s transition and development. Vincenzo Raimo points out that international student recruitment agents get a lot of bad press – but if agents act unethically, whose fault is it really?
In the second part of a Special Report on the Going Global 2013 conference held in Dubai this month, Katherine Forestier looks at what is required to tackle the disconnect between the skills of graduates and those demanded by economies in Asia, and an action plan to tackle the under-representation of women in the upper echelons of higher education.
And in Global Features, Jonathan Dyson charts the growing number of international universities setting up in Malaysia’s new trading zone and ‘education hub’.
Karen MacGregor – Africa Editor
SOUTH AFRICANicola Jenvey
Academics from the BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – last week established a policy think-tank ahead of the fifth BRICS summit, to be held in Durban. South Africa called for strengthening research collaboration and academic exchange in the global South, and placing knowledge production at the heart of the emerging-country bloc.
For the first time in decades, Nigeria’s National Universities Commission set up a committee to visit all federal and state universities and undertake a forensic audit. It found widespread problems including poor staffing, underfunding and weak infrastructure.
A stunning defeat recently suffered by students from Egypt's ruling Muslim Brotherhood at most state-run universities foreshadows the country’s forthcoming parliamentary elections, according to observers.
SOUTHERN AFRICAIshmael Tongai
The national higher education councils of Lesotho and Namibia have signed an agreement to share expertise in regulating and promoting quality in their countries’ universities, and to collaborate on professional development and research.
Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama has announced that a new university is to built in order to meet growing demand for higher education, bringing the number of public universities to 10. Also, 10 polytechnics are to be upgraded into technical universities, and the country is taking steps against private institutions that undermine academic standards.
Zimbabwe’s National university of Science and Technology is considering introducing a student quota system, arguing that students from other regions have been getting the bulk of places at the institution.
Democracy in African countries could be assisted by developing debating skills among university students, according to three champion debating students from Monash University in Australia. They have created African Voice, a non-profit organisation that will run debating training workshops for young people across the continent.
Located in Tunisia and Cameroon, the two newest institutes established by the AUF – Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie – have just appointed governing boards to oversee strategy and development. There are now six AUF institutes, with the others in Bulgaria, Laos, Mauritius and Vietnam.
Université Internationale de Casablanca, a Laureate universities network institution, plans to open a new campus in Casablanca catering for 12,000 students.
NORTH AFRICAWagdy Sawahel
Higher education experts from around the world have proposed strategies to protect and promote academic freedom and institutional autonomy amid the waves of socio-political transformation that have followed Arab Spring revolutions in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.
Kenya has increased funding for higher education by 30% for the financial year beginning in July, as it seeks to bankroll 15 new public universities. But institutions say even this boost is way below financial needs – and election promises made by Kenya’s new president could disrupt the sector’s plans.
Draconian new regulations for all academic research in Namibia represent a first-class invitation to several possible constitutional lawsuits.
Confrontations between students and police in three separate incidents at higher education institutions in Kasaï-Oriental province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have resulted in the deaths of two students and a number of injuries.
An appeal to annul disciplinary action for campus violence against 16 students from the University of Koudougou in Burkina Faso – 14 of whom were excluded – has been postponed until 25 April. The events last year led to demonstrations and fighting between striking and non-striking students and staff.
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Higher education requires “deep, radical and urgent transformation”, says a just-published report from the UK’s Institute for Public Policy Research. A new phase of competitive intensity is emerging, technology is changing and the traditional university is under pressure from, among others, private providers and MOOCs.
UNITED KINGDOMDavid Jobbins
The 2012 reforms of higher education in England – the switch to higher tuition fees and lower direct state funding – pose no immediate risk to the overall financial health of the country’s universities, says an official report published last week.
As Nicólas Maduro takes the reins as Venezuelan interim president following the death of his strongman predecessor Hugo Chávez, educators and university administrators are hoping for a chance to repair tattered relations with their government.
EUROPEJan Petter Myklebust
Around 1,000 participants from more than 100 countries participated in a five-day conference launching Horizon 2020 in Brussels this month. Its aim was to encourage worldwide collaboration in science and explore how Horizon 2020 could “enable an effective scientific response to global challenges”.
Universities should be more transparent about what they offer through PhD programmes, to better allow students to compare doctoral studies across Europe, says Thomas Jørgensen, author of the recently concluded Accountable Research Environments for Doctoral Education project.
The world of higher education is beginning to recognise adaptation to climate change as a major research topic and an academic discipline, according to one of the world’s leading adaptation spec ialists, Saleemul Huq.
LUXEMBOURGJan Petter Myklebust
Six applicants for student loans and grants have taken Luxembourg to the European Court of Justice after being turned down by the country’s student loan scheme, CEDIES, on the grounds that they are children of frontier workers. CEDIES claimed that eligibility requires residence in Luxembourg. A court ruling is expected later this year.
An international team of researchers has issued a stark warning about the perils the world faces in the near future because of mounting evidence confirming the carbon dioxide effects of a 5º C increase in the temperature of the Arctic Ocean.
GOING GLOBAL 2013
The British Council’s Going Global 2013 conference on “Internationalising Higher Education” was held in the Dubai World Trade Centre from 4-6 March and attended by 1,300 higher education policy-makers and practitioners from around the world. This is the second set of articles on the event to be published by University World News – click here for the full coverage.
Countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations and China face serious disconnects between the knowledge and skills that their higher education systems provide graduates, and the skills needed for the countries’ future development.
Hong Kong: zero. Japan: 2.3. India: three. Kuwait: three. Turkey: seven. UK: 14. Australia: 17. The numbers tell a story. They are the percentages of universities that have women as leaders in a range of jurisdictions around the world.
A growing number of international universities are setting up operations on the 243 hectare site that will be part of Iskandar Malaysia, a new eco-city and trading zone with districts for tourism, health care and education, designed to help regenerate Johor state.
VENEZUELAElliot Storm and Grace Karram
Under Hugo Chávez, a gap opened up between Venezuela’s government and universities, which feared an attack on their autonomy. Will his death bring the two sides closer together? Will both be able to give a little ground – universities doing more to widen participation and the government allowing them more independence?
There is a lack of ideas of the university that are critical in tone, positive in spirit, and with an awareness of the deep and global structures that underpin institutions. What are needed are not merely utopias of the university, but feasible utopias – and one contender could be the idea of the ‘ecological university’.
MYANMARAllan E Goodman
The largest-ever delegation of American universities to Myanmar has just returned and has identified a range of areas where international partnerships can help the country to develop and reform. Myanmar is at a critical juncture and higher education has a vital role to play.
UNITED KINGDOMVincenzo Raimo
Universities need to be more transparent about their use of student recruitment agents. A radical reform of the current system, which would open it to much greater scrutiny, would make not only ethical but also long-term business sense.
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Several high-profile violent incidents at Tunisian universities have highlighted concerns about security in higher education institutions, writes Roua Khlifi for Tunisialive.
All eight of New Zealand's universities are being taken to the New Zealand Copyright Tribunal for refusing to agree to an increased annual licence fee that allows lecturers to copy authors' work for students, writes John Lewis for The New Zealand Herald.
Students at public universities in Spain have held a day of strikes and demonstrations to protest against cuts made to education by the conservative government of Mariano Rajoy, reports Prensa Latina.
Egypt’s Supreme Council of Universities announced last Sunday that it had decided to ban partisan activities on campuses, writes Fady Salah for Daily News.
California lawmakers detailed a plan last Wednesday to require the state’s 145 public colleges and universities to grant credit for low-cost online courses offered by outside groups, including classes offered by for-profit companies, writes Ry Rivard for Inside Higher Ed.
EdX has made publicly available source code that it built specifically to support online interactive learning, writes Sharleen Nelson for Campus Technology. The non-profit online learning platform founded by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has released XBlock SDK, the underlying architecture supporting EdX course content.
A new high-capacity fibre optics research and education network will connect colleges and universities in 21 countries in the Caribbean, writes Avia Collinder for The Gleaner.
Israeli Arabs have lagged behind the Jewish majority economically and have accused the government and Jewish employers of discrimination. The state has pledged to narrow the gap and sees promoting higher education among Arabs as key, write Alisa Odenheimer and Gwen Ackerman for Bloomberg.
Struggling with tightening purse strings and shrinking research budgets, Germany's universities are fighting back with funding from big business. A new online portal aims to publicise any dubious sponsorship deals, writes Richard Fuchs for Deutsche Welle.
Students choosing a university can now look up how many hours of teaching they can expect, their likelihood of getting a job and what other students thought of their course. But this year, one crucial piece of information is missing. If your chosen institution is in trouble, with plummeting applications for the second year in a row, you may well be in the dark about it, writes Anna Fazackerley for the Guardian.
A cheating scandal at Harvard College just got bigger, and this time the focus is flipped: administrators, not students, are under fire, reports Dana Ford for CNN. The university has apologised for the way it handled a secret search of the email accounts of resident deans.
University of Utah trustees signed off on a plan last week to open the institution’s first international branch campus, in a project subsidised by the South Korean government, writes Lindsay Whitehurst for The Salt Lake Tribune.
There aren’t many similarities between Scotland’s capital and Brazil’s largest city. But Edinburgh University is adding to its “longstanding links” with Latin America by opening a liaison office in São Paulo, reports Edinburgh Evening News.
New South Wales Education Minister Adrian Piccoli has refused to back off on plans to set benchmarks for new teachers based on higher school certificate results, despite universities saying they may not implement the plan, write Josephine Tovey and Amy McNeilage for the Sydney Morning Herald.
The real reason why US college students are so tired is because they put work before just about everything, including their studies, writes Richard Morris for the Guardian. They take 15 or 18 credit hours per week and hold a campus job and maybe an internship on top of that.
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