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NEWSLETTEREconomic slump scuppers South Africa’s target of 1% of GDP for research
In Africa Features, Peta Lee reports that the discovery of a human skull in an obsolete anthropology department in South Africa has led to a major ‘racism in science’ research project, and Nicola Jenvey explains why the country has failed to reach its target of 1% of gross domestic product spent on research and development.
In World Blog, Rahul Choudaha argues that student mobility patterns are changing as more and more ‘glocal’ students choose to receive an international education at home.
In Commentary, Arnaud Chevalier and Xiaoxuan Jia find that moving up the university subject rankings significantly affects student application numbers – especially for international students – and university income. Katherine Forestier contends that reforms to the Hong Kong education system have increased the diversity and number of students entering tertiary education, and David Zimmerman charts the history of a British organisation that helps refugee academics.
In Features, Suvendrini Kakuchi writes that conservatism and bureaucracy are stalling Japan’s progress on international education, sparking fears that the country is falling behind its competitors. Ameen Amjad Khan wonders why, with politicians in Pakistan being jailed for possessing fake degrees, there has been no action against those who issued the fraudulent qualifications.
Karen MacGregor – Africa Editor
Thousands of education-hungry refugees living in camps in northern Kenya are set to benefit from higher education in a groundbreaking initiative involving a non-profit organisation and a host of local and foreign universities.
The University of Nairobi, Kenya’s biggest by student numbers, is to construct a KSh1 billion (US$11.7 million) business complex to expand its revenue streams – a route also taken by its top rival, Kenyatta University.
Academics at Al-Azhar University, Egypt’s and the Muslim world's oldest seat of higher learning, will soon get the opportunity to elect the massive institution’s president for the first time in its history.
There’s been a national outcry in Nigeria over a government proposal to scrap the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, which administers entrance exams for all of the country’s tertiary institutions.
The UK-based Lancaster University is to open a branch campus in Ghana this year – believed to be the first British branch campus in West Africa and the second in Africa.
Nothing is untranslatable, and formal education systems have a huge role to play in preserving cultural heritage. These were the overarching conclusions at the third in a series of all-African workshops on the preservation and transmission of linguistic heritage.
Malawi’s former education minister Peter Mutharika has appeared in court on treason charges. With this the dream of his brother, the late president Bingu wa Mutharika, to establish six new universities appears to be shattered. The developments coincided with a demonstration by tertiary students this month over low allowances.
The most challenging areas for agricultural development and job creation in South Africa are the arid and semi-arid Karoo and Northern Cape, where only cactus appears to flourish. But researchers from the University of the Free State have found that the prickly plant could make the desert bloom.
SOUTH AFRICAPeta Lee
The discovery of a mysterious human skull in an obsolete department at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa has exposed links to Nazi Germany and led to a groundbreaking new ‘racism in science’ research project by the faculty of arts and social sciences.
SOUTH AFRICANicola Jenvey
South Africa needs to escalate its expenditure on research and development and increase its international competitiveness in science and innovation, according to Science and Technology Minister Derek Hanekom. Disappointingly, the lofty goal of raising R&D spending to 1% of gross domestic product by 2010 has not been achieved.
As the Ford Foundation’s 10-year International Fellowships Program comes to an end, a closing ceremony at the West African Research Centre in Dakar, which hosted the initiative in the region, took stock of its operations, which included the awarding of 385 research grants in three West African countries.
The American agency USAID has awarded excellence grants to 125 Senegalese agriculture students and scientists to research food security, while a partnership has been struck between École Polytechnique de Thiès and the French Idyal Group to enable students of computer engineering to do theoretical and practical work-linked studies.
A two-year agreement to collaborate on higher education and research into bioethics has been signed by the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie, the University of Montreal in Canada and the universities of Abomey-Calavi in Cotonou, Bénin, and Alassane Ouattara in Bouaké, Côte d’Ivoire.
The faculty of sciences at Agostinho Neto University in Luanda and the Chevron-Cabinda Gulf Oil Company have signed a memorandum of understanding to expand the university’s studies in Earth sciences.
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
CHILEMaría Elena Hurtado
Carolina Schmidt was appointed Chile’s new education minister last Monday and will face a formidable challenge despite her credentials as a top cabinet minister. On Thursday, student protests in the capital ended in violent clashes with police. Former minister Harald Beyer was recently impeached by the Senate and banned from public office for five years.
DENMARKJan Petter Myklebust
The major political parties in Denmark have signed a 10-point reform agreement aimed at strengthening the economy, job creation and competitiveness. When the reform is fully operational in 2020, student grants and loans spending will be reduced by DK2.2 billion (US$383 million). Students are angry, but rectors support the move.
Every year around the world, scientists and other researchers are found to have committed various acts of fraud, often after they were discovered to have manipulated research findings. But rarely do they suffer any more severe punishment than being dismissed and, occasionally, having their reputations irreparably damaged in the media.
Thailand’s government is continuing to allow universities more autonomy, claiming that this will deliver administrative flexibility and freedom from state bureaucracy. But it faces opposition from students and academics concerned about fees and lack of accountability.
Three new climate studies published by different groups of researchers in refereed journals have provided a grim view of the future facing Earth and its inhabitants. The first involved a massive collaboration between 78 scientists from 60 institutions, and found that although Earth had been gradually cooling over millennia, the cooling trend reversed around the time humans started emitting heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere.
It is bitterly ironic – Japan has the third largest economy in the world and is a leading exporter, but fails badly when it comes to international education. Experts have called for less bureaucracy and for curriculum reform to kickstart international engagement.
PAKISTANAmeen Amjad Khan
Bogus degrees are a problem worldwide, and Pakistan is certainly no exception. Following extensive media coverage, politicians are being prosecuted for possessing fake degrees – but no action is being taken against those who issued the ‘qualifications’ or were responsible for verifying them.
UNITED STATESDan Berrett, The Chronicle of Higher Education
When she learned that two bombs had been detonated at the Boston Marathon, one thought crossed Ifrah Inam's mind: "Oh God, don't let it be a Muslim." The day after the bombing, the Boston pharmacy student briefly considered visiting the site of the attack. She decided not to, in part because she worried what the reaction might be to her hijab.
Patterns of international student mobility are changing and universities need to understand the different motivations of particular students – and the rise of ‘glocal’ students, who lack the resources to study abroad but want an international education.
UNITED KINGDOMArnaud Chevalier and Xiaoxuan Jia
Changes to university rankings for subjects affect application numbers, particularly for international students, and can have a significant impact on institutional income. Universities need to take heed of them.
HONG KONGKatherine Forestier
Hong Kong education reforms, including lengthening the undergraduate degree by a year, have increased the diversity of students going on to further studies, and a new, broader curriculum is ensuring they are better prepared for those studies.
William Beveridge's Academic Assistance Council was established 80 years ago to help scholars under threat in Nazi Germany. Its services are still needed today and are being provided by the successor Council for Assisting Refugee Academics to scholars at risk around the world.
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Dozens of university presidents from China and Europe were brought together last Thursday to share success stories and concerns in establishing cooperation projects, so as to provide policy suggestions and enhance compatibility between their higher education systems, reports Xinhua.
Two British ministers are mounting a charm offensive in Latin America in an attempt to attract potential students to universities in the United Kingdom. Business Secretary Vince Cable and Universities Minister David Willetts were to travel to the emerging economies of Brazil, Mexico and Colombia last Monday, writes Hannah Richardson for the BBC.
They may begin with a slur, a passing glance or an accidental shove. Student brawls that turn into tribal confrontations have become an increasingly worrying phenomenon on university campuses across Jordan, writes Rana F Sweis for The New York Times.
The general membership of the Association for Asian American Studies has unanimously approved a resolution endorsing a boycott of Israeli universities, making it the first scholarly organisation in America to do so, according to the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, writes Elizabeth Redden for Inside Higher Ed.
Stephen Schwarzman, founder of investment firm Blackstone Group LP, is launching a US$300 million scholarship programme to send students from the US and other countries to study at China’s Tsinghua University, writes Samantha Stainburn for Global Post.
Entrepreneurs seeking to build an elite global university based on new ways of teaching online announced last Monday the creation of a US$500,000 prize to be awarded each year to an educator “whose innovations have led to extraordinary student learning experiences”, writes Nick Anderson for The Washington Post.
The University of Sydney is set to host a lecture by the Dalai Lama in June, ending a dispute over whether he would be welcome on campus. In a statement, Institute for Democracy and Human Rights Director John Keane said the university was looking forward to hosting the Tibetan spiritual leader at a lecture for students, reports ABC.
A body pulled from the water off India Point Park in Rhode Island has been identified as the Brown University student mistakenly linked by amateur sleuths on a social media site to the Boston bombings, writes Doug Stanglin for USA Today.
Nigeria’s National Economic Council last Thursday approved the upgrade of six federal universities into mega tertiary institutions with capacity to enrol 150,000-200,000 students each, reports PM News.
The proportion of young people accessing higher education hit a record high of 49% as students scrambled to avoid last year’s tuition fee hikes, a new study says, writes Jack Grove for Times Higher Education.
Saying Canada’s future in science and research is threatened, a national association representing academics has launched a campaign to ‘Get Science Right’, in the hope of shaming the federal government into changing its science policy and funding formulas, writes Karen Seidman for The Montreal Gazette.
The power of funding alone should not be enough to override academic freedom, nor does open access automatically skew the world of scholarship, writes Curt Rice for the Guardian.
South Africa’s Department of Higher Education and Training is desperate to root out the distrust that its new transformation oversight committee has triggered, writes Bongani Nkosi for the Mail & Guardian.
Public university students in Florida will next year be able to start working towards college degrees without actually going to college, under a law Governor Rick Scott signed last Monday in front of educators and business lobbyists, writes Bill Cotterell for Reuters.
Less than half of 15-year-olds in Hong Kong expect to complete a university education, compared with more than 80% of their peers in South Korea, a study has shown. The city also trails rival Singapore, where more than seven in 10 youngsters expect to graduate, writes Ada Lee for South China Morning Post.
A faculty committee at Florida Atlantic University has made a preliminary finding that academic freedom was compromised when the institution banned a controversial classroom exercise that asked students to write ‘Jesus’ on a piece of paper and step on it, writes George Bennett for The Palm Beach Post.
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