|15 September 2013||Issue 0117||Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week||Advanced Search|
NEWSLETTERQuality assurance regimes in Africa – Achievements and challenges
In Africa Features, Tunde Fatunde reveals that students in Nigeria have been busy gaining workplace experience during an eight-week lecturer strike in public universities. Matthew Newsome probes successful efforts by Somaliland’s University of Hargeisa to partner with overseas universities to boost its international credibility, and Sheldon G Weeks reports on a Southern African historical society meeting held in Botswana.
In Africa Analysis, South African researcher Laura Czerniewicz calls on academia to confront the continuing inequities in global knowledge production. Charting the growth of quality assurance regimes in Africa, Juma Shabani finds both major achievements and challenges.
In Commentary, Philip G Altbach and Liz Reisberg investigate the rise and ethics of international recruitment agents and argue that universities and countries must ensure students are matched with the best possible study opportunities.
Eric Beerkens maintains that despite predictions of the end of the university as we know it, the ‘DNA’ of traditional universities has not changed in 25 years and won’t in the coming decades. Ryan M Allen warns that unless countries improve international student integration, they stand to lose this important potential source of ‘soft power’.
In World Blog, Serhiy Kvit writes that the latest student admissions round in Ukraine has highlighted problems concerning higher education centralisation, funding policies and corruption.
In Features, Nic Mitchell reveals that Swedish universities are starting to recover international student numbers, which collapsed after the introduction of full-cost fees for non-Europeans, and Yojana Sharma reports that research and innovation policies in South East Asian countries are struggling to keep pace with economic transformation. Jan Petter Myklebust looks at the growth in grants for young researchers under Europe’s Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions programme.
Karen MacGregor – Africa Editor
ANNOUNCEMENT – New Africa HE jobs site
University World News is delighted to announce the 'soft' launch of an African higher education jobs site. Universities across Africa – and indeed those around the world – looking to recruit academics and higher education professionals are now easily able to post job ads, at very reasonable prices and reaching a large audience, on the Higher Education in Africa Recruitment, or HEAR, site. People looking for jobs may post their CVs for free.
East African Community countries risk not meeting their goal of harmonising education systems any time soon due to deep disparities in curricula, varying quality of learning, and budget cuts, the head of the regional higher education council has warned.
A decision by Egypt’s state-run Supreme Council of Universities, giving security personnel the power to arrest students on campuses, has ignited fears that police-style oppression will be revived. The decision came just before universities open for the new academic year on 21 September, amid worries that political turmoil will spill over into educational institutions.
Despite growing by leaps and bounds in the past 10 years and expanding higher education access to thousands of needy learners, private universities in Kenya continue to shun science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses, leaving the heavy financial and infrastructural burdens of these subjects to poorly funded public institutions.
NORTH AFRICAWagdy Sawahel
Plans by the Francophone University Association to develop a Maghreb higher education and research ‘space’ to enhance cooperation between French-language universities across the region took a step forward this month at a meeting in Algeria.
Monash South Africa and Laureate Education have unveiled a partnership agreement that will enable the local higher education provider operated by Australia’s Monash University to expand its student enrolment and academic offerings. The move forms part of a broader Laureate initiative to expand its base across developing nations.
South African researchers have become the first to cut sections through pollen grains, making it possible to view a three-dimensional image of the internal wall. This will allow the scientists to determine how the characteristics of the internal wall help to classify plants of particular interest.
Lecturers in public universities in Nigeria have been on strike for the past eight weeks. But students have not been twiddling their thumbs at home. Not sure when studies will resume, many have been busy trying their hands at ‘odd jobs’ or receiving alternative training.
British, Canadian and African universities have been partnering with the University of Hargeisa, in the breakaway state of Somaliland, to boost the institution’s international credibility and the recognition of its qualifications.
AFRICASheldon G Weeks
At the height of winter in Southern Africa, a major historical society meeting was held in Botswana following the theme “All for One, One for All? Leveraging national interests with regional visions in Southern Africa”. It was the first time in 48 years that the Southern African Historical Society had met outside South Africa.
The research environment in the global South faces many pressing challenges, given resource inequality. Technical and financial issues aside, the values and practices shaped by the Northern research agenda contribute just as much to the imbalance.
Since the middle of 2000, a number of initiatives have been launched in Africa to develop common frameworks for comparable and compatible qualifications, to promote academic mobility. Quality and quality assurance play a crucial role in these initiatives. There have been achievements – but there are also major challenges and questions that require further attention.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has appointed the country’s first female higher education minister, Dr Olivia Muchena.
The University of Nyala in Sudan received US$500,000 from the African Development Bank this month to conduct research on the genes of the country’s livestock.
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
After years of delayed legislation, India is poised to allow foreign universities to set up campuses and offer degrees. The Education Ministry announced last week that it would permit foreign universities to operate branches as non-profit companies.
Switzerland is leading a “period of resurgence” for universities in Continental Europe, in the QS World University Rankings published last week. Institutions in Denmark, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands and Norway also improved their positions in the 2013-14 ranking.
An overwhelming majority of Turkish students – 95% – would like to study overseas, and the number of international students in the country has doubled in six years, according to a report released by the British Council ahead of the European Association for International Education’s annual conference held in Istanbul last week.
The Russian government has officially approved the list of leading universities that will receive state subsidies this year of RUB592 million (US$20 million) each to help improve their images in the international arena and their positions in global university rankings.
CHINAMimi Leung and Yojana Sharma
A new campus of the University of Macau, which has relocated over the border in China, has become a magnet for illegal immigrants trespassing on its land.
Japan could soon see a new university entrance system to replace the current, highly competitive exam, which is regarded as rigid and inflexible. There has been intense debate over how the new testing system – which is likely to be more rigorous and based on academic performance and thinking skills – should develop.
The Institute of International Education has announced the launch of a new training course for ministry officials and university representatives in developing and transitioning countries on how to create and manage an effective international relations office. The first course will kick off next month in Myanmar.
Swedish universities are looking to build on the first signs of recovery in the international student market, following the collapse in overseas applications when ‘full-cost’ tuition fees were introduced for non-European students in 2011. But they face a massive uphill task.
Management of research and innovation is emerging as a spec ialised area in higher education, but some South East Asian economies are transforming so rapidly that research and innovation policies are not being put in place fast enough or keeping pace with national economic changes.
EUROPEJan Petter Myklebust
From 2014-20, 25,000 young researchers will receive grants from the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions programme, which has a budget of €4.7 billion (US$6.2 billion). This follows the reaching of an agreement during the European summer on the European Commission’s 8th Research Framework Programme within its Horizon 2020 initiative.
CHINAThe Chronicle of Higher Education
When Xia Yeliang returned home to China this month, after spending the summer as a visiting scholar at Stanford University, he faced an uncertain future. In June Xia, an economics professor at Peking University, said he was told by a Communist Party official that he would face a faculty vote on whether he would be fired. The vote, which is practically unheard of in China, is scheduled for this month and has received international attention, including protests from American academics.
This year's student admissions round in Ukraine highlighted problems with over-centralisation of the higher education system, incomprehensible funding policies and corruption.
GLOBALPhilip G Altbach and Liz Reisberg
The rise of international student recruitment agents tied to particular universities – and the unregulated nature of the business – is undermining international higher education. Universities and governments need to take a stand and ensure that students are making choices based on the best information available.
People have been predicting the end of the university as we know it, but the DNA of our universities is passed on down the generations and the steadiness of their aims is vital in modern times of social and economic upheaval.
GLOBALRyan M Allen
Internationalisation of higher education represents an important form of ‘soft power’. But by failing to ensure the quality of the international student experience, countries are not making the most of it. Governments need to invest in boosting international student integration, as the wider benefits are huge.
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With universities and colleges in European and Asian countries providing low-cost overseas study programmes, an increasing number of working-class parents are sending their children abroad, which means that studying overseas is no longer the exclusive privilege of students from rich families, writes Zhao Xinying for China Daily.
The rector of Greece’s largest university has said that it has no choice but to strike against the government's plans to remove hundreds of administrative staff. Theodoros Pelegrinis, head of the University of Athens, said the government's so-called mobility scheme would leave the university unable to function, reports eNetEnglish.
The free online learning initiative overseen by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology last week added technology giant Google as a partner, writes Nick Anderson for The Washington Post.
Facing sceptical customers, declining enrolments, an antiquated financial model that is haemorrhaging money, and new kinds of low-cost competition, some American universities and colleges may be going the way of the music and journalism industries, writes Jon Marcus for the The Hechinger Report.
Add one more strain to the finances of US universities: a decline in enrolment. Last week the US Census reported that college enrolment declined for the first time in six years in the autumn of 2012. That, in turn, threatens higher education revenue, said Moody's Investors Service, reports Reuters.
Tenured professors at American higher education institutions are certainly given more prestige than other lecturers. But are they better teachers? In a new working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, researchers find quite the opposite – that is, tenured professors or those on their way to tenure don’t enhance student learning as much as lecturers outside the tenure system, writes Khadeeja Safdar for The Wall Street Journal.
A culture of hostility towards international students has been allowed to build up as a result of the Coalition government’s drive to cut levels of net migration, it has been claimed. One university leader suggested that Britain had a “xenophobic population”, writes Graeme Paton for The Telegraph.
A new report aims to show how universities are spending the income from higher tuition fees, conceding that fees have generated extra cash for some institutions, writes John Morgan for Times Higher Education.
A report from the left-leaning Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives forecasts that the inflation-adjusted cost of an undergraduate degree is expected to climb an average of 8.6% over the next four years, extending a trend that has seen the price tag triple over the past two decades, reports The Canadian Press.
The Plaid Cymru party has called for a cross-party consensus on the future funding of universities, after figures showed that Wales is the only nation in Britain where students are more likely to apply to universities outside the country where they live, writes Martin Shipton for Wales Online.
Last week, astrophysicist Amaya Moro-Martín published an open letter to the Spanish prime minister, attracting a great deal of attention and generating some 2,000 comments and 75,000 Facebook likes. Here is her letter in English published in the Guardian.
The Peruvian government has taken a “historic step” by increasing investment in the public higher education sector, with a view to building a developed nation that depends less on raw materials, President Ollanta Humala Tasso said last week, reports Andina.
Tension between Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party and the Middle East Technical University is on the rise over a planned road project crossing through the campus and a recent protest by some students against a group on campus promoting Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen’s movement, reports Hurriyet Daily News.
Executive Secretary for the Inter-University Council for East Africa Professor Mayunga Nkunya has said that Tanzania is lagging behind in university enrolment rates compared to other East African countries, writes Queenter Mawinda for IPP Media.
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