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NEWSLETTERMauritius – Striving hard to be Africa’s leading higher education hub
University World News reports on the Mauritius International Knowledge Investment Forum 2014 held in London, aimed at advancing the Indian Ocean island’s vigorous efforts to attract more international universities and students.
On the 20th anniversary of South Africa’s democracy, John Goddard calls on universities and funders in South Africa and elsewhere to come out of silos and assume their rightful role as key institutions in building civil society, and Annsilla Nyar contends that far bolder steps need to be taken by universities if they are to do justice to transformative goals outlined in the country’s National Development Plan.
In Africa Features, Wagdy Sawahel interviews Dr Marek Hrubec, a Czech philosopher who has become the first rector of a new university in Africa’s troubled Great Lakes region.
In Commentary, John Aubrey Douglass presents the concept of the Flagship University – one focused on excellence and research but grounded in national and regional service – as an alternative to the World Class University paradigm articulated through world rankings.
Richard Holmes sooths fears in New Zealand that its universities are slipping down the rankings, and Brianne Kent contends that the publishing system is broken and academia should move to archiving and post-publication review to foster collaboration and free up more time for research.
In World Blog, Roger Y Chao Jr argues that improving higher education quality will be more important to internationalisation efforts of universities in the Philippines and Thailand than changing academic calendars.
And in Global Features, Alya Mishra reports on how universities in India have become embroiled in controversies during high-octane national elections, and María Elena Hurtado looks at radical higher education reforms in Chile.
Karen MacGregor – Africa Editor
Recognition that universities – and research universities in particular – are critical to development and to building knowledge economies will enable Africa to grow its prosperity for the next 50 years, African Union chair Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said last week.
Egypt's state-run universities, hit by months of anti-government protests, have brought forward end-of-year examinations by three weeks – drawing angry reactions from students.
Egyptian lecturers and academic freedom groups have called on international human rights organisations to support the release of detained academics and students and a halt to violations of rights in universities, in a report that also records the deaths, arrests or fleeing of 212 academics.
Kenya is seeking to audit its science and technology offering, hoping to ride on its growing role as a regional hub for emerging technologies.
Fifteen graduates of the digital Campus Numérique Francophone of Kinshasa have received their awards for successful online studies, including certificates for completing massive open online courses or MOOCs.
A new university has opened in northeast Burundi, committed to promoting higher education and research for rural development in the long-suffering Great Lakes region. "Building peace, prosperity and hope is the important message of our university," said the first rector of East Africa Star University, Czech philosopher Dr Marek Hrubec.
Mauritius – A new higher education hub
The Mauritius International Knowledge Investment Forum 2014 was held in London last month, attended by representatives of governments, universities and related organisations. It was part of the Indian Ocean island’s intensive efforts to become a leading African higher education hub and to attract international universities and students.
Positioning itself at the crossroads between Africa and Asia, Mauritius is also looking north – especially to France and Britain, where it has strong historical ties. Africa’s most developed country is striving to become the continent's leading higher education hub. Many international universities are already there.
A common problem for branch campuses is persuading home university academics to teach at them. Not so for universities that have set up in beautiful, sunny Mauritius. Medine Education Village – an integrated higher education, research and lifestyle development – plans to capitalise on the Indian Ocean island’s popular tourist destination status to attract overseas universities and students.
Africa has a highly mobile student population, with more than 380,000 students abroad. An ambitious higher education hub goal of Mauritius is to grow its international student numbers from a current 1,000 to 100,000, many of them from elsewhere in Africa.
Aberystwyth University in Wales is the latest university to announce plans to open a campus in Mauritius. It expects to launch four undergraduate degrees and one masters programme in September, and to locate in a new residential campus near the capital Port Louis next year.
South Africa – HE in a new democracy
South Africa is celebrating 20 years of democracy. The higher education system has nearly doubled in size since the first democratic elections on 27-28 April 1994 and has been restructured and transformed. University World News looks at the sector and some of its challenges today, as seen through the eyes of academics.
SOUTH AFRICAJohn Goddard
Trevor Manuel, minister in the presidency and chair of the National Planning Commission, has challenged South African universities to step up to the plate and actively contribute to the future development of the country and its various local communities.
SOUTH AFRICAAnnsilla Nyar
The Third Biennial Research and Innovation Conference of the vice-chancellors’ association Higher Education South Africa, held from 2-4 April in Pretoria, could be seen as a bold step towards deconstructing the vision of the country’s National Planning Commission for the higher education sector.
SOUTH AFRICAKaren MacGregor
Looking back over two decades of democracy and to challenges ahead, South African vice-chancellors identified six key issues they consider critical to higher education’s future health – student access and success, research and postgraduate education, transformation, securing the next generation of academics, institutional diversity, and funding growth.
The rector of the Universite Gaston Berger de Saint-Louis has announced that a Confucius Institute is to open at the university. Professor Lamine Guèye confirmed the launch of Senegal’s second institute following a visit by Chinese ambassador Xia Huang to the university, reported Le Soleil.
Six months after graduating, nearly 450 newly qualified teachers demonstrated peacefully in Dakar, calling on the government to assign them to permanent posts in the public sector.
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
The number of British students considering study overseas has increased by 17% in a year to more than one in three, a report by Education Intelligence, the British Council's higher education research division, has found.
In the wake of the Swiss referendum on immigration, the University of Basel has announced an ambitious internationalisation strategy. Other institutions in Switzerland are also eager to cushion the impacts of the referendum on academic exchange.
The Russian government may invest up to US$1 billion in the development of higher education in Crimea, which it controversially controls following February’s Ukrainian Revolution.
UNITED KINGDOMDavid Jobbins
Should students be pursued beyond the grave for outstanding loans? The idea has already been floated unofficially in Australia, in a report for the Grattan Institute by Andrew Norton. Now Nick Hillman, director of Britain’s Higher Education Policy Institute, discusses its advantages for England in a new study of the UK and Australian loans systems.
Graduation is usually a time of celebration, with lavish parties and huge banquets hosted by proud families. But the national atmosphere is muted. With graduate unemployment in the Philippines reaching alarming levels, the outlook is poor for the latest crop of around 700,000 students expected to graduate this month, according to trade union statistics.
Amid the highly charged political atmosphere of India’s ongoing national elections, a leading college in Mumbai has become embroiled in a political row about the role of universities during elections – particularly how far they should remain apolitical while continuing to be bastions of free speech.
CHILEMaría Elena Hurtado
Chile’s new centre left president Michelle Bachelet made turning education from a consumer good into a social right a campaign promise. Doing away with ‘mercantilism’ in education is one of the key demands of students who have been campaigning for reforms since 2011.
UNITED STATESMarc Parry, The Chronicle of Higher Education
Many professors and students gravitate to Google as a gateway to research. Libraries want to offer them a comparably simple and broad experience for searching academic content. As a result, a major change is under way in how libraries organise information. Instead of bewildering users with a bevy of databases – books here, articles there – many libraries are bulldozing their digital silos. They now offer one-stop search boxes that comb entire collections, Google style.
ASIARoger Y Chao Jr
Recent moves by the Philippines and Thailand to change their academic calendars have been bolstered by arguments about internationalising higher education. However, academic calendars are a reflection of diverse cultures and other issues are surely more important for student mobility, including the quality of higher education on offer.
GLOBALJohn Aubrey Douglass
The concept of the World Class University is cited across the world, but it represents a paradigm that is not achievable or useful for many countries. There is a need for another paradigm – the Flagship University – a model that does not ignore international standards of excellence focused largely on research productivity, but is grounded in national and regional service.
NEW ZEALANDRichard Holmes
Recent reports that New Zealand universities are slipping down the world rankings are not a cause for concern and could suggest rather that the universities need to be more careful about the data they supply to ranking organisations.
The publishing system is broken and the ‘publish or perish’ culture is impeding the discovery process. Academia should move to an archive system and post-publication review which would be more transparent, foster the collaborative nature of science and ensure scientists spend more time on research.
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The United States Supreme Court dealt another blow to affirmative action programmes last Tuesday, upholding the right of states to ban racial preferences in university admissions, reports USA Today.
Attacks in Iraq, including a suicide bombing at a university in north Baghdad, killed at least nine people last Sunday, security and medical officials said, reports The News.
China is building large covert informant networks inside Australia's leading universities, prompting Australia to strengthen its counter-intelligence capabilities, reports John Garnaut for Fairfax Media.
How can the Indian government improve the quality of education at the majority of the country’s universities, colleges and institutes? This is more than a question for questioning’s sake: it is of vital importance in a country of 1.27 billion people, half of them under the age of 25, writes Pushkar P for The Conversation.
Leading universities in the United Kingdom, including Oxford, have been embroiled in a row over ‘grade inflation’ after figures suggested they awarded more top degrees than expected, writes Graeme Paton for The Telegraph.
Mohammed S Dajani Daoudi is an unlikely advocate for peace between Palestinians and Israelis. He trained as a guerrilla with the Palestine Liberation Organisation, was banned from Israel for 25 years because of his prominent role in Yasir Arafat’s Fatah group, and still refers to Israelis as “my enemy”, writes Matthew Kalman for The Chronicle of Higher Education.
The Virginia Supreme Court in the United States has rejected a conservative group's attempt to obtain a University of Virginia climate researcher's emails, reports Larry O’Dell for Associated Press.
A growing number of universities in Japan are introducing software systems to detect plagiarism in academic papers amid the evolving controversy over the ‘STAP cell’ papers produced by Riken, the state-backed research institute, reports The Japan Times.
Students buying assignments, forging signatures and using phones in exams were among more than 540 cases of cheating dealt with by universities last year, reports the Otago Daily Times. The most serious cases saw students expelled or suspended from study, fined up to NZ$600 (US$515) or given a zero mark.
Sri Lanka is opening up its higher education system to attract significant investment, with plans to allow 10 private universities from abroad to operate locally by 2020, an official said last Wednesday, reports IANS.
With the relationship between Japan and South Korea on the rocks, the University of Tokyo and Seoul National University are hoping to catalyse improved ties by setting up offices at each other's campus to promote active exchanges, writes Kazutaka Ito for The Asahi Shimbun.
The number of graduates produced by Vietnam universities every year is 10 times the demand for them. That is according to an unemployment report released by the Ministry of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs, which spotlighted the high unemployment rate of workers with higher education, reports VietNamNet Bridge.
The number of prospective students seeking places in Swedish universities has increased for the seventh year in a row, reports The Local.
An Australian government report has set off a war of words over the prospect of federal support of for-profit higher education providers, reports Andrew Trounson for The Australian.
Three of Scotland’s leading universities have quit business organisation the CBI as the row escalates over its formal support for the ‘No’ campaign in the referendum, writes Scott MacNab for The Scotsman.
Official figures and leaders of universities have revealed that higher education is facing a new challenge in the problem of a lack of engineers, writes Fabio Takahashi for Fohla de S Paulo.
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