University World News Africa Edition
19 July 2015 Issue 155 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
Please note that as before, University World News will take a publication break during the northern hemisphere summer holidays. The next e-paper will appear on 16 August. Meanwhile, breaking stories will appear on our website.
African universities need improved peer review, an academic freedom charter

In Africa Analysis, Kwadwo Appiagyei-Atua argues, based on a study he conducted, that it is time for African academics to draft an academic freedom charter. While this will be difficult, the cost of not doing so will be great for universities and countries.
Muhammad Mehmood-Ul-Hassan and Jan De Leeuw contend in an article for the African Academy of Sciences that strengthening peer review would help to improve the quality of science and the skills of African scientists. In Africa Features, Munyaradzi Makoni reports on a study suggesting that banishing widespread plagiarism could help Mozambique nurture the original thinkers needed for development.
In Commentary, Simon Marginson asks if higher education is responsible for the growth of socio-economic inequality, and examines how even elite universities can address barriers to social mobility. Nader Habibi maintains that Saudi Arabia should curb annual enrolment to universities because of graduate joblessness.
Jeffrey Herlihy-Mera outlines how US visa policies are hampering academic freedom by discriminating against scholars from Latin America, Asia, Africa and majority Muslim nations.
In India, Pushkar in Commentary and Yojana Sharma in News investigate the stormy relationship between Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as Sen exits the chancellorship of Nalanda University. And in World Blog, John K Wilson writes that when controversial scholars such as Steven Salaita are sanctioned for having offensive views, it has a chilling effect throughout academia.
Karen MacGregor – Africa Editor
Wagdy Sawahel

Egyptian university students are suffering from a sharp rise in harsh actions taken against them by security forces and university administrations. A new report documents a total of 1,552 violations against students arrested during the past academic year.
Tunde Fatunde

Calls for the payment of salary backlogs by staff in state universities resumed after the recent elections in Nigeria. There had been a lull during pre-election campaigns, when soon-to-be President Muhammadu Buhari had promised to pay all salary arrears of public servants if his party was voted into power.
Jane Marshall

The highly reputed Institut International d’Ingénierie de l’Eau et de l’Environnement, or 2iE, has been in crisis for several months, with some staff, students and parents protesting against what they claim is disastrous and incompetent management, according to press reports. The director general has rebutted the accusations, and says he is open to negotiation.
Francis Kokutse

Foreign tertiary institutions in Ghana have been directed by the National Accreditation Board to ensure that only students with certificates awarded by institutions accredited by the board be admitted to PhD courses. It is also concerned about a spate of honorary degrees awarded to personalities by some unaccredited or unqualified institutions.
Munyaradzi Makoni

The Africa-European Union Renewable Energy Cooperation Programme is shaping renewable energy market development with support for training the next generation of energy professionals and promoting renewable energy research in Africa.
Maina Waruru

Kenya’s plan to revitalise post-secondary technical and vocational institutions – aimed at imparting engineering, science and technical skills to thousands more young people – is finally taking shape thanks to a US$62 million loan from the African Development Bank.
Maina Waruru

The Uganda-based Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture, or RUFORUM, has received a boost for its doctoral training programme with a grant of US$1.5 million from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
Munyaradzi Makoni

Banishing academic dishonesty could help Mozambique nurture original thinkers who are economically efficient and socially suited to develop the country. But this will only be possible if administrators work with professors and students to build strong measures to combat widespread plagiarism, which is hampering the production of quality graduates, says a new report.
Kwadwo Appiagyei-Atua

It is time for African academics to consider drafting a charter on academic freedom. It will be a daunting task. But the costs of failing to protect this basic human right, as other countries across the globe use universities to create new ideas and intellectual properties essential to the growth of the knowledge economy, will be great for African universities and nation states.
Muhammad Mehmood-Ul-Hassan and Jan De Leeuw

Strengthening African scientists’ capacity to conduct credible peer review would be one small step to improving the quality of the continent’s science and building the skills of its scientists. Both are key to helping Africa develop its own research agenda.
David Richard Walwyn

The rapid expansion of government funding for science in South Africa is perhaps surprising given the present climate of spending cutbacks amid urgent social priorities. Funding for public science in South Africa has increased by 71% in five years. It will reach R7.6 billion in 2015-16.

Preparations for enrolling an increased number of first-year students into higher education in Algeria are well under way for the 2015-16 academic year, with an extra 76,000 places and 50,000 beds across the country, announced Tahar Hadjar, the higher education and scientific research minister.

The West African Economic and Monetary Union and UNESCO are equipping six of the region’s eight major universities with computer facilities and networks at a total cost of FCFA6 billion (US$10 million).
Munyaradzi Makoni

A University of the Witwatersrand independent appeal and review committee has upheld a decision made in May to remove Mcebo Dlamini, the former student representative council president, from office for misconduct. Dlamini sparked outrage in South Africa for professing deep admiration for Hitler.

Burkina Faso’s Transitional National Council has passed legislation to create a National Academy of Sciences of Burkina, with the aim of promoting socio-economic development through science, humanities, arts and culture.
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Mary Beth Marklein

Critics are predicting mass resignations from the American Psychological Association over its role in supporting the use of “enhanced” interrogation techniques by US national security agencies in Guantanamo Bay and other US detention centres abroad, detailed in the findings of an independent investigation.
Eugene Vorotnikov

The Russian government plans to make national military universities the most prestigious higher education institutions in the country, triple their funding and add to their number during the next several years, according to an official spokesman of the Russian Ministry of Defence.
Brendan O’Malley

A group of senior academics, university leaders, scholar rescue organisations and scholarship providers from around the world met at York University, England, on Friday to agree an accord on protecting higher education during conflict and rebuilding it afterwards.
Peta Lee

There are gaping holes in data analysis skills training which should be addressed by an upgrading of data analysis and skills provision at schools and universities, according to two new reports. They call for the embedding of quantitative analysis skills across university disciplines and recommend a kite-marking system to identify relevant courses to prospective university applicants and employers.
Ian Wilhelm, The Chronicle of Higher Education

The nuclear accord announced last Tuesday among Iran, the United States and five other countries faces political hurdles before becoming a done deal. But the possibility of a warmer relationship between America and Iran after more than 30 years of animosity will very likely benefit fledgling efforts to develop links in higher education.
Yojana Sharma

As Nobel laureate Amartya Sen last week stepped down as chancellor of the new Nalanda University, which is being revived on the site of the ancient institution in Bihar state, he slammed the government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “extraordinarily large” interference in Nalanda and other higher education institutions in the country, accusing the government of jeopardising academic autonomy.
Ameen Amjad Khan

A senior US official has called for independent verification of Afghan government figures on the use of US education aid following claims by Afghan ministers that the previous government had provided data on US-funded school and higher education projects that were flawed, tempered and exaggerated, and had interfered with university entrance exams.
Michael Gardner

Germany’s federal and state governments have called on the country’s major research institutions to review their employment conditions and career structures. They are particularly critical of the under-representation of women in these institutions.
David Jobbins

The Labour opposition in England has warned that the latest efforts by universities to increase the numbers of students from low income families and other disadvantaged groups may not be enough to offset the effect of the abolition of maintenance grants announced in the 8 July Budget.
Simon Marginson

Higher education alone cannot bring greater social equality. Higher education researchers need to focus on improving access to elite institutions and creating the conditions necessary for building stronger mass higher education institutions.
Nader Habibi

The Saudi government has invested heavily in higher education, but it is likely to be producing too many graduates for the available jobs. Instead, it could put the money into improving the quality of its research output.
Jeffrey Herlihy-Mera

Until the US Visa Waiver Program is abolished or the US visa requirements are made universal for all non-citizens, academic societies should hold their annual events in nations where visa policies are equitable for all.

George Yeo follows Amartya Sen as chancellor of Nalanda University, but will he face the same problems associated with creating an international university in one of India’s poorest states?
Richard Garrett

Post-secondary education providers and initiatives are focusing on ways to increase graduate employability. Are they a threat to universities?
John K Wilson

The Steven Salaita case has repercussions for academic speech that are much wider than one individual’s right to express controversial views on Twitter.
Brendan O’Malley

School education should be used as a recruiting ground for foreign students to secure higher education enrolments, according to a Victoria government paper examining how to combat rising competition from universities in Asian countries.
Geoff Maslen

The intelligence of animals can be estimated by the size of the holes in the skull which the arteries pass through, according to novel research by biologists at the University of Adelaide, because hole size results from brain activity being related to the metabolic rate.
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There is no earnings advantage to attending a ‘sandstone university’ compared with less prestigious institutions, a major economic study has found. The latest Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey found graduates from the elite Group of Eight universities earn no more on average than those who attended regional universities and less than those attending other universities, writes Matthew Knott for The Sydney Morning Herald.

International students in the UK will be banned from working while they are studying and will be forced to leave when their degree finishes in an attempt to crack down on visa fraud, the Home Office has confirmed, writes Lucy Sherriff for Huffington Post.

Higher education institutions will not need cabinet nod for collaboration with foreign institutions, an order from the cabinet secretariat said. The latest order communicated to the Human Resource Development Ministry is the reversal of an earlier order from the cabinet secretariat which said every memorandum of understanding with a foreign institution would need to pass through the cabinet, writes Brajesh Kumar for Hindustan Times.

Universities are not allowed to lure students with unreasonable perks such as excessive scholarships or placement promises, the ministry of education announced recently in a notice regulating university recruitment, writes Zhao Xinying for China Daily.

Introducing free online courses, converting facilities to suit ‘flipped classroom’ learning, and exploring new pedagogies that leverage on mobile technology. These are some of the initiatives that Singapore universities are working on, as institutions around the world find new ways to accommodate students' changing learning habits, writes Calvin Yang for The Straits Times.

Jessica Zhang, a 21-year-old Chinese student from Jiangsu Province, says her English wasn't strong enough to fill in her US college admission form. So her parents paid three consultants US$4,500 to fill out the application, write her personal essay and compose teacher recommendation letters. She says she's unaware that her application could be considered fraudulent and even get her expelled, write Shen Lu and Katie Hunt for CNN.

More than 70 professors and other faculty members at Kyoto’s Doshisha University say they are “ashamed” by comments from their president, Koji Murata, in support of a set of security bills at a Diet committee hearing last week, writes Tomohiro Osaki for The Japan Times.

Universities may attract penalties, including a freeze of grants, if its teachers are found to be guiding more than eight PhD students at any given point in time as part of a drive to plug lacunae in research. The University Grants Commission will also ask all universities to use anti-plagiarism software to ensure that thesis papers reflect genuine research, writes Basant Kumar Mohanty for The Telegraph India.

Universities will be able to raise fees from their record level of £9,000 (US$14,000) a year, the Chancellor George Osborne has declared, making it clear that those that could show good quality would be allowed to raise their fees by the level of inflation from the year 2017-18, writes Richard Garner for The Independent.

The US Department of Education has dismissed a complaint filed against Harvard University earlier this year by 64 Asian-American groups, including four Indian-American organisations, that had accused the Ivy League institution of discriminating against Asian-origin applicants in its admissions process, reports the Press Trust of India.

Kenan Yavuz, the CEO of SOCAR Turkey, the Turkish arm of the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic, said recently via his twitter account that the Higher Education Board, known as YÖK, has set up an unsustainable state of affairs among Turkish young people, claiming that he throws the CVs of university graduates in the garbage, reports Today’s Zaman.

Newly appointed Stellenbosch University Vice-Chancellor Professor Wim de Villiers has said the government should put more energy into sorting out the corruption that has dogged the National Student Financial Aid Scheme and seen countless disadvantaged youths missing out on higher education opportunities, writes Bekezela Phakathi for Business Day.

On the tennis courts of a posh Islamabad country club, veteran coach Mahboob Khan drills his charges, but they aren’t dreaming of the pristine lawns of Wimbledon. For these young Pakistanis, taking up tennis has a more practical application – as a ticket to a top US university on a sports scholarship, reports AFP.
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