University World News Africa Edition
16 August 2015 Issue 156 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
Africa university rankings must speak to development goals – Summit

In Africa Features, we report on a rankings conversation held at the inaugural Times Higher Education Africa Universities Summit in Johannesburg, at which university leaders called for ‘bespoke’ indicators that encourage positive behaviour and speak to development goals.
Wachira Kigotho outlines an analysis showing that many African universities are facing challenges from conflicts spawned in the Arab world and propelled by Islam.
And in Africa Analysis, Nico Cloete compares the toppling of statues of colonialists Christopher Columbus and Cecil John Rhodes in Argentina and South Africa, and yearns for more complex notions of history to trump populist rhetoric.
In World Blog, Hans de Wit warns that growing international mobility in schools could create an awkward gap at universities if curricula are not internationalised. In News, Brendan O’Malley reports on a new European study that calls for international mobility to be made an integral part of an internationalised curriculum to ensure internationalisation is for all.
In a bumper Commentary section, among others Tom Abeles says the evolution of artificial intelligence will not replace university teachers but will challenge their role. Conor King uncovers evidence that it is not what or where you study that matters most to subsequent income earned, but rather whether you do study. And Munawar A Anees and Maryam Iraj worry that rampant plagiarism is undermining Pakistan’s universities.
Karen MacGregor – Africa Editor
Munyaradzi Makoni

The World Bank-backed African Centres of Excellence initiative is expanding from Central and West Africa to East and Southern Africa. A call for universities that can develop highly skilled personnel and conduct applied research to meet the economic and developmental needs of the region was made in Uganda last month.
Wachira Kigotho

The African Union Commission is pushing for all of its 54 member countries to ratify the UNESCO-backed 2014 Addis Convention – the Revised Convention on the Recognition of Studies, Certificates, Diplomas, Degrees and Other Academic Qualifications in Higher Education in African States. The new protocol replaces the 1981 Arusha Convention, which had only been endorsed by 20 countries.
Tunde Fatunde

Nigeria’s Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, the sole agency mandated to decide admission criteria for tertiary institutions, is enmeshed in controversies over this year’s placements. Parents and the Academic Staff Union of Universities have accused JAMB of double standards and lack of transparency, and an influential NGO has taken it to court.
Gilbert Nganga

There could be major relief on the way for Kenyan graduates as parliament mulls over a law that will bar the state-funded student loans agency from imposing interest and penalties on loans to graduates who remain jobless after completing their studies.
Wagdy Sawahel

Weak links between higher education and the labour market lead to a high level of youth unemployment, which represents a waste of human resources and increases the social exclusion that makes societies vulnerable to civil disorder and political upheaval, says a new report.
Karen MacGregor

Vice-chancellors have launched a new ‘activist’ association called Universities South Africa, which will represent the interests of the university sub-sector of higher education and will speak for the country’s 26 public universities rather than their leaders.
Francis Kokutse

In the face of tertiary education institutions flouting the law, Ghana’s National Accreditation Board has complained of not having the power to prosecute. This follows accusations by the opposition New Patriotic Party that NAB had turned a blind eye to the operations of some 53 unaccredited institutions across the country.
Ashraf Khaled

Egypt’s higher education authorities have said they are studying the development of open education programmes in the nation’s universities after the 25-year-old system drew widespread criticism.
Jane Marshall

A visit by Senegal’s President Macky Sall to his alma mater, the Université Cheikh Anta Diop, was marred by violent protests demanding action over the death of a student killed during clashes with police a year ago. Sall was visiting the university to launch a major expansion and rehabilitation programme for higher education institutions, which includes FCFA34 billion (US$57 million) in World Bank funding.
Karen MacGregor

If the conversation about university rankings is important, then the starting point would be to design a ranking system for Africa that encourages positive conduct – “precisely because we know that rankings are influential, for example in resource allocation”, said University of Johannesburg Vice-Chancellor Ihron Rensburg at the inaugural Times Higher Education Africa Universities Summit held in the city from 30-31 July.
Wachira Kigotho

African higher education systems have become casualties of war, caught in the crossfire of Islamic fundamentalism that cuts across the spectrum of religious and political thought, according to Professor Sultan Barakat, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center.
Nico Cloete

Last month in Latin America, a statue of Christopher Columbus was removed and replaced by one of Juana Azurduy, an Argentine-Indian freedom fighter who liberated Bolivia, Chile and Argentina from the Spanish. Coming from Cape Town, birthplace of the ‘Rhodes Must Fall’ campaign, this sounded familiar. In both cases, but especially that of Rhodes, it is disappointing that more complex notions of history were trumped by populist rhetoric.

With 82,000 young Ivorians passing the school-leaving baccalauréat examination, giving them the right to higher education, but only 30,000 places available in the country’s universities, private Tunisian universities are hoping to attract them – and to extend their offerings to other countries in the region.

Mauritania’s University of Nouakchott and China’s University of Ningxia have signed an agreement to cooperate in the areas of students, teaching staff, exchange visits between university managers, and language studies.
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Brendan O'Malley

Greater focus should be put on internationalisation of the curriculum and learning outcomes, says an important study for the European Parliament, and mobility needs to become an integral part of that curriculum to ensure internationalisation is for all, not just the mobile minority.
Brendan O'Malley

American universities maintain their dominance of the upper echelons of the 2015 Academic Ranking of World Universities released on Saturday. But lower down there has been an across-the-board improvement in the position of Chinese universities.
Mary Beth Marklein

US presidential aspirant Hillary Clinton last week unveiled her US$350 billion plan to make college more affordable, joining other Democratic contenders who have made student debt relief a central part of their platform.
Dinesh De Alwis

Sri Lankans will be voting in the country’s general election on Monday 17 August expecting widespread improvements in the outdated education system and an end to the current turmoil, as rival parties have showered them with promises of reforms and resources.
Linda Yeung

The growing row over a senior leadership appointment at the University of Hong Kong – Hong Kong’s oldest and most-revered institution – has led to concern about its own future and that of academic freedom in the city.
Lee Adendorff

Two of Australia’s leading universities, the Australian National University and Deakin University, will host a new research hub with the aim of developing strategies to counteract violent extremism and the radicalisation of young people on home soil, it was announced last week.
Jan Petter Myklebust

The new Minister of Higher Education and Science Esben Lunde Larsen is on a mission to ‘cultivate the elite’, offering outstanding students specific training at a higher level than their peers.

The satisfaction rate for students studying at UK higher education institutions and further education colleges remains high, despite the tripling of tuition fee rates, with 86% saying they are satisfied overall with their course in this year's National Student Survey.
Jan Petter Myklebust

The Ministry of Education and Research is facing opposition from universities in its attempts to rush through changes in governance of universities, including a plan to appoint rectors and ensure that university boards are chaired by external members.
Hans de Wit

More and more schools are taking an interest in internationalisation, including state schools. Universities need to take advantage of this and ensure they are ready to capitalise on the talents those students bring.
Patrick Blessinger

Lifelong education is necessary to address the dangers of hyper-specialisation, create a more level playing field and to develop our different individual talents and career aspirations. If there is anything like the so-called ‘great equaliser’, perhaps it lies in universal lifelong education and viewing lifelong learning as a human right.
Rahul Choudaha

The slowdown in the Chinese economy doesn’t mean the end of international students from China, as growing numbers of Chinese choosing to do undergraduate courses abroad show. But self-funded graduate education at masters and doctorate levels will face challenges for the next couple of years.
Tom Abeles

Artificial intelligence throws up important questions about the entire administrative structure of higher education institutions.
Conor King

New research on graduates shows it is not so much where you study or when, but that you study that matters in terms of future income.
Munawar A Anees and Maryam Iraj

Academic plagiarism is rife in Pakistan and cannot be fixed by technology. Academics need to wake up to the reality that a growing number of disingenuous individuals are not only stealing our words, but also our values.
Waldemar Siwinski

Students want them and they allow institutions that are world class in particular fields to be recognised, so what is holding back the development of rankings by subject?
David Newman

Cuts to the state budget for Israel’s universities will cause a lot more damage than any academic boycott.
Nuwar Mawlawi Diab

Promoting cultural diplomacy will give students in the Middle East and North Africa region the skills they need to thrive in a globalised world.
Ian Wilhelm, The Chronicle of Higher Education

The American Psychological Association has faced withering scrutiny since the publication of a report that found that it had colluded with the military to establish loose ethics guidelines regarding interrogations of terrorism suspects during the George Bush administration. At the association’s annual meeting, Susan McDaniel, the incoming president, was on stage to answer hard questions, pledge to make changes, and say sorry on the group’s behalf.
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The plight of China’s universities remains a far cry from the excesses of the Mao era. But the clampdown under Xi Jinping still represents a disheartening turn for those who had hoped a period of greater relaxation was on the horizon, writes Tom Phillips for the Guardian.

Leading universities set aside hundreds of exclusive clearing places for overseas students who can boost their coffers with fees of up to £20,000 (US$31,200) a year, writes Eleanor Harding for The Daily Mail.

President Pranab Mukherjee last week pulled up the country’s universities for their failure in making it to the list of the world’s top 200 higher education institutions, saying it was due to their “casual approach” towards international rankings, reports the Deccan Herald.

The richest universities keep getting richer, thanks in part to increasingly enormous gifts. According to data from US News & World Report, the average college endowment was US$355 million at the end of the fiscal year 2013. Some institutions, however, have much, much more, writes Emily Stewart for TheStreet.

The role of universities in driving economic growth is widely known and was canvassed at the recent African Universities summit. But something very valuable, yet often overlooked, is the pivotal role they play at the core of the economic infrastructure and activity of Africa’s cities and towns, writes Samantha Spooner for Mail & Guardian.

An amendment in university rules through an ordinance is on the cards for decreasing the tenure of vice-chancellors of public sector universities from four years to two years while several prominent personalities from the country’s higher education circles have vowed to move the court against the “planned move”, writes Hassaan Ahmed for Pakistan Today.

Education Minister Christopher Pyne has hired a “fixer” to talk to crossbench senators as the government prepares to bring its higher education reforms back before parliament, reports The Australian.

Once, university students were the driving force behind social change, and universities were the epicentre of democracy movements but these days students are more concerned about their so-called "specs" – or specifications, like qualifications and certificates deemed desirable by potential employers – than social issues, writes Choi He-suk for The Korea Herald/ANN.

The Dáil's spending watchdog is to investigate an "anomalous" €160 million (US$178 million) cash mountain in Irish universities which is growing by €30 million a year, write Daniel McConnell and Katherine Donnelly for the Irish Independent.

One of Poland’s university associations is reporting that the number of academics at the country’s higher education institutions is in decline. This has been accompanied by falling student numbers at higher education institutions. Funding problems are being blamed for the drop, writes Jaroslaw Adamowski for Chemistry World.

Top educators have defended Australian universities' move away from requiring mathematics as a prerequisite for science, engineering and commerce degrees in which mathematical knowledge plays a key part, writes Tim Dodd for Australian Financial Review.

New analysis shows that US institutions are far outstripping their UK rivals in the number of Nobel Prizes received, despite the UK producing the second highest number of Nobel Laureates since the millennium, writes Keir Baker for Varsity.

The internet and smartphones have made it easier for students to cheat in exams, a new report into academic misconduct at the University of Sydney has found, writes Cassandra Bedwell for ABC News.

The Department of Higher Education and Training is looking at ways in which it can provide funding to students who come from families that earn too much to qualify for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme but not enough to finance tertiary studies, writes Bekezela Phakathi for BDLive.

University of Illinois trustees plan to begin the process of firing Chancellor Phyllis Wise rather than accept her resignation and pay her a US$400,000 bonus she had negotiated. President Timothy Killeen instead plans to assign her to an advisory position reporting directly to him, writes David Mercer for Associated Press.
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