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NEWSLETTERAlliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa launched
In a Special Report ahead of next month’s conference of the International Council for Open and Distance Education, we interview Professor Mandla Makhanya – vice-chancellor of the University of South Africa, which is hosting the event – about global developments in this transforming field of higher education and the challenges and prospects for African universities.
In News, Wachira Kigotho attends the launch of the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa, a major initiative that will help drive efforts to boost the quality and quantity of research on the continent.
Geoff Maslen reports in Africa Features on last week’s revelation by a global team of researchers of the discovery of ancient human relative Homo naledi, and a record number of fossilised bones, in a cave in South Africa. Munyaradzi Makoni covers a Leadership Dialogue on Global Trends in Technology and e-Learning, where vice-chancellors agreed the need for further investigation and more data to support efforts to drive effective online learning practices.
In Commentary, Lynn Davies contends that legislation against terrorism and political dissent can cause such dissent to withdraw to unsupervised spaces and could make us less safe – it is better to educate against extremism. Angel Calderon warns higher education institutions to prepare for a range of new scenarios as the next 25 years could see a shift in cross-border mobility of students, academics, skills and ideas. And Jane Knight and John McNamara report that a major survey on transnational education paints an overall positive picture of its impact in host countries, especially in providing increased access for local students.
Karen MacGregor – Africa Editor
The African Academy of Sciences and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development have launched the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa, with the ambition to raise the quality and quantity of the continent’s research output. Two new research initiatives were also announced, including a US$70 million grant to develop world-class researchers.
Some academics and students have slammed as unfair a new admissions system for public universities in Egypt, based on where students live. Which university a student is allowed to attend will be linked to the student's hometown.
SOUTH AFRICAMunyaradzi Makoni
The study of how people process and document the human experience in order to understand and record the world is set for growth with a new ‘flagship’ programme in humanities at the University of the Western Cape. The ‘flagship’ is a new institutional form aimed at responding to gaps in the framework of higher education in South Africa.
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has reportedly pledged top priority for an increase in university funding, and has instructed the National Universities Commission and the federal education ministry to work out how this might best be done. The populous country’s leader is said to be disturbed by the poor performance of Nigerian universities in rankings.
The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa – CODESRIA – has stepped up initiatives to boost academic research, with two mega grant facilities meant to mobilise support for the continent’s universities.
Although Sub-Saharan Africa countries have allocated large shares of government spending to education, the region’s university enrolment rates are among the lowest in the world and a severe mismatch still exists between the skills young Africans have and those employers need, according to a new ‘State of Education in Africa’ report.
Tunisia, in cooperation with Germany, has officially opened the first centre for guidance and professional re-training, aimed at matching and adapting the university qualifications of young job seekers to the future needs of the job market.
A new academy of sciences and technologies of Algeria will be opened this month, Minister for Higher Education and Scientific Research Tahar Hadjar has announced. He also stressed the importance of the role of universities within the economy.
Tensions rose at the University of Antananarivo in Ankatso, Madagascar, when a student was badly beaten by police during a violent demonstration against striking lecturers. The industrial action has halted courses for nearly two months.
26th ICDE WORLD CONFERENCE
The International Council for Open and Distance Education, or ICDE, is holding its world conference in the mega-resort Sun City near Johannesburg from 14-16 October, hosted by the University of South Africa. University World News is the media partner. This is the fourth of a series of articles that engage with global ideas and developments in open and distance learning, around the conference theme of “Growing Capacities for Sustainable Distance e-Learning Provision”.
People from across the world have been collaborating to develop policies and actions that will chart the future for higher education, says Professor Mandla Makhanya, vice-chancellor of the University of South Africa. A high-level policy forum at next month’s conference of the International Council for Open and Distance Education will apply regional lenses to help forge the way ahead for online, open and flexible learning.
Revelations last week by a global team of academics and scientists that a previously unknown but ancient relative of humankind had been discovered in a South African cave have generated media coverage around the world. That is not just because a new species has been added to the Homo family of which humans are the sole living members, but because of the record number of fossilised bones – 1,550 – found in the cave.
Further investigation and more data are needed to develop the knowledge, management and skills needed to drive effective online learning practices at universities in Southern Africa, a meeting of higher education leaders heard last week.
SOUTH AFRICADavid J Hornsby
Stories emerging about black students’ experiences in South African universities are nothing short of tragic. Higher education needs to get to grips with transformation. There is no silver bullet, but rethinking how our universities are governed must be central to our efforts.
The new Hassan II agronomic and environmental sciences faculty in Gaza, financed by the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, was inaugurated on 24 August. The new institution – named after the king’s father – cost more than US$6 million to construct.
Attempts to curb free speech on campus will not protect the world from terrorism and could make it more dangerous.
The next 25 years could see a shift in the countries sending students for study abroad and receiving countries may face a challenge to replace large markets like China and Brazil.
GLOBALJane Knight and John McNamara
New research suggests a fairly positive assessment of transnational education, or TNE, in receiving countries, particularly with regard to access for local students.
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Breaking with their conventional reserve on political matters, Japanese academia is playing a leading role in the country’s growing public protests against a set of new security bills that will pave the way to end the country’s post World War II pacifist policy, which is also enshrined in the constitution.
UNITED KINGDOMBrendan O'Malley
Teaching has been neglected in the pursuit of brand reputation via international rankings in parts of the United Kingdom’s higher education system, and the patchiness of teaching quality is damaging the reputation of UK universities, the minister for universities and science told university leaders last Wednesday.
A recent announcement by Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung of a moratorium on new joint university projects with foreign governments could delay the transformation of an institute in Da Nang province into a new Vietnam-UK university.
UNITED STATESPeter Schmidt, The Chronicle of Higher Education
In a move likely to reassure free-speech advocates and anger some Jewish groups, the University of California has opted not to consider equating certain types of criticism of Israel with anti-Semitic harassment or bias.
A UK academic and United Nations consultant held for four days at Bangkok airport over an old case against him by the country’s former National Innovation Agency or NIA, has been freed and is demanding an apology and action against a former NIA director.
UNITED KINGDOMBrendan O'Malley
Funding very short taster visits could be an effective way to increase demand for more substantial study or other student experiences abroad, as well as providing a valuable international experience, according to new research.
DENMARKJan Petter Myklebust
New guidelines for higher education institutions aimed at making Denmark a more attractive destination for international students have been announced.
Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron knew it would take drastic action to ensure that universities produced students who studied for – rather than paid for – their grades.
Higher education systems need to create more flexible structures in order to open up lifelong learning opportunities to all segments of society.
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Ivy League universities like Harvard and Yale could set up campuses in India soon with the government asking its policy think tank, NITI Aayog, to prepare a framework for opening doors to foreign universities, writes Chetan Chauhan for the Hindustan Times.
United States universities and colleges have experienced a 32% increase in numbers of students from India since last year as compared to 9% internationally, reports the Press Trust of India.
From a political scientist’s perspective, Uzbekistan is almost certainly an authoritarian government. It therefore came as little surprise when the government recently banned the teaching of political science on the grounds that it is a Western pseudo-science that does not take the ‘Uzbek model’ of development into account, writes Alec Luhn for The Observer.
For a decade, Germany’s government has tried to explode the myth that all the country’s universities are equal. In 2006, it launched an 11-year, €4.6 billion (US$5.2 billion) programme that aimed to make the best German universities more competitive with the likes of Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard. The campaign, called the Excellence Initiative, led to 14 institutions gaining the common – although unofficial – label of ‘elite’, write Quirin Schiermeier and Richard van Noorden for Nature.com.
The slumping Chinese economy is not only startling US stock traders; it is also causing jitters among another group close to home: admissions officers at local colleges, write Laura Krantz and Jacqueline Tempera for The Boston Globe.
Australia's top eight universities have urged the federal government to stop funding PhD research students at universities that are below world standard in a given subject area, writes Tim Dodd for the Australian Financial Review.
International students are turning away from the UK because of Prime Minister David Cameron’s efforts to curb migration, university and business leaders say, damaging the economy and raising the risk that some courses may close, writes Hannah Murphy for Bloomberg.
Mexico's official account of the abduction and apparent massacre of 43 students last year does not add up, a team of international experts said recently, citing deep flaws in the government's investigation and dismissing its claims that the victims were incinerated in a garbage dump, writes Lizbeth Diaz for Reuters.
The ever-increasing demand for faculty in private, new-age universities has pushed the salary packages for senior faculty like vice-chancellors and deans past the Rs1-crore or INR10 million mark (US$150,300), write Prachi Verma and Varuni Khosla for The Economic Times.
Students around the country – and often their parents – have racked up so much college debt since the recession that it now threatens the nation's economic growth, writes Jim Puzzanghera for the Los Angeles Times.
South African students in China on government scholarships report what they consider luxurious conditions, excellent teaching and a warm welcome. But despite South African students loving the country, China is not entirely happy with the African influx, writes Phillip de Wet for the Mail & Guardian.
The government has ordered an inquiry into the sexist ‘lad culture’ at the country's universities, amid fears it is endangering female students, writes Flora Drury for Mail Online.
An online university has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help refugees get back into further education after being displaced from their home country, writes Aftab Ali for The Independent.
More than 20 years on from the end of apartheid, the pressure for South Africa’s universities to shed their old identities and to embrace transformation is greater than ever, writes Chris Havergal for Times Higher Education.
Earlier generations of Chinese overseas students were perceived as frugal, diligent and idealistic, but this is no longer the case, writes Yi-Ling Liu for The Straits Times.
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