|11 October 2015||Issue 160||Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week||Advanced Search|
NEWSLETTERHopes of recovery amid the rubble of universities in civil war-wracked Libya
In Africa Analysis, Wachira Kigotho reports on a call at the launch of the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa for major efforts to increase Africa’s share of world scientific production – or risk most young people becoming long-term unemployed.
In Africa Features, Elizia Volkmann describes the dire situation for higher education in Libya, where civil war has closed some universities and impeded operations in others. Francis Kokutse finds the Association of African Universities concerned about lack of quality assurance in many institutions, and the Economic Community of West African States preparing to harmonise pre-university qualifications. And in Kenya, Gilbert Nganga outlines multiple crises in higher education around recognition of degrees, tuition fees and student loan delivery.
In Commentary, Anand Kulkarni and Angel Calderon focus on the Global Innovation Index, and how middle income economies are faring and how they might progress. Ivan Sterligov, Alfiya Enikeeva and Victor Trofimov discuss the tendency for Russians to publish more in the physical sciences, while some former Soviet states have shifted the disciplinary structure of their publication output.
In World Blog, Rajani Naidoo urges universities to work together to promote global wellbeing, despite the growing competition between universities for global positional advantage.
In a Special Report, Yojana Sharma covers a conference on access and equity in higher education held in Malaysia, organised by the Global Access to Post-Secondary Education initiative.
Karen MacGregor – Africa Editor
The African Development Bank has released US$98 million for the establishment of four East Africa centres of excellence in biomedical sciences, to be established at universities in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. A fifth centre will be created later in Burundi.
Universities and other post-school institutions in Tanzania have been ordered to remain closed as the East African nation gears up for a general election on 25 October, according to media reports quoting higher education authorities.
A ban by Cairo University, Egypt’s biggest public higher education institution, on women lecturers wearing the full-face veil – the niqab – has sparked controversy among academics in this mostly Muslim country.
SOUTH AFRICAKaren MacGregor
South African President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday announced the creation of a national task team “to explore solutions to short-term student funding challenges”. The decision was taken during a meeting with vice-chancellors and university council leaders increasingly concerned about issues such as student violence, politicisation of campuses and insufficient financial aid.
SOUTH AFRICAMunyaradzi Makoni
Minister of Higher Education and Training Dr Blade Nzimande has issued guidelines for student housing at public universities, aimed at expanding and improving sometimes dire accommodation through minimum standards. South Africa previously had no policies governing housing at universities.
The Nigerian Medical Association and academics are once again at loggerheads over criteria for selecting vice-chancellors. The controversy is over the status of medical fellowships versus non-medical PhDs, and it has refused to go away.
The Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie, which promotes higher education and research in French-speaking universities throughout the world, has appointed a new director, Jean-Paul de Gaudemar.
Morocco has unveiled a strategy to tackle a shortage of teachers specialised in mathematics and foreign languages. It includes new initiatives that will be implemented by universities and other higher education institutions.
Independent engineering schools in Tunisia are awaiting the introduction of new, tougher specifications that should ensure the quality of their diplomas is up to standard. But some are accusing the government of deliberately impeding development of the private sector – although the move follows a strike by engineering students complaining that private schools are favoured.
The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture, RUFORUM, has launched an ambitious crowd-funding campaign to raise money to train more postgraduate students over the next five years.
Recent weeks have seen some university students in Libya sit examinations. It is a sign that things may be improving after the worst 18 months in the history of higher education. The civil war that has been wracking the country has seen universities bombed. Some institutions have had to halt education, and operations have been impeded at others.
As the Association of African Universities lamented lack of quality assurance at many of the more than 1,000 universities spread across the continent, the Economic Community of West African States – the powerful regional political grouping known as ECOWAS – was preparing to develop regional criteria for harmonising pre-university qualifications.
When Amos Ngila, a second-year law student at Moi University in Kenya, phoned his father recently to update him on campus events, what he said was so shattering that his dad hung up. The news was that the law school had been closed down, there was an impending tuition fee increase and Ngila was yet to receive his student loan, more than a month into the semester.
Africa’s quest for scientific independence is likely to be a long journey on a bumpy road full of potholes, leading to who knows where, taking into account that the continent has no culture of philanthropy and government expenditure on research and development is extremely low. That was one of the key messages from scientists attending the launch forum of the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa, held in Nairobi last month.
Engineers will play a vital role in meeting the challenges laid out by the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals. But there is a long road ahead for engineering in Africa, which needs at least a tenfold increase in relevant skills. To do this, it must dramatically raise the number of people who make it from the first year of an engineering degree to graduation.
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
GLOBALMary Beth Marklein
US research universities dominate US News & World Report's second annual global higher education rankings, and an expansion in the numbers of institutions included this year helped to catapult China into the number two slot, ahead of the United Kingdom and Germany.
The German Academic Exchange Service and the Indian University Grants Commission are stepping up cooperation. A new higher education partnership programme has been signed during a visit by a German delegation headed by Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Australia’s universities are calling for a bold new research and innovation investment strategy, arguing that it is vital to the economic transformation that the government and opposition parties both say the country must make.
DENMARKJan Petter Myklebust
The scientific impact of Danish publications linked to the European Sixth and Seventh Framework Programmes is “outstanding”, according to a ministry report.
UNITED STATESJeffrey R Young, The Chronicle of Higher Education
MOOCs may soon become a prominent factor in admissions decisions at selective colleges, after the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced last week that it plans a pilot programme in which students who do well in its MOOCs will enhance their chances of admission to MIT's masters programme and be able to finish the degree in one semester instead of two.
Meeting the global challenge of building equitable knowledge economies was the theme of an international conference organised by the Global Access to Post-Secondary Education, or GAPS, initiative in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, last week. Yojana Sharma reports for University World News.
Many countries are promoting rapid expansion of higher education, but the challenge is to ensure it is equitable and includes the marginalised populations, to prevent a widening income gap and ensuing social problems, delegates were told at a conference organised by the Global Access to Post-Secondary Education initiative, held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on 5-8 October.
Inequity is rife in higher education across poor countries and rich, whatever the economic or political ideology. But finding a way to measure unequal participation in post-secondary education, even within countries, has so far proved elusive, the Global Access to Post-Secondary Education conference, in Kuala Lumpur, was told last Tuesday.
University access for refugees has become a major challenge for countries in Asia, which like Europe, are seeing an influx of more educated and aspirant refugees.
A new study predicts growth in English-language foundation programmes for international students, particularly in continental Europe, which has seen the number of English-medium degrees triple in the last seven years, and warns of slowdowns in the number of students from China going to the United States, Japan and the United Kingdom.
GLOBALAnand Kulkarni and Angel Calderon
The Global Innovation Index shows little movement at the top of the rankings. Although some emerging economies are making progress, more needs to be done to promote success, particularly in terms of creative outputs.
International students come from different cultures of learning and it is important that their expectations of how they will be taught are prepared in advance.
RUSSIAIvan Sterligov, Alfiya Enikeeva and Victor Trofimov
Russian academics tend to publish more in the sciences, particularly physical sciences, but not all the former Soviet states show similar tendencies.
The growth of competition between universities is making it difficult for universities to pull together to promote global wellbeing.
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A new study says the extraordinary scale of PhD fraud in Russia can be attributed to the reproduction of near-identical doctoral dissertations within universities, writes Jack Grove for Times Higher Education.
Many Canadian universities are seeing a sharp increase in the number of professors hired to primarily teach rather than research. While that may be good news for students, the change could threaten the mission of universities, writes Simona Chiose for The Globe and Mail.
Foreign universities crave access to India’s booming higher education market. Less well known is how some Indian institutions are venturing overseas, reports The Economist.
Human Rights Commission member Fadel al-Gharrawi said last Tuesday that the ISIS terrorist organisation has imposed its own curricula in all schools and universities in Nineveh province, , reports Shafaq News.
After the mass shooting in Oregon on 1 October – the 45th school shooting in the US this year – that left nine dead, attention has focused on the state’s policy of allowing guns on college campuses, writes Scott Keyes for the Guardian.
Victoria University classes were to resume as normal on Thursday, after a bomb threat closed part of the Kelburn campus, writes Talia Shadwell for Stuff.co.nz. The bomb scare follows threats of violent action received by two other universities last week – the University of Otago's Dunedin campus and Massey University's Palmerston North campus.
Cyber attacks on Hong Kong universities are on the rise amid fresh fears that state-backed hackers are the main culprits, with one campus admitting that it is fighting an unprecedented number of daily intrusions, writes Danny Lee for the South China Morning Post.
A university in Russia’s Urals region has published 3,000 copies of a book targeting young people, Muslim clerics and civil servants, detailing the deceits used by Islamic State and describing the dangers that await the possible recruits to the terrorist group, reports RT.
Although the inability to levy fees means they receive less teaching funding per student than universities in England, which can charge fees of up to £9,000 (US$13,800) per year, Scottish universities are in rude health. Yet the abolition of fees has done surprisingly little to widen access to higher education, reports The Economist.
What have the prime minister of Iraq and the president of Iran got in common? Not much, you might think. However, the fact is they are among 55 current world leaders who have studied at a UK university before taking office, writes Richard Garner for The Independent.
A group of New York inmates have out-debated Harvard University's team – the top-ranked club in the world, reports the BBC.
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