University World News Africa Edition
17 January 2016 Issue 165 Register to receive our free e-newspaper by email each week Advanced Search
Flagships – Underrated in Africa; an alternative to world-class universities?

In Africa Features, Ahmed Mohamoud Elmi takes us to the University of Hargeisa in Somaliland, where the education minister has just graduated with a masters in international relations and diplomacy and the new vice-chancellor has plans for improvement. In Africa Analysis, Simon Ngalomba reflects on the cost-cutting reforms of Tanzania’s new President John Pombe Magufuli, including their impacts on universities.
Damtew Teferra contends that Africa’s flagship universities need greater recognition for their contributions to development. Also on flagships, in Commentary Bekir S Gur asks whether the ‘new flagship university’ outlined in a new book by Berkeley’s John Douglass could provide an alternative model to the ‘world-class universities’ with which higher education is obsessed – this is the first in a series of articles on the topic. Francisco Marmolejo argues that university rankings have value but alternative benchmarking processes are needed.
David Newman slates the Israeli government for making political appointments to key jobs in the Council for Higher Education, thus endangering the country’s strong research performance.
Mark Ashwill looks at what is driving growing numbers of Vietnamese to study in America, while Tapas R Dash reports on the challenges Cambodia faces in improving higher education quality and how internationalisation can help. And in World Blog, Robin Matross Helms proposes engaging academics in internationalisation early in their careers so that global perspectives become embedded in their teaching and research.
Karen MacGregor – Africa Editor
Munyaradzi Makoni

South African President Jacob Zuma announced a commission of inquiry into long-term funding for universities in a week that saw registration disrupted, institutions closed and protests over outsourcing and free higher education. Student leaders met with the minister of higher education and training to seek answers to the #FeesMustFall campaign.
Ashraf Khaled

A recent decision by the Egyptian authorities to cancel the results of the nation’s long-delayed university student union election has drawn condemnation from students and academics.
Karen MacGregor

A first global gathering of top (especially young) scientists to be held on African soil, aimed at advancing African science and innovation and showcasing scientific progress on the continent, is being held by the Next Einstein Forum in the Senegalese capital Dakar in March – a year after the first African Higher Education Summit took place there.
Tunde Fatunde

The stifling of student unionism in Nigeria is continuing, without any credible plan to find a lasting solution to the problem of campus unrest. When students demand their rights – often the issue is lack of electricity and water – universities close campuses and order the evacuation of halls of residence, suspend student leaders or dissolve their unions.
Munyaradzi Makoni

Namibian higher education funding will be based on a new formula for the 2016-17 academic year. The country now calculates operational funds based on the number of courses, which translate into credit units, for which a student is registered. This does not mean more money for institutions – it’s all about bringing transparency and equity to funding, said a top official.
Gilbert Nganga

Private universities in Kenya are pushing to be allowed to admit state-funded students, in a bid to help ease an admissions crisis in public institutions. Currently – and despite a government directive – private institutions can only admit self-sponsored students.
Ahmed Mohamoud Elmi

Somaliland’s Minister of Education and Higher Studies Abdillahi Ibrahim Habane was among 75 students who graduated last month with a masters degree in international relations and diplomacy from the University of Hargeisa, the country’s largest higher education institution. He extolled the virtues of lifelong learning.
Simon Ngalomba

Last October Dr John Pombe Magufuli became Tanzania’s new president. His slogan is Hapa Kazi tu, which means “It is only work that counts here”. Magufuli has rapidly become a continental icon, and the hash tag #WhatWouldMagufuliDo has been trending for months. His approach has been to cut lavish public spending and redirect the money to development – and universities have not escaped.
Damtew Teferra

There are millions of graduates of Africa’s flagship universities. Most conversations have been on the shortcomings and challenges of these top national universities, but it is important to recognise their considerable contributions. Research could help build positive perspectives and promote strategies for the expansion and consolidation of higher education in Africa.

Senegal’s main higher education union SAES – Syndicat Autonome de l’Enseignement Supérieur – has given notice of strike action, demanding that the government respect agreements signed last year. School teacher unions are also threatening industrial action.

Tahar Hadjar, Algeria’s higher education and scientific research minister, has met representatives of the national higher education union CNES after it called a three-day strike to protest against deteriorating conditions, careers and salaries for lecturers, among other demands.
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Brendan O'Malley

Eighteen lecturers from Kocaeli University in North-Western Turkey have been detained for criticising ongoing military operations against Kurdish militants in the South-East of the country and 130 others face criminal charges. This follows public criticism of the academics by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who accused them of making “terrorist propaganda”.
Eugene Vorotnikov

The Russian parliament is to draw up proposals this month to impose restrictions on the employment of graduates of national universities abroad, with the aim of preventing further brain drain out of the country. It is likely that financial sanctions will be imposed on graduates whose higher education was paid for by the state and they may be barred from holding top public positions.
Brendan O'Malley

The higher education ministry and universities are facing increasing pressure to address concerns about growing numbers of students being too poor to eat properly, following the publication of a survey and media reports suggesting that many students cannot afford the cost of a meal a day.
David Jobbins

The United Kingdom has emerged as the country with the most-internationally focused universities in the world, with Australia a distant second – and the United States hardly featured in the 2016 Times Higher Education list of the 200 most international universities in the world, published last week.
Jan Petter Myklebust

A top foreign student has been deported from the country for working too many hours in a part-time cleaning job – despite strong protests from Aarhus University, Danish working unions, the media and 18,000 signatories on a petition delivered to the Integration Minister Inger Støjberg.
Sarah Brown, The Chronicle of Higher Education

African-American students feel less emotionally prepared for college than white students do, and they’re also more likely to keep their worries to themselves, according to the results of a national poll released on Wednesday on the mental health of minority students.
Brendan O’Malley

The Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre, ADAPT, the global centre of excellence for digital content and media innovation, was launched last week by Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English, with the aim of developing the next generation of digital content technologies.
Jan Petter Myklebust

Minister of Education and Research Torbjørn Røe Isaksen has promised to make improvements to the quality of teaching at universities a cornerstone of the government’s education programme and will present a White Paper in 2017. "The improvement of quality of teaching is now central on our agenda,” he said at a meeting with university leaders on Tuesday.
Bekir S Gur

Could the 'New Flagship University' outlined in a recently published book provide an alternative model to the current obsession with 'World-Class Universities'? This is the first in a series from around the world looking at a possible response to one of the side effects of the global rankings.
Francisco Marmolejo

Rankings may have a value as a reference and as a basis for comparison, but they do not always serve as the best proxy of the quality and relevance of tertiary education institutions. Alternative benchmarking processes are necessary.
David Newman

The Israeli government appears to be determined to destroy the scientific reputation of the country through the political appointment of a junior lecturer as chairman of the Council for Higher Education.
Mark Ashwill

Economic growth, an increase in the super rich, proactive recruitment campaigns and a love of brands are driving more Vietnamese students to enrol at institutions in the United States.
Tapas R Dash

Cambodia was the setting for the recent Association of Southeast Asian Institutions of Higher Learning conference. Like many other countries in the region, it faces challenges in improving the quality of the higher education it offers its students.
Robin Matross Helms

Engaging faculty in internationalisation early in their careers through policies and programmes that incentivise and reward internationally-focused work means that global perspectives are embedded into the foundation of their teaching and research right from the start.
Nicola Jenvey

Asia is increasingly recognising the role that the arts and humanities play in innovation. Europe by contrast is losing its leading edge because it no longer recognises the crucial role these sciences play, according to a report by Science Europe.
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Chinese universities have agreed to expand annual enrolments of ethnic minority students from the tension-fraught western region of Xinjiang to 10,000 by 2020, up from the current year's 6,800, reports Associated Press.

The Israeli occupation army raided a top Palestinian university in the occupied West Bank last week, seizing computer equipment and causing damage, reports AFP.

The formation of two new statutory boards to drive the national focus on skills and employment is a "timely move" that will change how Singapore looks at education, said Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung on Wednesday, writes Liyana Othman for Channel News Asia.

Scottish ministers have backtracked over new laws to reform the way universities are run amid fears of greater ministerial interference in the sector, writes Andrew Denholm for Herald Scotland.

The ministry of education and training’s latest circular, which sets limitations on the number of full-time students at universities, has stirred controversy. However, many experts have defended the decision, reports VietNamNet Bridge.

President Michelle Bachelet said last week that free higher education in Chile, which will come into effect in 2016 after 35 years during which all students paid tuition, "is a right, not a gift", reports Latino Fox News.

Oxford University cannot rewrite history to pander to "contemporary views and prejudices", its chancellor has warned. Lord Chris Patten, the former Conservative chairman, defended Oxford's historical relationship with Cecil Rhodes saying that many of the university's scholars depended on activities that would be "unacceptable" in the modern world, writes Javier Espinoza for the Telegraph.

The University of Wollongong has come under fire from members of the medical profession over a thesis claiming collusion between the World Health Organization and the pharmaceutical industry, writes Emily Laurence for ABC News.

Scientists often bemoan journalists’ shoddy reporting of research findings. But a new study suggests that scientifically illiterate hacks in desperate need of a story might be only partly to blame. It found that journals are more likely to issue press releases publicising the findings of what may be deemed weaker studies than larger, more scientifically significant trials, writes David Matthews for Times Higher Education.

George Washington University’s president announced recently that the honorary degree presented to Bill Cosby in the 1990s would be revoked, the latest college to back away from the actor and comedian who has been accused of sexual assault by dozens of women and was charged last month in a decades-old case, writes Susan Svrluga for The Washington Post.
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