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NEWSLETTER‘Next Einstein’ connects Africa’s young research talent to the world
Last week University World News attended the first Next Einstein Forum Global Gathering in Senegal. Munyaradzi Makoni reports on the event that attracted 800 leaders and scientists from 100 countries and was the first in a series that will showcase Africa’s top young scientists and connect them across the continent and to the global research community.
In Africa Features, Sharon Dell looks at the thorny issues of university autonomy and transformation in South Africa, which came under scrutiny during public hearings on the Higher Education Amendment Bill. Maina Waruru covers a continental meeting of African innovators to set the research agenda for Grand Challenges Africa.
And in Africa Analysis, Peter McGrath writes that improving communication was the key concept that emerged from a recent conference of science academies from around the world, focused on science advice and held in South Africa.
In a Special Report on higher education for refugees, Leon Cremonini says that integration of Syrian refugees in host communities is essential because they are there for the long term – and higher education is necessary to ensure integration. Reva Dhingra highlights serious hurdles for refugees in accessing higher education and the challenges they face after graduation.
The refugee theme continues in World Blog, with Hans de Wit suggesting that investing in higher education in the developing world – starting with countries neighbouring Syria – would be a good long-term strategy to address illegal immigration problems at their root. And in Commentary, Kevin Hylton says higher education in the United Kingdom has a significant problem with its colonial past and racial discrimination.
Karen MacGregor – Africa Editor
GLOBALKaren MacGregor and Francis Kokutse
With an eye on Africa’s youthful population, economic growth and swelling middle-class, the United States has embarked on its first education trade mission to the continent, with 25 universities and colleges. Student recruitment and building partnerships with universities are the goals of the visits to South Africa, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has put an end to speculation and announced that students abroad no longer have access to foreign currencies lodged in the central bank to pay for tuition fee and other costs. Along with a plummeting currency, the move is causing suffering for tens of thousands of university students around the world.
Academically low-performing students at Makerere University in Uganda may not participate in student leadership. At least 30% of candidates who wanted to contest the top job of student president during last week’s student elections at the flagship university were turned down.
Kenyan universities face a heavy burden this year as they prepare to enrol the highest ever number of students to qualify for university, following improved performance in the 2015 school-leaving examinations. The proportion of candidates who attained the minimum university pass mark of C+ rose by 16,049 to 165,766 candidates, or 32.3% of those graded.
Morocco’s Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane had to abandon a speech at the HEM Business School in Oujda when students in the audience interrupted him with boos and protests against brutality by police who had beaten up demonstrating trainee teachers.
The African Development Bank has provided a €9.7 million (US$10.8 million) grant for the new African Network of Centres of Excellence in Electricity. Centres have been selected in four African countries and will train some 9,700 power professionals.
CONNECTING SCIENCE TO HUMANITY
African government and private sector leaders, and top scientists and civil society advocates from across the continent and world have been in Senegal for the first Next Einstein Forum Global Gathering, held from 8-10 March under the theme “Connecting Science to Humanity”. With a focus on women and young scientists, the conference was aimed at advancing African science and innovation. University World News was a media partner.
Nothing was more fitting than identifying young and women scientists from Africa as the potential ‘next Einstein’ at the Global Gathering 2016 of the Next Einstein Forum. The forum in Senegal of 800 people from more than 100 countries is the first of a series that will showcase Africa’s top emerging scientists and connect them across the continent and the world.
African and German experts have identified five priority areas in mathematical sciences for collaborative research, which will be pursued over the next three years under a new initiative expected to build research networks and help advance maths in Africa.
A flurry of initiatives ended last week’s Next Einstein Forum Global Gathering 2016 in Senegal – including five new chairs to strengthen research and scientific exchange, a mathematics postgraduate training and research institute in Nigeria, a ‘women in science’ initiative and a visiting scientist programme involving IBM Research.
SOUTH AFRICASharon Dell
While most stakeholders agree that South Africa’s higher education sector needs more transformation, what form transformation should take is still a matter for debate – as is the thorny question of university autonomy: how far the government should be able to go to compel universities to transform.
African higher education must increase its interaction with the informal sector if it is to drive the continent’s innovation agenda and respond to development challenges, said Professor Berhanu Abegaz, executive director of the African Academy of Sciences, at a gathering of 420 African innovators held to set the research agenda for Grand Challenges Africa.
This month representatives from more than 70 academies of science and medicine met to discuss 'Science Advice'. What emerged were the needs to avoid thinking that science has all the answers, to solicit diverse inputs, include communication training in university curricula, and help scientists understand society better so they can tailor messages appropriately.
AFRICAAlex De Waal
African scholarship on Africa is operating at only a fraction of its true potential. It is hampered by the preferences, policies and politics of the Western academy. There are three reasons for this assertion – the poor state of knowledge about African economics and politics; the structure of academic rewards and careers; and ‘Occidentalism’ in theory and policy.
Creating a masters degree in African integration and a doctoral school of the United States of Africa, and introducing courses delivered by direct video ‘streaming’, were among proposals at a conference at University Cheikh Anta Diop, Senegal’s top university.
GLOBALHans de Wit
Universities, states and global institutions need to prepare now for future refugee crises around the world and to invest in higher education in those regions likely to be affected.
HIGHER EDUCATION FOR REFUGEES
The Syrian conflict has fuelled population shifts that in Europe are the greatest since World War II and in countries next door to the war zone are swamping the local population – Lebanon, for instance, now has a greater number of refugees than its own citizens. This week and next, University World News looks at the challenges of making access to higher education a key part of the response.
Enabling refugees access to higher education is a strategic decision besides a humanitarian and social justice question. But national strategies are often neither consistent nor conducive, because most host countries do not foresee how long refugees will remain – on average they are in exile for 17 years.
It’s no good just offering higher education opportunities to young Syrian refugees – they need sustainable solutions that enable them to pursue higher education and ensure they are not left in limbo after graduating.
SYRIAAmmar Al-Ibrahim, Al-Fanar Media
Syrian academics could help educate the many students who have fled the war. They understand their educational background and, being refugees themselves, they also understand their personal situation. They can be a resource rather than just aid recipients.
Three out of four higher education institutions in Germany have applied to take part in a €100 million (US$111 million) education ministry-funded programme to integrate refugees into their higher education courses. DAAD, the German academic exchange service, believes there could be up to 50,000 refugees who could meet the conditions for joining university.
GERMANYSimon Morris-Lange and Florinda Brands
German universities are opening their doors to refugees but they must find ways around the impact of delays in granting asylum and rules that prevent refugees from moving to the university or working to cover their living costs until protected status is granted.
The Global Young Academy – the voice of leading young scientists – has called on the European research community to contribute better insights into the refugee crisis to support policy-making. This includes both conceptual theory, empirical evidence and better data.
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
With huge investment in international higher education collaborations, and China’s new Silk Road project which involves researchers, industry and other organisations, China likes to see itself as an emerging global leader in higher education. But that status could still be some way off according to experts in global higher education systems.
EUROPEJan Petter Myklebust
Universities should ensure that funded doctoral programmes are embedded in a strong research environment supporting candidates to work with rigour and integrity, according to a new advice paper looking at quality assurance, or QA, in doctoral training, published last week by the League of European Research Universities, or LERU.
UNITED KINGDOMBrendan O'Malley
Business school leaders are calling on the government to change the policy on student visas to make Britain a more attractive place following a sharp decline in international students taking business courses. Last year’s intake from outside the European Union fell sharply by 8.6%, according to the latest figures published last week by the Chartered Association of Business Schools.
The United Kingdom dominates the Times Higher Education European Top 200 Rankings published last week with 46 institutions in the list. The University of Oxford came top, followed by the University of Cambridge, and Imperial College London, as the UK took seven of the first eight places.
Universities Australia Chair Barney Glover warned in a speech to the National Press Club on Wednesday that “almost two years of policy insecurity and uncertainty is taking its toll on the ability of universities to plan and allocate resources in their students' best interests. It is difficult to imagine any other industry tolerating such policy instability."
SWEDENJan Petter Myklebust
A thoroughly worked-through proposal for a more peer review based funding of Swedish research prepared by the Swedish Research Council and three other research councils has been rejected by a majority of Swedish universities, university colleges and other stakeholders involved in the consultation process.
As survivors gathered last week for memorial services for the thousands of victims of the earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima disaster five years ago, researchers working on preventing similar massive losses are drawing on the lessons of the disaster – the need for interdisciplinary, longer-term research and international collaboration.
A targeted approach by Malaysian authorities to attract international university students appears to be paying dividends, with the country already achieving among the highest ratios for this student body globally – with 135,000 international students, according to new figures.
UNITED KINGDOMKevin Hylton
With only 60 Black UK professors in British universities and concerns being raised about the curriculum and the colonial legacy in higher education, now is the time to address what can be done to tackle under-representation throughout the system.
A leading historian of Russia's little known wartime collaboration with Nazi Germany is facing calls for a criminal investigation after defending his PhD thesis on a Red Army general who turned traitor against Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and led a small Russian force against the Soviet side in the latter stages of the war.
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Indian Institutes of Technology are set to open entrance tests to foreign students in eight countries for undergraduate and postgraduate studies starting from 2017, reports World Bulletin.
Psychology may have just regained some of its lost credibility. In a new study in the journal Science, researchers evaluate the 2015 claim that half of all psychology studies are so flawed they cannot be replicated – and beg to differ, writes Joshua A Krisch for Vocativ.
Only a fool ignores well informed advice. And only a very foolish government demands not to receive it in the first place. But that is what the British government is in danger of doing in its new condition attached to government grants, reports Nature.
Australian universities are set to crack down on what they say is a high level of fraud by graduates inflating their academic achievements in job and study applications, write Tim Dodd and Misa Han for Financial Review.
The Chinese University of Hong Kong is to step up its counselling service under emergency measures worked out after the institution lost another of its students to suicide last weekend, writes Ng Kang-chung for South China Morning Post.
Amid mistrust of established institutions, students are quitting mid-course and taking chances with private universities such as Shiv Nadar University, Ashoka University and OP Jindal Global University, which have recently come up in the National Capital Region, writes Sahil Makkar for Business Standard.
The student unions of nine Hong Kong universities and higher education institutes are to sell ‘banned’ books in protest, following the recent case of the five detained booksellers which many feel curbs freedom of expression and publication, writes Kris Cheng for Hong Kong Free Press.
Universities in England accrued record operating surpluses worth nearly £1.8 billion (US$2.5 billion) last year, as their bank balances were filled by the first full cohort of students paying the £9,000 tuition fee, writes Richard Adams for the Guardian.
Kenya's KES595.8 billion (US$5.8 billion) Silicon Valley, Konza, is seeking local and international universities to set up campuses on its vast land, reports Daily Nation.
Autonomous universities have the right to decide who can and cannot be allowed on campus, Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh said last week after weighing in on a recent uproar after a former national debater claimed to have been barred from speaking at several public universities, writes Kamles Kumar for the Malay Mail Online.
The total annual bill for six prominent US universities to run branches in the wealthy Arabian emirate of Qatar comes to more than US$400 million, writes Nick Anderson for The Washington Post.
A study says that nearly four out of 10 new academic jobs created in England over the past decade were filled by European Union nationals from outside the UK, writes Chris Havergal for Times Higher Education.
The Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in South Korea and 10 other foreign language universities in Asia have formed a consultative body to step up cooperation and exchanges, writes Chung Hyun-chae for The Korea Times.
Bob Dylan has sold his personal archive of notes, draft lyrics, poems, artwork and photographs to the University of Tulsa, where they will be made available to scholars and curated for public exhibitions, reports Reuters.
A German university has decided that the country's defence minister can keep her doctorate although some plagiarised passages were found in her thesis dissertation from 25 years ago, reports Associated Press.
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