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NEWSLETTERAgainst the grain: Are polytechnics an answer to Africa’s skills shortage?
In Africa Analysis, Goolam Mohamedbhai expresses the hope that African governments will reconsider their policy of upgrading polytechnics to universities or, like Mauritius, create institutions to replace the converted polytechnics.
Countries in the global South are rapidly catching up with top student destination countries like Australia and the United Kingdom, according to the director of the Center for International Higher Education at America’s Boston College Hans de Wit, writes Karen MacGregor in a Special Report on the first international symposium of the Higher Education Forum for Africa, Asia and Latin America. Nicola Jenvey reports, among other issues, on the influence of national governments on university leadership and governance.
In Africa News, Munyaradzi Makoni writes about the launch of an African passport by the African Union Commission and its implications for academic mobility, and Esther Nakkazi covers the suspension of loans to over 2,000 students after a probe revealed thousands of ‘ghost’ students and other irregularities.
In World Blog, John Richard Shrock laments that the SAT college entrance test in the United States is moving in the wrong direction, becoming more like the Chinese gaokao which encourages teachers to teach to the test and students to memorise rather than understand.
In Commentary, John Aubrey Douglass and Patrick Lapid contend that the ‘progressive tuition model’, which charges wealthier students more to reduce the cost and debt for poorer students, appears to be working in some US universities. Rankings expert Angel Calderon explains why this year’s Academic Ranking of World Universities brought some surprises, with some institutions experiencing a marked change in standing.
Sharon Dell – Acting Africa Editor
The African Union Commission has launched an African passport, signalling open, visa-free access to all 54 of the continent’s member nations. However, if this free passage is to benefit higher education and science, it must be accompanied by harmonised qualifications, greater bureaucratic efficiency and infrastructure to support academic mobility, experts say.
Tanzania has suspended student loans amounting to TZS3.2 billion (US$1.5 million) affecting over 2,000 students, some of whom are believed to be non-existent as they failed to show up during a verification exercise.
SOUTH AFRICAMunyaradzi Makoni
South Africa’s battle over tuition fees is far from over, generating instability across the sector and simmering student protests. Last week the government revealed that 16 out of 26 public institutions – including Africa’s top universities – could face financial distress if fees do not rise, and could have a nearly R4 billion (US$279 million) funding shortfall for 2017-18.
Morocco recently launched two digital initiatives – a doctoral catalogue system and a platform for massive open online courses – both aimed at promoting scientific research at universities and facilitating access to higher education.
Guidelines for the development of curricula on land governance are being drafted to assist institutions of higher learning to develop education and training programmes that will equip graduates with the skills needed to address Africa’s land governance challenges.
China and Egypt have unveiled a higher education cooperation plan that includes setting up a joint institution, networking among universities, and promoting student and academic mobility programmes.
Across Africa there has been a move to upgrade polytechnics to universities, but in so doing countries are failing to train enough vocational workers, such as technicians. Could the change of policy in Mauritius where a replacement is being sought for polytechnics be the way forward?
The newly launched Higher Education Forum for Africa, Asia and Latin America – HEFAALA – held its first international symposium in Durban, South Africa, from 19-20 August under the theme “Continental realities, international imperatives”. University World News was there.
In a promising moment for cross-continental tertiary learning, 20 August saw the Higher Education Forum for Africa, Asia and Latin America officially launched in Durban on South Africa’s east coast before 60 delegates from 18 nations.
While international student mobility continues to flow North, emerging countries in the global South are fast becoming major players, says Professor Hans de Wit, director of the Center for International Higher Education at Boston College in the United States. It will not be long before China bypasses top student destination nations like Australia and the United Kingdom.
Politics has the ability to play out in higher education, albeit in differing degrees, regardless of the country and the will of individual universities.
Understanding that strong academics are key to improving the quality and relevance of higher education, in 2002 Pakistan embarked on a massive faculty development initiative that awarded over 10,000 international and even more local scholarships. The project has been a global success story in both boosting and internationalising the country’s academic core.
African universities must work cohesively to build the continent’s human capital, specifically in mathematics, science, physics and health sciences, while also realising that more women must be included in higher education.
Regardless of geographical distances, political agendas and student bodies, countries in Africa faced similar challenges in respect of massification, quality, funding, leadership and internationalisation of higher education.
Bakayoko-Ly Ramata, higher education and scientific research minister, was not impressed by the quality of research presented by candidates for the government’s annual Research Prize of 2015.
Four major plans have been launched for the development of research to respond to the nation’s socio-economic needs in the sectors of renewable energy; agriculture and food and nutrition security; human health in relation to biodiversity; and environment and climate change.
The Higher Education and Research Minister has warned new students to make sure they enrol in higher education institutions that are authorised and accredited by the state.
NEWS – Our correspondents worldwide report
For China, a great deal is riding on the G20 Economic Summit taking place in Hangzhou in China next week and intended to showcase China’s ability to take a world economic leadership role. Alongside the usual G20 summit themes of finance and trade, China is keen to push global innovation-driven growth as a topic at the summit, with the top item on the expected summit outcome list the drafting of a blueprint for innovation-driven growth.
AFGHANISTANSalman Islam and Yojana Sharma
The American University of Afghanistan has temporarily suspended operations “in the wake of the despicable terrorist attack on the university”, the university said in a press release issued Friday, two days after a horrendous attack on the university which killed 16, including seven students and a professor, and injured 53 in a 10-hour long raid by unidentified militants.
Private businesses and investors will be able to reserve study places in Russian universities in return for donations to endowment funds, under amendments to an existing education law recently drafted by the ministries of economic development and of education.
Recent disruptions in Turkey’s higher education sector are having an increasing impact on Turkish academics and students in Germany. The government of Lower Saxony in northern Germany is concerned that these developments are obstructing exchange and research programmes.
HONG KONGYojana Sharma
When Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying met with leaders of the governing councils of Hong Kong’s eight public universities in mid-August, just weeks before Hong Kong’s Legislative Council elections on 4 September, students were alarmed it was an attempt by China to put pressure on universities to curb overt displays of “pro-independence” sentiment on campuses.
SWEDENJan Petter Myklebust
The Expert Group for Studies in Public Economics, a think-thank under the Ministry of Finance, gathered the academic and political elite, including the minister of higher education and research, in Stockholm last week for a conference called “Conversations on Research Policy”.
The Australian Human Rights Commission is to conduct an independent survey of the nation’s university students to gain greater insight into the nature, prevalence and reporting of sexual assault and sexual harassment. The survey will also investigate the effectiveness of services and policies that address sexual assault and harassment on campus.
UNITED STATESPeter Schmidt, The Chronicle of Higher Education
Many more private universities can expect to see their graduate employees move to form unions in the wake of last Tuesday’s National Labor Relations Board decision on such an effort at Columbia University.
DENMARK-NORWAYJan Petter Myklebust
As input to the work programme of the European Union’s Horizon 2020 for the period 2018-20 and the next framework programme – FP9 – Norwegian and Danish authorities have published their recommendations.
UNITED STATESSteven J Friesen
As of 1 August 2016, a new law allows concealed handguns in college and university buildings in Texas. It’s already had an impact on me as professor of religious studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Thanks to this law, I set foot in a federal court building for the first time.
CHINA-UNITED STATESJohn Richard Shrock
The gaokao, China’s test for university admission, dictates curriculum content, encouraging teachers to teach to the test. Meanwhile, the United States’ SAT test is moving more in this direction, to the detriment of the US education system.
UNITED STATESJohn Aubrey Douglass and Patrick Lapid
‘Progressive tuition models’ in the United States are redistributing funding from richer to poorer students and appear not to put lower-income students off applying to university.
Are developing countries learning to play the rankings game better as statistics show countries like the United Kingdom and the United States are losing ground? The recently released Academic Ranking of World Universities, or ARWU, brought some surprises.
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Turkey’s crackdown after the 15 July putsch has been swift and expansive, sweeping through the military, judiciary and higher education. The government declared a state of emergency and said it has detained more than 40,000 people as it hunts for suspected affiliates of the man officials accuse as the mastermind, Fethullah Gülen, a United States-based Turkish imam who has denied any role, write Joe Parkinson and Emre Peker for The Wall Street Journal.
A university in Azerbaijan has fired 50 Turkish educators for alleged links with Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, whom Ankara blames for an unsuccessful coup attempt in Turkey in July, reports Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty.
A new study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research discovered an established link between the number of universities in a country and its gross domestic product, writes Abby Jackson for Business Insider.
A government circular has said that Chinese universities will have autonomy in transferring the intellectual property from scientific research and shall keep all the earnings, reports Xinhua.
The number of students from European Union countries applying to British universities has jumped by 11% – the highest number on record – as worries ahead of the referendum vote led to a scramble for places, writes Javier Espinoza for The Telegraph.
Young refugees accepted by Germany since the beginning of last year will cost the country an extra €67 billion (US$76 billion) to educate and train, according to a new assessment of the bill for the migrant influx, writes David Charter for The Australian.
Malaysia's police are working together with universities across the country in a bid to suppress Islamic State or IS influence among their students, reports Bernama.
Europe’s battle over public attire for Muslim women moved recently from the outcry over banning ‘burkinis’ in France to a strong call from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s governing conservative bloc for a ban in Germany on face veils in schools and universities and while driving, writes Alison Smaleaug for The New York Times.
The Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities has accused pro-chancellors and vice-chancellors of Nigerian universities of corruption and running the nation’s ivory tower aground through fraudulent activities, diversion of funds and awarding shady contracts, reports Today.
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has given the go-ahead to the admission of 10,000 state-funded students at private universities, reports Reuters.
The decision by the Higher Education Ministry to extend the moratorium on the setting up of new private colleges and universities has received the support of private higher education institutions, writes Naim Zulkifli for New Straits Times.
Swiss universities produce the best-paid graduates in Europe, according to salary-benchmarking site Emolument, reports Economia.
Everyone has a unique typing style – but cheaters type differently. With this in mind, a Melbourne start-up has created anti-plagiarism software which is being trialled at four major Australian universities, writes Henrietta Cook for The Sydney Morning Herald.
While the weaker British pound might make studying in the United Kingdom more attractive to some international students, the country’s third most fruitful source market is still struggling with punishing exchange rates that have plagued the market for a number of months, writes Sara Custer for The PIE News.
Public and private universities will be required to introduce a mandatory cohesion course in a bid to stem ethnicity in the country’s institutions of higher learning, writes Pharis Kinyua for Hivisasa.
Universities should reduce the minimum enrolment quotas to focus on improving training quality, according to the head of the Ministry of Education and Training’s Higher Education Department, Nguyen Thị Kim Phung, reports Viet Nam News.
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