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NEWSLETTERNew lease of life for Kenya’s vocational education sector
In Africa Features, Gilbert Nganga writes about recent government and private sector initiatives to uplift the technical and vocational education sector in Kenya as a means to create the skills base needed to meet the country’s industrialisation ambitions.
In Africa Analysis, Alejandro Caballero, global education specialist at the International Finance Corporation, discusses the value of globally-versed, and regionally-minded African leadership in ensuring that higher education in Africa produces graduates capable of doing the high-skilled jobs demanded by the labour market.
In our special report on the World Sustainability Forum held in Cape Town last month, Munyaradzi Makoni reports on the keynote address by world-renowned economist Dr Jeffrey D Sachs in which he outlines the importance of universities in achieving the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. In a separate article he reports on the input by Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng of the University of Cape Town on the importance of research for sustainability and the subsequent roundtable discussion on education for sustainable development.
In Africa News, Tonderayi Mukeredzi reports on reaction to the award of a government tender to the University of Zimbabwe for a research study into the effects of Western sanctions on the Zimbabwean economy, while Ochieng’ O Benny reports on a landmark agreement between the Association of African Universities and eLearnAfrica, the continent’s largest online education platform, which aims to boost educational access for millions of students.
In World Blog this week, Angel Calderon explains why Times Higher Education’s ranking of the world’s 150 most international universities in 2017 differs radically to that published in 2016, now favouring US and European universities.
Last week University World News, in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation and DrEducation, hosted their free international webinar asking, “Can universities be crucibles of transformative leadership developing students to be capable of making an impact on society?” Stephen Coan reports back for the Africa edition.
Sharon Dell – Africa Editor
The government has awarded the tender to carry out a scientific study of the economic impact of Western sanctions to a consortium of researchers at the University of Zimbabwe in a move that critics say is intended to boost the chances of the ruling party and its almost 93-year-old president in the 2018 general elections.
AFRICAOchieng’ O Benny
A landmark agreement signed between the 380-member Association of African Universities, or AAU, and Africa’s largest online education platform eLearnAfrica will enable 10 million students to access higher education through online services provided to AAU member universities.
The 2016 benchmarking report for the World Bank-initiated Partnership for Skills in Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology shows that research output remains low in Sub-Saharan African universities, causing African institutions to miss out on inclusion in important global university rankings.
Two Ethiopian-based centres which form part of the Eastern and Southern Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence – ACE II – project launched in 2015 are due to commence learning activities this year.
The government has reversed its decision to cut by half its allocations to state universities, saying it was a “mistake”.
Public university lecturers said they would continue striking in spite of government’s mid-week offer of KES10 billion (US$97 million) to cater for basic salaries and housing allowance adjustments.
Is the current quota system in the Nigerian public university system undermining the public sector higher education in favour of private universities which are not required to adhere to it?
SOUTH AFRICASungula Nkabinde
One of the main demands of the #FeesMustFall protests was the implementation of a process towards achieving a decolonised and Afrocentric education. But there does not seem to be any widespread consensus on what that means. In the meantime, the patience of students is wearing thin.
Qualified and reliable lecturers should be recruited and appointed by a central body, according to a proposal by Kenyan university chancellors that seeks to ensure quality education in both public and private universities.
Creating high-skilled and relevant jobs will help the world’s youngest region – with close to 60% of its population under 25 years old – and to do that it requires dynamic new higher education leaders.
Private firms and foreign agencies are breathing new life into Kenya’s technical and vocational training sector as the government seeks new initiatives to revive the troubled institutions to secure the critical skills set needed to drive the country’s industrialisation ambitions.
WORLD SUSTAINABILITY FORUM
The sixth World Sustainability Forum was held in Cape Town, South Africa from 27-28 January – the first time it has been held in Africa. An international scientific conference sponsored by the journal Sustainability under the patronage of the University of the Western Cape, University of Cape Town, University of Basel and the National Research Foundation of South Africa, the meeting highlighted the importance of academic institutions in any successful quest to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.
The task of meeting the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, are beyond the capabilities and interests of governments, which means universities around the world, including those in Africa, have a unique role to play, according to world-renowned economist Dr Jeffrey D Sachs.
Africa’s ability to meet the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals is closely tied up with its research capacity, which hands universities on the continent a particular responsibility for enhanced collaboration, and engagement with government and industry, according to African speakers at the World Sustainability Forum.
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Dismissed academics have provided University World News with testimony of being subjected to indefinite arbitrary detention without access to a lawyer; dismissed with their passport and credit cards blocked and prevented from working in academia at home or abroad and denied a pension; or subjected to mob violence and threats of a lynching.
UNITED STATESMary Beth Marklein
Enrolments in United States universities of first-time international graduate students increased by 5% in autumn 2016, the same rate of growth as the previous year, says a new report. But growth in applications is slowing and political developments are causing uncertainty about future trends.
The Russian parliament or State Duma is expected to vote again on a plan to ban children of Russian officials based in Russia from studying at universities abroad, particularly in Western universities, according to an official spokesperson of the Duma press service. The plan is thought to have increased support among deputies.
NORWAYJan Petter Myklebust
An expert group appointed by the government has proposed to change the procedures on how research funding from the Research Council of Norway is distributed and to cut the administrative budget of the research council by NOK80 million (US$9.6 million).
Students and professors from Ateneo de Manila University marched on campus on 31 January in the Philippines capital Manila against a bill that would reinstate the death penalty in the country. Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has urged lawmakers to prioritise the bill, arguing it will deter criminals and drug addicts.
A Nepal student union election, to be held for the first time in eight years in one of the world’s largest universities, is being watched closely as a wider test of the popularity of the country’s political parties since Nepal became a federal republic in 2015.
UNITED STATESGoldie Blumenstyk, Shannon Najmabadi and Sarah Brown, The Chronicle of Higher Education
In a decision Thursday night, three judges on the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit refused a request from the Trump administration to reinstate a travel ban that had temporarily barred visitors from seven nations, and all refugees, from entering the United States.
The mass dismissals of academics in Turkey are creating a form of civil death for any opposition to the Islamist government. The dismissals target the best academics – also blocking their passports and credit cards, denying them retirement and preventing them from working abroad – and aim to liquidate universities, replacing them with something along the lines of submissive high schools.
GLOBALFernando Leon Garcia
A meeting of the International Association of University Presidents this month heard how effective transnational partnerships will help universities innovate in a more multidisciplinary, student-centred future.
GLOBALBenjamin Thorne and Michelle Kelso
The United States government’s travel ban and its downplaying of the Nazi genocide against the Jews show a profound failure to empathise and a reshaping of history towards division and exclusion. The parallels between Donald Trump’s America and the early years of Adolf Hitler’s Germany are chilling.
HONG KONGKa Ho Mok
Calls for greater accountability and improved performance in higher education followed the rise of the student movement. More collaboration with industry, business and the community could address these issues and lead to a new form of ‘collaborative governance’.
UNITED KINGDOMAnne Corbett and Claire Gordon
The prime minister is only considering aspects of higher education related to industrial strategy in her Brexit strategy. Universities need to broaden public and political understanding of what it is about the European connection that helps United Kingdom universities to perform as well as they do – and by extension, why a hard Brexit would be so destructive.
Times Higher Education’s new ranking of the most international universities differs radically from that published in 2016. It includes a new ranking methodology which seems to favour the United States, Europe and research universities and has seen last year’s top two institutions drop out of the ranking altogether.
Students are traditionally selected into universities on the basis of their academic qualifications. But are there more important attributes – such as a desire for social justice – that should be considered and nurtured?
Dr Ahmadreza Djalali, an Iranian-born scholar imprisoned in Iran since April 2016 in connection with international collaboration with scholars from countries considered to be 'enemy states', has been threatened with a charge that carries the death sentence, according to human rights organisations. He was collaborating with Iranian universities in his capacity as a visiting professor on disaster medicine.
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Private universities, vocational schools, and online education platforms are being tipped by analysts to be among the biggest winners from China’s recently rolled out 13th Five-Year Plan on education, which bids to narrow the huge gap in standards between urban and rural areas of the country, writes Laura He for South China Morning Post.
A government advisory panel last week began considering limiting the establishment of new universities and departments in Tokyo as part of measures to alleviate concentration of students in the capital, reports Nikkei Asian Review.
While US President Donald Trump has not yet moved to deport students who are unauthorised immigrants, Mexican education officials already are preparing for it, writes Gary Warth for The San Diego Union-Tribune.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced on 1 February a 10% increase in the overall budget for education with a bigger thrust on higher education. Of the Rs7,292 crore hike (Rs72.92 billion or US$1 billion), a large chunk of Rs3,000 crore will go to the Indian Institutes of Technology or IITs, writes Ritika Chopra for The Indian Express.
Debate has intensified in recent weeks and months in Greece over the possibility of giving privately run colleges university status, which is currently prohibited by Article 16 of the Greek constitution, write Tino Bromme and Barnaby Britten for The PIE News.
The Ministerial Committee on Legislation is to vote on Sunday 12 February on a bill that would cut state funding for academic institutions that employ professors who support boycotts of Israel, writes Gil Hoffman for The Jerusalem Post.
As the universities grapple with the crisis of fee increases, some could soon have to search for new leaders to steer them into the future, as several prominent university vice-chancellors are set to step down from their posts next year, writes Roland Mpofu for The Sunday Independent.
New figures appear to show that well-off families still have a firm grip on university places, despite the rapid expansion of higher education and the introduction of ‘free fees’ two decades ago, writes Carl O’Brien for The Irish Times.
Ukraine's Education and Science Ministry has revoked the licences of higher education institutions located in temporarily occupied territory in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, according to the ministry's press service, reports UNIAN.
After thinking it over for nearly 10 months, Gujarat Governor Om Prakash Kohli approved the controversial Gujarat Higher Education Council Act-2016 on 1 February giving the state government overarching powers over the functioning of the state's universities, write Kapil Dave and Bharat Yagnik for The Times of India.
A South African journal editor has said that scientists and universities have a duty to face down ‘post-truths’ and ensure they have credibility, reports The Huffington Post SA.
Former United States vice president Joe Biden soon will begin working for both the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Delaware, heading a new centre and institute that will address foreign policy, the environment, women's rights and other issues important to the former vice president, writes Susan Snyder for Philly.com.
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