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NEWSLETTERUniversities alliance aims to bring out the best in African research
In a Q&A interview this week, head of the African Research Universities Alliance Ernest Aryeetey talks about how the fledgling 16-university alliance is working to raise the profile of African research and grow its output. In other features, Tunde Fatunde reports that Nigerian academics have rejected a ministerial proposal that science be taught in indigenous languages in primary schools, calling the move a diversion from the real reasons for poor performance in science, while Munyaradzi Makoni interviews a young amputee and student from Zimbabwe about institutional challenges facing disabled students.
In Africa news, Ashraf Khaled reports on moves to introduce studies on female genital mutilation to the curriculum of medical schools in Egypt in a bid to challenge the widespread practice, while Christabel Ligami writes about a 10-country programme which provides intensified support to early career researchers in the field of climate change.
In Africa analysis, Peter Vale reflects on the notion of objectivity in the humanities and calls for the unravelling of the ideological underpinnings of faculty histories after attending recent presentations at Stellenbosch University in South Africa.
In World Blog this week, Hans de Wit says the rise of nationalist, populist movements makes us wonder if the internationalisation of higher education is dying – by no means, he says, it may indeed be accelerating in many parts of the world.
Sharon Dell – Africa Editor
In a bid to curb the age-old practice, Egyptian medical students are to study female genital mutilation as part of their training in a country where more than 80% of mutilations are believed to be conducted by medical workers.
The African Academy of Sciences and the Association of Commonwealth Universities have selected 37 African researchers from different African universities for the third cohort of a programme supporting early career researchers in the field of climate change adaptation and mitigation.
Plans by Kenya’s Higher Education Loans Board to implement the differentiated unit cost funding model biased towards science and technology programmes and introduce loans to students abroad seem destined to falter after the government moved to reduce the budget allocation to the board by US$90 million for the upcoming 2017-18 financial year.
SOUTH AFRICAMunyaradzi Makoni
With a total budget of R15 billion (US$1.2 billion) for 2017, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme expects to fund “well over” 405,000 students at both universities and technical and vocational colleges this year. This is despite an admission that the system did not go “smoothly” in all areas.
The Nigerian federal government has ordered all specialised universities to stop offering courses and programmes contrary to their mandates and delete the courses from the portal of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, the agency responsible for university admissions. The move is an attempt to improve education quality in the country.
A new report has recommended tighter control and an overhaul of rules and procedures at Moroccan universities to deal with multi-layered corruption ranging from extortion and sexual harassment to misallocation of resources, unfair employment, manipulated student elections and the mismanagement of properties and finances.
Kenyan universities have been given 30 days to outline corrective measures to address a litany of misdemeanours ranging from flouting of admission criteria to ‘rampant’ abuse of executive degree programmes, the offering of unaccredited programmes as well as the failure to follow rules for student-to-staff ratios.
A new plan is under way to develop clusters which bring universities and industry together around specific disciplines in a bid to better meet the country’s economic and social needs.
SOUTH AFRICAPeter Vale
Explaining the past and understanding an increasingly uncertain future in South African universities requires that the ideological underpinnings of every intellectual past in the humanities be unravelled.
The African Research Universities Alliance, a unique network of 16 top African universities, was created in 2015 to grow the continent’s contribution to global research and raise the profile of its research globally. University World News spoke to its secretary-general, Professor Ernest Aryeetey, about how the alliance intends to “bring out the best in Africa”.
In a rare show of solidarity, university teachers on almost all campuses of both public and private universities throughout the country have rejected a ministerial proposal that science be taught in three indigenous languages commencing at primary school level.
When Munya Mahiya, then a 15-year-old Zimbabwe schoolboy, had his left leg amputated above the knee in 2009 owing to osteosarcoma, a form of cancer, he feared that his mainstream high school would not take him back and he would miss out on a chance at a normal academic education.
The Congo-Brazzaville Fulbright Alumni Association and the United States embassy in the Republic of Congo have launched the English Access Microscholarship Program, to perfect secondary school students’ spoken and written English.
Student unions at three universities are joining forces to offer help to all students in Mauritius who are experiencing ‘problems’.
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
New inspections to be conducted of the party committees of 29 top universities in China – including Peking University, Tsinghua University, Beijing Normal University and Nanjing University – as part of the country’s anti-corruption campaign is the latest move by the government to tighten ideological control of universities, experts say.
UNITED STATESYojana Sharma
A university in California has said it will not back down over its decision to invite the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, to this year’s commencement ceremony, despite strenuous objections among mainland Chinese student groups.
Australia saw a surge in international student numbers, up 10% to 554,179 last year, according to Department of Education and Training figures – and a new student satisfaction survey shows a record nine out of 10 international tertiary students were satisfied or very satisfied with the education they have received.
SWEDENJan Petter Myklebust
Minister of Higher Education and Research Helene Hellmark Knutsson earlier this month appointed Agneta Bladh, chair of the Swedish Research Council, as a special examiner of the internationalisation of higher education and research, charged with addressing the low international mobility rates of students, university teachers and researchers.
New rules for the admission of foreign students to one of China’s top universities in Beijing has sparked a heated debate in the country over standards being lowered for international students and the perception that Chinese students who have obtained foreign nationality are getting into prestigious institutions by the back door.
UNITED KINGDOMBrendan O'Malley
The Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson last Tuesday demanded tough new penalties for university students who use essay mills – websites that provide custom written essays – and called on university and student bodies to do more to address the growth of such services.
With United States President Donald Trump’s policy of cutting immigration and tightening visa norms yet to fully kick in, current uncertainty over US policies is already having an impact on Indian students seeking admission to US universities, according to private education consultants in India handling overseas applications.
UNITED STATESMary Beth Marklein
A sense of urgency tempered by a call for pragmatism permeated discussions last week at the annual conference of the Association of International Education Administrators in Washington as international educators considered how best to respond to the politics of uncertainty under a Donald Trump presidency.
The Indonesian government has doubled its contribution to a scholarship endowment fund this year to provide more opportunities for graduate and doctoral students to study at home and overseas and in response to increasing calls to improve access to universities for students from poorer provinces.
GERMANYMichael Gardner and Brendan O'Malley
A petition has been launched by the student union at Technische Universität Berlin calling for the withdrawal of an honorary doctorate awarded to Turkish Premier Binali Yildirim, maintaining that he “plays a crucial role in the authoritarian restructuring of the country”, which has included the arbitrary dismissal of thousands of academics and the detention without due process of some.
GLOBALAllen Kenneth Schaidle
At the core of internationalisation is an ambition for internationalised curricula. But we need a better understanding of what is meant by internationalisation of the curriculum, why we need it and what the barriers to it are.
THE NETHERLANDSFutao Huang
The rapid rise in numbers of inbound international staff and professors to the Netherlands has boosted the country’s reputation for higher education and increased its global competitiveness, especially its research capacity. It has also made its universities more attractive to domestic and international students.
A growing number of scholars see internationalisation of higher education as a means to counter the increasing political popularity of notions of exclusion. But we need to question the values and norms that underpin internationalisation. Do they vary across cultures? What are the power issues that lie beneath them?
CANADABruno Vompean and Grace Karram
Canadian universities face potential funding problems as a result of United States protectionist policies, but the bigger threat is of populism spreading across the border. As a result they need to embrace their role to teach more than skills, educating individuals to take responsibility for their part in society.
GLOBALHans de Wit
Far from being dead, there are signs that – in reaction to Brexit, Donald Trump's election and the rise of nationalist movements – the internationalisation of higher education is increasing in many parts of the world, with those countries which opt for isolationism in danger of being left behind.
UNITED STATESKaren MacGregor
This month 17 American universities joined a court challenge to President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration. Their brief revealed the extraordinary extent of – and dependence on – internationalisation at many of the world’s top-ranked institutions.
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Raising concern over the violence on North Campus of the University of Delhi over the participation of two students from Jawaharlal Nehru University at a two-day seminar on "Cultures of Protest" at Ramjas College, Amnesty International India last week stated that "free speech in Indian universities is under threat", writes Manash Pratim Gohain for TNN.
A consortium of academic institutes near Paris is hoping to lure British universities to create research campuses in France, dangling as bait the possibility of access to European Union research funds after Brexit. Some United Kingdom institutions aren’t ruling out the idea, but one UK policy expert thinks a rush to create outposts in France seems unlikely for the moment, write Barbara Casassus and Daniel Cressey for Nature.
Every year millions of Nigerian students fail to get into university. It will not always be because they did not study hard enough for entrance exams; instead, in many cases, it will be because there simply isn’t enough room for all of them, writes Yomi Kazeem for Quartz.
Japan’s Ministry of Education is in the hot seat over revelations that it lobbied universities to hire its retiring officials, a practice known as amakudari or ‘descent from heaven’. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is trying to manage the crisis by commissioning a government-wide investigation and promising to act on the findings, writes Jeff Kingston for Asia Times.
The draft decree on international cooperation in education from the Ministry of Education and Training says investors must have at least VND1 trillion (US$45 million) in capital to set up a university in Vietnam, reports VietNamNet Bridge.
Treasury appears to have put the nail in the coffin of a graduate tax as Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan last week announced an additional R5 billion (US$388 million) in funding for universities‚ in addition to the R32 billion announced in last year's budget‚ to be made available by 2019, writes Bianca Capazorio for Sunday Times Business.
Across 377 universities in the United States, carbon emissions per square foot have declined by 8% since 2007, according to a new report from Sightlines and the University of New Hampshire Sustainability Institute, writes Emma Degrandi for The Daily Campus.
Universities are admitting students who are “almost illiterate”, lecturers warn as they complain that dropping entry requirements has led to a generation of undergraduates who cannot read, write or speak proper English, writes Camilla Turner for The Telegraph.
Negotiations to end the lecturers' strike collapsed after the government declined to accept demands, write Faith Matete and Lewis Nyaundi for The Star.
The number of short-term university students from China has declined in Taiwan this academic year in what some fear is retaliation by Beijing against a president who takes a guarded view toward relations, writes Ralph Jennings for Voice of America.
A group of 80 refugees from France’s ‘Jungle’ camp in the northern port city of Calais have been selected to attend university as part of an initiative to help them earn a degree in preparation for life in their new host country, reports France24.
Universities are being urged to act swiftly to tackle antisemitism on campuses after a series of incidents in recent weeks – including Holocaust denial leaflets, fascist stickers and swastikas etched on and around campuses – which have fuelled anxiety among Jewish students, writes Sally Weale for the Guardian.
UNITED STATES-SOUTH AFRICA
Academics at Georgia State University in Atlanta have devised a computerised system that can flag a student who needs academic support or advice, perhaps long before the student is aware. One of the major benefits of the system might be to address racial achievement gaps, writes John Bohannon for Science.
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