A call by Egyptian parliamentarians to enforce a dress code on university campuses has received mixed responses in the Middle Eastern country.
Zimbabwe’s flagship university has set its sights on being one of the top 10 universities on the African continent by the year 2020, according to its vice-chancellor. Students are less sanguine about its prospects, however.
The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research has announced strict new rules for doctoral students who fail to submit their theses in the requisite four years after ministry figures revealed that over 1,000 PhD projects were outstanding – some for up to nine years.
Three South African universities have made it onto the score sheets of the inaugural subjects ranking of the Center for World University Rankings, published earlier this month.
African universities are set to benefit from a new US$2 million programme which will train postdoctoral researchers to support globally competitive research aimed at the creation of knowledge-based economies on the continent.
The government has introduced new accountability measures for Nigerian universities following corruption allegations against vice-chancellors of some of the country’s universities, allegations that have already prompted the suspension of discretionary funding from government.
The International Council for Science, in partnership with the International Social Science Council and the Network of African Science Academies, has announced that it will support 10 collaborative research projects across Africa to the value of €90,000 (US$96,000) each over two years.
Representatives from 28 African countries pledged to revitalise and transform their education systems for growth and sustainable development on the continent, at the 2017 Triennale of the Association for the Development of Education in Africa, or ADEA.
Decolonising the mind – and the university – requires African scholars not to reject Western thinkers like Kant and Hegel but to go beyond them and push the frontiers of knowledge further.
AFRICAN RESEARCH UNIVERSITIES ALLIANCE
The African Research Universities Alliance, or ARUA, 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. The alliance was officially launched at the international launch conference held at the University of Ghana in Accra from 3-4 April under the theme “Research in Africa Rising”.
African governments need to invest heavily in research in order to provide solutions to improve the lives of its people, Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said at the recent launch of the African Research Universities Alliance.
The days of stand-alone disciplines in academia are over, as liberal arts subjects are being integrated into other areas of study in higher education institutions in order to focus on development issues, according to Tayo Adesina of the University of Ibadan’s history department.
The instability of the South Africa tertiary education sector, due largely to the student-led #FeesMustFall protest movement as well as quality issues, has seen the role of private universities thrown into stark relief, dubbed either, as one commentator put it, “an escape hatch for the very rich” or competition out to steal students from public institutions.
Greater university autonomy, credible appointments to governing councils, integrity tests for prospective vice-chancellors, and a holistic overhaul to stem systemic decay topped the list of recommendations contained in a strongly-worded statement released at the close of the recent third biennial conference of the Committee of Pro-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities.
While international students studying in Egypt currently generate US$186 million for the Egyptian economy, this figure is low by international standards. An ambitious government plan aims to double the number of international students by 2020-21 and increase their contribution to the country by as much as US$700 million.
Promoters of private higher education institutions in Cameroon have set up an association to support and represent the sector.
Two students were arrested in protests against government measures to change study grants into loans.
NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report
Ranjit Devraj and Yojana Sharma
India’s second annual round of ranking of its universities and other higher education institutions released last week includes a new overall category, looking at institutions across all disciplines. The Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore came top.
The Hungarian parliament has passed a controversial amendment to its national law on higher education, changing the regulations for foreign universities, which threatens the continuing operation of the country’s leading university, the Central European University, founded by billionaire George Soros.
Germany’s Federal Foreign Office has sharply criticised Hungary’s higher education law amendment, which changes the regulation of foreign universities, maintaining that it restricts academic freedom. It also said it is "incomprehensible" that the activities of the Central European University should be restricted.
Nine academics, former student leaders, former and current legislators involved in the 2014-15 pro-democracy protests are facing criminal prosecution, launched a day after Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s new chief executive, was elected on 26 March by a mainly pro-Beijing 1,194-member electoral college. More than 200 academics from universities in Hong Kong and abroad have criticised the move.
A prominent academic who has been detained for more than eight months will appear in court on Monday facing charges related to the failed coup attempt last July. He says the state attorney has asked for a life sentence penalty and he fears for his life if the death penalty is re-legalised.
Jan Petter Myklebust
The Court of Appeal has endorsed the verdict in the lower court that Mälardalen University College has to repay tuition fees paid by an international student for a course that was found not to be of sufficient quality – but only half of the fees – plus court costs.
A Chinese academic barred from returning to his home in Australia after a research trip looking into China’s crackdown on its human rights lawyers, has been allowed to return to Sydney after a week of being prevented from boarding a flight home. Feng Chongyi said on his return he would continue his work in China.
Jan Petter Myklebust
The Minister for Higher Education and Science, Søren Pind, has decided to cut the intake of business academies and professional universities for higher education courses by a quarter – a cut of 1,600 study places. The impact will be to reduce the number of European Union students claiming support grants, which has risen steeply.
China is aggressively competing to raise its universities’ international rankings and attract international students. African institutions increasingly hold degrees from China in legitimate esteem. Is this the start of a new world order?
The attack on Hungary’s Central European University is not the only attempt by autocratic leaders in Eastern European to crack down on international universities that do not suffer from the same corruption as their local counterparts. Legal pretexts have been found to enforce political conformity on the European University at St Petersburg.
Emmanuelle Perez Tisserant and Philippe Dagneaux
French scientists will mobilise alongside others around the world on 22 April to stand up for the values of critical thinking and analysis, which are under threat from politicians such as United States President Donald Trump, and rally all those who spread knowledge throughout society – from scientists to teachers and journalists – to strengthen mutual dialogue.
No foreign power should be allowed to dominate Vietnam's academic world. For Vietnam’s integrity and national security, it needs to have its own universities that contribute to and provide guidance on following an independent path free of neocolonial domination.
The United Kingdom and United States are set on a path to creating more barriers to attracting and retaining international students. The two largest source countries of international students – China and India – have experienced economic changes that have decelerated the ambitions and ability of students to go abroad. What strategic options are higher education institutions considering in response to this turbulence?
Philip G Altbach and Hans de Wit
A great shake-up is taking place in the world of international higher education as a result of the political changes sweeping the United States and United Kingdom and rising xenophobia in Europe. There are a number of potential winners and losers, but until the dust settles it is all to play for.
EUA 2017 CONFERENCE
The European University Association or EUA 2017 Annual Conference, with the theme “Autonomy and Freedom: The future sustainability of universities”, was hosted by the University of Bergen in Norway on 6-7 April, and discussed how autonomy and freedom of universities can be linked to address the current political, economic and societal challenges in Europe.
At a time of great political uncertainty and amid a growing tendency for governments to interfere, university autonomy is more important than ever. A new tool aims to provide a balanced view of autonomy levels across Europe.
Alexandra Antonescu and Lea Meister
Universities face numerous threats to academic freedom in an era of ‘alternative facts’ and clampdowns on student protests. We must renew our dedication to their mission of independent inquiry and preparing critical thinkers.
A rise in film studies collaborations between Chinese institutions and universities in Britain, America and Europe is part of China’s policy to become a post-manufacturing economy. The partnerships will help develop a skills base for a rising ‘Hollywood of the East’ in and around Shanghai.
The Indian government is planning to digitise academic records as part of a drive against fake degrees and institutions at a time when companies are complaining of rising fraudulent qualification claims and prominent public figures are being challenged to prove that they are entitled to the degrees and qualifications they claim to have.
Sir Peter Scott, in the 2017 WorldViews Lecture on Media and Higher Education, said that the rising tide of populism seen in the triumph of Brexit voters and President Donald Trump has sent academics a warning that they should speak up more loudly for open societies, but also recover that sense of social purpose that universities are in danger of losing.