General Features
The extraordinary work that universities have done over decades to advance sustainable development is not sufficiently recognised by society at large, governments or the United Nations system. A new partnership between University World News and the International Association of Universities will address that problem.
Having risked blowing the United Kingdom’s research relationship with Europe through a three-year post-Brexit delay in rejoining the multi-billion-euro Horizon programme, British universities now face being caught up in another international government fallout, this time with China – its fastest growing research partner.
European university presidents and rectors often earn a fraction of the generous salaries enjoyed by vice-chancellors in the United Kingdom and other Anglo-Saxon countries. A new report aims to clear the air around the recurring controversy over high university leaders’ salaries, but sparked some contrary reactions.
A recent study shows that the commitment of senior university management to ‘education for sustainable development’ or ESD is critical for its effective implementation in the university environment, with the ultimate goal being to foster sustainable citizenship among students, according to a recent study set in Malaysia.
Peru’s Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola has won a United Nations-supported international award for a groundbreaking initiative that imparts sustainability skills to students, which they then practise in the local community. Nearly 150,000 volunteer hours have been undertaken for more than 40 organisations.
Universities and other educational institutions will need to adopt experimental and applied learning approaches to ‘education for sustainable development’ to prepare learners to address the grand socio-ecological challenges of the 21st century, according to the International Association of Universities.
A core role of universities is to produce quality graduates for the economy and society, with the knowledge and skills they need to secure a job and to succeed. In today’s world of climate chaos and global challenges, the imperative that graduates also make a positive contribution to the world has driven a global movement towards ‘education for sustainable development’.
Bureaucratic and legal threats by governments, weaponising the law to control the curriculum and curtail critical analysis, anti-intellectual, populist and authoritarian rhetorical attacks and crackdowns on professors and their expertise, as well as increasing pressure to self-censor, have put academic freedom in decline worldwide.
A scientific team led by a fashion design and marketing lecturer is developing packaging using bio-waste. As well as saving the planet and providing jobs, a key part of the project – an affordable eco-friendly sanitary towel – will help African girls and women.
Zimbabwe has made great strides in the fight against HIV/AIDS and is one of five countries in Africa to have reached the 95-95-95 target, according to the UNAIDS Global AIDS Update 2023 report. Researchers at the University of Zimbabwe are playing a key role in the success.
Universities are strategically placed to drive sustainability issues through the evolution of green campuses and the adoption of environmentally smart built environment practices. Despite challenges, some institutions have been recognised for their efforts.
A new artificial intelligence-led university – the first of its kind in India – opens its doors this month to both undergraduate and postgraduate students and aims to bring AI to the core of every subject to ensure students are future-ready for leadership roles.
Russia’s plan to establish branch campuses of top Russian universities in Africa and increase the quotas for African students in Russian universities signals an interest in expanding Russian influence. However, there are concerns that Russian overtures may be driven largely by geopolitical interests.
Fed up with low pay and job insecurity, some academics in Thailand have floated the idea of a trade union as a platform from which to defend their interests, but its formation is likely to be a lengthy process marked by legal and other hurdles.
The African continent is home to four of the world’s oldest universities and also to some of the planet’s youngest, first-ever universities in a given country, with some established only about 10 years ago. The oldest institution that is still in operation, according to a new map, is based in Tunisia.
All students at India’s universities will have to study subjects such as environmental education, climate change and the national obligation to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals from this year, under new guidelines issued by the country’s apex higher education body.
The establishment of the Mandela Institute for Sustainable Futures by Nelson Mandela University in South Africa is set to contribute towards building a strong pipeline of early-career researchers, critical in providing transformative interventions to the wave of planetary health challenges in South Africa and across the African region.
The planned merger of the universities of Adelaide and South Australia into a mega university promises to pump millions of dollars and many jobs into the South Australian state economy and create something that is ‘transformative for the future generation’. However, not everyone is convinced of that.
Joybrato Mukherjee, president of the German Academic Exchange Service or DAAD, has stressed the growing role of foreign academic policy in science diplomacy. He was presenting the organisation’s annual report, which notes that DAAD-supported academic mobility programmes appear to have almost returned to pre-COVID levels.
Some of the United States’ most prestigious colleges and universities – Georgetown, Fordham and Boston College among them – owe their existence to the money that Jesuits made from buying and selling human beings, according to a new book that documents the Jesuit slave trade.
With 27% of the Japanese population aged over 65, putting the country into the ‘super-aged’ category globally, university research projects on dementia are currently in the spotlight as Japan races to meet the needs of an expanding ageing population.
The establishment of ‘Study in Greece’ as a national agency supported by the Greek state is the latest step in an ongoing process to unlock a world of educational possibilities and deepen international collaboration to revitalise higher education in the country.
Europe needs to seize the momentum for educational change with a new holistic approach to transnational collaboration that goes beyond physical mobility and focuses on internationalising the curriculum, says a new report from the Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities.
National research and education networks or NRENs play a role in addressing climate change by supporting collaboration across borders and disciplines and promoting awareness and action. By investing in them, governments and research organisations can support the global response to climate change and promote sustainable development.
The formal launch of a Sub-Saharan African university ranking, based on data collected from 121 universities and with a strong focus on undergraduate education, on 26 June at Ashesi University in Ghana, has yielded mixed responses from within the sector.
While the Japanese government’s introduction of quotas to increase the number of women in leadership positions in the higher education sector is welcomed, experts say there is also a need for longer-term strategies to change institutional culture, and for mentorship programmes targeting female academics.
A new book that is replete with stories based on interviews with 35 female academics about their misogynistic experiences in a range of research university English departments creates a valuable space in which other women academics can see that they are not alone.
An edited book containing contributions from authors from different fields and parts of the world provides eye-opening insight into various aspects of higher education credential fraud and highlights the erosion of trust in academia and academics that consistently accompanies such cases.
Many Rwandan lecturers struggle to teach the young about the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. As the 100-day period during which a million people were killed is commemorated, experts consider the importance of education and how best to integrate the history into teaching and learning at university level.
The sense of a national mission among students and academics living outside Ukraine – to use their intellectual skills to rebuild their country – appears to be strong, but there are many factors that could affect the decision to return, and many ways to rebuild.
South Africa’s Stellenbosch University aims at achieving carbon neutrality by 2030 and, in doing so, positively contributes to the fight against climate change. In pursuit of this goal, carbon footprint reporting – obtaining information from the different departments and divisions – is one of the biggest challenges.
There is a need for continued exploration and publication within academic global health to build an anti-colonial curriculum in the field, a study argues. The authors say anti-colonialism in global health is vital to address inequities, both locally and globally. It provides a synthesis of guidelines on anti-colonial education.
Durham University and Reuters hosted an extraordinary global summit on investigative journalism last week, celebrating the work of renowned editor Sir Harold Evans and exploring truth telling in the ‘post-truth’ era. Top journalists, including Watergate duo Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, led the discussions.
There is growing pushback against research systems driven by financial rewards for exciting findings, at the expense of rigour and integrity. A key goal of open science proponents is to diversify the things that are rewarded to make research as efficient and effective as possible.
Top research institutions such as Canada’s University of Waterloo are implementing multilevel research security plans that seek to safeguard both the sensitive research undertaken at the university and its researchers, while at the same time honouring the cherished principle of academic freedom.
South Korea is ramping up its research, training and international collaborations as part of its push into space, which includes setting up the Korea Aerospace Administration – its own version of United States space agency NASA – and big increases in the country’s space-related budget.
Extending Synchrotron technologies to Latin America and the Caribbean and Africa – the areas of the world with the most pressing development problems – could make a significant impact in tackling global challenges such as eradicating poverty and hunger that affect the world’s poorest people.
The military takeover in Myanmar in 2021 has dramatically disrupted education systems, leaving many university students and prospective students with little choice but to put a hold on their studies, raising concerns from educators about the future of the country’s learners.
A new Central University Library of Mali, serving higher education institutions across this Sahel and Sahara country, will house thousands of ancient Islamic texts, including some removed from Timbuktu in 2013, to save them from destruction at the hands of Islamist militants.
While progress has been made in diversification, particularly in gender, the president’s office of colleges and universities in the United States continues to be occupied by disproportionately high numbers of white men whose identity and values are increasingly at odds with their diverse faculty and student bodies.
Unable to discern either the financial or pedagogical advantages of Danish government reforms aimed at shortening by one year as many as 50% of the country’s two-year humanities masters degrees, academics and commentators are pointing to the likelihood of a political motive.
In Universities on Fire: Higher Education in the Climate Crisis, Bryan Alexander’s examination of campus architecture underscores how difficult it will be for universities and colleges to find ways to contribute meaningfully to halting, let alone reversing, climate change.
As debate rages over the possibilities and risks of artificial intelligence in higher education, evaluators at a symposium agreed that AI is not going anywhere. Their choice is to work actively with AI – or have it enter the field of evaluation in an unfettered way, with potentially harmful consequences.
Although Unsettling the University: Confronting the colonial foundations of US higher education announces that the book’s focus is the “nation currently known as the United States”, the bulk of the introduction is a masterful deconstruction of Professor Sharon Stein’s own university: the University of British Columbia in Canada.
Social scientists are key to developing artificial intelligence tools and to understanding the implications of their introduction. “This shapes how AI evolves,” says leading physicist and economist Professor Sergei Guriev, provost of French research university Sciences Po. “The most important questions are about philosophy and ethics.”
Two global university networks have joined forces to support a collection of exceptional researchers from around the world – both faculty and graduate students – who are conducting engaged research that goes beyond academic study and includes a commitment to long-term sustainable community partnerships.
As climate change threatens the regional economy in Sapporo, the capital city of the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, the island’s flagship university is spearheading a sustainable growth strategy in partnership with stakeholders based on a ‘nature positive’ model for regional development.
It is a busy Friday inside Kiziba Camp in Rwanda as refugees are attending different activities. Francine Izabayo sits inside one of the classrooms revising courses. She is a refugee student and attends all her classes inside the camp. It is a campus within the camp known as Kepler Kiziba.
Recent interviews with several Ukrainian students and a separate survey designed to extract information about the experiences of over 1,600 students since the Russian invasion reveal the psychological damage and the social fallout suffered by young Ukrainians as a result of the war.
Scientists based at Hokkaido University in north Japan are supporting their country’s transition to green growth and its commitment to the global Sustainable Development Goals through research that explores the value of regenerative farming – the production of food that does not harm the environment.
A survey of 125 university librarians across the United States has discovered wildly differing opinions on the use and morality of AI tools such as ChatGPT in higher education. Only 13% of surveyed academic libraries offer AI products to researchers, and 24% are considering this.
Over the past decade, academic freedom has declined in more than 22 countries, including India, China, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States, according to the Academic Freedom Index: Update 2023, which claims to be the ‘first comprehensive overview of academic freedom worldwide’.
Michael Ignatieff, former vice-chancellor of the Central European University or CEU, says the way CEU was forced out of Hungary by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is serving as a script for today’s culture war on universities in Florida and Governor Ron DeSantis’s re-election last fall and presidential ambitions for 2024.
The library at the University of Mosul, once one of Iraq’s finest institutions, containing precious artefacts of history, was burned to the ground by Islamic State. But now it has been rebuilt and the university has been physically and culturally reconstructed with international support.
Across universities in Nordic countries, there is widespread recognition that the launch of ChatGPT represents just the first step in the development of a technology that will continue to evolve and bring further challenges that the sector will have no option but to embrace.
The destruction caused by the earthquake and its aftershocks that hit Türkiye and Syria in February has turned the spotlight on universities’ role in developing earthquake-safer construction practices, building disaster risk knowledge and research, promoting disaster education among academics, and developing disaster-resilient communities.
“Calm your inner Luddite, hold on to your inner sceptic,” is one of the messages for educators contemplating ChatGPT and other large language models, from Dr Roze Phillips, a futurist who straddles the worlds of work and academia. “Trying to outsmart AI is not a viable strategy.”
Universities have been urged to ‘think ahead’ when serving students with disabilities, many of whom find that the systems in place are overly procedural and put the onus on students to come forward to provide evidence of disability – a process many find daunting.
A leadership development programme introduced by the International Association of University Presidents, which draws its participants, speakers and mentors from the broader global higher education community, is helping new university leaders around the world to prepare for the specific challenges they will face.
The most important lesson about the unintended consequences of internationalisation is not to be oblivious to the opportunities presented by knowing they exist and, thus, to plan accordingly, say the editors of a new book studying the internationalisation of higher education in 18 countries worldwide.
Universities in Asia are on the alert over new generative artificial intelligence writing tools such as ChatGPT and other AI-assisted tools that can help students write text or code. Some universities moved early to ban their use while others have been more cautious.
The release of ChatGPT has been greeted with ‘moral panic’ and declarations on the death of the essay, but experts argue that focusing on the plagiarism aspects is counterproductive and ChatGPT can be used to improve the way students are taught to think.
A new book, which draws on the writer’s extensive experience of teaching Shakespeare at a small liberal arts college in the United States, exposes the limitations of the measurable student outcomes imposed by education authorities and brings to light the immeasurable value of the humanities for society.
A project of a Ukrainian media NGO, founded in 2014 by Ukrainian university professors and students, is working to refute Russia’s propaganda and fake news about the ongoing war in Ukraine. Part academic research, part journalistic mission, StopFake’s aim is simple: truth.
In a bid to end academic fraud, driven partly by a ‘publish or perish’ culture, Thailand’s government has called on universities to check sources of all academics’ research papers and has made it mandatory for academics to show they have conducted ‘community-based research’.
The first University Partnership Initiative Summit, hosted by the University of Pretoria in South Africa, has yielded insights into how the United States-South Africa Higher Education Network has built productive cross-continental partnerships and is navigating some of the difficulties that are inherent in such collaborations.
Just over a year ago Professor Olusola Bandele Oyewole took over as the secretary general of the Association of African Universities, based in Accra, Ghana. Oyewole spoke to University World News about what he has been doing since taking office and what progress he has made in achieving the goals he set in 2021.
The American Historical Association’s recent decision to expand the definition of historical scholarship for the purposes of hiring, promotion or tenure review recognises that there are many different forms of professional scholarship, but is there a danger that standards are being ‘watered down’?
A new interdisciplinary graduate programme introduced last year by Hokkaido University in Japan, focused on the Sustainable Development Goals, comprises three international programmes combining science and technology with social science disciplines to produce highly motivated global leaders who are sensitive to diverse perspectives.
Recent attempts by the University of Toronto’s leadership to acknowledge and address the longstanding history of antisemitism in its faculty of medicine are viewed as timorous by its Jewish critics and have elicited a highly charged debate about Zionism and the state of Israel.
Last month’s abduction of marine biologist Volodymyr Vorovka marks the continuation of Russia’s brutal and criminal campaign against Ukrainian intellectuals and civic leaders that predates the 24 February 2022 invasion and recalls the active destruction of Ukraine’s intelligentsia by Joseph Stalin in the 1930s.
We need to measure social inclusion at higher education institutions. But we need to measure the same thing if we are to make comparisons, and to boost inclusion. U-Multirank has developed concrete guidelines at the institutional level for social inclusion indicators, to be discussed at a webinar on 17 January.
The University Grants Commission in India issued guidelines in December on how higher education institutions can forge closer links with local communities in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, which have become a new language allowing stakeholders to work towards shared and measurable goals.
Russian experts have failed to understand how President Vladimir Putin can manipulate large sections of the population to support his war in Ukraine because they overlook why large groups of people have been marginalised, including through higher education, and how Putin identifies with them and shares their resentment.
Universities in Singapore are part of national and regional research efforts to understand the impacts of rising sea levels and develop mitigation measures. But they also provide a broad-based scientific education in sustainable development, enabling young people to ‘take the battle’ beyond the university.
The European Union is to broaden and increase its strong cooperation and support of higher education and research in Southeast Asia as part of a €10 billion (US$10.7 billion) package under its new Global Gateway scheme, focusing on ‘sustainable connectivity’ and the green transition.
Professor Adipala Ekwamu is one of the most influential figures in higher education in Africa, having founded the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture, or RUFORUM, and serving as its executive secretary since 2004. He spoke about his life’s work ahead of his retirement from the position at the end of December.
The uniquely Thai concept of sufficiency economics, which draws heavily on Buddhist principles and was introduced by a former king, has been embraced by one Thai higher education institution as a pathway to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and nurture agents of change.
With questions about universities’ contribution to society growing increasingly louder, including from political quarters, the challenge of measuring the social and economic impact of higher education institutions is increasingly coming under the spotlight, as it did at the recent University Social Responsibility Summit.
A recent report in the United States which shows how few students re-enrol in a second higher education institution, let alone graduate, after their first shuts down has highlighted the need for stricter enforcement of regulations aimed at preventing closures and protecting state consumer protection laws.
Universities in Thailand and the United Kingdom are working together in a major consortium of 21 institutions to facilitate research on global challenges, including the Sustainable Development Goals, expand existing expertise of Thai universities in community development and help institutions to become more globally competitive.
There is “profound intellectual concern that this decolonial project, insofar as it valorises indigenous knowledges, is anti-universal – and is, thus, inimical to the idea of the university”. As much as indigenous knowledge should be promoted, “this should not come at the expense of the university and the kind of knowledge that is supposed to be produced in a university context”, says Associate Professor of Higher Education Patrício Langa.
An estimated 1,750 global institutional members of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, including universities and research centres, are to contribute expertise to the Global Climate Hub, Phoebe Koundouri, a professor at the Athens University of Economics and Business, told delegates at COP27.
After decades of civil war in Colombia, a national programme aimed at reintegrating insurgents into society through education has seen five universities sign agreements giving former combatants and their families preferential access to tertiary education institutions. And this faith in higher education is showing results.
Universities across Africa need to embrace the new technologies being forged under the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or 4IR, to expand their educational capacity and produce relevant new knowledge, according to Tshilidzi Marwala, outgoing vice-chancellor of the University of Johannesburg in South Africa.