General Features
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.
University World News passed another significant milestone this week – its 15th birthday – which is a moment for celebration of its achievements since its first edition on 14 October 2007, building a reputation for independent and in-depth reporting and commentary with a truly global perspective.
A recent meeting of leaders of Nordic universities and European Commission representatives held in Brussels called for participants to consider a shift towards a discourse of ‘global values’ rather than European values in order to allow for more inclusive global partnerships.
A recent book, which argues the need to distinguish between academic freedom and free speech, is important inter alia for its discussion of critical race theory which shows how law is replete with structural racism – as is the conventional defence of free speech.
The pandemic accelerated universities’ reliance on partnerships with private providers in the student recruitment space, but a recent survey shows that while most universities recognise the value in engaging private providers, satisfaction with different provider types is mixed and trust can be a hurdle.
The International USR Summit 2022 sets out to advance the global university social responsibility movement. Here University World News interviews Robert Hollister, senior adviser to the University Social Responsibility Network, on what can drive institutional change and how best to measure universities’ contribution to achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs.
Commercial satellite imagery and open-source data are helping Yale University scientists to identify evidence of alleged war crimes in Ukraine by Russia or its proxies that can later be used in courts, either in Ukraine or the International Criminal Court at The Hague.
Universities can play a leading role in transforming society, but this requires a merit system and research and education funding conditions that recognise the value of engagement with society as well as impact on society, International Association of Universities President Pam Fredman tells University World News.
The strong performance of Indonesian universities in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings shows that universities in developing countries can compete well with their counterparts in developed countries. The focus on the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, has also led to Indonesian universities participating in more international collaborations.
As part of national efforts to boost internationalisation of higher education, Greek universities are offering more English-taught short courses. These are helping to create bridges with the international academic community by spreading the word that international academic synergies and opportunities are increasingly flourishing.
The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, a network of six centres of excellence which are based in South Africa, Senegal, Ghana, Cameroon, Tanzania and Rwanda, has been nurturing innovative, critical thinkers who can drive the continent’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, agenda.
Professor Lydia Aziato has just been named the vice-chancellor of the University of Health and Allied Sciences in Ho in Ghana’s Volta Region. She is the fifth woman vice-chancellor in Ghana. The child of peasant farmers, Aziato did not allow her background to become a barrier to her success.
Hopes of a breakthrough in international efforts to reform how researchers and research organisations are assessed are rising, with European universities, research centres, public and private funders, national and regional agencies and other stakeholders being encouraged to create a coalition committed to change.
Fifty-eight rectors signed a new version of the Magna Charta Universitatum in Bologna, Italy, which marks international recognition that universities’ responsibilities towards transforming society have become as important as upholding academic freedom and autonomy.
A longitudinal study conducted in the period after Russia’s 2014 aggression against Ukraine, which confirmed a correlation between the feeling of being understood by others and a willingness to trust or forgive, may hold a key to post-conflict reconciliation processes in other settings.
African universities have the expertise, best practices and research capability that can serve as a foundation to shape ‘brand Africa’ in higher education – but many Africans lack the confidence to do so. The importance of accurate data to track success and failures has also been highlighted.
At the heart of the programme of the upcoming conference of the International Association of Universities, taking place in Ireland in October, is the belief that universities are vital agents of change that have the ability – and moral duty – to shape local and global agendas.
African universities must resist the blandishments of short-sighted politicians, wealthy donors and the advocates of radical change in higher education if they are to deliver on their core mandate of supporting local and national development, according to higher education researcher Nelson Masanche Nkhoma.
In an ambitious closing plenary of the 24th annual International Education Association of South Africa conference entitled ‘Around the globe in 60 minutes’, leaders from eight member associations of the Network of International Education Associations reflected on how the current global, regional and national geopolitical and economic contexts were impacting on the internationalisation of higher education.
In what is claimed to be the first “real world field study” of inoculation theory on a social media platform, United Kingdom psychologists, cooperating with Google experts, found that a single viewing of a pre-bunking video clip is effective in raising awareness of misinformation.
Despite their key role in helping academic researchers to get their message across during the COVID-19 pandemic, many science press officers feel undervalued and see themselves as playing ‘second fiddle’ to their marketing colleagues, a new report into university media relations has found.
Mounting pressure for the decolonisation of higher education presents progressive opportunities for epistemic freedom and the emergence of universities that are authentic African universities, according to Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni, the chair in epistemologies of the Global South at the University of Bayreuth, Germany.
Outside the United States, scholars of race and slavery are both deepening and widening the study of slavery, breaking down binary distinctions between slavery and freedom by examining forms of dependency over time as well as the changing racisms that shape international and domestic relations.
A new study shows that many regional comprehensive universities in the United States are successfully educating most of the nation’s poorest students and launching them into their careers, despite the fact that these institutions often do not have all the resources needed to provide academic support.
Over several days in March, rocketeers based in Belgorod in Russia, 80 kilometres away, fired missiles at Kharkiv in northeast Ukraine. Missiles damaged a number of Karazin University buildings, destroyed its Institute of Public Administration and exploded in the Rare Book Library, which housed 60,000 of the university’s 3,350,000 books and manuscripts.
Recent cuts to the humanities programmes at several United Kingdom universities that serve largely working-class student communities have their origins in neo-conservative government policies designed to foster unregulated competition between universities, further entrenching institutional inequality and exposing the persistence of the British class system.
The announcement by the London-based Horniman Museum of the return to Nigeria of 72 artefacts that have been in its collection for about 125 years has spawned divergent responses from experts in the West African country’s academic and cultural communities.
Fictional depictions of academic conferences tend to portray the worst of academics, particularly men, and contribute to the reproduction of anti-intellectual ideas by supporting the popular perception that conferences and their participants are elitist, useless and boring, according to a recent study.
The latest EU rules on research security include new restrictions on research with countries with a poor human rights record, placing a heavy compliance burden on universities which could result in their dropping some collaborative projects owing to complexities of due diligence.
China’s Confucius Institute at the University of the South Pacific has, since 2021, catered to demand for Chinese language skills in a region in which China’s economic footprint is growing. While many students embrace the learning of Mandarin, concerns about China’s long-term intentions linger.
A webinar hosted by the Talloires Network of Engaged Universities and originally inspired by the war in Ukraine, exposed the resilience and hopes of countless young people and students around the world whose daily lives are forged amid relentless violence that goes largely unreported.
Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Hong Kong – his first time outside mainland China since the COVID-19 pandemic began – emphasised the city’s role in contributing to China’s development, including the cross-border role of Hong Kong’s universities and research for China’s technology and innovation goals.
Participants at the Global Forum on higher education leadership held in Dublin last week, discussing the issue of how universities and colleges can respond to populist attacks on democracy itself, turned their focus on how universities can bridge the gap between themselves and the people they are meant to serve.
The Millennium Fellowship programme – a leadership development programme teaching concrete leadership skills and core values such as empathy, humility and inclusion – is enabling young leaders to address the Sustainable Development Goals through grassroots initiatives that have a real social impact.
Nigerian higher education leaders’ determination to protect academic and research integrity and curb student and faculty plagiarism has led to the development and launch of a new locally developed software system. So far, 230 institutions and 4,200 subscribers have signed up.
As part of a government drive to open up more English-taught higher education programmes, the Greek government has approved a new law that will aid the creation of new English-taught degrees run by Greek universities in collaboration with overseas higher education institutions.
A recent study from the University of Cambridge suggests that official impact assessment systems may not be sufficiently geared towards measuring and acknowledging the impact and public value of research increasingly being shared by socially networked academics over a multitude of social media platforms.
A recent Talloires Network discussion about the application of an awareness-based systems change approach to struggles against racial and other injustices considered the limitations of a purely rules-based approach to justice and the need to move from anger to tenderness towards others.
Student debt in the United States totals US$1.7 trillion. Dealing with the crisis was part of President Joe Biden’s election platform in 2020. This month donors wiped out the debts of graduating students at two colleges. But solving the decades-old problem for 43 million Americans will be far more difficult.
The British government has been accused of ‘shying away’ from championing the power of university education to address inequality, leaving the responsibility for such work to individual universities such as Sheffield Hallam University and organisations such as the National Education Opportunities Network.
Higher education organisations in Southeast Asia have forged a common platform which is helping to redefine the higher education space in the region, enabling the sector to become more relevant and respond more effectively to global challenges and the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs.
While Indian higher education institutions are increasingly engaging in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings and, in some cases, making progress, there is room for improvement, which will come with more time, investment in capabilities, rigour and familiarity with the submission process.
A new version of the Climate Atlas of Canada, created at the University of Winnipeg, corrects a past imbalance, not only by including granular climatological detail about First Nations communities, but by foregrounding indigenous knowledges and ways of seeing – and is helping to save lives and infrastructure.
Academic collaboration in Africa, Asia and Latin America in the post-COVID era has undergone some shifts, including in student and academic mobility. These trends were on the agenda of the Third Higher Education Forum for Africa, Asia and Latin America or HEFAALA III Symposium held from 25 to 29 April in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The Association of Pacific Rim Universities has heeded the call for universities to offer global leadership on pandemic prevention by pooling the considerable expertise of its members and helping to deliver more integrated and timely interventions in response to future threats.
If they are not to be condemned to irrelevance, universities in Africa must strengthen their research and teaching and adopt a proactive stance in responding to the institutional and development demands of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, according to Paul Zeleza, academic, higher education commentator and former vice-chancellor.
Amid accusations that the higher education sector is among the top five sectors responsible for bringing the world to the brink of destruction, a group of leaders is championing the Sustainable Development Goals as a more responsible method than rankings and university league tables.
An advanced virtual reality system which gives students access to different virtual learning environments in which they can examine problems, collect data, collaborate and design solutions offers a unique way to teach climate change and further the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
An analysis of Russian speculative fiction reveals the role of popular literature in the production of a ‘social imaginary’ which contains traces of the trauma associated with the collapse of the Soviet Union and informs the current invasion and attempted subjugation of Ukraine.
The United States dominated this year’s ‘QS World University Rankings by Subject’ and China’s rise has slowed, but in terms of rankings per entry, New Zealand is top followed by Canada and Australia. Here University World News provides a global and region-by-region report of the results.
A rush to medicine at the expense of other fields of study may hurt Somalia’s education sector in the long term as well as the country’s economic development. The high number of medical students and graduates has been fuelled by a combination of factors, including family pressure.