General News
After national governments, higher education institutions are the second most commonly involved organisations in addressing the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs around the world and, while they obviously face resource constraints, universities are nonetheless in a prime position to involve young people in SDG-related work.
There is a need for greater investment in research and development, including in the work done by higher education institutions, as well as for the promotion of science and technology-led innovation ecosystems in the world’s least-developed countries, which should link science, technology and innovation to socio-economic priorities and sustainable development.
Young people from the world’s 46 least-developed countries or LDCs have called upon member states, development partners and the global community to enhance their access to education and decent employment and entrepreneurship. They also asked for support for youth movements, human rights and global citizenship education training.
An organisation representing nearly a million doctoral candidates and postdocs across Europe has called on academic institutions and governments to improve conditions for early career researchers, arguing that their precarious existence endangers academic freedom, which is already under attack in many European countries.
The weighting of English in China’s highly competitive national college entrance exam, the gaokao, has re-emerged as a contentious issue at the annual joint sessions of the legislative body, the National People’s Congress, and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
After a period of calm earlier this year, new campus protests broke out this month over the apparent mass poisoning of Iranian schoolgirls as well as canteen-related poisonings on university campuses. The protests have led to students being banned from entering university premises.
On the sidelines of the recent Reinventing Higher Education conference held in Cape Town, South Africa, two academics flesh out what upending the ‘unidirectional gaze’ that characterises existing North-South research collaborations might practically mean for universities, institutions and academics in the Global North.
Iraq has launched the ‘Study in Iraq’ initiative for admitting Arab and foreign students into Iraqi universities. However, the academic community is divided on the readiness of universities for such an initiative and whether the priority should be on reforming higher education institutions first.
The opening of a branch campus by Australia’s Deakin University in India follows a long-standing relationship between the university and Indian academic partners and comes in the wake of a bilateral trade agreement and the finalisation of a joint education qualifications recognition mechanism.
To enhance the impact of Africa-Europe science, technology and innovation cooperation, it is necessary to focus on building capacities for long-term win-win partnerships that are co-founded, co-managed, co-owned and co-financed with an understanding of institutional and country contexts, along with respect for local knowledge and needs.
A steep decline in the number of students moving from two-year community colleges to four-year colleges and universities in the United States indicates that community colleges are no longer serving to improve access, among the country’s poorest and disproportionately racialised students, to a four-year degree programme.
The recent rescission of the honorary doctorates given by McGill and Carleton universities to Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, a former law professor who faked her Indigeneity, highlights the challenge for universities of ensuring that honorary degrees go to the people who truly deserve them.
New government reforms in Denmark seeking the establishment of 1,100 new university places for international students studying English-taught masters degrees in areas that are in high demand by Danish business and industry employers have been met with mixed responses from higher education stakeholders.
A scheme to appoint more women to professorships in Ireland was greeted with scepticism when it was launched back in 2018, but was roundly praised at a recent International Women’s Day 2023 event attended in person by five female university presidents and online by a sixth.
The recent emergence from the United States of OpenAI’s artificial intelligence-assisted ChatGPT writing tool, and the accompanying worldwide buzz over its ability to respond almost like a human to questions, has upended China’s declared bid to emerge as a global AI innovation power during this decade, according to experts.
Driven in part by a recent surge in public opinion, South Korea’s Ministry of Education has announced it is to consider stricter rules around the keeping of school bullying records and how such records are used to inform the regular admission process at universities.
Too many external restrictions and ‘excessive and unnecessary’ interference from governance arrangements are preventing universities from realising their full potential, according to the European University Association’s latest Autonomy Scorecard, which compares 35 higher education systems across the continent for university autonomy.
The proportion of women researchers in Europe has moderately increased in the past two decades to 33% pre-pandemic, up from 30%. However institutional and cultural barriers still remain, despite new initiatives that include Horizon Europe’s requirement for applicants for funding to have a gender equity plan.
Successive federal and provincial governments in Nepal have announced the establishment of new universities in recent years. However, a recent higher education report by the Policy Research Institute, a Nepalese government think tank, recommends a focus on improving existing universities rather than adding more.
Students from Sub-Saharan African countries may abandon their studies in Tunisian universities and colleges in the wake of the mass arrests of compatriots, xenophobic attacks and racial violence. Some embassies have asked their citizens to stay home. Others have started repatriation efforts.
Universities in the United Kingdom have done a great deal to support people swept up in humanitarian crises, natural and man-made, the International Higher Education Forum 2023 heard. But conspicuously missing is collaboration between university leaders, which will be crucial to supporting education for refugees.
In the age of post-plagiarism, universities need to prepare students to use artificial intelligence apps to enhance and elevate their creative outputs as a normal part of their everyday lives, with AI being a tool that writes with them, not for them.
More than 250 members of more than 100 different university work panels have signed a petition, published in the media, objecting to the Danish government’s plans to reduce the masters degree from two years to one for up to half of the country’s graduates.
British universities were urged to be more astute to rising geopolitical competition at a recent global forum but at the same time encouraged to protect the role of the country’s higher education system as a bridge rather than a wedge in political divides.
The Global Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education will come into force on Sunday 5 March, becoming the first legally binding United Nations instrument on higher education, fostering international mobility and opening up increased opportunities for students and qualification holders worldwide.
An unprecedented national programme to address the mental health crisis on the campuses of historically black colleges and universities and predominately black institutions in the United States recognises not only the impact of COVID-19 and social media on students’ well-being, but the impact of being African American.
Students from Sub-Saharan Africa are being recruited in their numbers and the competition for students is increasing, with indicators predicting that the region’s 430,000 outwardly mobile students will double by 2050. Nigerian students, the biggest group of international students, opt for the UK and US, while francophone students choose France.
Africa continues to suffer from wealth and gender disparities when it comes to tertiary education. This is evident from the “highly variable quality” of private tertiary education institutions along with low levels of investment, facts that emerged from the first edition of a joint UNESCO-African Union education report.
A National Tertiary Education Union report claims that “wage theft has shamefully become an endemic part of universities’ business models” at the same time that Australia’s biggest public universities record massive surpluses and their vice-chancellors earn over AU$1 million (US$673,000) per year in wages.
President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen has confirmed that she is ready to begin talks on an association agreement to allow United Kingdom participation in Horizon Europe as soon as the UK-EU agreement on adapting the Northern Ireland Protocol, announced on Monday, is implemented.
An international AI-powered study of more than 14,100 articles in top journals has confirmed the poor reproducibility of (especially experimental) research in psychology – a blow to the discipline. Research methods and citation impact can help predict whether research is reliable, but university prestige and citation numbers do not.
Three years ago all the university presidents in Ireland were men. But from this May male presidents will be in a minority as seven of the country’s 13 universities will be headed by women, representing a remarkable turnaround for gender parity in higher education.
While Norway’s Research and Higher Education Minister Ola Borten Moe claims to be improving the efficiency of the sector, some of the country’s leading academics and his political opponents accuse him of forcing through unnecessary populist changes that run the risk of causing lasting damage.
The German Academic Exchange Service or DAAD has called for an action plan until 2030 to rebuild the Ukrainian higher education system after the war in that country ends, and to forge links between Ukrainian higher education and research institutions and European and German partners.
International students from around the world admitted to feeling excluded, exploited, discriminated against and ‘looked down upon’, at a recent special session of the International Higher Education Commission held to let them have their say about their experiences of studying in the United Kingdom.
A consortium of nine American and European universities led by the United Kingdom’s University of Cambridge has won a US$35 million grant from Bill and Melinda Gates Agricultural Innovations for research work in Africa – an initiative that is raising eyebrows over the level of participation of local collaborators.
State funding has been allocated for a new Indigenous Centre of Excellence at Western Sydney University in Australia which aims to increase Indigenous participation in higher education and enable people to learn about the rich Indigenous heritage and culture of the region.
When the 2022-23 academic year started in Cameroon’s universities, Rose Amandy, a second-year law student at the University of Yaoundé II in Soa was surprised at the sharp increase in the prices of basic commodities at the local market near campus. The government has now indicated that it may intervene to support students.
On university campuses in Nigeria students have been feeling the impact of an economy in which the naira appears to have been in free fall and food inflation has increased by at least 400% from 2015. On university campuses, students have been going hungry.
Confusion reigned last Friday over the suspension of Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Town in South Africa. In a new twist to a long leadership controversy, it was reported that the council offered to drop all claims against her if Phakeng agreed to early retirement – but she refused.
It is “futile” to ban the use of artificial intelligence tools in higher education, the European University Association said in a position statement this week. Instead, universities must adapt their approaches to learning, teaching and assessment and explore the responsible use of AI.
Stark inequalities exist in the higher education research ecosystems across Commonwealth countries, with a new report revealing significant disparities in access to funding, research support systems and gender equity between universities in richer and lower-income nations.
Reports of mounting debt among international students have sparked controversy. Although student debt among graduates outside Denmark is primarily that of Danish citizens who have left, debt among international students is high and there are concerns that government action might reduce their numbers in future.
A global study into the characteristics of celebrity or visible scientists across 16 countries during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that “visibility is related to scientists’ media skills and willingness to engage, as well as their ability to respond to criticism and cope with controversy”.
South Korea’s Ministry of Education this month unveiled a promised plan to strengthen regional universities that have been badly affected by the country’s demographic decline and a strong student preference to study in the capital Seoul and other major cities.
Politicians are squaring up for a battle royale over any attempts to drive away overseas students as the British government struggles to find a way to live up to a promise to cut migration – and international higher education experts stand ready to join the fray. Among measures mooted is a clampdown on foreign students taking short courses at 'less respectable universities'.
“It seems that misinformation, disinformation and malinformation on scientific advances is freely available online to all – while credible and authoritative scientific information and data lie behind paywalls, in spite of the open science momentum.” – The United Nations calling for action at its third Open Science Conference.
The German Academic Exchange Service or DAAD is launching a programme to boost international research collaboration on green hydrogen which accompanies the European Research Area pilot project addressing this field. It will offer grants for study or research stays and establish working groups on cross-cutting issues.
Higher education is accelerating action for achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, with universities showing “more substantial institutional commitment”, more actors involved, and taking increasingly holistic approaches, according to the third International Association of Universities’ survey on higher education and research for sustainable development.
Universities around the world are urgently seeking to support the earthquake response effort in Türkiye and Syria by offering technical expertise and resources and launching appeals for donations. They are also promoting healing and resilience for their own students, staff and employees affected.
Former Jawaharlal Nehru University student Sharjeel Imam and 10 others have been absolved of charges of inciting violence during a protest against India’s contentious Citizenship Amendment Act at Jamia Millia Islamia, a prestigious New Delhi university. The court upheld the students’ rights to dissent.
China’s Education Ministry announced that students will return to universities ‘as normal’ after they were sent home last year in the wake of widespread anti-Zero-COVID protests. But in a situation that is far from normal, they will likely face increased censorship and surveillance.
Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party or DPP has agreed new rules on academic integrity for all its candidates for the 2024 presidential and legislative elections after accusations of academic plagiarism dogged a number of candidates fielded in the 2022 local elections, in which the party performed badly.
Higher education and research leaders have welcomed a shake-up of government departments to try to strengthen efforts to make post-Brexit Britain a science superpower. But some experts decry the failure to bring universities into the newly created Department for Science, Innovation and Technology.
The strategically located and tiny East African state of Djibouti will be building a spaceport valued at US$1 billion funded by a Chinese company, which could see the first launch from the continent of an African-made satellite while it promotes the development of scientific expertise.
There is widespread support from academic stakeholders and leaders for a set of pilot projects launched by the European Commission aimed at testing new forms of transnational cooperation between higher education institutions, including the European degree label and a legal status for European university alliances.
Indonesia’s state universities open this month for registration of new students, the first cohort to sit the new national university admission test which steers away from rote learning and is intended to level the playing field for less-advantaged pupils. But not everyone supports it.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is fuelling his White House ambitions by launching a blitzkrieg of measures aimed at derailing the on-campus fight against racism, sexism and anti-LGBTQ actions, and whitewashing United States history. It is likely to spark a series of legal challenges.
From suggestions to ban ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence chatbot, to adjusting curricula and assessment formats, the academic community in North Africa, as in other parts of the world, disagrees about how the higher education sector should respond to the latest text tool.
Three West African countries – Benin, the Gambia and Ivory Coast – with the support of the South Africa-based ethical research non-governmental organisation EthiXpert, have secured a €1.5 million (US$1.62 million) grant that will be used to build the capacity of research ethics committees in these countries.
Turkish and Syrian universities suspended exams and classes and joined forces to mobilise resources and personnel after more than 3,600 people were killed, and more than 14,000 injured, in twin earthquakes reaching a magnitude of 7.7 on Monday in south-eastern Turkiye and north-west Syria.
The decline in overall student enrolment in United States universities and colleges caused by COVID-19 has slowed, according to official national figures, but there is a worrying decrease in graduate numbers. And a demographic cliff, with its origins in the 2008 recession, lies ahead.
A team of economists has published a study which shows that efforts by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences to address the historic under-representation of women researchers in both national academies have largely been successful.
Media reporting exposing the long delays suffered by international researchers seeking residence permits through the Swedish Migration Agency has amplified concerns that Sweden’s hard-line immigration policy is denting the country’s reputation as a viable destination for high-level talent and is hurting its research climate.
Leading French grande école Sciences Po has banned the use of ChatGPT, the new chatbot capable of instantly writing students’ essays. The innovation has sparked consternation in universities worldwide due to its potential for exacerbating plagiarism and undermining academic quality and integrity.
Universities need to work harder at diversifying target markets for international students, according to a new study which highlights a disjuncture between where potential study-abroad students are looking to study and where universities have been concentrating their recruitment efforts in the past.
Universities across India are seething over the ban on screening a controversial BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Reports of students trying to screen the documentary on campuses have led to students being suspended, but the ban is being challenged in India’s Supreme Court.
The killings of university staff on and around South African university campuses have triggered some soul-searching among academics, which came to the fore during an Academy of Science of South Africa round-table discussion on 27 January. The academic project itself is under threat, some argued.
A new book examining the experience of graduate students shows that far from being bastions of intellectual inquiry and meritocracy, elite universities in Britain and the United States do a good job of reproducing the ethnic, racial and class divisions central to their societies.
China has suddenly reversed its temporary rules in place for over two years during the COVID-19 pandemic allowing online courses from foreign universities to be delivered to students within China, which is being justified in China as a crackdown on substandard online degree courses.
As an assessment of the European Union’s flagship Horizon Europe Missions programme looms, two research university networks say a narrow scope and heavy emphasis on concrete, high-end results are discouraging applications from scientists and researchers, and a stronger research and innovation focus is needed.
Among a string of other measures, the government of Japan has added official gender equity targets to its existing diversity promotion fund and has linked subsidies for private institutions to higher female representation in a bid to raise the ratio of women academics in universities.
The alarming spate of security incidents in Nigeria’s south-eastern region took a turn for the worst with armed robbers reportedly raping several female students of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, an institution located in the region, but the institution said the number of attacks was exaggerated.
Times Higher Education has again drawn on existing data from its rankings to produce another one, ‘Most International Universities in the World 2023’, directed mostly at students. It appears that size, language, history and geography combine to make universities in some countries highly international, especially Hong Kong.
Despite increasing international isolation over its role in the war in Ukraine, Russia is seeing increased demand from foreign students for places at Russian universities, including from Europe. It is increasing state-funded places by 30% and hopes to double the number of students from Europe.
A recent study highlights the extent to which women have been under-represented on editorial boards of scientific journals over the past five decades and in almost all fields – and how common it is for editors to self-publish their papers in their own journals.
Just as United Kingdom universities celebrated a continuing surge in international student numbers, there was speculation in the national media of infighting between government departments over proposals to reduce the time foreign students can stay in the country to look for work after graduating.
Lebanon has launched a five-year higher education plan for 2023 to 2027 that aims to strengthen universities’ social responsibility and competitiveness as well as producing industry and market-ready graduates, along with establishing a knowledge-based economy and achieving sustainable development. But the context is challenging.
Tension on Indian university campuses has escalated after a police crackdown on students of a New Delhi university after they tried to screen a BBC documentary film examining Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s alleged complicity in anti-Muslim violence, which has been banned by the federal government.
In the wake of China’s economic downturn and concerns over a decline in college-age student numbers, the education ministry, after years of unbridled expansion, has directed provinces to rein in plans to build new universities and is now pushing a ‘quality over quantity’ line.
Norwegian universities are having to face up to the complex practicalities involved in administering fees following the minister of research and higher education’s insistence that the introduction of tuition fees for international students, due to come into effect later this year, will definitely go ahead.
To regain legitimacy as a leading continental organisation, the African Union needs to decolonise itself and engage with and rely more on its member states to re-orientate its regional higher education policy processes to African issues instead of excessive financial dependency on external actors.
Germany is set to struggle with a dearth of teaching staff in schools continuing well into the future due to falling numbers of teacher training graduates. The teachers’ and scientists’ union has called for improvements in teacher training to cope with the crisis.
A government-imposed freeze on domestic student fees in South Korea has traditionally driven up the cost of tuition for international and graduate students. But now, some cash-strapped universities believe they have no option but to raise domestic fees – even if it means forfeiting government grants.
Universities must focus on equipping their students with leadership and technical skills and foster collaborative and experimental forms of learning and knowledge production that can provide practical solutions to development challenges, according to Arturo Condo, the president of EARTH University in Costa Rica.