World in brief – 17 August 2017

Higher education news from around the globe

August 17, 2017
Medicine
Source: Alamy

Sweden

Stockholm bids for EU medicines agency

Sweden has submitted its official offer to host the European Medicines Agency after Brexit. The medical watchdog, which is currently based in London, regulates the development of medicines and research into their effectiveness, such as clinical trials. Sweden’s bid document, published by the country’s government, says that locating the organisation in Stockholm comes with the advantages of it being close to Sweden’s top-ranked university, the Karolinska Institute, and the Nobel Assembly. Sweden faces competition from the Republic of Ireland, Italy, Denmark and Poland, which would also like to host the agency. The Council of the European Union is due to make its final decision in November.


United States

Elsevier hoovers up Bepress

The publishing giant Elsevier has become a “major player in the institutional repository landscape”, with the acquisition of Bepress. The acquisition is the third such purchase in the past 14 months for Elsevier, Inside Higher Ed reported, after the acquisitions of SSRN and Plum Analytics. Bepress, originally created by University of California, Berkeley professors, provides the cloud-based Digital Commons service that allows universities to share research outputs such as theses and datasets with the public. “The move into institutional repositories means that Elsevier now offers services at almost every stage of the scholarly workflow – from initial research to citation management, publication and deposit into a repository,” Inside Higher Ed said.


Malta

Titkellem bil-Malti?

The University of Malta is considering whether to waive tuition fees and provide a stipend for students who apply with a qualification in Maltese, in order to safeguard the future of the language. Alfred Vella, the university’s rector, told the Times of Malta that the language was under threat, and that offering a financial incentive at university to learn it could help. He asked: “What if we were to introduce a requirement saying that anyone who is eligible on all the criteria, including Maltese, would not pay fees and would get a stipend?”


Cuba

Cubans shrug off Trump cold shoulder

Links between Cuban and US universities continue to develop despite President Donald Trump pulling back on Barack Obama’s drive to improve relations between the nations. Carlos Eduardo Suarez Ponciano, rector of Cuba’s University of Artemisia, recently led a delegation to the Southern Arkansas University to sign an agreement on academic exchange in the rotunda of the State Capitol. The Cuban delegation spent a week in the US and visited SAU’s new engineering facility as well as the Clinton Library, devoted to former US president Bill Clinton who is perhaps the most famous living son of Arkansas.


Zimbabwe

Shut happens

The Zimbabwean government has backtracked on a decision to shut more than 250 private and independent colleges, barely a day after announcing its decision to do so. On 7 August, 251 institutions were said to have been closed with immediate effect for “non-compliance with the country’s registration and operation procedures”. However, Jonathan Moyo, the higher education minister, said that the original statement in a newspaper advertisement “was irregularly flighted without proper authorisation and is thus null and void”, The Herald reported.


Singapore

Academic ‘spy’ fights to remain

A Chinese-American academic, who has been identified by the Singaporean government “as an agent of influence of a foreign country”, has appealed the country’s decision to revoke his permanent resident status. Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs claimed that Huang Jing used his senior academic position at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore to “deliberately and covertly advance the agenda of a foreign country at Singapore’s expense”, in collaboration with foreign intelligence agents. The Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy also suspended Professor Huang from his position as the Lee Foundation professor on US-China relations.


Philippines

It’s official: no more fees

The Philippines has signed into law moves to scrap tuition fees at more than 100 state universities and colleges. The move by President Rodrigo Duterte is likely to cost about $2 billion (£1.5 billion) a year. “Tuition in tertiary education in state universities and colleges is a very strong pillar or cornerstone of the president’s social development policy,” said Menardo Guevarra, senior deputy executive secretary, as legislation to remove fees was signed into law. The government’s budget secretary had previously warned that the policy was unaffordable.

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