World in brief – 16 March 2017

Higher education news from around the globe

March 16, 2017
Referee between two footballers
Source: Alamy


Your post is not a bully pulpit

An academic freedom row has erupted at the University of Ottawa after a dean warned faculty members against “demeaning attacks on celebrities or politicians”. Jacques Bradwejn, dean of the university’s Faculty of Medicine, sent a memo to academics in the department last month warning that scholars have a “duty to remain neutral on political, religious and cultural issues”, according to the Ottawa Citizen. “Using your role as an educator as a platform for personal or demeaning attacks on celebrities or politicians, especially if they are not associated with the subject matter you are teaching, is unacceptable in the eyes of this faculty,” he wrote.


No rush

The number of students enrolled in Greek universities without intending to graduate has doubled over the past decade, according to data. Education officials are blaming the rise on the economic crisis that has plagued the country. The data, from the Ministry of Education, reveal that in 2003 more than 163,000 “eternal students” remained registered at universities and technical colleges without an inclination to graduate, according to the Greek Reporter. By 2014, this number had doubled to almost 329,000. The figures also show that one in 10 graduates of Greek universities leaves the country.


Waiting for the Brexit transfer window to open

Brexit means that there could soon be a “gold-rush mood” among European universities as they snap up UK-based academics, according to the secretary general of U15, an association of Germany’s biggest research universities. “UK institutions expect German universities…to be poaching UK-based staff soon,” Denise Feldner says in an article for The Globalist that asks whether the UK is facing a “mass academic exodus”. Her comments are the latest sign that other European Union countries are looking to cream off academics unsure about their career future in the UK​.


Jailed scientist starts hunger strike

A jailed Iranian scientist is refusing food and water after he was barred from having his own lawyer. Ahmadreza Djalali, an Iranian national and professor of disaster medicine at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, went on thirst strike after Iranian officials rejected his choice of attorney. If found guilty on charges of spying, he is likely to face the death penalty, he was informed at a court hearing in January. Dr Djalali was arrested in April 2016 while visiting the University of Tehran and Shiraz University, where he had been invited to attend a workshop on disaster medicine.

United States

Students silence speaker

Hundreds of students at a US liberal arts college chanted and shouted at Charles Murray, a controversial writer whom many accuse of espousing racist ideas, preventing him from giving a public lecture. Dr Murray – co-author of The Bell Curve, which linked intelligence and race – had been invited to Middlebury College in Vermont by a student group affiliated with the American Enterprise Institute, a thinktank at which Dr Murray is a scholar, Inside Higher Ed reported. When Dr Murray took the stage, students stood up, turned their backs to him and chanted so loudly that he could not talk over them, it added.

Latin America

The Orinoco flows

The number of outwardly mobile students from Latin America rose by about 90 per cent between 2000 and 2013, although the proportion of students heading abroad is still below the global average. That is the main finding of a British Council report, Latin America: Mapping Mobility and Higher Education Opportunities. “Based solely on their demographic and economic outlooks,” the report argues, “Brazil, Colombia and Mexico offer the strongest opportunities for engagement.” Although Brazil is currently “economically and politically unpredictable”, its size makes it a key player for those seeking to recruit international students, the report says.



Overuse of social media has led to moral decay and poor performance among Uganda’s students, a university leader has said. John Chrysostom Maviiri, vice-chancellor of Uganda Martyrs University, a private, Catholic Church-affiliated institution, said that accessing social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and instant messaging service WhatsApp “takes [up] a lot of youths’ time” and exposed students to content such as pornography, which was detrimental to academic progression. He advised teachers, church leaders and parents to regulate “where, how and when” students use such platforms, the Daily Monitor reported.


Don’t turn away from UK: Imperial chief

Indian students will find an “open and welcoming” reception in the UK, the president of Imperial College London has written in The Times of India. Alice Gast penned an op-ed for the newspaper after a drop in the number of Indian students coming to the UK – widely attributed to concerns over visa policy changes. Imperial is one of four universities in a government pilot easing visa restrictions. “The opportunities are there for Indian students to access Britain’s best universities. Let’s not allow misperceptions to get in the way,” Professor Gast wrote.

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