World in brief – 27 April 2017

Higher education news from around the globe

April 27, 2017
American checkout worker
Source: Alamy

United States

Can’t pay but will find a way

More than two-thirds of US undergraduates pay more for university than they should be able to afford, figures suggest. A study from the Manhattan Institute, New America and American Enterprise Institute thinktanks found that an average student could afford to pay $35,135 (£27,600), based on a $23,857 contribution from savings and $11,277 in student wages earned during college, under the “Rule of 10” benchmark. But the findings of the report suggest that 68 per cent of undergraduates overpaid; on average students paid twice the amount indicated by the benchmark, often with the help of loans and by working an average of 16 hours each week during university.

United Kingdom

UK public want to keep overseas student traffic steady, poll says

Nearly three-quarters of the British public want to see the same number of overseas students, or even more, coming to the UK, according to a survey carried out for Universities UK. The poll of more than 4,000 people, conducted by ComRes, found that 73 per cent wanted international student numbers maintained or increased. Twenty-four per cent of those questioned said that they wanted to see international student numbers rise, while 49 per cent wanted to see numbers stay the same. UUK’s poll comes ahead of a vote by MPs on an amendment to the Higher Education and Research Bill that aims to stop overseas students being classed by the government as long-term migrants.


Orbán hits out at defenders of CEU

The Hungarian prime minister has attacked local academics for supporting the threatened Central European University after protesters took to the streets to demand that it remain in Budapest. Viktor Orbán gave a series of interviews over the weekend that portrayed his government’s campaign against CEU as part of a broader struggle against those who want a “restructuring” of Europe’s population through migration. CEU, which champions open democracy and has supported education for refugees in Hungary, says that it has been specifically targeted by legislation passed earlier this month that would impose a raft of new obligations that make it impossible to stay.


Scholar to appeal prison term

A Bahraini scholar jailed in connection with the Arab Spring protests is to appeal his 10-year prison term. Khalil Al-Halwachi was sentenced in March for possessing a Kalashnikov, after more than two and a half years of detention and about 20 trial postponements. The former electrical engineering professor, who was a founding member of a political group dissolved by the Arab island state in 2012, denies the charges, stating that the weapon was planted by Bahraini security officials. According to Scholars at Risk, a US-based charity that supports academics facing political oppression, Dr Al-Halwachi will appeal his conviction and sentencing on 11 May.

United States

Women bear the cost of service

Female professors shoulder a disproportionate amount of academic “service” work, a study has found. “We find strong evidence that, on average, women faculty perform more service than male faculty in academia, and that the service differential is driven particularly by participation in internal rather than external service,” says a paper published in Research in Higher Education, which also warns that the service burden could affect female professors’ salaries and overall success by reducing their research and teaching productivity. The paper, reported on by Inside Higher Ed, considered data from the 2014 Faculty Survey of Student Engagement, which included responses from nearly 19,000 faculty members.


Minister calls for university transformation

The Zimbabwean higher education minister has said that it is time for the country to “rethink our universities”. Jonathan Moyo, higher and tertiary education, science and technology development minister, added: “We need radical transformation from our institutions of higher learning. They must move from being certificate-giving universities to industry-creating hubs, because universities must be drivers of the economy.” Professor Moyo spoke as he began a three-week business tour of industry-incubating universities in Asia and South America, in the company of 10 vice-chancellors, The Herald newspaper reported.


Defend free speech or lose federal funds, candidate says

One of the candidates to lead Canada’s Conservative Party has said that universities should lose federal funding if they fail to protect freedom of speech on campus. “Campuses are no longer the bastions of free speech that they once were,” Andrew Scheer said in an interview with the National Post. Under one of his proposed policies, “fostering and protecting free speech would become a criterion on public post-secondary institutions’ grant applications to federal agencies such as the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Canada Research Chairs”, the newspaper said.

New Zealand

Concern over low Maori entry rates

Disparity in university entry between New Zealand’s different ethnic groups continues. The number of secondary school students achieving National Certificate of Education Achievement Level 2 has risen, and overall 49.2 per cent of students now enter university, figures show. But just 31.4 per cent of Maori and 30.7 per cent of Pasifika students win university places, compared with 57.8 per cent of New Zealanders of European descent and 66.5 per cent of Asian students. Chris Whelan of Universities New Zealand said: “This continued disparity in achievement rates must be of concern to government, the education sector and to all New Zealanders.”

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