World in brief - 27 November 2014

November 27, 2014

Source: Alamy

United States
Foreign students help economy to the tune of £17.1 billion

International students and their families supported 340,000 jobs and contributed $26.8 billion (£17.1 billion) to the US economy in the past academic year. This is according to data released by NAFSA: Association of International Educators (formerly the National Association of Foreign Student Advisers), which reveal an 8.5 per cent increase in the number of jobs supported and created and an almost 12 per cent increase in dollars contributed to the US economy by foreign students and their families over last year.

Alarm over ‘academic inbreeding’

Romanian higher education is fragmented by a lack of institutional cooperation, and long-term strategic planning is “limited by the narrow scope of [universities’] autonomy, constant legislative change and financial uncertainties”. Those are among the findings of a three-year evaluation of 70 Romanian higher education institutions by the European University Association’s Institutional Evaluation Programme. The report, Ten Priorities for Romanian Higher Education, warns that a number of universities are notable for “a strong tendency toward academic inbreeding and limited internationalisation” and offers recommendations on themes ranging from sustainable funding to social engagement and student-centred learning.

No end to Projects 211 and 985

Rumours that China is to abolish two key programmes aimed at creating world-class universities have been “quelled” by the government. Xinhua, the state news agency, reported that the ministry of education had released a statement addressing “rumours” about the future of the 211 and 985 projects, saying that there is “no plan to abandon them”. The projects entitle participating universities – including the nation’s most prestigious institutions such as Tsinghua and Peking universities – to far greater funding. Critics say the funding perpetuates inequality and corruption.

UN investigating disappearance of 43 trainee teachers

The United Nations’ human rights office is investigating the case of 43 students who went missing in Mexico. Staff from its Mexico branch have been sent to graves and landfill sites that have been linked with the case, journalists heard at a press conference in Geneva on 14 November. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights cautioned against jumping to conclusions in a “complex and ongoing” investigation. The trainee teachers were last seen in the city of Iguala on 26 September after taking part in a protest.

Fourth candidate rejected

Iran’s parliament has rejected President Hassan Rouhani’s fourth nominee to head the ministry of higher education, after objecting to his supposed pro-reform tendencies. Deputies rejected the candidacy of Fakhreddin Danesh-Ashtiani to become minister of science, research and higher education, Reuters reported. The post has been run by a caretaker since former minister Reza Faraji-Dana was impeached in August over alleged links to pro-democracy unrest that followed the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president in 2009. A video had been circulated showing Mr Danesh-Ashianti calling for the closure of universities in protest at Mr Ahmadinejad’s re-election.

Trade deal opens door to China markets

A new trade deal is billed as opening huge potential markets in China to Australia’s universities. The free trade agreement between the two nations, signed last week, is expected to allow Australia’s universities to market their degrees directly to students in China. Belinda Robinson, the chief executive of Universities Australia, said the value of ties between the two nations’ universities to Australia “in terms of productivity, trade, foreign relations and cultural understanding is immense”, adding that the deal would “help extend this partnership”.

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