U.S. Higher Education News for September 22, 2015, Part 2

 

And here are some items of possible interest from newspapers published outside of the U.S.:

 

Abas, Azura. “`Boost Intake of Foreign Students.’” New Straits Times [Malaysia] 22 Sep. 2015: 2.

PUTRAJAYA: PRIME Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has urged the Higher Education Ministry to boost the number of foreign students studying in Malaysia to 200,000 by 2020. He estimated that these students could contribute RM15 billion to the country’s economy.

“Every foreign student will spend, including on tuition fees, about RM46,000 every year. . . .

The prime minister was upbeat over the growing number of foreign students from 45,000 in 2007 to 106,000 now. . . .

Najib said the value of the higher education sector stood at RM33 billion for this year, covering the allocation set by the Federal Government for development expenses, scholarships provided by various agencies, development expenditure for private higher learning institutions and tuition fees paid by foreign students. . . .

Apart from attracting more foreign students to study in Malaysia, the prime minister said the government had formed research universities (RUs) and efforts were underway to establish the five RUs in the top one per cent of the world’s best universities.

“On this premise, we have managed to reduce the number of Malaysian students seeking to pursue their PhDs abroad, and indirectly saved on outflow of cash worth at least RM2 billion between 2007 and 2012 alone.”

The prime minister expressed hope that the NAA recipients would capitalise on their strengths by becoming the guides, movers and catalysts of the country’s prosperity.

Idris said the NAA recipients’ contributions had been massive and not only limited to their respective universities and students. . . .

 

Galpin, Cassie, Jamie Wareham and Peter Walker. “Westminster University Islamic Students’ Society Dominated by Ultra-Conservative Muslims; Complaints about Conduct of Members, Some of Whom Refuse to Speak with Female Muslim Staff Members, Tend to Be Ignored Due to Islamophobia Fears.” Guardian [UK] 22 Sep. 2015.

The Islamic students’ society at the London university attended by the militant known as Jihadi John is dominated by hardline, ultra-conservative believers who refuse to speak with female Muslim staff members, according to an independent report into inclusion among students at the institution.

Complaints about the conduct of the University of Westminster Islamic society, some from other Muslims, tended to be ignored or underplayed because staff and student unions officials were worried about appearing Islamophobic, found the inquiry.

Members of the society itself acted as “apostles of a self-contained faith, concerned very largely with matters of religious orthodoxy and perceived heresy”, according to the four-strong inquiry panel, who included the historian Lord Kenneth Morgan and Fiyaz Mughal, a former adviser to Nick Clegg on interfaith matters.

Their report found university officials tacitly tolerated a “sometimes hostile or intimidatory” attitude to women on the campus, calling this “totally unacceptable.” Islamic society committee members would refuse to engage with female Muslim staff, the panel were told, obliging these to seek help from male colleagues to communicate with the group.

Westminster commissioned the report into its balance between free speech and diversity in the wake of concerns about extremism on its campuses, including the revelation in February that the British Islamic State militant Mohammed Emwazi was a graduate of the university.

Emwazi, known as Jihadi John, was named as the masked figure who appeared in a series of Isis videos in which British, US and other hostages were beheaded. . . .

The panel’s report was released more than a week ago, but has not been publicised by the university and remains on a hard-to-locate part of its website. . . .

 

Jansen, Leanne. “Habib Speaks Out against Violent Student Protests.” Mercury [South Africa] 22 Sep. 2015: 2.

Students protesting against the slow pace of transformation in higher education ought not to confuse violence with radicalism, University of the Witwatersrand vice-chancellor Adam Habib said yesterday.

Habib was speaking in Durban, delivering his keynote address at a three-day teaching and learning conference held by the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The topic was “Differentiation in higher education,” but he deviated slightly to speak on the transformation of universities.

While condemning the violent student protests which saw the University of KwaZulu-Natal shut down last week, Habib said the upsurge in protests was not surprising.

He said the academy and the government were collectively responsible for the failure to achieve transformation.

“There has been confusion between radical and violent. I’m struck by how often people have confused radical and violent. While there is no doubt that poor people in our society have been the subjects and victims of structural violence, that does not mean there is carte blanche and people have grounds to start undertaking violent activity. So I will put it on the table: don’t become sanguine about violence.”

Habib spent the better part of his address arguing for the need for differentiation in higher education.

“It enables responsiveness to the diverse needs of an economy in a society. In South Africa we need to do multiple things simultaneously . . .  We need to play a significant role in the teaching of undergraduate students and provide professionals to meet market needs. We need to produce postgraduate students and to undertake high-level research. And yet again, we need to produce a further education sector which comprises colleges focused on producing graduates with vocational and applied skills.”

Habib questioned why South Africa had not been able to move towards a significantly differentiated higher education system in the past 20 years.

“The answer lies in our history. Too often, higher education leaders and vice-chancellors want to build an institution they were not allowed to build under apartheid.

“Too often we want to be what we were never allowed to be . . . We are burdened, to use Steve Biko’s phrase, by a colonial consciousness. And until higher education leaders free their minds from that colonial consciousness, we will never be able to make the break toward a differentiated system.” . . .

 

Ratcliffe, Rebecca. “Sleepless Students Pay the Price for University Construction Boom; Tourist-Style Prospectuses Promise Flash New Halls and Facilities, but Many Students Are Tired of Living on a Building Site and Think the Money Could Be Better Spent.” Guardian [UK] 22 Sep. 2015.

It has inspired an endless supply of memes and even has a song dedicated to it: the Pontio centre at Bangor University has become a joke to students. It is also a source of deep embarrassment to project managers.

Billed as a cutting-edge arts and innovation hub, Pontio was supposed to have been ready in 2012. After numerous revised completion dates, the £49m project still hasn’t opened.

“I studied at Bangor from 2011 to 2014, and it was initially supposed to open in my first year, but then it got pushed back to a year later, then a year later again, then months more and so on,” says Heather Clark, who studied music at Bangor. “It’s a bit of a joke. There’s a feeling among students that it’s ridiculous. It’s a project that will never ever end.”

Bangor isn’t the only university embarking on large building projects–nor the only one encountering problems. The Russell Group universities are spending £9bn on capital investment projects over the four-year period to 2016-17, and many others are investing in new faculties and accommodation.

But while the idea of shiny new buildings might help to attract applicants, existing students are less enthusiastic about the continuing–and overrunning–construction work. . . .

 

Rodriguez-Falcon, Elena. “A Professor Writes: ‘I Look like an LGBT Engineer’; Do Gay People Shun Engineering–Or Are They Keeping Their Sexuality Secret? Either Way, It’s Time to Change the Atmosphere in University Departments.” Guardian 22 Sep. 2015.

We hear a lot about the experiences of women in fields of study traditionally dominated by men. But the stories of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) individuals are barely touched upon.

The recent #ILookLikeanEngineer social media campaign, which I passionately supported, has helped raised the profile of women working in the area. But it also made me think about other conversations about diversity that sector could be having.

An American study has looked into what confronts lesbian, gay and bisexual engineering students at a big research university. Through interviews and focus groups, researchers found that LGB students “navigate a chilly and heteronormative engineering climate by passing as heterosexual, covering or downplaying cultural characteristics associated with LGB identities” (discussed by Cech & Waidzunas in their paper Navigating the Heteronormativity of Engineering ).

I believe there are many parallels with UK universities and students in our engineering faculties. . . .

I am very fortunate because I have been, first by circumstance and then by choice, able to be very open about being gay.

But what about other LGBT academic and student engineers? Where are they? Last year the Workplace Equality Index compiled by Stonewall, found than less than 0.5% of respondents to the employee survey who identified at LGBT worked for engineering firms. This is compared to around 20% of all workers in the country.

It seems to me that there could be a couple of explanations for this. Either, engineering is preventing LGBT individuals from working/studying in the sector, or, the LGBT individuals feel uncomfortable or unable to be “out” in the sector.

Either way, we need to address this. . . .

 

Rogers, Kenya. “Politicians Overlook Post-Secondary Tuition; The Solution to Poverty, Job Creation, and Climate Change Can Be Found on Campuses.” Times Colonist [Victoria, British Columbia] 22 Sep. 2015: A, 9.

As party leaders and local candidates push their way through one of the longest and most expensive federal election campaigns in Canadian history, the issue of post-secondary funding is frustratingly low on the radar.

Before 1995, the federal government played more of a leadership role for funding higher education, and politicians of all stripes recognized and valued education. Advanced education is the great equalizer. It’s a direct and tangible solution to issues that all parties are promising action on such as poverty reduction, middle-class relief, climate change, technological innovation and job creation. There is a massive body of evidence to support the view that fully funded post-secondary education is key to solving all of the above.

For almost 40 years, Canada has been signatory to an international covenant signed by 176 countries that asserts education at all levels as a basic human right. More than 30 countries around the world have made tuition free.

It’s time for Canada to own up to its obligations and join the ranks of countries that fully fund their post-secondary systems. When students argue that tuition should be free, we are often dismissed as radical socialist idealists. This rhetoric works to suppress the idea that education is a basic human right and therefore something worth fighting for.

Education is about economic infrastructure–specifically, knowledge infrastructure. It meets our essential needs, supports our economy and functions in a similar way to universal health care, K-12 education and transportation. These are essential services provided by the state, paid for by our taxes, none of which are regarded as being particularly communist. Education is the foundation of our communities. Denying this basic human right serves only to further increase the gaps in our communities and entrench inequality in society. . . .

 

“Yonsei Professors Campaign against State History Textbook.” Korea Herald 22 Sep. 2015.

Professors at Yonsei University on Tuesday joined a nationwide move against the government’s attempt to reinstate state-published history textbooks for secondary education. The move came a week after over 15,000 educators across the country had protested what they claimed was a policy that “downplays democracy and creative education.”

Education Minister Hwang Woo-yea has been pushing to give the government the exclusive rights to publish school history textbooks. Currently, eight local publishers author the textbooks, which are certified by the ministry before they hit the market.

“The current textbooks are based on the universal historical viewpoint of academic circles and follow ministry guidelines. An attempt to reinstate state history books is an attempt to impose the historical interpretation of those in power (on students),” 132 Yonsei professors said in their statement.

“Forcing a monolithic view of history upon students infringes upon the impartiality and autonomy of education stipulated in the Constitution,” they said.

The joint statement follows a protest against the state textbooks by 160 professors from Korea University last Wednesday, another prestigious Seoul-based higher education institute. Late last month, 34 professors of history-related departments at Seoul National University also decried the ministry’s move.

The efforts to reinstate history textbooks for secondary education was put on overdrive last year, after privately authored textbooks had been accused of being inaccurate and ideologically biased. Hwang, upon taking office in August last year, has repeatedly stressed that students should be taught with “a single version of history.”

But such attempts have prompted fierce opposition, particularly from liberal educators. The left-leaning Korea Teachers and Education Workers Union last week announced that 15,701 teachers had signed a petition against the government pushing ahead with the contentious policy. . . .

_________________________

Posts in This Daily Series from the Last Seven Days:

September 15, 2015: https://academeblog.org/2015/09/17/u-s-higher-education-news-for-september-15-2015/

September 16, 2015: https://academeblog.org/2015/09/18/u-s-higher-education-news-for-september-16-2015/

September 17, 2015: https://academeblog.org/2015/09/19/u-s-higher-education-news-for-september-17-2015/

September 18, 2015: https://academeblog.org/2015/09/20/u-s-higher-education-news-for-september-18-2015/

September 19, 2015: https://academeblog.org/2015/09/21/u-s-higher-education-news-for-september-19-2015/

September 20, 2015: https://academeblog.org/2015/09/21/u-s-higher-education-news-for-september-20-2015/

September 21, 2015: https://academeblog.org/2015/09/22/u-s-higher-education-news-for-september-21-2015/

 

 

11 thoughts on “U.S. Higher Education News for September 22, 2015, Part 2

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