Compiled by David Myton

In what may be the largest investment in gender equality by a higher education institution, Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden, has launched a strategic plan called GENIE – Gender Initiative for Excellence – to address gender inequality in the faculty via a comprehensive long-term program. Through concrete changes of academic culture, systems and processes together with selective recruitment, and with an investment of SEK300 million (US$32 million), Chalmers aims to increase the proportion of women professors from 17% today to 40% in 2029. “Research shows that a more even gender balance leads to greater scientific success and a better working environment for both men and women,” the project says. The overall goals of the project are to increase the proportion of women in the faculty, remove obstacles that hamper women’s careers and create working environments that are “diverse and inclusive” and hence supportive of excellence in research and teaching. – Jan Petter Myklebust, University World News. Read more

The Chinese Ministry of Education has unveiled its policy points with regards to “opening education to the outside world” for 2019. In a document released online, the ministry outlined 34 aims, with “six major aspects”. Central to the 34 points is the aim to “accelerate and expand the opening up of education”, the document explained. This includes education in China and the continued flow of outbound students. While the document didn’t specifically create a policy for an increasing foreign student numbers at Chinese HEIs, the ‘Belt and Road’ and ‘Silk Road’ initiatives do denote a focus on the promotion of “student mobility and mutual recognition of academic degrees,” along with teacher training and ‘study abroad’ programs. The significance of this may not be fully understood by stakeholders in Europe and the Americas, warned Edward Holroyd Pierce, co-founder of internship provider CRCC Asia. “One Belt One Road is huge indeed and people who started thinking of it only as infrastructure, and only involving Central Asian countries, will probably be quite surprised by how much can be covered by the One Belt One Road concept,” he told The PIE News. – Patrick Atack, The PIE News. Read more

Seventy-five bogus universities have been closed in the past four years, amid warnings that the business in fake degrees is undermining the reputation of the UK higher education system around the world. The university watchdog the Higher Education Degree Datacheck (Hedd), which monitors fake degrees, has built up a register of 243 bogus institutions. There is growing concern about students being mis-sold fraudulent degrees, with more than 200 potential cases of degree fraud under investigation since 2015. According to Hedd, bogus universities and degree mills attempt to make money from enrolment fees, premium phone lines and course fees. “This type of fraud is becoming more sophisticated,” Hedd’s guidance to higher education providers states, “with credible websites and verification services often modelled on their authentic counterparts.” – Sally Weale, The Guardian. Read more

Corruption of some form – including unethical, inappropriate and even illegal practices – touches higher education in every part of the world, according to a new study from the Council for Higher Education Accreditation’s International Quality Group (CHEA/CIQG). CHEA/CIQG surveyed nearly 70 accreditation and quality assurance bodies (AQABs) about how they are responding to corruption (defined as intentional misconduct) in the regulatory process, teaching, student admissions and recruitment, assessment, credentials, and research and publication. Topics ranged from bribery – for example, to affect admissions, regulatory decisions or promotion – to political interference in governance and misleading advertising. CHEA/CIQG said AQABs are working with international agencies to reduce corruption. The organization also noted the importance of working with journalists and nongovernmental organizations to bring issues to light. – Ben Unglesbee, Education Dive. Read more

Inclusive educational policies that help working class students access higher education, such as lowering the cost of private education, act to reduce the ‘happiness gap’ between the rich and poor, according to a new study. Other such policies include delaying streaming children according to their ability until they are older and increasing the intake of universities so that more students can attend. Research shows that the more educated people are, the happier they tend to be, according to the authors. They note that it is, unfortunately, also the case that children from privileged, wealthy backgrounds tend to do better at school and are more likely to go to university than children from poorer working class backgrounds. The study, published in the British Journal of Sociology of Education, shows that this doesn’t have to be the case, and that the link between social class and happiness can be moderated by educational policies that offer more opportunities to disadvantaged children.  – the Read more


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