Compiled by David Myton

Disadvantaged students in England could receive grants worth £3,000 a year to encourage them to remain in education after leaving school, according to proposals from a government-commissioned report into post-age 18 education and funding. If accepted by a future government, it would see a shift in funding from universities to further education (FE) and vocational training. Universities would lose income for “low value” courses while their graduates would be making higher student loan repayments until the brink of their retirement. The report, headed by Philip Augar, was commissioned by Theresa May to look at high student debt and tuition fees following a pledge she gave to the Conservative party conference in 2017.

Among the report’s proposals are:

  • cutting undergraduate tuition fees to £7,500
  • extending student loan repayments from 30 to 40 years
  • a single, lifelong learning loan allowance for all adults
  • maintenance loans for students taking sub-degree qualifications
  • rebranding student loans as “student contributions”
  • funding boost for Further Education colleges and vocational training

The report calls for greater government intervention in the funding and types of courses offered by universities, while its proposal for undergraduate tuition fees in England to be cut from £9,250 to £7,500 a year would likely mean reduced income for humanities and social science departments. – Richard Adams, Education Editor, The Guardian. Read more

Universities with an ‘open border’ outlook to international ties and collaboration with colleagues abroad were some of the best performers in the 2019 edition of U-Multirank, which sent out a strong message about the value of globally facing institutions to society. Now in its sixth year, the multi-dimensional rankings founded with support from the European Commission demonstrated that ‘open border’ universities perform better than those with low international exchange in the areas of knowledge transfer, research impact and education. They are more successful in engaging and transferring knowledge to industry, with ‘open border’ institutions having a 39% higher share of joint publications with industrial partners and establishing 80% more spin-off companies. “Additionally, students at open border universities are more satisfied with their overall learning experience,” said U-Multirank joint project leader, Frank Ziegele, who characterised ‘open border’ institutions as having higher rates of foreign students and academics, higher rates of international doctoral degrees and more international co-publications – Nic Mitchell, University World News, Read more

The Kenya National Qualifications Authority is developing a policy to help the country attract international students from across Africa and turn it into a regional higher education hub – a position currently held by South Africa, which admits thousands of international students each year. The KNQA wants universities in partnership with government agencies to initiate a number of measures that would make Kenya more attractive, including upgrading accommodation facilities, setting out clearly defined academic calendars, and establishing international student directorates to assist learners. They will also need to keep accurate records of students to ensure learners graduate and have their certificates posted to their home countries, explained KNQA director general and CEO, Eusebius Mukhwana. “Universities must also provide decent and affordable accommodation to international students on a reliable basis and on a bigger scale,” Mukhwana told The PIE News. – Maina Waruru, The PIE News. Read more

The Trump administration has said it would bar scientists at federal agencies from pursuing research using fetal tissue and add new hurdles for researchers on college campuses to renew funding for research using the materials. It also said it would drop a contract with the University of California, San Francisco, to research HIV infection using the tissue. Funding of other nongovernmental research labs is unaffected by the decision. But the announcement is a clear win for anti-abortion groups that had pushed the Trump administration for months to restrict scientific work conducted with fetal tissue from elective abortions. It also puts researchers at universities on notice that they could face more hurdles down the road getting federal support for such work. “I think everyone who has an existing grant will be thinking very strategically about what their future steps will be,” said Joanne Carney, director of government relations at American Association for the Advancement of Science. – Andrew Kreighbaum, Inside Higher Ed. Read more

Malaysia wants to become a choice destination for international students to pursue higher education – and who better to call on the students than the country’s prime minister himself? In a promotional video by Education Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad encouraged international students who wanted to further their education to “come and study in Malaysia … We offer a proven well-balanced private and public education that has successfully produced graduates who excelled in their careers,” Mahathir said in the video uploaded on Facebook. The Malaysian PM added that immersing oneself in a different education style was a great way to experience and understand the country’s people, traditions and cultures. Describing Malaysia as a country where many cultures coexist harmoniously, Mahathir said: “Studying abroad is essential in becoming a successful global citizen … In today’s work places, great value is placed on having real experiences with the world beyond your borders ….” – Rachel Tay, Business Insider. Read more



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