The University of Chicago has announced it is dropping the requirement that all undergraduate applicants submit SAT or ACT scores. Hundreds of US colleges – including elite liberal arts colleges – have stopped requiring the SAT or ACT. But Chicago’s move is the first by one of the top research universities in the country. The move is striking coming from an institution, known for its academic rigour, that has had no difficulty attracting top applicants. Several experts predicted that other top universities might now reconsider testing requirements. The university also announced an expansion of financial aid and other new policies designed to attract more low-income and first-generation students. – Scott Jaschik, Inside HigherEd. Read more

The Chinese government plans to establish 100 “cultural heritage” centres at universities throughout the country that will run academic programs and conduct scientific research in a bid to promote traditional Chinese culture. The ministry of education said it will “build about 100 excellent Chinese traditional cultural heritage sites” nationwide by 2020, including 50 this year, and support institutions to “focus on ethnic folk music, ethnic folk arts” and folk dances, dramas and operas. It said the centres would run optional credit-bearing programs for students and conduct scientific research. The announcement also encourages universities to hire folk artists as visiting professors. The ministry said it wanted to “promote the integration of excellent Chinese traditional culture into college education” and “lead students” to “learn Chinese wisdom, promote Chinese spirit [and] spread Chinese values”. – Ellie Bothwell, Times Higher. Read more

Ireland’s Department of Education is to work with universities to identify ways of improving their performance in international rankings. This follows the latest set of figures which saw most Irish universities tumble down the global league table. Trinity College Dublin lost its status as Ireland’s only top-100 university in the QS World University Rankings, while five other institutions lost significant ground on their international rivals. Speaking at seminar on higher education funding at the Institute of International and European Affairs, Minister of State Mary Mitchell O’Connor said while rankings were flawed, they can impact on international perceptions of the university system. “I believe it is important that – working together with the university sector – we develop a deeper understanding of the key drivers of Ireland’s rankings,” she said. Senior academics say Government-imposed caps on staffing, growing student numbers and a decade of under-investment are to blame for the poor performance of Irish universities. – Carl O’Brien, The Irish Times. Read more

South Korea’s Ministry of Unification in Seoul has given the go ahead for students at the country’s top university to discuss academic exchanges with North Korea’s Kim Il Sung University, with the hope that regular exchanges and joint projects can be set up between the two most prestigious universities of North and South Korea. The Student Council of Seoul National University (SNU) – the country’s top institution and alma mater of many of South Korea’s top leaders – together with a specially convened committee at the university, set up on May 17 with the goal of promoting inter-Korean exchanges, filed the request to be allowed to initiate contact with the North Korean university with the ministry in Seoul that deals with intra-Korean affairs. The SNU committee has said as many as 100 SNU students have expressed a wish to take part in such exchanges with the North. If successful, it will be the first time in SNU’s 70-year history that student exchanges with the North will take place. – Aimee Chung, University World News. Read more

Internationalisation enhances the quality of the Dutch higher education sector and is crucial for the labour market, but its growth needs to be balanced to ensure universities remain accessible to all students, the Netherlands’ minister of education, culture and science said in a letter to Parliament. The letter came in response to the internationalisation agenda of the Association of Dutch Universities (VSNU), and to concerns about the increasing numbers of international students and of English-taught courses. Ingrid van Engelshoven called on institutions to “take responsibility” to ensure that higher education remains accessible to Dutch students, and that the use of English is substantiated by a rationale and labour market needs and “adds value” to the course. – Claudia Civinini, The PIE News. Read more


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