For the first time, China has overtaken the United States in terms of the total number of science publications, according to statistics compiled by the US National Science Foundation (NSF). The agency’s report documents the United States’ increasing competition from China and other developing countries that are stepping up their investments in science and technology. “The US continues to be the global leader in science and technology, but the world is changing,” says Maria Zuber, a geophysicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As other nations increase their output, the United States’ relative share of global science activity is declining, says Zuber, who chairs the National Science Board, which oversees the NSF and produced the report. The shifting landscape is already evident in terms of the sheer volume of publications: China published more than 426,000 studies in 2016, or 18.6% of the total documented in Elsevier’s Scopus database. That compares with nearly 409,000 by the United States. – Jeff Tollefson, Nature. Read more

The African Union has devised a new 10-year plan of action to stop migration to developed countries by African professionals with critical technical skills – estimated to reach up to 70,000 annually. According to a draft African Union (AU) report, African countries must counter the exodus of skilled nationals, particularly doctors, nurses and engineers. But to achieve this objective, the action plan notes, there is an urgent need to provide gainful employment, professional development and educational opportunities to qualified nationals in their home countries. Drawing heavily from the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) strategy for the retention of Africa’s human resource capacities, the report admits that African countries can no longer afford to depend on foreign nationals to steer development. – Wachira Kigotho, University World News. Read more

With newly designed courses on traditional topics, such as yoga, Sanskrit and the Vedas, India hopes to attract more international students, according to one regional education minister. “India will make its foray as an international education destination on the strength of its traditional knowledge bank,” said Dinesh Sharma, deputy chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. As India’s representative in London to attend the Education World Forum 2018, Sharma met his counterparts to discuss innovation in education and how to promote India globally. “Our strengths lie in our knowledge of the Vedas (oldest Indian scriptures), yoga and languages like Sanskrit, and we must capitalise on this to draw international students,” Sharma said. – Ruhl Kahn, The PIE News. Read more

Traditionalists may complain about universities offering degrees in landscape gardening or public relations – but new research shows they are subjects with a great record for securing highly skilled jobs for the graduates who study them. The research from the Higher Education Funding Council for England found that students on courses with strong vocational links were more likely to end up in well-paid, skilled jobs within six months of graduation. Medicine, dentistry and nursing topped the list of subjects with the strongest vocational links, with almost all graduates going on to get jobs in related professions. But the findings also show that there is no simple way of dividing university degrees into academic and vocational subjects, with even the most academic subjects having vocational links. – Richard Adams, The Guardian. Read more

Higher education in the US will face many of the same challenges in 2018 that it has in previous years, but additional state and federal pressures suggest a bleak outlook for the sector this year, according to the ratings agency Standard and Poor’s. “S&P Global Ratings believes institutions with limited flexibility, whether that be in programming, financial operations, enrolment, resources, or student draw, could face credit pressure in the upcoming year,” analysts for the ratings agency reported. Among the risks to the sector, S&P cited the recently passed federal tax overhaul and the uncertainty surrounding its material effect on institutions. “Whatever the magnitude,” the analysts expect it to be “negative in direction.” The new law enacts a 1.4-percent excise tax on some private colleges with large endowments. The agency believes it opens the door for an expanded endowment tax in the future. – Adam Harris, The Chronicle of Higher Education. Read more


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