Compiled by DAVID MYTON

Universities should not assume they will be bailed out from a financial crisis, according to the head of the higher education regulator in England, who likened them to overconfident banks before the global financial crisis. Sir Michael Barber, the head of the Office for Students (OfS), said the regulator would only act to protect the interests of students, and warned that failing institutions would not be propped up. “The OfS will not bail out providers in financial difficulty. This kind of thinking – not unlike the ‘too big to fail’ idea among the banks – will lead to poor decision-making and a lack of financial discipline, is inconsistent with the principle of university autonomy and is not in students’ longer term interests,” Barber told the Wonkfest higher education festival in London. “We expect universities to develop realistic plans for the future which reflect likely student demand for their courses and how best they can meet that demand. Barber’s comments come amid reports that some universities are facing cashflow pressures because of falling student numbers, and while the threat of a funding review commissioned by Theresa May earlier this year hangs over the sector. – Richard Adams, The Guardian. Read more

College students increasingly are being diagnosed and treated for mental health issues, according to a new study published by the American Psychiatric Association. The study included survey data from 155,000 students at 196 college campuses. It found that the rate of respondents being treated for mental health issues in the past year increased to 34 per cent in 2017 from 19 per cent in 2007, while the percentage of students with lifetime diagnoses increased to 36 per cent from 22 percent. Depression and suicide risks also increased, according to the study. But the stigma of being diagnosed with a mental illness decreased, which could explain some of the increases. – Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed. Read more

The value of New Zealand’s international education industry has hit another record high, reaching $5.1 billion for the 2017/18 financial year as economic distribution rebalances across regions and sectors, according to the latest statistics from Education New Zealand. The latest figure is a 19% improvement from the last economic valuation in 2015/16, a total gain of $820 million, and sees policies to boost the economic benefits in regional areas bearing fruit. “The research highlights how important the international education sector is to New Zealand not only nationally but also regionally,” education minister Chris Hipkins said. “Auckland has seen a drop in the total number of visiting students over the last year – largely due to continued efforts by government to lift overall quality – however, the economic value of the sector remained strong.” Of note, Auckland, which two years ago represented 66% of total revenue, dropped to 57.5% of the market, as Wellington, Canterbury and Otago, along with other regions, strengthened. – Anton Crace, The PIE News. Read more

The United States and United Kingdom remain at the top of US News and World Report’s 2019 Best Global Universities ranking, with Harvard University taking the top spot, followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley, all from the US. The UK’s University of Oxford came fifth. The rest of the top 10 comprised the California Institute of Technology (US), University of Cambridge (UK), Columbia University, Princeton University and the University of Washington (all US). With 227 universities ranked, the US has the most institutions on the overall list of 1,250 universities, followed by China (130), the UK (78), Japan (67) and Germany (62). The US is up six on last year, compared with China (down six), the UK (up two), Japan (down nine) and Germany (up four). Robert Morse, chief data strategist at US News and World Report, told University World News: “The US made a slight rebound in the overall ranking, rising from 17.7% of all schools to 18.2%. China is still number two but moved down to 10.4% from 10.9% of the 1,250 schools. The UK moved up from fourth place to third with 78 schools (6.2%) – last year they had 73 schools (5.8%).” – University World News. Read more

One of North Korea’s most prominent universities, the Kim Chaek University of Technology (KCUT), has signed a memorandum of cooperation in areas including science and engineering with a university based out of Vladivostok, according to a press release issued by the Russian Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU). The two universities “plan to exchange students and teachers and conduct joint research,” the release said. Signing the agreement for the Russian side, FEFU President Nikita Anisimov said he was “confident that the joint work of students and teachers will enrich our universities and will contribute to the strengthening of friendship between our states and peoples.” He also thanked the “top leadership” of both countries for facilitating the opportunity. KCUT President Hong So Hon, said “the DPRK leadership pays great attention to the development of educational and scientific relations with Russia”. – Colin Zwirko, NK NEWS.ORG. Read more


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