Compiled by DAVID MYTON
Former New York mayor Michael R Bloomberg has announced he is giving a record $1.8 billion to Johns Hopkins University to support student financial aid at his alma mater and make its admissions process “forever need-blind.” The gift, believed to be the largest private donation in modern times to higher education, is a landmark in a growing national movement to make elite universities more accessible to students from low- to middle-income families. It will enable the private research university in Baltimore to eliminate loans from financial aid packages for incoming students starting next fall, expand grants for those in financial need and provide relief to many current undergraduates who had previously taken out federal loans to pay their bills. In years past, Hopkins President Ronald J. Daniels said, the university struggled to achieve its goal of welcoming all talented students regardless of their means or backgrounds. “Our dedicated financial aid endowment was simply too small,” Daniels said. “Now, as a consequence of Mike Bloomberg’s extraordinary gift, we will be fully and permanently need-blind in our admissions and be able to substantially enrich the level of direct assistance we provide to our undergraduate students and their families.” Bloomberg, who graduated from Hopkins in 1964, wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times that his gift is intended to support the idea that opportunities should be based on merit and not wealth. – Nick Anderson, The Washington Post. Read more
India Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu said there was a need to re-imagine and reconstruct the higher education system in tune with the requirements of the 21st century and sought participation of government as well as the private sector for quality education. He said it was a cause for concern that India did not have enough high quality researchers, and that the number of students doing PhDs and entering research posts was on the decline. “A country as populous as India and facing innumerable challenges from poverty to environmental degradation simply cannot do without innovation,” he said after launching Krea University. “It is crucial that we re-imagine and reconstruct our higher education system. The autonomy of universities cannot be compromised under any circumstance. The government should play the role of a strong facilitator when it comes to universities.” He called for “an impactful coordination” of public-private sectors in providing such education system. Naidu said the universities should be allowed to develop their own curricula and their own system of examinations. – Neha, The Siasat Daily. Read more
Women’s participation in higher education, research and innovation is one of two themes at the heart of the updated Africa Strategy of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) introduced earlier this month. “We want to increasingly support women in higher education, research and innovation. Women play a central role in the economic development of the African continent, since gender equality is not only a question of social justice, but also leads to greater economic prosperity,” the strategy document reads. A new funding scheme is to be established to support women scientists in transferring the results of their research into industry, society and policy-making, according to the plan. The BMBF Africa Strategy, developed with the participation of both German and African stakeholders from the education, science and research sectors, builds on the success of a similar plan that ran from 2014 and ends in 2018. With an emphasis on key goals such as internationalisation, sustainability and cooperation with African partners, it aims to fund five “action areas”. The updated strategy was unveiled by Anja Karliczek, German minister of education and research, and Sarah Mbi Enow Anyang Agbor, African Union commissioner for human resources, science and technology, in Berlin, Germany. “Education and research are key to shaping the future, growing markets and creating jobs. This is especially significant for the strong-growing young population on the African continent,” said Karliczek. – Munyaradzi Makoni, University World News. Read more.
The UK government would almost certainly bail out major British universities in financial danger, although less prestigious institutions may not be so lucky, according to a leading credit ratings agency. Moody’s, the international ratings agency, told its clients in a research note that its ratings of universities included a high probability that the government would intervene to prop up an institution in difficulty because of the potential disruption. The report comes despite Moody’s having placed negative warnings on the credit ratings of seven of the nine UK universities that have borrowed funds through international capital markets. Only Oxford and Cambridge are rated as stable by Moody’s. Earlier this month the head of the higher education regulator in England, the Office for Students, said it would not bail out universities in the future. But shortly after, it emerged that the OfS had given a loan worth £900,000 to an unnamed university at risk of running out of cash during the summer. Moody’s said the loan, which the OfS said was subsequently repaid in full, confirmed its view that the regulator and government would be more likely to offer help in the event of insolvency. “This financial assistance supports our assumption of a high probability of extraordinary support for UK universities,” said Jeanne Harrison, a senior analyst at Moody’s. – Richard Adams, The Guardian. Read more
Campus France, in partnership with the French government, has revealed a new strategy for international student recruitment for 2019 and onwards. With a headline target of attracting half a million international students by 2027, the French higher education body has a six-point plan to improve the offer from the globe’s 4th most popular mobile study destination, and help students “Choose France”. Key among these is the simplification of the French student visa regimen, increasing English medium instruction courses by removing legal roadblocks, tripling the international scholarships available, and launching a global campaign to raise the nation’s educational profile. The visa system is of high priority, according to the new strategy, as 51% of international students have picked out cumbersome bureaucracy (including the visa system) as a problem when studying in France. Campus France has recommended international students should be given priority in the visa application process, which should also be transformed to a digital portal, a ‘one-stop shop’ of sorts, to ease the complications students have reported. – Patrick Atack, The PIE News. Read more