WENR, October 2016: Europe

U.K.: Post-Brexit Brain Drain Predictions Quantified

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) has warned that the U.K.’s withdrawal from the European Union could dramatically affect British Higher education. Up to 15 percent of academic staff may be unwilling to accept or continue posts in the U.K., says DAAD’s head. Many British researchers working in the E.U. are also feeling early effects of the Brexit vote. One group cited some 50 reports by British researchers involved cross-national research projects in the E.U.  All were asked by their E.U. partners to withdraw from the research, or to scale down their roles.

The Guardian
September 25

U.K.: Oxford Tops New Global University Ranking

For the first time Oxford was named the top global university by Times Higher Education. The position was previously held by California Institute of Technology for the last 5 years. The ranking of U.S. institutions varies from the rankings published by U.S. News and World Report. The ranking is based on a broad array of metrics, from research and citations to international income and knowledge transfer.

The Washington Post
September 22

Turkey: Record Number of Applications for Asylum Overwhelms NGOs Ability to Help

The number of applications from Turkish scholars seeking placement is overwhelming key assistance organizations in the wake of last summer’s attempted coup. Since the uprising, Turkey has emerged as the leading source of applications from scholars facing political threats. Resources are limited, especially since Turkish scholars are seeking access to limited funds and placement opportunities sought by displaced scholars from conflict zones such as Syria. IIE’s Scholar Rescue Fund and the UK-based Council for At-Risk Academics (Cara) both say they have been strained in their efforts to meet escalating need from the field.

Times Higher Education
September 16

U.K.: Germany’s Angela Merkel and China’s Xi Jinping Make the Cut for ‘the 50 Most Influential People in British Higher Ed’

International influencers loomed large in British think-tank Wonkhe’s recently published “power list” of 50 people with the most influence over British higher education. German Chancellor Angela Merkel made the list in no small part because of Germany’s prominent role in helping to negotiate the terms of the U.K.’s exit from the European Union. With British universities fearing a post Brexit decline in enrollments among Chinese students, Chinese President Xi Jingping’s appearance on the list is due to his influence over the development of British branch campuses in China.

The Guardian
September 15

U.K.: Brexit’s Financial Impact Benefits Non-E.U. International Students

The U.K.’s impending exit from the European Union may have a silver lining for non-E.U. international students headed for Great Britain: a 20 percent savings in tuition fees. International tuition fees have already fallen more than 10 percent since June’s Brexit vote thanks to declines in the value of the British pound. This decline in value has other implications for international mobility as well: U.K. students hoping to study abroad face a 14 to 22 percent premium in tuition fees, depending on where they hope to study.

Times Higher Education
September 15

U.K.: Proposed Government Intervention in Higher Ed Sector Draws Fire

The U.K. government’s plan to form a powerful new university regulator has drawn criticism from universities who say the move would be an unprecedented governmental overreach. The proposed changes include increases in degree-awarding powers. Observers say the change could significantly harm the quality of higher education in the U.K.

Times Higher Education
September 12

Ukraine: Corruption in Higher Ed Remains Unabated

The arrest of the acting rector of one of the Ukraine’s flagship universities is the latest sign that President Petro Poroshenko has failed to stem widespread corruption in the country’s higher education sector. The charge was for accepting a USD $200,000 bribe from a professor seeking reinstatement – an astronomical amount in a country where salaries generally average about USD $100 a month. Inflated salaries, misappropriation of funds, staged election of rectors, cash-for-grades scandals, and many other forms of graft have plagued the Ukraine’s university system for years.

University World News
September 9

Germany: Billions Needed to Address Language and Other Needs for Refugees Seeking Higher Ed Placement

According to a recent report, Germany needs €3.5 billion (USD $3.92 billion) in funds to address educational needs among the 1.3 million refugees who have poured into the country in the past two years; almost one third of that is needed for vocational training and language courses for higher education. The UN Refugee Agency says language barriers, financing, documentation, and availability of seats are the top higher education barriers facing most refugees. Addressing those barriers is a key priority for Germany, says the new report, in order to help new refugees integrate into civil society. A handful of German universities have devised innovative language and other programs for accommodating refugees who are otherwise qualified to enter German higher ed programs as international students.

The PIE News
September 9

Scotland: Exclusion From Visa-Pilot Program Designed to Attract International Students Sparks Outrage

Leaders of a handful of top Scottish universities are angry at being left out of a pilot program designed to increase international student enrollments in U.K. institutions. One Scottish politician called the exclusion an act of “economic vandalism.” The pilot extends post-graduation work visas for foreign graduates who attend four British universities – none of them in Scotland. A two-year, post-study visa for international students seeking employment in the U.K. was abolished in 2012.  Prime Minister Teresa May is expected to extend limitations on post-graduation work visas as part of an overall effort to limit immigration into the U.K.

The Scotsman
September 8

Netherlands: Educators Discuss Increases in English Language Courses

Seventy percent of master’s programs in the Netherlands are taught in English, as are 60 percent of university courses overall, reports one Dutch newspaper. The paper analyzed more than 1,600 courses at 13 universities. Instruction in English is part of a sector-wide effort to increase Dutch institutions’ international standing. Advocates say that English-language instruction will become widespread among smaller European nations seeking to maintain relevance in an increasingly globalized higher education sector, and that adoption hurdles will get ironed out. A poll last year found that 60 percent of Dutch students had suffered through incomprehensible English-language lectures at university.

Inside Higher Ed
September 8

Norway: New Process Quickens and Eases Integration for Refugees

To help ease and speed up refugees’ integration efforts, Norway has developed a new, fast-track procedure for evaluating academic and professional qualifications. The process saves thousands of dollars and many months of review, and provides refugees with a ‘qualifications passport’ detailing academic and professional qualifications, work experience, language proficiency, and details about the documents and sources used for assessment. More than 31,000 refugees from Syria and other countries streamed into the country in 2015. The fast-track process  was successfully tested with 20 incoming asylum seekers, and will be implemented on a broader scale in the coming months. Norway is working across the E.U. to encourage other countries to adopt the system.

Al-Fanar Media
September 4

Switzerland: A Looming Deadline May Hurt Swiss Researchers’ Participation in E.U. Projects

A looming 2017 deadline threatens cross-border research capacity, scientific innovation, and the prestige of Swiss scientists, say observers. Although not a member of the E.U., Switzerland has long participated in research programs as an official “associated country.” Pending questions over Croatians’ ability to immigrate into neighboring Switzerland may result in loss of that status, as well as the scientific partnerships that go with it. The prospect of a near simultaneous Brexit-driven loss of U.K. scientists from E.U. collaborations adds an additional layer of urgency to concerns.

Times Higher Education
September 1

Posted in Europe, Regional News Summaries