WENR, November 2015: Europe

Live where you learn

This week, Kaplan International Colleges and Bournemouth University officially opened a £100m, 16floor, live-learn facility on the university’s Lansdowne campus. The center will house teaching and learning facilities for students attending the pathway college KIC opened at Bournemouth in 2013.  Since opening, the college has enrolled 700 students. In this year’s September intake it welcomed 150 students from 59 countries.

The center at Bournemouth is the third purpose-built building KIC has launched after opening similar properties at the University of Glasgow and Nottingham Trent University. Linda Cowan, MD at KIC, said the spaces are part of Kaplan’s goal to take a holistic approach to learning inside and outside of the classroom.

Teaching and study spaces are housed in the same 30,000 square foot building as a restaurant and 393 bed residency. The facility, which opened to students in September, is almost at capacity hosting a mixture of UK and international students.  The building also holds classroom facilities, break out areas and a learning hub on the first floor.

The building was officially opened by Councillor John Adams, the Mayor of Bournemouth, with Don Graham, CEO of Kaplan’s parent company Graham Holdings (formerly the Washington Post Company) and David Jones, CEO of Kaplan International in attendance.

The PIE News
October 16

Horizon 2020-a two year work program

The European Commission is to invest almost €16 billion (US$18 billion) in research and innovation in 2016 and 2017 under its Horizon 2020 program, it was announced last Tuesday.  The program is focused on improving everyday life, in areas such as health, the environment, transport, food and energy.

In addition, at least €8 million in funding will be available for research on security of the EU’s external borders to help identify and prevent human trafficking and smuggling; €27 million for new technologies to help prevent crime and terrorism, as well as €15 million for research into the origin and impact of migration flows in Europe.  The new Work Program will also build on successes in scientific research, such as the Ebola-related breakthrough discoveries.

The Work Program is designed to open up European research and innovation to more actors by attracting more small-medium enterprises; ensuring better use of research results and strengthening research cooperation with other countries.  It is also intended to greatly enhance the impact of EU research funding, in line with the ‘EU Budget focused on Results’ strategy launched by the Commission Vice-President Kristalina Georgieva, who is responsible for budgets and human resources.

Among the more topical issues being addressed, €8 million will be spent on strengthening security at Europe’s borders by enabling better identification of “potentially dangerous people and goods” at border crossings. Research will also cover the origins and paths of migration, the impact and influence of radical movements on migration, and the prevention and early detection of radicalization in the EU.

University World News
October 14

Germany: Stepping up cooperation

The German Academic Exchange Service, DAAD, and the Indian University Grants Commission, or UGC, are stepping up cooperation. A new higher education partnership program has been signed during a visit by a German delegation headed by Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The program will focus on promoting mobility among students and teachers between the two countries. Joint teaching and research projects are envisaged in particular. With the number of Indian students at German higher education institutions having doubled over the past four years to reach a present 11,800, India is now fifth among the countries that foreign students come from.

DAAD Vice-president Joybrato Mukherjee maintains that the student statistics reflect Germany’s popularity among Indians as a country to study and do research in, while also demonstrating the strengths of Indian higher education.  German industry is also keen to cooperate with India, which is set to attain a growth rate of 7.5% this year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

University World News
October 7

United Kingdom: Research builds bridge between UK and China

The University of Nottingham and the Shanghai Advanced Research Institute have launched a new research center to find low-carbon solutions to some of the world’s most pressing energy and environmental challenges.  The new £1m Joint Center on Low Carbon Research will aim to create a bridge between China and the Midlands county of England, where the UK government’s £60m Energy Research Accelerator – a research institute formed of six UK universities including Nottingham and the British Geological Survey – will be based.

The two institutions, both leading in the energy research field, will work together to identify and apply for a range of funding opportunities, using their combined expertise and intellectual property to lend weight to their applications.  he center builds on a five-year-long informal relationship between the two institutions, including joint EPSRC-National Science Foundation China projects on new materials for CO2 capture.

Through the center, academics will cooperate on joint research projects, student and staff exchange programs and seminars.  Research will focus on carbon capture, utilization and storage, waste biomass and lignite.

The PIE News
October 15

Russian universities battle extremists with textbook

A university in Russia’s Urals region has published 3,000 copies of a book detailing the deceits used by Islamic State and describing the dangers that await the possible recruits to the terrorist group. The work targets young people, Muslim clerics and civil servants in Russia.

The chancellor of the Urals State Mining University explained that the professors started to pay special attention to anti-ISIS propaganda after one of the university’s students, 19-year old Varvara Karaulova left Russia for Turkey this summer in the hope of marrying an ISIS fighter she had met online. The girl was detained by Turkish law enforcement officers and returned to Russia, but the case gained a lot of attention in the media.

The head of the Theology Department, Aleksey Starostin, said in his explanations that the anti-ISIS book was the first such work in Russia. He also told reporters that it had already been distributed in many mosques and educational establishments, and that the authors of the book would be happy if it becomes known all over the Urals region and even all over Russia.

Since last December, Russia has officially designated Islamic State and the affiliated Al-Nusra Front as terrorist groups, banning all citizens from participating in these organizations and rendering those supporting them liable to criminal prosecution. In addition, two major Russian Muslim unions have issued fatwas denouncing the Islamic State as enemies of Islam and calling for the punishment of all its members.

 October 6

Debate over Scotland’s bill on university governance

Nicola Sturgeon has been forced to defend Scotland’s bill on university governance against claims that the legislation would “demolish” universities’ autonomy and charitable status.

The Higher Education Governance (Scotland) Bill proposes that the chairs of university governing bodies be decided in a process set by government ministers, which could involve elections.  It would also dictate that set numbers of places on governing bodies must be reserved for representatives elected by staff, trade union members and students.  Some critics of the bill have argued that it could prompt the Office for National Statistics to reclassify Scottish universities as public bodies, meaning they would lose tax advantages and face restrictions on their borrowing.

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson says universities ‘hate’ the SNP bill and claims it threatens to end their charitable status.  Ms. Sturgeon responded that the bill “is not about introducing ministerial control over universities”, but is “about ensuring that the governance of our universities is transparent and inclusive”.

The first minister noted the results of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2015-16, in which five Scottish universities figured in the top 200. This was “more per head of population than any other country on the face of this planet”, she said. “We will continue to work with our universities to make sure that they continue to be that fantastic success story.”

Times Higher Education
October 9

United Kingdom: London welcomes international students in style

Over 600 new international student arrivals were welcomed to London in style at a reception held at the Museum of London last night greeted the students and welcomed them to the city with special guest performers and addresses from university representatives.

The event coincided with recently released research from London & Partners, which found that in 2013/14, 106,795 international students studied at higher education institutions in London – an increase of 1.6% on the previous academic year.  The report also highlighted that international students in London contributed £2.99bn to the economy in 2013/14 – an 18% increase from the 2009/10 academic year.

Event organizer Tristan Bailey said he created the welcome reception because he thought there was “something missing in the welcome procedure”.  The event saw performances by student violinist, Julia Pusker, and finalist from the UK TV show, The Voice, Emmanuel Nwamadi, as well as a prize draw.

Pat Loughrey, warden of Goldsmiths, University of London, also welcomed the attendees, emphasizing the importance of studying abroad.

The PIE News
October 3

UK scholars recognized for essays on rabbits and war

Two British scholars were among six writers shortlisted for a prestigious essay prize worth £20,000 – for pieces on the First World War and living with a pet rabbit.  The winner of the Second Notting Hill Editions Essay Prize was announced at the London Literary Festival, held at King’s Place last weekend. The top prize was taken by the American novelist and activist David Bradley for a piece reflecting on the “public burial for the N-word”, held in 2007, at the “historically black Memorial Park Cemetery”.

However, two academics were among five other authors who also made the shortlist.  Kate McLoughlin, associate professor of English literature at the University of Oxford, used the ongoing centenary celebrations to reconsider a book which “literary scholars and historians return to obsessively, with a mixture of admiration and irritation”, Paul Fussell’s 1975 The Great War and Modern Memory.  More directly personal was the essay by psychoanalyst Josh Cohen, professor of modern literary theory at Goldsmiths, University of London, about the time when he was “lumbered with the daily care of a rabbit…for a few wintry months before he lost his head to a fox”.

The five shortlisted authors, out of 333 submissions in all, each received £1,000. These, and the winner, have now been published by Notting Hill Editions.

Times Higher Education
October 9

Posted in Europe