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IAU Lynx December 2019


December 2019

IAU Lynx offers a monthly overview of higher education developments around the world. It covers new policies, initiatives and projects on various higher education topics. The information is classified by international, regional, bilateral and national initiatives.



On 25 November 2019, UNESCO’s Member States adopted the Global Convention on the Recognition of Higher Education Qualifications during the plenary of the 40th session of the General Conference. Aimed at facilitating academic mobility, improving quality of higher education institutions and enhancing international cooperation in higher education, it is the first United Nations treaty on higher education with a global scope. IAU has been involved in the drafting process and the WHED will help implement the convention’s principles.

The UNESCO Qualifications Passport for the mobility of refugees and vulnerable migrants with qualifications was also discussed during the General Conference. The first session of interviews for candidates have just been conducted in the Meheba Refugee Settlement in the North-Western Province of Zambia. It is also seen as as a complementary tool for the implementation of the Global Convention.

The Recommendation on Open Educational Resources (OER) was also adopted during the 40th UNESCO General Conference to support the development and sharing of openly licensed learning and teaching materials. IAU supports this initiative.

On 15 November, projects from Botswana, Brazil and Germany received the 2019 UNESCO-Japan Prize on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) that showcases and rewards outstanding projects and programmes in the field of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD).

The 2019 edition of the SDG 4 Data Digest entitled How to Produce and Use the Global and Thematic Education Indicators was launched in Paris during the UNESCO General Conference. It provides a panoramic view of the current development of the SDG 4 monitoring framework and reporting at the international, regional and national levels.

UNESCO International Institute for Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNESCO/IESALC)
UNESCO/IESALC, with the support of the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is offering three scholarships for postgraduate or doctoral students in the social sciences. Subjects currently addressed are: Internationalization of higher education and academic mobility; Quality and relevance of higher education; Equity and inclusion in higher education; Innovation in higher education. The call is open until 15 January 2020.

The deadline for submitting nominations for the 2019-2020 UNESCO-Hamdan bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Prize for Outstanding Practice and Performance in Enhancing the Effectiveness of Teachers Prize has been extended to 15 February 2020. The $300,000 prize is awarded every two years to recognise initiatives that contribute to improving teaching and learning quality with a focus on developing countries and marginalised and disadvantaged communities.

UNESCO Bangkok
The Hangzhou Declaration is the outcome document of the 8th UNESCO-APEID Meeting on Entrepreneurship Education on “Entrepreneurship Education for the 4th Industrial Revolution” held 9-11 October 2019 in Hangzhou, China. It calls on all stakeholders – policy-makers, researchers, practitioners, industries and employers – to develop a comprehensive approach for entrepreneurship education to achieve the sustainable development goals and build a peaceful and prosperous global community.

- Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development

OECD has just published Supporting Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Higher Education in Austria which is part of a series of national reports implementing the HEinnovate framework. HEinnovate is a holistic framework that the OECD and the European Commission have developed to promote the “entrepreneurial and innovation agenda” in higher education. This review illustrates policy actions promoting the development of entrepreneurial and innovative activities in the Higher Education System and individual HEIs.


Implementing the 2030 Agenda at Higher Education Institutions: Challenges and Responses is the second publication of the GUNi Group of Experts on SDGs and Higher Education devoted to SDGs. This publication focuses on the obstacles that Higher Education institutions encounter when implementing the Sustainable Development Goals. It includes regional and institutional approaches to sustainable development and it offers a picture of how some higher education institutions embed sustainable development in their core missions.

- Scholars at Risk

Scholars at Risk has just released Free to Think 2019, the fifth installment of an annual report by SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project, analysing 324 attacks on higher education communities in 56 countries between 1 September 2018 and 31 August 2019.

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Africa - Americas - Asia - Europe

- Africa

African Development Bank
The ADB has just released the policy research document entitled Creating Decent Jobs.
Strategies, Policies, and Instruments
, which takes a look at, amongst other things, the role of higher education.

African Qualifications Verification Network

The AQVN held its annual meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa on 28 - 29 October 2019 entitled Qualification Recognition beyond Borders- Collaboration to Ease Verification of Qualifications in Africa. A brief summary of the meeting can be found here.

African Regional Conference of Vice Chancellors

7th African Regional Conference of Vice Chancellors and Deans of Science took place in Zimbabwe in November. Discussions focused on investment in the transformation of the continent’s higher education system to drive modernisation.

Australia-Africa Universities Network (AAUN)

The AAUN Annual Report 2018-19, Strategic Plan 2020-2022 and Action Plan 2020 sets “Higher education and research capacity” as one the five focus areas for the next three years. Objectives and strategies defined are to: scale up institutional research partnerships; strengthen the academic and leadership capacity of AAUN partners; bring an evidence-based, influential voice for policy development; provide an intelligence and advisory portal for expertise on Australia Africa issues.

- Americas

Community of Latin American and Caribbean states and the European Union CELAC-UE

On 22 November, a preparatory meeting for the Second Academic and Knowledge Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean states and the European Union CELAC-UE took place in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Four key themes for the agenda of the summit on 26-27 March 2020) were formulated: Construction of the Common Higher Education Area CELAC-UE; The role and actions of universities with the 2030 Agenda; Science, Technology and Innovation for Sustainability; Politics, management and transformation of the university in the digital era. Several regional organizations are involved in the organisation of the summit including CELAC-UC, CRUE Universidades Españolas, the Montevideo Group of universities, la Union of Universities of Latin America and the Caribbean (UDUAL) and the national association of Universities in Mexico (ANUIES).

Union of Universities of Latin America and the Caribbean (UDUAL)

The sixth international Colloquium on ‘Higher Education and Indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples in Latin America: Multiple Forms of Racism and Racial Discrimination’ took place from 6-7 November at Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero (UNTREF), Argentina. The Conference was organised jointly by UDUAL, UNESCO - IESALC and the Argentinian National Agency for Scientific and Technological Promotion.

- Asia

Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU)
presentations and proceedings from the 33rd Annual Conference of the Asian Association of Open Universities themed Open Distance Learning: 2020 and Beyond – held 14-16 October 2019 in Lahore, Pakistan - are online. Sessions addressed topics including: ODL Practices and Prospects; Educational Technology and Technology in Education; Assessment and Evaluation; Quality Assurance; and Accreditation.

- Europe

The European Universities Association

The European University Association (EUA) has published a report on ‘Diversity equity and inclusion in European higher education institutions’. The report is the result of a survey of 159 higher education institutions from 36 European systems and details how universities promote diversity, equity and inclusion. It is part of the EUA-led ‘Strategies towards Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at Universities’, or INVITED, project.

European Union

The European Union agreed in November to invest €300 million more than originally planned for Horizon 2020’s final year. The total budget for the final year of the Horizon 2020 research programme is now €13.5 billion.

European Commission

The European Commission has appointed Mariya Gabriel as new commissioner for the department ’Innovation and Youth’ (previously two departments: ‘Research, Science and Innovation’ and ‘Education, Culture, Youth and Society’).

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Austria - Taiwan

The Taiwan and Austria Higher Education Science and Research Seed Funding scholarships have been awarded for the first time. 23 students were selected and will go to Austria to study, undertake research, or exchanges in the fields of commercial design, industrial engineering and management, human resource management, business management, and science and technology.

Egypt - Belarus

Egyptian Minister of Higher Education Khaled Abdel Ghafar met with Belarus Ambassador, Sergei Terentiev, in Cairo on 17 November to consider ways of promoting cooperation in higher education and scientific research.

Iran - uruguay

On 5 November the Minister of Education and Culture of Uruguay, María Julia Muñoz, and Iran’s Ambassador, Abolfazl Pasandideh, signed a memorandum of understanding in Montevideo which aims to develop and expand cooperation in education, research and technology. Both countries undertake to meet the objective through direct collaboration between universities, higher education institutions and research institutes; exchange of scientists and academics, implementation of joint research projects and educational projects; and student exchange.

Japan - Australia

The Japan Association of National Universities and Universities (JANU) has posted presentations from the Japan-Australia University Dialogue 2019 organized with Universities Australia at Osaka University in October. The theme was ’Reaching higher– lifting Japan - Australia university and industry collaboration to new heights’.

New Zealand - Ireland

A new user guide comparing qualifications frameworks, levels, and the qualifications from Ireland and New Zealand has been launched. It will help support recognition of qualifications between the Republic of Ireland and New Zealand.

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Argentina Australia Austria Canada
Chile China France Germany
Hong Kong India Ireland Italy
Kenya Jordan Macao Mexico
Mongolia Netherlands New Zealand Nigeria
Pakistan Saudi Arabia South Africa Sweden
Taiwan Thailand United Kingdom United States of America

-  Argentina

The Council of Universities at their meeting on 19 November at the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Technology in Argentina, approved new quality standards for the accreditation of Engineering and Informatics and four medical careers (Phonoaudiology, Nutrition, Obstetrics and Kinesiology) were added to article 43 of the Higher Education Law (LES) that lists careers considered to be of public interest. From now on, these careers must prove their quality before the National University Evaluation and Accreditation Commission (CONEAU).

-  Australia

HE statistics

The Ministry of Education has released Higher Education Statistics on Students for 2018. It encompasses enrolments, equivalent full time student numbers and completionsat all higher education institutions. For the first time, data were collected on the level of engagement by PhD and Research Masters students with businesses and other end-users of research .

The Statistics Report on TEQSA-registered higher education providers 2019 provides a snapshot and time series of national statistics from across the sector. Three key areas are covered: providers, students and academic staff.

International security guidelines

The Ministry of Education has released Guidelines to Counter Foreign Interference in the Australian university sector. A collaboration between government, the university sector, and national security agencies, the guidelines detail practical steps universities can take to ensure they have sufficient protections for students, research data, and academic integrity.

Destination Australia programme - scholarship providers announced

The Minister for Education has announced the 35 higher education and vocational education providers who will offer some 1,200 scholarships under the Destination Australia Program from 2020. The program aims to attract and support international and domestic students to study in regional Australia and to grow and develop regional Australian tertiary education providers.

-  Austria

The Central European University (CEU) officially opened a new campus in Vienna on 15 November, where it will continue to offer U.S.-accredited graduate degree programmes, though the university still maintains a presence in Budapest, Hungary. The university moved the bulk of its courses out of Hungary after the country passed a law in 2017 that banned foreign-registered universities that do not also offer the courses in the home country.

-  Canada

Universities Canada has released Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at Canadian universities: Report on the 2019 survey. The results of the national survey indicate that universities are prioritizing EDI action plans, strategies and policies; the recruitment and retention of diverse talent among senior leaders, faculty, staff and students; and reconciliation and Indigenization. Nevertheless, the data shows that there are common challenges including a lack of resources and difficulty attracting and retaining diverse talent.

-  Chile

Student security - rectors reaction

The rectors of seven universities have taken legal action against the use by police of pellet guns against student protesters. They said in a statement issued on 11 November that they had gone to the courts in order to secure “the physical and psychological safety of students that take part in peaceful demonstrations”. The statement condemned violence and abuses committed by police forces and offered full support to students affected while participating in peaceful protests.

Representatives of the Council of Rectors (CRUCH) have expressed to President Piñera the commitment of universities to social peace. The executive vice president of CRUCH, Aldo Valle, stated that “on the basis of peace we can effectively advance in the purpose of rebuilding the trust of citizens in our institutions and advancing in the political and institutional changes that the country requires urgently ”.

-  China

The Minister of Education reportedly issued a regulation that strengthens requirements for implementing major scientific and technological infrastructure projects at universities, covering their conception, selection and personnel management and support.

An education supervision office under the State Council has recently convened a consultation to ask universities and institutions to improve the quality of doctoral dissertations, according to the Ministry of Education. Institutions should strengthen supervision in the process of admission, and thesis writing, as well as highlight the role of tutors.

-  France

2020 proposed budget - Rectors’ reaction

The Conférence des présidents des universités (Association of University Presidents) has released a statement outlining their concerns with the proposed 2020 budget allocation for higher education of 160 Million Euros, which they consider insufficient in the light of the increased number of students.

University hospitals funding

On 22 November, Frédérique Vidal, Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation and Agnès Buzyn, Health Minister, announced additional funding of 74 million Euros for university hospitals. In addition, A further 18 million Euros has been allocated to biomedical research.

-  Germany

The German Rectors’ Conference (HRK) held their annual meeting on 18 November at the University of Hamburg, in which theydiscussed collaboration between academia and industry, gender equality in research and teaching, a planned initiative by the German government to improve professional training outside university. In a press release related to the ‘Future Contract’ for HE (New Funding programme for higher education decided in July 2019 by the German federal government) they welcome the government’s decision to co-finance teaching at higher education institutions to reduce the issue of short-term contracts for academic staff and increase the overall quality of teaching. The federal government will contribute with 1.88 billion Euros yearly from 2021-2023 to the programme.

-  Hong Kong

International students have begun to evacuate from Hong Kong as more universities announced a premature end to the fall term amid protester-police turmoil on campuses while some universities are conducting courses online.

-  India

In November, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said governors as chancellors of universities should ensure that higher education institutions invest in research that fosters start-up culture and leads to job creation. He made these remarks at the concluding ceremony of the 50th annual conference of governors and lieutenant governors of universities.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has released the draft report Enabling and Enhancing University and Industry Linkages prepared by the working group constituted to study University-industry bonds, develop a strategy and a road map for implementation towards enhancing the linkage. Specific measures are proposed to create an enabling eco-system for stimulating university-industry interactions.

-  Ireland

Future jobs funding

The Irish government has launched the €300 million Human Capital Initiative and the Skills and Talent pillar of Future Jobs Ireland. The special fund, €60 million per year over five years, will help to develop new undergraduate places, new conversion courses for graduates to meet identified areas of skills needs in the modern workforce and drive agility and innovation in the sector.

Educational attainment

The Central Statistical Office has released the Educational Attainment Thematic Report which shows over half of the 25-34 and 35-44 year olds (55% and 54% respectively) have a tertiary qualification. The gap between males and females is more evident in younger age groups. Females aged 20-24 and 25-34 years olds were more likely to have a tertiary level qualification.

-  Italy

Italy’s new coalition government has announced plans to set up the country’s first National Agency for Research (Agenzia Nazionale per la Ricerca – ANR), the status of which should be approved at the beginning of 2020. Currently, Italy’s state research grants are administered by several ministries.

-  Kenya

Sexual harrassment of students
A survey conducted by ActionAid and UN Women found that 1 in 2 female students and 1 in 4 male students have been sexually harassed to some degree by staff in Kenyan universities.

TVET - competency-based curriculum introduced
A competency-based curriculum for Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) centres was launched in November.The Kenya National Qualification Authority has approved 278 courses, which will be monitored by the Curriculum Development Assessment and Certification Council (CDACC) for conformity.

-  Jordan

The Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Muhyiddine Touq, has announced that under the implementation of the Jordan Response Plan to the Syrian Crisis (JRP), Syrian students attending Jordanian universities can now receive scholarships to cover their tuition from projects designated for Syrians’ education.

-  Macao

The Higher Education Fund has launched the Scholarship for Outstanding Students. The scheme aims to attract outstanding students from Portuguese-speaking countries and the countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to strengthen higher education exchange between Macao and the countries along the Belt and Road and Portuguese-speaking countries.

-  Mexico

A national meeting organised by ANUIES, the Mexican Association for Universities and Higher Education Institutions took place on 29-30 October. A Statement released refers to recent HE reform, access, mandatory and free higher education, transformation of HEIs to strengthen their contribution to local, regional and national development and discussion of a financing policy for higher education.

-  Mongolia

The Mongolian National Council for Education Accreditation (MNCEA) has received the Asia Pacific Quality Network (APQN) Asia Pacific Quality Register (APQR) Quality Assurance Certificate, which means it can from now on accredit international HEIs/programs in cooperation along with APQN.

-  Netherlands

Two new publications on recognition of e-learning have been released by Nuffic: The Practitioner’s guide for recognition of e-learning, a step-by-step approach towards academic recognition of e-learning; and a position paper ‘Academic recognition of e-learning’. The documents were published following the outcomes of the e-VALUATE project which aims to contribute to more effective policies for the recognition of new forms of online learning within the European Higher Education Area.

-  New Zealand

Access - students with disabilities

Education Counts has released the following report Disabled People and Tertiary education: An Analysis of the 2013 Disability Survey, that investigates the participation and success of disabled people in tertiary education, using data from the 2013 Disability Survey.

Research specialisations

- Education Counts has also releases The Research Specialisations of New Zealand Tertiary Education Organisations, that identifies the research specialisations of New Zealand higher education organisations.

Protecting academic integrity

Universities New Zealand - Te Pōkai Tara has posted an article discussing measures taken at the level of individual universities and system-wide safeguards in place against cheating and protect academic integrity.

-  Nigeria

In November, the House of Representatives called on the Federal Government to abolish the payment of acceptance fees into all higher education Institutions. This follows concerns of the low access rate into higher education: data from the National Bureau of Statistics and the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board showed that between 2010 and 2015 out of the 10 million applicants that sought admissions into tertiary institutions, only 26 % gained admissions

-  Pakistan

Interim Placement of Fresh PhDs (IPFP) Program

The Higher Education Commission has announced Phase-II of the Interim Placement of Fresh PhDs (IPFP) Program, initiated to provide Pakistani PhD graduates an opportunity to be placed as Assistant Professors on a tenure track system for a period of one year. A recent review of the program has shown that the program was successful in placing about three-quarters (74.64 per cent) of the participants in long-term faculty positions

HEC announces new library and women’s museum/archives

The Higher Education Commission (HEC) and the National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) have agreed to collaborate to set up a Public Library and Women’s Museum/Archives in Islamabad to support education, research and training on women’s role and contribution to the country’s progress. Universities seeking to undertake complementary activities will be supported.

-  Saudi Arabia

The Saudi Council of Ministers has approved the new universities law which introduces a new mechanism that helps in the development of universities and management of their resources, autonomy and quality mechanisms.

-  South Africa

The 2017/18 National Research and Experimental Development Survey released by the Human Sciences Research Council and Statistics SA shows that spending on research and development (R&D) in South Africa continues to increase, albeit at a slower rate than before, amounting to Rand 38,725 billion.

-  Sweden

A temporary exemption from application and tuition fees at higher education institutions for British students to mitigate the consequences of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union without a withdrawal agreement has been extended.

-  Taiwan

In November, the deputy head of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council invited Hong Kong residents whose studies have been disrupted by university closures or fear of arrest to continue their studies in Taiwan, and has put in place an additional quota for these students.

Internal quality assurance

The Higher Education Evaluation and Accreditation Council of Taiwan has made available the presentations from its 2019 International Conference that took place in Taipei on 2 October on ’Development of Internal Quality Assurance Mechanisms and Challenges for Higher Education Institutions’. Sessions addressed: the importance of the Higher Education Stakeholders Engagement; development and challenges of Internal Quality Assurance and the responses from External Quality Assurance; IQA experiences and good practices; Issue, Challenges and prospects for Taiwan higher education and national QA policy making.

-  Thailand

According to the Ministry of Education, Chulalongkorn University, an IAU Member, has issued a new regulation allowing transgender students to wear uniforms that align with their chosen sex or gender.

- United Kingdom

Additional monitoring for HEIs

The higher education regulator for England, the Office for Students (OfS), has released new figures which show that almost two thirds of registered higher educational institutions have been subject to additional monitoring requirements and conditions, in many cases because of concerns over teaching quality or levels of access and participation for disadvantaged and other underrepresented groups.

Universities’ manifestos for the general election

Universities UK has released a manifesto for higher education ahead of the general election on 12 December 2019. It focuses on access to higher education, investment in research and attracting global talent.Universities Scotland has also released a manifesto for Scottish universities.

- United States of America

International students

The Institute of International Education has released The 2019 Open Doors Report on International Education Exchange. It provides information and data on the numbers of international students studying in the United States in the 2018/19 academic year, and the numbers of U.S. students studying abroad. International students make up 5.5 percent of the total U.S. higher education population. The total number of international students, 1,095,299 and China remains the largest source of international students.

Universities’ public impact

The Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) has released its Public Impact Research: Engaged Universities Making the Difference report in November. Compiled by by over 60 university leaders, the report issues five action steps for the public university community and stakeholders to advance public impact research - how university research improves lives and serves society - locally, regionally, nationally, and globally.

Access to education - DACA

In October, the American Council of Education, and 43 other higher education associations, filed an amicus brief filed in the Supreme Court’s combined DACA cases. The brief advises the Court that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, has made it newly possible for countless Dreamers to get a postsecondary education and unlock the potential such an education affords.”

High-impact practices

The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) has released a new publication. A Comprehensive Approach to Assessment of High-Impact Practices, outlines a process of effectively assessing high-impact practices in higher education institutions, such as learning communities, undergraduate research, and community-based experiences.

- Zambia

The Higher Education Authority (HEA) will begin classification of universities into a four-tier system as part of a reorganisation of the higher education system. The tiers are based on a national classification system developed by the Authority based on their capabilities in teaching, research and public service.

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IAU Lynx November 2019
IAU Lynx October 2019
IAU Lynx September 2019

IAU Lynx coordinator: Amanda Sudic
Collaborating team: Nicholas Poulton, Samuel Pousson, Carine Sébast and Isabel Toman
Contact: Amanda Sudic
© IAU 2019

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