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IAU Lynx September 2020


September 2020

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.



United Nations Secretary General

The UN Secretary-General’s Policy Brief ‘Education in the time of COVID-19 and beyond’ was launched in August. It warns that the pandemic has created severe disruption in the world’s education systems which may stretch beyond one generation of students. It also refers to the IAU’s report ’IAU Global Survey on the Impact of COVID-19 on Higher Education around the world’. The Brief calls for national authorities and the international community to come together to place education at the forefront of recovery agendas and protect investment in education.


Norway is the first country to ratify the UNESCO Global Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education - adopted last November at UNESCO’s General Conference. Its aim is to facilitate international academic exchange and promote the rights of individuals to have their foreign qualifications or study periods evaluated through fair, transparent and non-discriminatory mechanisms.


UNESCO organised the first of a series of online training sessions on distance learning solutions for Central Asian countries to help improve three priority areas: improving the use of digital educational platforms; developing high-quality digital content; and developing teachers’ competencies for effective use of distance and online learning methods. The recording of the first training session is available.

UNESCO/Gulf Region
UNESCO and the Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University (PMU) in Saudi Arabia signed an innovative Futures Literacy Partnership Agreement, to develop Futures Literacy at PMU and in the Gulf region.

UNESCO - International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP)

Call for applications to join the first IIEP-UNESCO Dakar University on gender-responsive educational planning. Organised within the framework of the "Gender at the Centre" initiative, this free training course will take place in two phases: online (2-27 November) and in person in Dakar (7-11 December), if the health situation permits.
Deadline: 13 September

UNESCO International Institute for Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (IESALC)

IESALC has posted a video recording (in Spanish) of the 11th session of the « No dejar a nadie atrás en tiempos de la pandemia COVID-19 » (Leave no one behind during the COVID-19 pandemic) webinar series meant to support universities and education ministries to implement solutions to the crisis.

UNESCO IESALC took part in the virtual Meeting "The Latin American University in a Post-Pandemic Process” webinar organized by the Federación de Sindicatos de Docentes Universitarios de América del Sur FESIDUAS. Participants analyzed impacts of the pandemics, policy responses and recommendations and the six main «macro-trends» being experienced in the face of the COVID-19 global health crisis were presented.

IESALC was selected to support the Ministry of Education’s (Minedu) programme for the educational continuity of 13 of Peru’s 52 public universities.

The director of UNESCO IESALC has contributed a research paper entitled “Applications of Artificial Intelligence to higher education: possibilities, evidence, and challenges” to the current issue of IUL Research, Vol. 1 No. 1 (2020): ’The conditions and results of innovation of educational models’.

The UNESCO-Africa-China High-Level Dialogue for Supporting Priority Africa in the COVID-19 and Post-COVID Context was held on June 24th to exchange and share experiences and good practices against the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, and explore practical measures to support Africa in this backdrop. The UNESCO International Centre for Higher Education Innovation (ICHEI) and the International Institute of Online Education (IIOE) project will assist digitalisation and sustainable development of African higher education during the COVID-19 pandemic and in the post-pandemic era.

UNESCO Bangkok

New Guidelines on implementing qualifications frameworks in Asia and the Pacific for educational studies and cultural heritage management have been released. Its aim is to provide a reference document for Member States to operationalise their national qualifications frameworks at subject and programme levels.

- World Access to Higher Education Day (WAHED)

WAHED 2020 - the global day of action focusing on increasing access and participation in higher education for those from low income and other marginalised groups - will take place on 17 November. A launch event entitled "Prioritising equitable access and success after the pandemic » was held in July to outline how COVID-19 is affecting equitable access and success to HE and what can be done about it. Recordings are available here.

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Africa - Asia & Pacific - Europe

- Africa

West and Central African Research and Education Network (WACREN)
Call for Volunteers - Women-in-WACREN

The WACREN is seeking collaborators from the National Research and Education Network (NREN) community for the implementation of its Women-in-WACREN programme. The initiative has developed a community of women in African NRENs promoting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) curricula and showcasing the opportunities with diversity and inclusion. Closing date: 25 September.

climapAfrica - Climate change research alumni and postdocs in Africa
Postdoc fellowships

The DAAD climapAfrica programme aims to foster application-oriented research results to tackle climate change in southern and western Africa. The program funds postdoctoral research projects and offers a platform for collaboration in thematic working groups composed of postdoctoral fellows and African alumni of German funding initiatives with expertise in the field of climate research. Closing date 14 September 2020.

- Asia & Pacific

ASEAN / Korea

ASEAN and the Republic of Korea launched the Higher Education for ASEAN Talents (HEAT) Scholarship Programme in July. The 3-year full scholarship, which aims to help ASEAN faculty Members pursue their doctoral degree in ROK, is expected to enhance the regional expertise in Higher Education and to promote bilateral academic mobility.

Asean University Network (AUN):
Quality assurance for online and distance learning was the focus of the SHARE Policy Dialogue Webinar Series on ’Looking Ahead to an ASEAN Higher Education Space’ hosted by the European Union Support to the Higher Education in the ASEAN Region (SHARE) Programme, in June. The quality assurance framework for online learning and teaching in the context of the AUN-QA framework was shared and quality indicators were introduced. To watch the recording, click here.

ASEAN University Network (AUN)/ Philippines Commission of Higher Education

A webinar themed ’Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN 2020: Strengthening Educational Collaboration Among ASEAN Higher Education Institutions During the COVID-19 Pandemic’ took place on 12 August. Heads of AUN member universities shared how their respective institutions have responded to the pandemic in terms of providing quality education. Topics addressed during sessions included: approach towards learning continuation; higher education cooperation amidst the pandemic; research and human resource education for readiness to face technological development; structured-blended and student-centered learning. Video recordings are available of the morning session and the afternoon session.

Asian Development Bank (ADB)

The research paper Urban Agglomeration and Firm Innovation: Evidence from Asia released by ADB presents evidence on the spatial distribution and effects of urban agglomeration on firm innovation using data from 25 developing countries in Asia. It shows that knowledge spillovers are an important channel through which agglomeration effects occur and found a significant and positive effect of university presence on firm innovation.

- Europe

European Commission

Proposed budget cuts - Rectors’ statement

National rectors conferences have published a joint statement subsequent to the European Commission’s proposal to vastly reduce the budget for higher education, research and innovation. Over 20 organisations have signed a statement asking for the Council to review its decision.

INSET - Community engagement

The European Commission INSET programme has published ‘Community Engagement in Higher Education: Trends, Practices and Policies’. This report argues (based on a comprehensive review of the literature) that universities play a crucial role in responding to societal needs, and can further enhance their societal impact at local, national and international levels through community engagement. It includes information on the impact of Covid-19 on universities’ community engagement, highlighting the IAU report on this issue.

E4 Group

The E4 Group (EUA, ENQA, EURASHE and ESU) has issued a joint statement reinforcing the relevance of the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG). The statement, “The ESG in the changing landscape of higher education”, reinforces the purpose and focus of quality assurance and the ESG.

Center for Studies in Higher Education

The Center for Studies in Higher Education at UC Berkeley, USA, has published a report on Neo-Nationalism and Universities in Europe. This is examined in the context of globalisation and cross-border flows of students in the European Union.

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Afghanistan - Uzbekistan

A cross-border initiative aimed at supporting the economic empowerment of Afghan women through education grants to study in Uzbekistan has been launched. The project aims to provide educational opportunities for Afghan women, who face disproportionate barriers to education and employment.

Philippines - USA

ThePhilippines Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Embassy of the United States of America signed on 24 August, a new CHED-Fulbright agreement to implement a scholarship programme to send Filipino higher education institution (HEI) personnel abroad to pursue graduate degree and non-degree thesis/dissertation programmes in American universities.

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Australia China Egypt Germany
Hungary India Ireland Nepal
New Zealand Papua New Guinea Paraguay South Africa
Sri Lanka Sweden Thailand United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom United States Vietnam Zimbabwe

-  Australia

Quality Assurance toolkit
The Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) has released a Toolkit to support support higher education quality assurance agencies around the world to promote, develop and sustain cultures of academic integrity. It includes good practice advice around academic integrity frameworks, contract cheating and supporting and sustaining cultures of academic integrity.

Preventing and responding to sexual assault in HE
TEQSA has also released a new online resource to assist Australian higher education providers in preventing and responding to sexual assault and sexual harassment (SASH). The Good Practice Note: Preventing and responding to sexual assault and sexual harassment in the Australian higher education sector features examples and practical advice for providers to support further improvements in policies, procedures and practices.

Graduate employment
The Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT) 2020 Graduate Outcomes Survey has been published. It measures the medium-term employment outcomes of higher education 2017 graduates. .

Reform costs
The Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre - an independent economic and social research organisation located within Curtin University – has released the paper Analysis of costs and savings of Proposed Reforms to Higher Education. It investigates the financial, behavioral and gender-related consequences of the Government’s recently announced Higher Education Reform Package for Australian universities.

-  China

The 2018 National Report on Teaching Quality in Undergraduate Programs of Regular HEIs has been published by the Ministry of Education. It introduces new measures, experiences and outcomes achieved by HEIs in improving teaching quality in undergraduate programmes.

China’s Ministry of Education has issued an interim regulation on the naming of higher education institutions. Institutions in principle should not be titled with words including "China," "national," "international" and words which refer to regions.

-  Egypt

On 1 September, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi annouced funding for the establishment of 10 new non-profit universities across Egypt, with their academic studies to focus on modern technological sciences and advanced scientific disciplines.

-  Germany

Germany’s government has announced that international students going to Germany this semester to follow only online courses will not be eligible for visas, due to the current Coronavirus situation.

-  Hungary

The Hungarian Rectors’ Conference has elected as its new President László Borhy, rector of Eötvös Loránd University.

The management of Hungary’s University of Theatre and Film Arts resigned at the end of August in protest over the imposition of a government-appointed board which they say will undermine the university’s autonomy. A law passed by parliament earlier this year transferred the ownership of the state-run university to a private foundation.The university’s senate said it had been deprived of its right to decide on budgetary, organisational and personnel issues.

-  India

National Education Policy 2020 released
The National Education Policy 2020 has been approved by the Cabinet and released. This comprehensive framework plans higher education system reforms in quality; institutional restructuring and consolidation; learning environments and support for students; equity and inclusion; teacher education; vocational education; academic research; and the regulatory system of higher education.

The Ministry of Human Resources and the University Grants Commission (UGC) held a meeting on “Conclave on Transformational Reforms in Higher Education under National Education Policy 2020“ to discuss aspects of education covered under the National Education Policy, 2020.The Prime Minister of India delivered the Inaugural Address of this event.The event can be viewed here. The Guidelines for Higher Education Institutions to offer Apprenticeship/Internship embedded Degree Programme was also launched at this event.

COVID-19 response toolkit
The Association of Indian Universities (AIU) published the ’COVID-19 response Toolkit for Indian Higher Education Institutions: Institutional Resilience for Academic Planning and Continuity’. It is devised to serve as a guiding document and contains plans and recommendations for Indian Higher Education Institutions during COVID-19..

Indian Association of Universities (AIU) survey
The Indian Association of Universities (AIU) is conducting a survey that aims to gather information from university presidents and senior leaders on plans and perspectives at on the start of the new academic year (2020/2021), as well as challenges and opportunities in the future (2021 and beyond).

-  Ireland

Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI), has released a report entitled A QQI Evaluation of the Impact of the COVID-19 Modifications to Teaching, Learning and Assessment in Further Education and Training (FET) and Higher Education (HE) in Ireland. The report provides an analysis of experiences reported by institutions in how they adapted their teaching and the measures they put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

-  Nepal

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has issued the Guidelines for Facilitating Alternative Mode of Learning in Higher Education as part of an initiative to address the unprecedented impact of COVUID-19 on regular academic activities of universities and higher education institutions.

-  New Zealand

The Government has released a long-term strategic recovery plan, backed by a $51.6 million investment from the COVID recovery and response fund to help reset New Zealand’s international education sector. Its three phases include : stabilising the international education sector, strengthening the system by ensuring the regulatory settings, policies and practices to support the recovery and rebuild, and accelerating the transformation of the sector.

-  Papua New Guinea

On 28 August, the parliament passed eight Bills on the development of higher education reform – including the Higher and Technical Education Reform Bill 2020. They are expected to increase the number of enrolments and improve the quality of graduates in HEIs that meet industry demands and needs.

-  Paraguay

The meeting for the International Forum of the Council of Rectors of Universities of Paraguay was held on 26 June, with the participation of officials and members of the university community, to discuss and present the different views, opinions and readings on the impact caused by the pandemic. Topics addressed included: interaction with our students, distance higher education, higher education transformation and improvement, the role of universities as an agent of change, in public policies, and to foster sustainability and development.

-  South Africa

Information Code of conduct for universities
Universities South Africa compiled a Code of Conduct for the sector, which the USAf Board has since adopted for application in order to prepare and enable its member institutions to comply with the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA).

Women in Leadership programme
26 women representing South Africa’s 17 public universities will converge online from September, for the commencement of a six-month long Women in Leadership programme. This intervention is being driven under the auspices of IAU Member Universities South Africa Higher Education and Leadership (HELM) programme in partnership with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), British Council, Advance HE and the University of Bath, UK.

-  Sri Lanka

The name of the Ministry of Higher Education, Technology & Innovation was changed to the Ministry of Education in August.

-  Sweden

University entrance exams cancelled
The Council for Higher Education has announced the cancellation of university entrance exams, known as the Swedish Scholastic Aptitude Test (SweSAT), this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The decision follows a call by 21 presidents of universities and higher-education colleges to cancel the entrance examinations this year.

Digital transformation
Following a recently released report entitled “Connected education”, which looks at digitalisation in higher education in Sweden, the Secretary-General of the International Council for Distance Education (ICDE) was invited as speaker and panelist during a webinar on 25 August in order to share international experiences relating to findings and recommendations from the report.

-  Thailand

The Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation of Thailand and the Thailand Cyber University (TCU) held the International e-Learning Conference themed ’Disruptive Ecology: New Normal of Education in Post COVID-19’, on 31 July. Keynote presentations addressed the rise of Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) and how education is changing in the time of COVID-19.

-  United Arab Emirates

The UAE Ministry of Education and the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education have launched the University Consortium for Quality Online Learning, UCQOL, a new initiative that aims to support select UAE universities in developing accredited online university programmes and launch them by 2022.

- United Kingdom

COVID-19 - Student safety
Universities UK has released three briefings and recordings of webinars on Covid-19: Safety, Health and Wellbeing for Students and Staff: for healthcare students; for disabled students; and for Estranged and care-experienced students.

With universities due to reopen for face to face teaching, the University and College Union (UCU), which represents lecturers and teachers, has said that the government is “encouraging a public health crisis” and has called for the government to tell universities to move all teaching online for the time being.

Universities Scotland has provided evidence to update the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Skills Committee Committee on the impact of COVID-19 on the university sector.
The evidence covers: the implications of the SQA examination cycle; international student enrolment; the financial impact the sector is facing; support received from the Scottish and UK Governments; the steps the sector is taking for the start of the new academic year; the SFC’s review of Sustainable and Coherent Provision and supporting student mental health.

- United States

The Center for Studies in Higher Education at UC Berkeley, USA, has published areport on Artificial Intelligence & Higher Education: Towards Customized Teaching and Learning, and Skills for an AI World of Work.

- Vietnam

The Vietnam National University-Hanoi has launched University Performance Metrics (UPM), a nationally developed higher education institutions comparative ranking system. It provides a university benchmarking framework that evaluates third generation universities and how well they have adapted to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

- Zimbabwe

Universities were unable to complete the 2019/2020 academic year by the end of August deadline set by Government, due to an increase in Covid-19 cases in July.

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IAU Lynx July Edition
IAU Lynx June Edition
IAU Lynx May Edition

IAU Lynx coordinator: Amanda Sudic
Collaborating team: Nicholas Poulton, Samuel Pousson and Carine Sebast
Contact: [email protected]
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