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IAU Lynx May 2021


May 2021

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.



Due to the global health crisis, UNESCO and the Government of Spain have agreed to postpone the 3rd World Higher Education Conference (WHEC) that was to take place in Barcelona in October 2021 until mid-2022. It Is from now on called WHEC2022.
The World Higher Education Conference (WHEC 2022) National Consultation Meeting themed “Higher Education in China and the World towards 2030”was held at Zhejiang University on 24 April. Three themes were addressed: the equality, quality, responsibility and reform of higher education governance; mobility, sharing, partnership and international cooperation; and innovation, entrepreneurship, applicability and sustainable development.

On 1 May 2021, the Asia-Pacific Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications in Higher Education - known as the Tokyo Convention - entered into force in Armenia making it the third country to ratify so far in 2021 and the 12th State Party overall.

UNESCO International Institute for Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (IESALC)
IESALC’s report Women in higher education: has the female advantage put an end to gender inequalities? analyses female participation in higher education - as students, faculty or managers – , global trends in enrolment, and persisting forms of gender-based inequality in the sector. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is discussed and recommendations for future action are provided.

IESALC has launched a campaign with the hashtag #ConvenioEdSupUNESCO to raise awareness on the main features of the New Regional Convention and its benefits for students, institutions and governments, as well as to promote its early ratification in the region. Two components are a website informing the public on to the procedures for the recognition of studies, degrees and diplomas in the region and a certificate-awarding free online course available on the platform, in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish.

Nominations are open for the seventh edition of the UNESCO-Hamdan Prize for Teacher Development. The US$300,000 prize is awarded every two years and recognizes innovative practices that contribute to enhancing the quality of teaching and learning around the world, with priority given to developing countries and to marginalized and disadvantaged communities. Deadline for applications: 31 October 2021.

UNESCO, Oficina Regional de Educación para América Latina y el Caribe (OREALC)

The Regional Bureau for Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (OREALC/UNESCO Santiago), has released the report “Las respuestas educativas nacionales frente a la COVID-19. El panorama de América Latina y el Caribe” (National educational responses to COVID-19).

- Agence universitaire de la francophonie (AUF)

On 10 May, the AUF launched the second edition the Action for Francophone Responsible Innovation (ACTIF - Action pour l’Innovation responsable Francophone) programme in partnership with the Innovation Research Network (RRI), the Research Institute for Development (IRD), Afric’Innov, SoScience, Agence Française pour le Développement (AFD) and the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs (MEAE). This programme aims to identify, promote and develop responsible innovation initiatives and projects generated by French-speaking universities among students, teachers, researchers and staff.
Calendar of applications


UNILAB, the first French-speaking think tank on the sustainable university in the context of the 2030 Agenda and the 7 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was officially set up with the participation of its 28 members, including IAU and UNESCO. The three main objectives of the Think Tank are to work for a social and united ecology, to position the French-speaking university in the public space and on the challenges of sustainable development, and to support the transformation of universities towards transition campuses.

- World Bank

On 5 May, the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved a $200 million project to support the Government of Ukraine’s efforts to strengthen efficiency, quality, and transparency of the country’s higher education system. The project – Ukraine Improving Higher Education for Results – will help boost the quality of the higher education sector, as well as its relevance to labor market needs, while also promoting resilience and continuity of learning in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Africa - Americas - Asia & Pacific - Europe

- Africa

Association of African Universities (AAU)
The AAU is hiring a new Secretary-General. The term of the current AAU Secretary-General comes to an end in September and applications are now being sought for a replacement. Closing dates for applications: 15 June 2021

Higher technical education in Africa
On 30 March, a project formulation meeting was held within the framework of the China Funds-in-Trust Project Phase III: Higher Technical Education in Africa for a Technical and Innovative Workforce. Six participating countries, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Gabon, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda, reintegrated their commitment in enhancing higher education institutions and systems to foster the talent reserve for national development.

- Americas

Union de Universidades de América Latina (UDUAL)
UDUAL has made a call for governments concerning the production of the vaccine against COVID-19 can make possible the benefit of its propagation and at the same time demonstrate that Humanity must be more than the sum of their particular interests.

Organization of Ibero-American States (OEI)
On 6 May, the OEI and the Ibero-American Association of Higher Distance Education (AIESAD) signed an agreement that will enhance the research mission of Ibero-American universities, while strengthening their quality assurance systems, in a joint effort to consolidate distance education in the region.

Asociación Colombiana de Universidades (ASCUN)
On 4 May, ASCUN made a Statement on the public order situations that Colombia is currently experiencing and calls for a calm, democratic and pluralistic society to be able to use dialogue as the main tool for the construction of agreements and proposals for solutions.

- Asia & Pacific

Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO INNOTECH) / Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU)
in March, SEAMEO INNOTECH was accredited by the Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU) as one of its Associate Members. SEAMEO INNOTECH offers two MOOCs for teachers, namely “Teach On: Keeping the Passion Alive” and “Becoming a Better Teacher Everyday.”

- Europe

League of European Research Universities (LERU)
European, German, French and UK university bodies have urged the European Commission to lift its threat to bar Israel, Switzerland and UK from EU quantum and space projects in the context of the EU’s Horizon Europe science scheme. The signatories include the German U15,; the Russell Group of UK universities; the UDICE (universités de recherche françaises), the League of European Research Universities (LERU) and the Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities.

European University Association
The European University Association and partners have responded to data repository selection criteria laid out by publishers, calling for a response from them. Concerns address the over restrictive nature of the proposed set of criteria and the lack of transparency in the process through which the criteria were developed.

Associação das Universidades de Língua Portuguesa
The call for the Fernão Mendes Pinto Prize (2021 Edition), awarded annually by the Portuguese Parliamentary Assembly (ULP) to reward a master’s or doctoral thesis that contributes to the rapprochement of the Portuguese-speaking Communities, is open until 31 July. It is endowed with 8,000 euros.

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Australia Argentina Canada China
Colombia France Hungary India
Ireland Japan New Zealand Pakistan
Philippines Singapore South Africa Switzerland
United Kingdom United States Vietnam

-  Australia

Government universities budget
The freshly revealed 2021-22 Budget includes measures such as: a financial incentive for universities to invest in research PhD students and develop closer links with industry; and a $53.6 million package of measures to support international education providers through fee and regulatory relief, and targeted support for those providers most affected by COVID-19.

Academic conduct
Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA) is leading action to combat illegal commercial academic cheating services.
It started sharing intelligence about commercial academic cheating services with Australian higher education providers and soon with its international partners.
TEQSA has also alerted the sector to an emerging integrity risk related to online study platforms seeking to employ students for on-campus promotional activities.

Universities Australia - New Chair
La Trobe University Vice-Chancellor and President Professor John Dewar AO has been elected the next Chair of Universities Australia.

-  Argentina

Public higher education institutions across the country have made their infrastructure and human resources available to contribute to the Covid-19 vaccination campaign. In the framework of the Vacunate PBA plan, the province of Buenos Aires incorporated thirteen universities as vaccination centres.

-  Canada

A policy briefing just released by the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) working group on higher education’ Investing in a Better Future: Higher Education and Post-COVID Canada’ , lists eight recommendations, mainly geared toward the federal government, around ways to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen the sector, such as increasing core funding for HE institutions, forgiving a significant portion or student loans, striking an expert panel to advance sustainable internationalization, and continuing COVID-19 emergency funding up to 2023.

-  Colombia

The government has released statistics showing that during the first semester of 2021, a total of 669 thousand young people from public Higher Education Institutions have received support for the payment of tuition fees and living expenses.

-  China

New sustainable development universities alliance
Eight universities in the Yangtze River Delta region have set up an alliance to promote sustainable development in the area. Alliance members will focus on sustainable development, share resources and cooperate in research projects.

Education spending
According to ministerial statistics, the Ministry of Education has spent over 5.3 trillion yuan (around 817 billion U.S. dollars) on education in 2020, a 5.6 percent increase compared to 2019. Spending on Higher education have increased by 4 percent in 2020, compared to 2019 expenditures.

Access to education
About 5.14 million poor students in China have received higher education since 2012, providing millions of poor families with their first college-educated generation, according to the Ministry of Education.

English language teaching - Taiwan
The Ministry of Education (MOE) will launch the "Program on Bilingual Education for Students in College" in September, 2021. The new program aims at strengthening students’ English proficiency, promote English-taught courses or English as a Medium of Instruction Courses (EMI) and enhance the overall international competitiveness of higher education.

-  France

The Conférence des présidents d’universités, the French Rector’s Association, has launched a national consultation on university life including health, accommodation, food, transport, sport and cultural activities.

-  Hungary

On 27 April, the government passed a law transferring control of the country’s 11 main state universities to a series of foundations.

-  India

Due to second wave of COVID- 19, the Ministry of Education has directed the postponement of all offline examinations scheduled in May 2021.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has asked affiliated colleges and universities, in addition to gender sensitisation, to include more content on leadership and Women’s Safety in their curriculum, to emphasize the contribution of women to society, and remove negative stereotypes about women.

-  Ireland

Higher Education Minister Simon Harris has confirmed to the Seanad that he has ruled out a student loan scheme to support future funding of the higher education sector.

-  Japan

For its 70th anniversary, the Japan Association of National Universities (JANU) has released the statement Serving Society under the New Normal: A Statement from National Universities in which national universities express their resolve to serve society under an emerging set of new values. It discusses the role of national universities in shaping the new normal, accelerating digital transformation for green recovery and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, driving collaborations for future-looking innovations, and improving society and solving disparities.

-  New Zealand

The Ministry of Education has launched a consultation on a package of changes to help improve the wellbeing and safety for all higher education and international learners. The proposed code, which is to replace the current codes for domestic and international learners, will be implemented in 2022. Deadline: 21 May.

-  Pakistan

Technology in HE
On 1 May, the Higher Education Development in Pakistan (HEDP) project held its third Steering Committee meeting at the Higher Education Commission (HEC) Office in Islamabad. Restructuring announced include the extensive use of the latest technology in higher education such as Learning Management System to help improve the quality of online learning and access to it or the use of Blockchain technology for degree verification.

Women in leadership
22 women Vice Chancellors, Provosts, Executive Directors and Deans from Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) across Pakistan participated in an online workshop entitled “Collaboration for Excellence – Women Leadership in the Higher Education Sector”organized by the National Academy of Higher Education (NAHE). The goal was to work together and find a way to enable women in leadership roles in universities as well as those on the cusp of leadership positions.

-  Philippines

Quality assurance
Six public higher education institutions (HEIs) in the Bicol Region have entered into Memoranda of Agreement with each other to share faculty resources through the adjunct faculty system to ensure quality assurance in their degree programs and improve the quality of education locally.

HEIs and Covid-19
The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Union of the Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) are collaborating with seventeen (17) public and private higher education institutions (HEIs) to establish additional vaccination centers as the country pushes for expanded immunization in the coming months. Higher education institutions (HEIs) are now classified under the A4 category by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) in recognition of the essential services they provide amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

-  Singapore

The Ministry of Education (MOE) has enhanced current safe management measures (SMMs) in higher education institutions in the context of Covid-19, to reduce student contact, while ensuring that teaching and learning continue. These measures will apply on top of the existing SMMs on safe distancing, screening and hygiene.

-  South Africa

Research undertaken in one of South Africa’s research-intensive universities examines how the Covid-19 pandemic explored has affected teaching and learning. It revealed that students had struggled to manage online learning remotely. A network of global researchers from multiple disciplines and universities (including five institutions in South Africa) is now replicating this study.

-  Switzerland

Swiss universities have signed an agreement with the publisher Wiley which will allow researchers and students from 40 higher education institutions and research institutes to benefit from free access to the 1450 journals and will allow them to publish in the journals in open access.

-  United Kingdom

Freedom of Speech bill
On 12 May, the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill was introduced in Parliament. It will strengthen the legal duties on higher education providers in England to protect freedom of speech on campuses. The proposed law will bring in new measures that will require universities registered with the Office for Students to defend free speech.

Return to universities
The Prime Minister has confirmed that all university students in England are to be allowed to return to campus for face-to-face teaching from 17 May. The University and College Union (UCU), which represents university staff, said the 17 May return made little sense for staff and students as most lessons will have already finished for the academic year.

Arts education
A consultation by the Office for Students (OfS) and the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, suggested halving the amount spent on “high cost” higher education arts subjects in England – which it said were not “strategic priorities”.

-  United States

Thegovernment has started to address issues around student visas for international students and scholars wishing to come to the United States in the academic year 2021-2022. The Student Exchange Visitor Program has extended the distance learning guidance. Current students on valid visas who were completing their studies online due to COVID-19 and in their home countries will be allowed to reenter the United States to continue their studies.
In addition, new international students will be allowed to enter the country as long as their program of study has some component of in-person learning instruction, so hybrid instruction will be permitted.

-  Vietnam

Nguyen Kim Son has been nominated as the new Minister of Education and Training, a handover ceremony was held on April 12th.

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IAU Lynx April Edition
IAU Lynx March Edition
IAU Lynx November Edition

IAU Lynx coordinator: Amanda Sudic
Collaborating team: Nicholas Poulton, Samuel Pousson, Carine Sebast and Lianne Guerra
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