Many of the articles on the jobs.ac.uk Career Tools & Advice site relate to the academic situation in just one country, often the UK but sometimes the US, Japan, Australia or other countries.
It is important for academic staff to get an overview of what is going on in Higher Education world wide for several reasons. In our current global economic climate the issues that impact one nation often have ramifications around the world. It is also important to educate oneself about the concerns of academics worldwide as many students and university staff come from other countries. Understand broader concerns such as pay, academic freedom and ethics is also necessary for the modern academic.
In order to help us to keep up to date with the ever-changing world of global academia, an information-based website has recently been launched. It is the University World News Site.
What does the site do?
University World News is a network of a number of renowned education journalists. They report on issues facing universities in many different countries, ranging from the world’s elite institutions to institutions of learning at the educational margins of the world.
The site collates news from a number of different countries around the world about their systems of higher education and issues that are especially relevant to those either teaching or studying within those systems. It has special reports covering topics of currently interest to academic staff (right now, an article about the number of women entering higher education as staff members is very popular and informative: Women no longer the second sex).
The site also has a roundup of the latest academic news from a number of countries.There are also sections that focus on the relationship between scholarship and business, on the sciences, and on research. Readers are invited to participate in certain parts of the site.
What does the site say about the UK?
The most recent article posted about the UK Higher Education system discusses the need to keep tuition fees low in order to prevent the poorer students from rejecting a university education: Universities told to make fees deal with banks.
Another article focuses on the league tables of universities that have just been published: Few surprises in new THES rankings.
The decision to move from the traditional honours classification system of firsts, seconds and thirds to a more subtle and discriminating system is covered in another article: Two centuries of honours degrees to disappear.
All these articles are short and readable but can be followed up by pursuing the topic further via a link at the end of the article.
What are the main issues concerning academics worldwide?
There are some issues that are important to academic colleagues across the world and the website highlights a few of them. One of the most important is academic freedom. This is something that has been discussed in western universities since the 1960s, but in many other parts of the world this is a topic of current concern as different political regimes try to censor or limit the freedom of academic research.
The material presented includes an in-depth article by Philip Altbach on the history of the search for academic freedom: Academic Freedom: A realistic appraisal .
Issues from a number of different countries are presented, including China and Peru, where academics have been imprisoned or received death threats. In Venezuela, staff and students were injured in protests, and in Iran, Honduras and Mexico students have been protesting about the political situations in those countries.
Why would it be useful to me as a jobseeker?
Whether you are simply seeking to keep informed about academia in a world wide context or you are actually thinking of moving and applying for jobs overseas, this website is vital for you. If you are seeking work a long way from your home country it can be difficult to get information about the university system and the sorts of issues that are important to scholars there. In order to be well informed at interview it is good to be able to discuss some of these issues. Websites like University World News, then, will help you to prepare for interview.
It may be that learning about issues such as restrictions of academic freedom puts you off applying for overseas work, but in fact the overall impression about the state of global academia gained from the website is an extremely positive one.