Blog of the International Sociological Association (ISA)
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The Post-2008 Crisis and the Crisis of Higher Education in Cyprus

The Post-2008 Crisis and the Crisis of Higher Education in Cyprus

Victor Roudometof, President of the University of Cyprus’ Faculty Labor Union Historically, Cyprus lacked its own public universities; the first ...

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Portuguese Science: Chronicle of Death Foretold

Portuguese Science: Chronicle of Death Foretold

Helena Carreiras, Senior researcher, Center for Research and Studies in Sociology, ISCTE, Lisbon, Portugal The Portuguese government decided to overhaul ...

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The Crisis of Public Universities in Indonesia Today

The Crisis of Public Universities in Indonesia Today

Lucia Ratih Kusumadewi and Antonius Cahyadi, University of Indonesia The Indonesian Reforms of 1998 brought about massive social change. Ever ...

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Germans Boycott University Rankings

Germans Boycott University Rankings

Scientific Evaluation, Yes – CHE Ranking, No Methodological Problems and Political Implications of the CHE University Ranking German Sociological Association ...

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Neoliberalism and Higher Education: The Australian Case

Neoliberalism and Higher Education: The Australian Case

Raewyn Connell, University of Sydney [1] When neoliberal policies in Australia began to bite in the sphere of higher education, towards ...

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Carnage in Aleppo University in Syria

Carnage in Aleppo University in Syria

Eighty-seven people were killed and at least 150 injured in two explosions that struck Aleppo University in Northern Syria this ...

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Calls for Academic Freedom: Reflections on Palestine and Israel

Calls for Academic Freedom: Reflections on Palestine and Israel

Feras Hammami, KTH, Royal Institute of technology, Stockholm, Sweden “Israeli academic freedom is under severe attack”. This was written in a ...

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Report Finds Risky Money Managment by University of California

Report Finds Risky Money Managment by University of California

A report released last week by UC Berkeley students, reveal the staggering human costs of University of California’s interest rate ...

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By Yoshimichi Sato, Tohoku University

The new cabinet in Japan is planning to substantively reduce the budget of the Global Centers of Excellence (COE) Program. The purpose of the program is to foster excellent research/education centers in Japan so that they could be competitive in the international arena and create excellent junior scholars active in the world. There are fourteen COE centers in social science, and all of them are under the risk of a 33% budget reduction.

During the general election the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the current dominant party, appeared to support an increased budget for science and technology, and so scholars were optimistic. However, after winning the election and forming the cabinet last summer, the new government found itself with a huge budget deficit for the next fiscal year. Accordingly, the cabinet organized open debates between “budget cutters” and bureaucrats demanding their funding. Many bureaucrats lost the debates with the result that many scientific activities and grants now face considerable budget cuts. The Global COE Program, in particular, became a target for fiscal austerity.

When examining the budget for the construction of a super computer, a “budget cutter” asked bureaucrats why scientists need the fastest computer in the world. “Why is a second or third rank computer not enough?” She seems not to understand that only the first scientific finding is valuable. Once Watson and Crick discovered the double helix of DNA, discovering it again would have been worthless. Science has to keep up wuith the latest techniques if it is to be innovative.  Part of the problem has been that the bureaucrats, unskilled in such debate, were no match for the budget-cutting politicians and executives of private firms. Thus, it is not surprising that the “budget cutters” won the debates.

Budget reduction in hard times of decreasing revenues is understandable. However, if the cabinet implements a huge reduction in funding for scientific activities, this could deal Japanese science a major blow from which it might never recover.

By Kezia Lewins, University of the Witwatersrand

The University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (Wits) as with other historically advantaged white English-medium universities in South Africa prides itself on its “open”, liberal tradition. Officially the university makes much of its role in opposing the Extension of University Education Act in 1959 which brought into law racialised universities and required black students to obtain special ministerial permission in order to attend the so-called white universities. The University has always had a radical component which gained increasing momentum throughout the 1960s to 1990s and contested apartheid restrictions within universities, the state, and society more generally. However, this was certainly not its mainstream position and both gender-based and race-based segmentation were historically evident.

In post-apartheid South Africa, Wits has had an equally chequered record. In terms of the historically advantaged universities (HAU), it is one in which both staff and student equity have advanced. Of HAU, it graduates the second highest proportion of black graduates at 61% generally and 56% at the post-graduate level. It ranks fourth amongst HAU with 29% black academics and second with 47% women academics. Despite the slow pace of deracialisation, particularly at the staff and post-graduate level; Wits has performed relatively well. However, the Makgoba Affair of the mid 1990s and a number of high profile black academics, sociologists included, who left Wits in 2008, further signified cracks in the edifice. …READ MORE