23 April 2017 Register to receive our free newsletter by email each week
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World Round-up
US: Credit crunch hits as banks abandon student loans
One of America’s leading banking associations has given warning that the United States faces a growing educational apartheid as some lenders withdraw from student loans amid new evidence that the credit crisis has spread across all types of borrowing, reports The Times. In recent weeks some banks, including HSBC, have pulled out of the $85 billion a year US student loans market, fuelling anxiety that the turmoil that hit debt markets on Wall Street last summer is spilling over into the wider economy and making credit more difficult to secure for ordinary American households.
US: Massachusetts signs ground-breaking China deal
The University of Massachusetts has announced the signing of an agreement that places it on course to become the first foreign university approved to offer online education courses and degree programmes in China, reports Business Wire. Under the agreement, signed in Beijing, officials from UMass and from China’s Continuing Education Association and the CerEdu Corporation will work together to make UMassOnline, the university’s award-winning distance education programme, available to students throughout China.
INDIA: Students spend $13 billion studying abroad
Industry body Assocham has said that over US$13 billion is spent every year by about 450,000 Indian students enrolled in higher education abroad, reports The Link. Over 90% of students who write the Indian Institutes of Technology and the Indian Institute of Management entrance examinations are rejected due to capacity constraints, of which the top 40% pay to get admission abroad.
NIGERIA: Universities fail to access World Bank funds
Nigerian universities have failed to access a US$180 million grant approved for science and technology education in the country, the World Bank has revealed, reports This Day. The fund has been lying in the bank due to the failure of universities and individual researchers to submit proposals that meet the minimum requirements of the Technical Review Committee set up to assess applicants before grants are disbursed, according to the Bank.
JAPAN: Suspect medical guidelines set by professors
The trustworthiness of certain medical care guidelines has been called into question after it was learned that the academic doctors involved in drawing them up received donations from pharmaceutical makers, reports the Daily Yomiuri. The national and public university doctors were found to have received donations from pharmaceutical firms that produce and sell drugs for disorders and ailments covered by the guidelines.
SOUTH KOREA: Part-time lecturers fight discrimination
Overnight rainfall cooled Seoul. Throngs of workers were rushing to their offices on the slippery road. But amid them was a white-haired couple taking down a green tent to dry it in the morning sunshine, alongside other rain-soaked supplies. They were not homeless people but ‘professors’ who have taught Chinese history and Korean labour history at universities until recently, reports The Korea Times. Since last September they have spent hundreds of nights in a worn-out tent near the National Assembly in Yeouido, urging the government to give the same status as full-time professors to part-time lecturers and to improve other working conditions including job security and salary.
HUNGARY: Higher education applications down 12%
The number of applicants for places in higher education for the academic year 2008-2009 totalled 96,302 – down by 12% on the previous year but declining more slowly than in previous years, according to Education Minister Istvan Hiller, reports The Budapest Times. The drop can partly be explained by a 13% rise in 18-year-olds opting to study for vocational qualifications instead of at universities.
CHINA: Moves to develop higher education
China will invest 10 billion yuan (US$1.4 billion) on creating around 1,000 key subjects between now and 2011 in the country's universities. This is the third phase of the ‘211 Project’, which is being implemented jointly by China's Ministry of Education, Ministry of Finance and the National Development and Reform Commission. It aims to concentrate resources to construct about 100 key higher education institutions and disciplines in the 21st century, reports CCTV.com.
AUSTRALIA: Push for overhaul of 'bastardised' loans
The Federal Government is under growing pressure to revamp the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS), as students seize on research suggesting it could contribute to reduced home ownership, low fertility rates and tax evasion, reports The Age. Less than two weeks after Education Minister Julia Gillard announced a sweeping review of Australian universities, the government has been urged to also examine the impact of the HECS debt on the national economy.
UK: Universities split on fast-track revolution
England’s universities follow “a teaching year that mimics the medieval agricultural and religious cycle”, as one professor puts it. “Anything outside Monday to Friday from late September to May – and three weeks off at Christmas and Easter – has to be the subject of special deals and usually higher pay.” But now, reports the Financial Times, Whitehall is trying to drag universities from the 11th century into the 21st, with a radical paper that speaks of courses with a timetable and content that suits business demands – reaching its apogee in a proposal for 48-week degrees. “This would require something of a revolution,” says the professor.
ANGOLA: History research commission announced
A commission for scientific research and divulging of the history of Angola, including battles fought for the consolidation of independence and achievement of peace, will be set up this year by the Ministries of Education, Culture and the State Secretariat for Higher Education, reports the Angolan Press Agency.
GHANA: Call for quality assurance in African HE
Professor Akilagpa Sawyerr, Secretary-General of the Association of African Universities, has called on higher education stakeholders to work seriously to ensure adequate quality assurance in higher education, reports Modern Ghana. With the establishment of more universities in Africa it was imperative to work seriously on quality assurance systems so that higher learning progressed, he said at a three-day validating meeting to discuss a strategies for executing African Rating Mechanisms for Higher Education and for moving the African Union higher education programme forward.
SOUTH AFRICA: Fee hike versus affordability tension
Fee increases and the lack of student funding at tertiary institutions are placing severe strain on disadvantaged students and the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, according to South Africa’s Minister of Education Naledi Pandor, reports Independent Online. "There is a tension between the legitimate belief that charging higher fees is a reasonable way of raising university income and the certain knowledge that charging fees will deter qualified students from disadvantaged backgrounds from going to university," she said.
UK: Farewell to women's studies
Women's studies, which came to prominence in the wake of the 1960s feminist movement, is to vanish from British universities as an undergraduate degree this summer, writes Nina Lakhani in the Sunday Independent. Dwindling interest in the subject means that the final 12 students will graduate with a BA in women's studies from London's Metropolitan University in July.
US: The ‘double hit’ on women’s salaries
Surveys abound showing that women in academe (and the rest of society) earn less than men. Likewise, theories abound for why this is the case, so many years after it ceased to be acceptable for deans (or other bosses) to automatically assume a woman could make do with less, writes Inside Higher Ed. A scholar at the University of Iowa, who has been mining national data, told the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association that the results indicate – even using the most sophisticated possible approach to take into consideration non-sexist reasons for pay differentials – that the pay gap remains, based on gender. While this cannot be definitively tied to s exism, there are not a lot of likely alternative explanations – and the study suggests that the salary gaps may be here to stay.
US: Online celebration of historically black colleges
The first digital collection of documents and materials chronicling the founding of America's historically black tertiary institutions is available online at contentdm.auctr.edu. "A digital collection celebrating the founding of the historically black college and university" includes more than 1,000 scanned photographs, manuscripts, letters and publications from 10 institutions, reports BlackNews.com. The project, funded by The Andrew W Mellon Foundation, represents the first collaborative effort by libraries at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to make a historical collection digitally available.
MALAYSIA: Market needs to dictate, says HE minister
Concerned about the large number of jobless graduates, Malaysia’s new Higher Education Ministry may limit the number of students enrolled in courses that do not fit market needs at public higher education institutions, reports The Star. Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said it would be necessary to ensure that courses offered were what the country needed, and it might be necessary to reduce the student numbers on “non-relevant courses”.
RUSSIA: Banned university stages blog protests
Protests were expected when last month authorities shut down St Petersburg's European University, one of the city's most respected higher education institutions. But the revolt unleashed by the closure may have exceeded authorities' worst expectations, reports RadioFreeEurope and RadioLiberty. Defiant students and professors have launched an all-out campaign to save the university using internet forums, blogs and videos to coordinate their efforts.
US: Population shift sends universities scrambling
Colleges and universities are anxiously taking steps to address a projected drop in the number of high school graduates in much of the nation starting next year and a dramatic change in the racial and ethnic makeup of the student population, a phenomenon expected to transform the country's higher education landscape, educators and analysts told The Washington Post.
CANADA: Online Facebook 'scapegoat' hailed
Applause and cheers greeted first-year Ryerson student Chris Avenir last week as he stepped out of the engineering building. He had just contested an academic misconduct charge and possible expulsion for his participation in a Facebook study group. But Avenir, 18, who helped to run the chemistry group, will have to wait a week before he finds out if he has a reason to celebrate, reports The Star. The faculty appeal committee has five working days to decide what the penalty should be – from failing the assignment or the course, to being expelled from the university.
CANADA: Debate on sanctions for internet antics
Students who behave badly online are at the centre of an emerging debate on Canadian campuses as some consider whether to revamp their codes of conduct to impose academic sanctions for internet antics, reports the National Post. Several universities, including Ryerson University in Toronto, Bishop's University in Sherbrooke and Trent University in Peterborough, have looked at rewriting their codes of conduct to discipline students for activities on social networking sites such as Facebook.
MALAYSIA: Foreign student numbers soar
The number of foreign students in peninsular Malaysia has risen more than 30%, which augurs well for the country’s aim of becoming a regional hub of educational excellence, reports The Star. A total of 65,000 foreign students enrolled in international schools and both private and public institutions of higher education last year, compared with 48,000 in 2006.
KENYA: Varsity charters to be revoked, warns minister
The government might be forced to revoke the charters of certain public and private universities that do not conform to required academic standards, reports The Daily Nation. Minister for Education, Professor Sam Ongeri, warned that undercover inspectors would be dispatched to institutions to establish their level of conformity with standards.
Rwanda: Students criticise loan scheme procedure
The procedure to identify needy students to benefit from the government's loan scheme for higher education has come under criticism from students, reports The New Times. Some unsuccessful loan applicants have complained that the Students Financing Agency for Rwanda’s selection process is inefficient and has excluded genuinely poor students.
INDIA: Research in universities on a decline
Research work in universities show a declining trend although there is an overall increase in such activities, especially by scientific research institutes, reports The Hindu. Minister of State for Human Resources Development D Purandeswari said there was an increase in research activities in the country as research workers have risen from 17,898 in 2004-05 to 18,730 in 2005-06. But the number of PhDs from universities are a matter of concern and efforts are on to strengthen linkages between universities and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research.