ISSN 1756-297XIssue No: 0197 13 November 2011
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UNESCO is hiring: Managerial positions in education sector

HE Events Diary

A new British Council report uncovers where and why international students seek out education agents for help with university choices and visas. See the News section.

British students took to the streets again last week in protest against government spending cuts and fee rises. In News, read about a call by MPs to delay key higher education reforms. In Commentary, Andrew McGettigan says a campaign is needed to stop full-scale privatisation of the universities sector. Credit: Sky News

Professor Jandhyala Tilak writes that although private higher education in India already enrols a third of all students, the draft Five Year Plan sees an even greater role for the private sector in future. See the Commentary section.

Boundaries between public and private higher education are blurring. Monash University is public in Australia but private in South Africa, where in recent years it has changed focus from being a 'for-profit' to a 'public purpose' institution.


University World News was a media partner to the Talloires Network Leadership Conference in 2011, the OECD’s Institutional Management in Higher Education Conference in 2010, and the UNESCO World Conference on Higher Education in 2009.


This week’s highlights

This week we take an in-depth look at the expansion of private higher education around the world, what has been driving the sector’s phenomenal growth, trends in private provision in countries and regions, and what this all means for higher education systems. Among many other articles, BIANKA SIWINSKA looks at the expansion of the private sector in Eastern and Central Europe and the demographic challenges it faces, and GRACE KARRAM writes that rather than being profit-hungry commercial operations, most of the swelling number of private institutions in Africa are religiously-oriented with non-profit motives. In Commentary, JANDHYALA TILAK writes that India’s draft twelfth Five Year Plan foresees an even greater role for the private sector in future. ANDREW MCGETTIGAN argues that Britain needs a multi-level campaign to stop the full-scale privatisation of higher education, and WILLIAM PATRICK LEONARD says that well-managed and targeted for-profit institutions are benefiting from complacency in the public and non-profit private higher education sectors.

NEWS: Our correspondents worldwide report

GLOBAL: Which students use agents? - British Council
Yojana Sharma
There are big differences around the world in the reasons why students turn to education agents for university and student visa applications, with use of agents highest in regions and countries where there is less familiarity with the target education system. Language issues are also important, a new study by the British Council has found.
Full report on the University World News site

UK: MPs demand reform changes to tackle access
Brendan O’Malley
MPs have urged the UK government to delay piecemeal implementation of key higher education reforms in England and to reconsider measures proposed to ensure that disadvantaged students are not put off attending university.
Full report on the University World News site

NICARAGUA: Protesting students burn building
Chrissie Long
Students from Nicaragua’s Caribbean university have doused a campus building in gasoline and burnt it to the ground, in an ongoing fight over university leadership. Their protests have also included a four-day hunger strike that landed two students in hospital and forced professors to cancel classes.
Full report on the University World News site

DENMARK: Social science needs higher EU profile
Jan Petter Myklebust
A Danish think tank has called for a strengthened social sciences and humanities strand in the European Union's flagship research programme, as Denmark prepares to take over the chairmanship of the European Commission.
Full report on the University World News site

GERMANY: Good job prospects for graduates
Michael Gardner
Unemployment among graduates in Germany one year after leaving their institution is at 4% and below, compared with a seasonally adjusted national unemployment rate of 5.9%, according to a survey by HIS-HF, a higher education statistics agency.
Full report on the University World News site

SPECIAL REPORT: Private higher education

The growth of private higher education around the world has been phenomenal. In some countries and regions private institutions now enrol high proportions – or even majorities – of tertiary students. The private sector has been helping to meet mushrooming demand for higher education among school-leaving and non-traditional students, but there are serious concerns about quality, high fees and diversity of provision as well as the privatisation of higher education.

This special report covers topics ranging from the rapid growth of private higher education in India, Central America, Africa, Brazil, the Arab world and Central and Eastern Europe, and controversial for-profit institutions in the United States, to the struggles of foreign private institutions trying to make it in Australia and booming bogus degree mills based mostly in North America and Europe but also increasingly in cyberspace. In some cases there is a blurring of boundaries between public and private, and in some nations such as Kenya and Malaysia, governments are clamping down on private institutions in efforts to ensure students receive quality learning and recognised qualifications.

INDIA: Regulation lags private higher education growth
Alya Mishra
Rising demand for post-secondary education, lack of government investment in the sector and the deteriorating quality of many public universities has led to an increase in private players in Indian higher education. But the regulation of private institutions has failed to keep up with their rapid growth, leading to concerns about quality and social equity.
Full report on the University World News site

US: For-profits controversial but driving growth
Alison Moodie
For-profit colleges and universities represent the fastest-growing but also most controversial sector of private higher education in the United States. Universities like Phoenix, DeVry and Kaplan have helped turn the for-profit sector into a massive revenue generator and the engine for higher education growth. From 1998 to 2008, for-profit enrolment grew by 225%.
Full report on the University World News site

CENTRAL AMERICA: Private higher education booming
Chrissie Long
Recent years have witnessed a boom in private education opportunities across the Central American isthmus. To some, it seems that private entities cannot open classrooms fast enough. Whereas 30 years ago there were virtually no private universities today there are more than 151 and every year more emerge.
Full report on the University World News site

EUROPE: Tired pioneers in Eastern and Central Europe
Bianka Siwinska
The common characteristic of private universities in Central and Eastern Europe is that none of them existed 20 years ago. The ‘private revolution’ in this part of the world started after the dissolution of the Soviet block and the fall of communism in 1989. The ossified structures of centrally managed higher education systems were unable to react to the new educational needs of emerging market economies.
Full report on the University World News site

AFRICA: Rapid growth in private religious universities
Grace Karram
Critics of private post-secondary education often argue that foreign universities in developing nations are commercial and profit-hungry. But these debates ring hollow in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the majority of private providers are religiously-oriented with non-profit business models. Religious institutions are the fastest growing type of post-secondary institution in almost every nation north of South Africa and south of the Sahara.
Full report on the University World News site

BRAZIL: Private education far better than none at all
Karen MacGregor
A burning question for developing countries is whether low quality private higher education is better than none at all, in circumstances where public systems cannot meet soaring student demand. Brazil decided it was and set about rapidly expanding its higher education system, including by opening it to private institutions. Today the country has one of the largest private sectors in the world and it enrols a staggering 75% of all post-secondary students.
Full report on the University World News site

ARAB STATES: Quality low despite privatisation boom
Wagdy Sawahel
Despite dramatic growth since the 1990s in the number of private institutions, which make up about 45% of all Arab universities and have a market size of US$1.2 billion in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates alone, these institutions continue to have little impact on the development of higher education systems in the Arab world.
Full report on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: Foreigners providers find the going hard
Geoff Maslen
Despite the efforts of some of the world’s largest foreign private universities to set up shop in Australia, none have yet succeeded in making a profit from selling higher education – or even attracting significant numbers of students.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Degree mills tarnish private higher education
Sarah King Head
According to the most recent report of Accredibase, the UK-based background screening company Verifile Limited, there was a staggering 48% increase in the number of known degree or diploma mills operating worldwide last year. It identified more than 2,500 bogus institutions across all regions, but primarily in North America and Europe.
Full report on the University World News site

MALAYSIA: Many private colleges have quality issues
Honey Singh Virdee
An audit of private colleges in Malaysia has unearthed serious quality issues, with only one in three colleges evaluated doing well in a quality assurance process that could be used by the government to approve or deny them licenses to recruit international students.
Full report on the University World News site

KENYA: New audit of private universities announced
Gilbert Nganga
Surging demand for higher education ought to have given Kenya a good reason to clean up its universities. But as the number of private and public universities has grown over the past seven years, from 17 to 24 private and five to seven public institutions, so have concerns over the quality of learning.
Full report on the University World News site

SOUTH AFRICA: From for-profit to public purpose: Monash
Geoff Maslen
A decade after Monash University in Melbourne became the first foreign university to gain registration as a private higher education institution in South Africa, its ambitious goal of establishing a profitable campus in Johannesburg has still to be achieved. Meanwhile the university has changed its approach, switching focus from being ‘for-profit’ to ‘public purpose’.
Full report on the University World News site

COMMENTARY: Private higher education

INDIA: State seeks greater role for private sector
Despite the fact that India has a higher number of students enrolled in private higher education institutions than the United States, the government’s draft twelfth Five Year Plan foresees an even greater role for the private sector in the future, says JANDHYALA TILAK. Privatisation seems to be the only mantra for the development of education.
Full report on the University World News site

UK: Concerted assault on public higher education
The UK Conservative-led government is introducing primary legislation which paves the way for full-scale privatisation of the higher education sector despite a lack of public support, says ANDREW MCGETTIGAN. There is a need for a multi-level campaign to stop this as it will destabilise and tarnish the entire sector.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Private sector capitalises on complacency
The for-profit higher education sector is benefiting from complacent public and non-profit private sectors, argues WILLIAM PATRICK LEONARD. Its universities tend to be better-managed and more targeted at meeting market demand because they operate in a more risky environment.
Full report on the University World News site


SWEDEN: World-first trachea-bronchi transplant
Jan Petter Myklebust
In a world first, a Swedish surgeon has transplanted the trachea and bronchi that had been created by the patient’s own stem cells. Professor Paolo Macchiarini of Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm used a new cell regenerative medical invention to generate the tachea and bronchi.
Full report on the University World News site

GLOBAL: Production of oxygen on Earth
A new study is believed to have resolved a major debate about when oxygen began to be produced on Earth and how long it took before oxygen levels were sufficient to support the growth of life.
Full report on the University World News site

US-AUSTRALIA: A new planet forms
Astronomers have released the first close-up images of a young planet in the process of being formed. The research aims to shed light on the ways in which planets and solar systems begin.
Full report on the University World News site


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BRAZIL: Riot police clear protesting students
More than 300 Brazilian riot police forcibly cleared a university building that protesting students occupied for a week, arresting about 70 people last week. Police used battering rams to smash down doors in the dawn raid as a helicopter buzzed overhead. Officials said the students, mostly asleep when police arrived, did not resist arrest, reports Associated Press.
More on the University World News site

CANADA: Thousands of Quebec students march over fees
Tens of thousands of people packed Montreal’s streets last Thursday to protest a tuition hike proposed by the government of Premier Jean Charest – an increase that march organisers said is tantamount to a declaration of war on students, reports CTV News.
More on the University World News site

UK: Thousands march in student protest over fees
The police were out in force as thousands of students marched through central London last week. Some 4,000 officers were on duty, as demonstrators marched peacefully in a protest against higher tuition fees and ‘privatisation’ in universities, reports the BBC.
More on the University World News site

KENYA: Public universities’ strike starts to bite
Learning and examinations in public universities were disrupted as a strike called by three university staff unions started biting. As the strike kicked off, the government defended itself against accusations that it had ignored the matter for far too long, reports The Standard.
More on the University World News site

CHINA: Top scholars share open courses online
China now has its version of Harvard open courses. Twenty courses provided by 18 top Chinese universities went online last Wednesday, China’s latest attempt to disseminate teaching resources within the nation and promote Chinese culture globally, writes Chen Jia for China Daily.
More on the University World News site

INDIA: Red tape tangles US universities’ entry
The United States has cited Indian bureaucracy and uncertainty over the Foreign Education Providers Bill as two major bottlenecks for setting up campuses of its foreign universities in India, writes Chetan Chauhan for the Hindustan Times.
More on the University World News site

INDIA: Scottish university opens maiden campus
In a move aimed at boosting India-Scotland relations in the field of education, Scotland's Education Minister Michael Russell inaugurated the first campus of a Scottish university in Noida on the outskirts of Delhi last Wednesday, reports The Economic Times.
More on the University World News site

MIDDLE EAST: Focus turns to higher education
Recent upheavals in the Middle East and North Africa can be traced largely to the region’s youth – millions of young people facing widespread unemployment and seeing a dearth of opportunities ahead of them. Now, academics are seeking to focus on the role that higher education can play to address their concerns, and the crucial steps that officials need to take to achieve this, like engaging with institutions outside the region, standardising curricula and finding alternative sources of financing, writes Sara Hamdan for The New York Times.
More on the University World News site

UK: Value of degrees to be revealed for first time
Official work force surveys are to quiz respondents about which universities they attended, revealing which institutions are most and least successful at producing graduates who go on to certain careers, writes Julie Henry for The Telegraph.
More on the University World News site

UK: Universities launch tuition fees price war
The career plans of thousands of students have been thrown into confusion after it emerged that one in five universities is seeking to reduce its fees, with only weeks to go before the application deadline, writes Richard Garner for The Independent.
More on the University World News site

WALES: Lower-fee universities may get more students
Universities in Wales that are prepared to lower their tuition fees could be allowed to bid for extra students under proposals being considered by the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, writes Gareth Evans for Western Mail.
More on the University World News site

CYPRUS: Private universities told to lower fees
The government of Cyprus has told private universities to return tuition fees to last year's levels or else risk severe sanctions, writes Elias Hazou for Cyprus Mail.
More on the University World News site

AUSTRALIA: University applications on the rise
Applications for university places next year are on the rise as universities compete to attract a wider range of students, while those already enrolled stay for longer and complete their courses at a greater rate, writes Jen Rosenberg for The Sydney Morning Herald.
More on the University World News site

GHANA: Universities to benefit from $10m ESRI support
Ghanaian universities have been selected among 100 across Africa to benefit from US$10 million assistance from the Environmental Systems Research Institute, the world’s leading Geographic Information Systems developer, reports Ghana Business News.
More on the University World News site

SWAZILAND-CHINA: Universities sign pact
Five universities from Taiwan have signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of Swaziland, writes Welcome Dlamini for the Times of Swaziland.
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GLOBAL: ‘Big Bang Theory’ fuels physics boom
The Big Bang Theory, a California-based comedy that follows two young physicists, is being credited with consolidating the growing appetite among teenagers for the once unfashionable subject of physics. Documentaries by Brian Cox have previously been mentioned as galvanising interest in the subject, writes Mark Townsend for The Observer.
More on the University World News site

US: Penn State child abuse case holds bigger lessons
The child s ex abuse scandal that has rocked Pennsylvania State University is, say college and university officials far from the institution, not only a cautionary tale but also a very big teachable moment, writes Ron Scherer for The Christian Science Monitor.
More on the University World News site

CANADA: University defends right to censure students
The Charter of Rights and Freedoms should not apply to a university's decision to discipline students, a Canadian court heard last week. The University of Calgary is at the Alberta Court of Appeal, attempting to overturn a lower court decision that found the school infringed upon the freedom of expression of twin brothers Keith and Steven Pridgen when it sanctioned them for criticising their professor on Facebook, writes Daryl Slade for Postmedia News.
More on the University World News site

US: Disingenuous data may be part of bigger problem
Iona College acknowledged last week that its former provost had, for nearly a decade, manipulated and misreported student-related data to government officials, accrediting bodies, bond rating agencies and others, writes Doug Lederman for Inside Higher Ed. As the new president of the New York Roman Catholic college described the steps it had taken to prevent such individual unethical behaviour in the future, some observers in higher education said they believed the case indicated the existence of a larger problem.
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UK: Oxford denies sponsor has hold over chair
A University of Oxford job advert apparently requiring its L'Oréal professor of marketing to carry out work for the global cosmetics giant was “unfortunately phrased”, the university has said amid concerns over academic freedom, writes John Morgan for Times Higher Education.
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UK: University of Warwick joins New York consortium
The University of Warwick has joined a global consortium led by New York University to set up a new applied sciences and engineering campus in the American city. The bid, which is currently being considered by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, is the latest attempt by the region to strengthen its links with the US, writes Kat Keogh for the Birmingham Post.
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