World Education News and Reviews

September 2011

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Regional News

Africa

Ethiopia

Addis Ababa University to Spearhead Faculty Training

In a bid to address low tertiary enrollment rates (less than 2 percent), the Ethiopian government is developing plans to increase student numbers and, perhaps more importantly, qualified academic staff. Enrollment capacity is being increased by creating new public universities, from nine in 2004 to 22 in 2009, with 10 additional ones under construction. However, the faculty question is a little more thorny.

It is estimated that Ethiopia needs 3,000 PhDs to work as faculty at the public universities. The oldest university, Addis Ababa University (AAU), has not produced sufficient master’s and PhD graduates even for its own requirements. Recruiting foreign faculty has been difficult because of the meager local salaries, while expensive programs to train students overseas have largely failed as students have not returned.

The new plan, therefore, is to train graduates domestically. And AAU is the cornerstone of that plan with initiatives underway to convert the university from a primarily undergraduate institution to a graduate and research university, producing 4-5,000 PhDs over the decade 2009-18. As AAU has no capacity to embark on such a massive undertaking, international cooperation has been sought. Visiting professors come to teach graduate students and also supervise PhD students. Qualified local faculty take the responsibility of overseeing groups of up to eight or 10 graduate students in their respective field. To ensure that the PhD research topics address the priority development needs of the country, all the programs have to be in identified multi- and inter-disciplinary thematic areas.

The government has allocated significant funding to AAU, while a number of partners and donors, notably the Swedish Sida and the World Bank, have also given large grants. Initial results look encouraging. From relatively insignificant numbers only a few years ago, 2010/11 enrollments are over 9,500 for master’s and nearly 1,300 at the doctoral level. There are of course risks inherent in such a scale up of graduate education. These include lack of funds, shortage of experienced local faculty to supervise PhD candidates and uncertainty of the supply of visiting professors and distant PhD supervisors, all of which could jeopardize the quality of the graduate programs.

- InsideHigherEd
August 17, 2011

Quality Assurance Agency Closes 5 Private Colleges

The Higher Education Relevance and Quality Agency (HERQA) announced in September that it had banned five private higher education institutions from operating because they did not meet HERQA quality standards.

The agency also said it had given another 13 private colleges one year to improve their standards or face closure. General Director of HERQA, Dr Tesfaye Teshome, said that the five banned private institutions would not be allowed to continue as education centers. He also explained that private institutions of higher education are graded on a three-point scale from A to C. Schools graded with a C are considered to have a ‘visible shortfall,’ while those with an A grade are considered to have met all minimum quality standards.

According to Tesfaye, 57 institutions have been graded Level A and 13 institutions are categorized Level B. The Level C grade is subdivided into two categories (C1 and C2). A Level C1 classification indicates that despite the existence of visible shortfalls in some key areas, institutions are of sufficient quality to be given the chance to demonstrate improvement over a set period while also staying operational. Level C2 is essentially a failing grade resulting in a school’s closure.

The five colleges that received a C2 grade are Hayome College of Health Science (Ambo), Nile College (Mekelle), Aleph College of Health (Awassa), Orbit Information Technology College (Addis Ababa), Beklo Bet Campus, and Fura College (Yirgalem).

- Ezega
September 7, 2011

Ghana

Government Looks to Private sector to Relieve Demand on Public Universities

The Ghanaian government is considering more private involvement in the provision of tertiary education as the public sector continues to suffer from a funding squeeze due to huge demand on the national budget and pressure from increasing student enrollments.

Education Minister Betty Mould-Iddrisu said in August at a national dialog on sustainable funding for the tertiary sector that high demand for tertiary education in recent years had in most cases outstripped supply in physical infrastructure, constraining capacity in institutions and placing pressure on public resources.

The minister said a draft bill was being considered by parliament, and a concept paper for re-positioning polytechnic education was "receiving serious attention." On the government's move to increase private sector participation in tertiary education, the minister said there were currently about 55 accredited tertiary institutions in Ghana.

"The evidence is that while some of the private institutions have succeeded in introducing innovations in course design and delivery in response to challenges in the labor market, others have given cause for worry about the quality of education they provide."

She said the involvement of the private sector had also generated other issues, such as whether the government should subsidize private tertiary education and what form that should take.

- University World News
August 28, 2011

Microsoft Engineer Sees Vision for IT University Come to Fruition

Ashesi University in Ghana started classes in information technology a decade ago, and now the university, which was the brainchild of a Microsoft engineer, finally has its own campus. The university is moving from rented space in the capital city of Accra to a 100-acre suburban campus, which formally opened at the end of August.

A contingent of supporters from the United States, many with Microsoft ties, was expected to join ambassadors, Ghanaian officials and village chiefs for the opening. Several said the campus is much more than a collection of new buildings for the school. It represents the vision and commitment of Patrick Awuah, who left the security of a job writing software in Redmond to pursue his dream of building a university in his homeland.

Awuah’s goal when he left for Ghana in 1997 was to offer Ivy League-standard education in Africa, to create ethical, broadminded leaders who would go on to elevate the continent. Ashesi began offering classes in 2002, and enrollment has grown from 30 to about 500. Current capacity will eventually be for 2,000 students. Most graduates have stayed in Africa and all have jobs in fields such as finance, technology and education.

- Seattle Times
August 21, 2011

Kenya

Universities Seek Private Funding as Government Looks to Reduce Admissions Backlog

Kenyan universities are being required to enroll more students as the government tries to ease a backlog of qualified students waiting to enroll at university. As a result these cash-strapped public institutions are increasingly seeking private investors to build new academic and residential facilities.

State-run universities will have to accommodate an extra 40,000 students over the next four years to clear a two-year backlog by 2015. To achieve this, the Joint Admissions Board (JAB) is planning to admit one in three rather than one in four qualified school-leavers, and also to initiate a double intake of students this year.

In August, Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, Kenya's newest public university, invited investors to build hostels on its campuses to ease congestion in facilities as student numbers soar. The institution is short of accommodation for 7,000 students, according to officials.

While the government has promised extra funds to help with its plan to ease the admissions backlog, it has not matched the need for new facilities, meaning institutions have to tap funds from other sources like private investors to expand their infrastructure.

Last year Kenyatta University, the second biggest university by student numbers, said it was seeking US$11 million to help in building academic and residential facilities. The investors are required to build and operate the facilities for between eight and 12 years before transferring ownership to the institution. During this period, they are expected to recoup their investment.

Higher education enrollments have been rising by around 40 percent annually for the past five years, while real subsidies have increased by 4 percent to 5 percent over the same period. According to government figures, the number of students in public universities was 143,000 last year, up from 101,000 the previous year.

In 2015 the first cohort of beneficiaries of free primary education will enter university. The Education for All plan, started in 2003, has resulted in increased enrollments in the school sector of more than 1.5 million, meaning many more students will be looking for tertiary opportunities in just a few years.

- University World News
August 21, 2011

Malawi

University Campuses Closed Since April

Students in Malawi have not been able to attend college since April, and dialog efforts launched in June have so far failed to yield results. In an attempt to force authorities to reopen schools, students have been holding a vigil, which is the latest twist in the academic freedom saga that started in February and continues in what many report to be an increasingly autocratic climate.

The problems began in February when a police inspector quizzed a political science lecturer over remarks made during a lecture. The academic had drawn parallels between revolts in North Africa and the Arab world, and problems in Malawi. University staff staged protests, claiming academic freedom was under threat.

Lecturers, who have also accused the authorities of planting spies in lecture rooms, have since continued to demand academic freedoms, while President Wa Mutharika has accused academics of attempting to topple his government.

Talks to restart studies and teaching have so far amounted to nothing, while it was reported in July that 19 people were killed in violent demonstrations related to the closures.  

- University World News
August 28, 2011

Mauritius

Plans Announced to Create New Universities

The government of Mauritius has announced plans to create new universities in the coming years as part of its ambition to transform the island into a regional knowledge hub. The country aims to attract 100,000 foreign students by 2020, and campaigns are now being conducted in India and Tanzania to promote the island as a tertiary education destination.

Pans announced by the government, additional to the creation of new universities, include attracting respected foreign institutions of higher education to Mauritius through the provision of incentives and through bilateral and multilateral mutual recognition agreements. The government will also invest in the physical expansion of existing institutions and the setting up of new campus universitaires in different parts of the country.

Another recommendation is for the creation of a medical university. This project, says the local authority, will enable Mauritian students to complete their study on the island, as an increasing number cannot afford to study in European and Australian universities.

Admission to local universities has soared by 10 percent annually in the last nine years, and the tertiary participation rate for 18-24-year-olds is now estimated to be nearing 40 percent. Mauritius has a population of around 1.3 million people and scores highest in Africa on the United Nations Human Development Index.

- University World News
September 4, 2011

Rwanda

Carnegie Mellon to Open Rwanda Campus

Carnegie Mellon University plans to become one of just a few U.S. colleges offering degree programs in Africa next year with the launch of its Rwanda branch campus.

The Pittsburgh-based university is receiving $95 million over 10 years from the Rwandan government to operate the program, which will initially offer master's degrees in information technology and in electrical and computer engineering. The African Development Fund is also supporting the project with $13 million in funding.

An initial enrollment of 40 students at temporary premises is expected for 2012, with a goal of 150 students by 2017 on a 30- to 40-acre campus that is being built on the outskirts of Kigali, Rwanda's capital. When completed, the campus will be the first branch campus of a U.S. university in Africa.

The university will recruit from East Africa and beyond, but give preference to Rwandans. The Rwandan government will offer scholarships for its citizens to cover the program's fees and costs. The university has said that it may eventually add Ph.D. programs, but has no plans to enroll undergraduates.

For Carnegie Mellon, the Africa campus is part of a growing global network. It has established programs in Australia, Japan, Mexico, and Portugal, and runs an undergraduate branch campus in Doha, Qatar.

- Carnegie Mellon Press Release
September 14, 2011

Americas


Latin American Countries Send Their Students Overseas

The Brazilian government announced this year that it plans to award 75,000 scholarships by 2014 to students wishing to study abroad. The program, Science Without Borders, is the grandest so far of a series of scholarship initiatives that have recently been announced by governments across the region.

Most Latin American students on these new scholarship programs are heading to the United States to study (although their numbers still lag way behind students from Asia). In addition to Brazil, nations such as Chile and El Salvador have offered or are planning to offer new incentives to get their students into foreign programs. El Salvador, for example, created a vice ministry of science and technology in 2009, which is distributing 35 scholarships a year for students to study abroad, and it is planning to add another 150 to that number over the next three years. The additional places are for students pursuing subjects important to the country, such as environment and health.

Ecuador in August announced its most ambitious scholarship program yet, with the aim of sending more than 1,000 students abroad, while Colombia will send more people overseas in 2011 than in the 18 previous years combined. And Chile plans to offer 30,000 scholarships by 2018 through a program called Becas Chile.

Like in many other national scholarship programs, those who win Becas Chile scholarships sign a contract agreeing to return home after completing their studies and work for "the good of the country."

The key factor making this all possible is that many Latin American governments currently have large reserves of foreign currency thanks to the worldwide demand for commodities like copper, iron ore, soy beans, and sugar.

- The Chronicle of Higher Education
August 9, 2011

Caribbean

DeVry Expands Caribbean Medical School Portfolio with Purchase

DeVry Inc. in August announced its purchase of the American University of the Caribbean, which runs a medical school in St. Maarten. DeVry already owns the Ross University School of Medicine, in Dominica.

Medical schools in the Caribbean are somewhat controversial in that they cater largely to American students who have failed to earn places at campuses in the United States. Some question the standards at these medical schools, especially in light of the number of institutions that have proliferated in recent years. However, most schools do offer legitimate pathways to licensure through the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) and the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) certification process.

For more on Caribbean medical schools, please see recent WENR articles here and here.

- DeVry News Release
August 4, 2011

Brazil

Number of Brazilian Students Abroad Increases

The number of Brazilian students studying abroad rose by a substantial 14 percent between 2007 and 2008, according to data released by the OECD in August.

That number is expected to rise further as the Brazilian government recently announced that it will grant 75,000 scholarships to Brazilian students who wish to study abroad. The main destination countries of Brazilian students studying abroad are the United States, France, Portugal, Spain, and Germany. The Brazilian private sector is being encouraged to fund an additional 25,000 scholarships.

- OECD
August 2011

Canada

Ontario University Admissions Hit All-Time High

In 2003, Ontario universities welcomed a double cohort of high school graduates - from Grade 12 and the last year of Grade 13 - for a record of 88,118 new enrollments. This year, that record was broken with 90,029 enrollments from just a single cohort of graduating high school students, revealing how quickly demand for university studies has risen in Canada’s most populous province.

Enrollment in Ontario has gone up every year since 2004, according to data from the Council of Ontario Universities. The council suggests that an increase in the demand from the workforce has been the driving force behind the growth. Ottawa's two universities say job-focused programs, such as science and engineering and business programs in particular, are growing in popularity.

- Ottawa Citizen
August 30, 2011

Concerns Over Foreign Students' Cheating

An increasing number of Canadian universities are concerned that foreign students are violating standards of academic integrity more often than are their domestic peers, according to a recent article in The Globe and Mail.

Canada has increasingly become a destination of choice for international students, who occasionally struggle with studying in English, adapting to a new academic culture, and acknowledging plagiarism. Most universities do not track offenders by country of origin, but anecdotally the institutions say they are seeing a disproportionate number of foreign students with such problems.

For example, the University of Windsor, which began tracking offenders by country of origin in 2008, has found the percentage of foreign students running afoul of rules is three times higher than that of Canadian students. Overall, however, the number of foreign students at the university breaking the rules has decreased in the past three years.

- Globe and Mail
September 2, 2011

Chile

Despite Protests, Government to Stick to Reform Plan

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera said in late August that he plans to retain a mix of state- and privately-owned educational institutions, arguing it gives students and their families more schooling options.

Responding to three months of student protests, Pinera said he wants to guarantee scholarships for poorer students and doesn’t believe in state-funded free education for all.

“We don’t believe in nationalizing or a state monopoly in education,” the Harvard University-trained economist and billionaire investor said in a speech in Santiago last night. Student leaders have been pushing for tuition-free schooling and banning profits in the industry.

- Bloomberg
September 1, 2011

Colombia

Lecturers and Students Protest Higher Education Reform Plans

Thousands of lecturers and students protested on the streets of several of Colombia's major cities in early September to reject a proposal by the government of President Juan Manuel Santos to reform higher education.

In the capital Bogota, some 7,000 protesters took to the streets, while in Medellin some 1,000 teachers and students were protesting. The government proposed reforms to Law 30, stating that they would increase financial resources for universities to open spaces for additional students, improve the salaries of professors and be more competitive in research.

But National University professor and member of the Association of the Union of University Professors, Juan Sanchez, told Colombia Reports that passing the reforms would hurt the quality of higher education.

"There are many consequences. For one, the drop-out rate will increase. Job security for professors will be more precarious. Private companies will have little incentive to promote research in universities. And lastly, students will have to pay for many services and the cost of education will be prohibitively high," said the scholar.

Following previous resistance, the government recently announced the retraction of the for-profit component of the reforms, but students remain outraged at the “attack” on public education.

- Colombia Reports
September 7, 2011

United States

US Costliest Destination for International Students

A study on fees charged to overseas students has found that the United States is the most expensive of 10 nations surveyed, followed by Australia and the United Kingdom.

The study was conducted by consultancy firm i-graduate for the UK HE International and Europe Unit (IEU). It examined fees for undergraduate, graduate taught and graduate research programs at universities in 10 key international student destinations, taking a sampling of four subject areas at four to six institutions in each country.

The United States had the highest fees, with programs costing more at New York University (£24,758 (US$39,612) a year for undergraduate history) and at the University of Southern California (£24,945 – US$ 39,912) than at Harvard University (£21,604 - $34,560).

Fees at Australian universities were higher than those in the United Kingdom, even at institutions ranked lower than their UK counterparts, says the report, International Pricing Study: A Snapshot of UK and Key Competitor Country International Student Fees. Overseas fees for an undergraduate history degree at the University of Sydney were £16,474 (US$26,358) a year, while at the University of Oxford, an equivalent program cost £12,700 (US$20,320).

Fees were lowest in Germany, starting at £509 ($814) a year for undergraduate study at the University of Frankfurt. Germany and the Netherlands were the only nations surveyed that offer public subsidies for overseas students' tuition fees.

- Times Higher Education
August 4, 2011

Business Schools Increasingly Accepting GRE for Admissions

An increasing number of business schools are accepting the GRE test, traditionally used by graduate-school applicants in the social sciences and humanities, as those schools aim to attract less traditional applicants.

Since April, more than 100 business schools have said they will accept applications with GRE—Graduate Record Examination—scores. In the past, business schools have only accepted the Graduate Management Admission Test, or GMAT, which looks more at reading comprehension and reasoning. The GRE has a stronger focus on vocabulary and straightforward quantitative skills.

Top business schools started accepting GRE scores in 2006, led by Stanford University's Graduate School of Business. Today more than 600 business schools worldwide accept GRE scores in addition to the GMAT. It is a small but growing share of the approximately 13,000 business degree-granting institutions worldwide.

- Wall Street Journal
August 4, 2011

College Pathways Programs Build a Bridge for Foreign Students

Pathway programs are a relatively new educational concept, combining intensive language instruction and extensive support services with a typical first-year curriculum for international students who meet the university's academic standards but struggle with English proficiency. These new preparatory programs attracted controversy when North American universities began offering them several years ago, largely because of the involvement of for-profit companies in developing and running many of the courses.

But now the programs, which number at least 15 in the United States and Canada, are beginning to earn some respect because of their academic outcomes: Although results are preliminary, initial pathways graduates—who typically move into the second year of university study after completing a year of coursework—have performed on par with, or better than, domestic and foreign students who earned direct admission.

Officials at Oregon State University, which runs its program with a British company, Into University Partnerships, say they are more than pleased with the outcomes of their pathways students. The first group to matriculate into the university last fall earned higher grades that semester, with an average of 2.78, than American or other international sophomores did.

Detractors of such programs tend to be troubled by the involvement of for-profit companies in what they see as core educational functions, pointing to a tendency to perhaps dumb down the curricula. Those in favor concede that they are difficult to get right: They work only for students with moderate English deficiencies, not severe deficits. They are complex to set up and run. And they require collaboration between academic departments and English-language specialists and, often, between universities and the private sector.

Done well, however, the programs can attract a whole new crop of fee-paying international students without diluting academic quality, advocates say.

- The Chronicle of Higher Education
August 7, 2011

Offers of Graduate Admissions to International Students Increase Sharply

According to the findings of a recently released survey by the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS), offers of admission from U.S. graduate schools to prospective international students increased 11 percent from 2010 to 2011. The gain is the largest increase in offers of admission since 2006.

The growth was fueled largely by a 23 percent increase in offers of admission to prospective students from China. The 23 percent increase is the sixth consecutive year of double digit gains in offers of admission. There was also a 16 percent increase in offers of admission to students from the Middle East and Turkey, and an 8 percent increase in offers of admission to students from India, the first gain since 2007. Offers of admission to Indian students fell 5 percent in 2010 and 14 percent in 2009. The admissions report follows on the heels of news that student-visa applications from India were up 20 percent in the 2011 fiscal year compared to 2010, according to figures from the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi.

The report, which is based on responses to a survey sent to 494 universities, also revised upward the growth in overseas applications from initial figures released earlier this year, from 9 percent to 11 percent.

- Council of Graduate Schools
August 16, 2011

State University New York Gets Ready to Recruit

The State University of New York (SUNY) system is launching an initiative this fall to recruit and enroll 14,000 additional international students over the next five years through the use of more than 50 private recruiting companies.

School administrators say the plan will not only generate much-needed revenue, but also boost registration in science, math and engineering programs, which enroll relatively few American students.

During New York State’s ongoing budget crisis, SUNY has undergone several rounds of cutbacks, amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars. To replace that once-reliable source of money, administrations see overseas students as an integral part of a financial solution, although they have been quick to point out that they recruit largely into programs that have capacity to absorb additional students.

“The unfortunate reality is that Americans are not enrolling in anywhere near large enough numbers in our STEM fields, [which are] science, technology, engineering and math fields. We need those international students to keep those programs running and healthy," says Mitch Leventhall, SUNY vice chancellor for global affairs. "What we don't want to do is recruit international students in areas where we're going to displace American kids and New York kids. So we'll recruit where we have capacity to absorb additional students."

- NPR (WNED)
September 2, 2011

ASIA-PACIFIC

Australia

China Market Trending Down

New enrollments by students from China fell 1.2 percent in the year to July, according to data from Australia Education International. This follows a tiny decline in new enrollments for the year to June (0.16 percent) and modest growth in the year-to-date bulletins issued in March, April and May.

The trend downwards in new enrollments suggests tougher times ahead for universities reliant on the China trade. Total enrollment figures, which have less to say about the future, remain strong with higher education up 7.3 percent to 94,392 in the year to July. Total enrollments, across all markets and sectors, were down 9.4 percent to 487,704. New enrollments declined by 8 percent. China accounted for 40 percent of higher education enrollments.

Perhaps most worryingly for the Australian university sector, steep declines continued in the English language sector, a key source for university students, with both enrollment and commencements down 16 percent on the year to July. For the China market, student starts in English programs fell 20.4 percent. The corresponding decline for foundation and enabling courses, another early indicator of university enrollments, was 21.4 percent.

- AEI
August 2011

Kaplan Backs Out of Australia Campus in 'University City'

Kaplan, the U.S. for-profit education arm of The Washington Post, has given up on its plans to establish a university in Adelaide, blaming complex regulatory approvals in Australia and the United States. Kaplan announced its plan for a university in Adelaide in September 2009 and had aimed to grow to 5,000 students, including online students, within five years of a 2011 start-up.

The decision is a setback for departing Premier Mike Rann's ambition to make Adelaide a "university city.” Other international endeavors include the successful establishment of University College London. However, growth at US-based Carnegie Mellon has been modest compared with the $20 million in state subsidies it received, while British-based Cranfield University has closed its campus.

Rival US group Laureate International Universities has not given up on its bid to establish a university in the South Australian capital. A regulatory decision on that campus is expected soon. The group is hoping for approval before the end of the year.

Kaplan already has operations in South Australia through its business school, college group Carrick Education. It also has a potential collaboration with the University of Adelaide in the works.

- The Australian
August 26, 2011

China

Chinese Students Abandon Chinese Universities

Time magazine reports that Chinese students are looking for study options outside of China in increasing numbers, in part because they believe the quality of education in places such as the United States, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom is better than at Chinese universities that Time describes as being “hamstrung by an archaic education system in drastic need of reform.”

No longer are China’s top achievers in the national university admissions exam – the Gaokao – exclusively choosing top Chinese schools such as Beijing and Tsinghua universities. Instead they are increasingly looking at overseas options — a trend that has both China's education experts and the general public worrying about the competitiveness of higher education in China.

While 9.3 million Chinese students took the college-entrance exam in 2011, close to 1 million high school graduates did not, and among them, some 200,000 chose to go to foreign universities instead. Today over 100,000 Chinese high school graduates attend college in the United States each fall, and this year at least 17 of the top 100 mainland students chose to go to the University of Hong Kong.

The exodus of the country's brightest high school students has renewed discussions in the media about the ongoing problem of higher-education reform. And so far — in the absence of any clear evidence that reform is actually happening — public opinion of China's universities has become more and more skeptical, if not downright negative, according to Time.

Beijing’s official response to the call for reform is contained in the 10-year blueprint for education reform issued by the State Council last July, with policies like "expanding the universities' administrative authority" being listed — albeit vaguely — among its 70 bullet points.

- Time
August 2, 2011

Expanding Academic Mobility Ties with Southeast Asia

Education ties between China and Southeast Asian countries are on the rise. New figures from the China’s ministry of education show that between 2008 and 2010, the number of students from Association of Southeast Asian Nations studying in China rose from 34,000 to 49,000. In that same time period, the number of Chinese students in Southeast Asia rose from approximately 68,000 to 82,000.

Liu Baoli, deputy director of the Department of International Cooperation and Exchanges at China’s Ministry of Education, noted that 31 Southeast Asian universities have 135 cooperation agreements with some 47 universities in China. Plans for the future include increasing the ability to mutually recognize each countries’ academic credentials.

Bolstering such higher-education ties within the region helps enhance economic ties and fosters cultural understanding, the Xinhua news agency said, pointing out that China aims to become the continent’s top destination for international students by 2020.

- Xinhua
August 18, 2011

Plagiarism Hinders Scientific Progress

Chinese universities are making great advances in science, but are being held back by widespread plagiarism that detracts from the quality of research produced, National Public Radio has reported.

In one example cited, when the Journal of Zhejiang University-Science became the first in China to use software to check for plagiarism, it found that 31 percent of papers had excessive copying. The figure rose to 40 percent for papers in computer science and life science.

However, China's leaders have committed to fighting scientific fraud. And Helen Zhang, the journal editor, says that one year on, plagiarism at her publication has fallen noticeably, to 24 percent of all submissions.

- NPR
August 3, 2011

University Websites Considered Inadequate

More than 76 percent of respondents to a survey in China said that universities don't disclose enough information about themselves. The survey found that many students rely on personal networks for basic information. As a result, many students receive inaccurate or incomplete information, according to an article published by the Xinhua news agency.

Approximately 1,900 people participated in the survey with a majority saying that China's universities need to publish more information about their curriculum, teachers and employment perspectives. Almost 75 percent of the respondents said the universities should provide guidance about study and life on their campuses.

- Xinhua
August 31, 2011

Highly Regarded Shanghai Business School Opens Branch in London

One of China's top business schools, the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business (CKGSB), opened an office in London in September, making it mainland China's first domestic business school to establish an overseas branch, according to the state run Xinhua news agency.

The school will seek to provide customized business programs for European executives who are or will be dealing with business issues related to China and the rest of Asia. It promises to offer corporate clients insights into China's economy and businesses, like how multinational corporations, state-owned enterprises and private companies compete and collaborate in China, East Asia and even in the global market.

CKGSB will also function as a bridge between East and West, it says, providing a platform for business leaders from both parts of the world to meet and compare notes, as well as network in an academic environment.

- Xinhua
September 7, 2011

India

A Single Admissions Test by 2013?

Kapil Sibal, India's minister in charge of higher education, is advocating and pushing for a single exam to replace a system under which students take multiple tests for college admissions.

To expedite his plan of having a single college entry test in place by 2013, Sibal had his ministry of Human Resource Development put together a committee to re-examine the test methodology for selecting students for undergraduate admissions. The committee was scheduled to complete its report by mid-September.

Sibal has been working to overhaul the college admissions system to ‘de-stress’ the admissions process and to distance it from the recent and controversial 100 percent cut-offs fixed by some institutions.

- India Today
July 30, 2011

U.S. Community Colleges Build Ties with India

The U.S. Department of State organized a meeting in collaboration with Washington D.C.-based Montgomery College on community colleges in New Delhi recently. The symposium, along with planned faculty and student exchanges and curriculum-development work between Montgomery and three partner institutions in India, is a key component of a broader project to improve cooperation between colleges in the two countries.

In selecting Montgomery College for the $195,000 pilot project, the State Department picked an institution with experience in India. The college has in the past provided advice on skills training to the government of Haryana, a prosperous state just outside Delhi that is home to many multinational companies and high-tech start-ups.

The State Department-supported effort pairs Montgomery with three Indian educational institutions: one of the country's thousands of Industrial Training Institutes; Guru Gobind Singh Government Polytechnic, which awards three-year diplomas in engineering; and O.P. Jindal Institute of Technology and Skills, started by a wealthy industrialist to meet immediate work-force demands. A delegation of 15 faculty and staff members from Montgomery traveled to India in March, visiting all three institutions.

Business-sector collaboration was a major theme of the two-day symposium, which drew administrators and instructors from all four partner institutions, business leaders, members of India's Parliament, and the U.S. ambassador. The U.S.-India project has focused on biotech, automotive technology, and construction management because the three are heavily in demand in booming India. But the emphasis is also meant to underscore community colleges' roles in preparing graduates for cutting-edge jobs, an important message in a country where the mind-set is very much geared towards university education.

American and Indian delegates will be taking a look at the Montgomery project when they visit Washington in October as part of a long-awaited U.S.-India higher-education summit. While the State Department does not plan to underwrite additional partnerships, the hope is that Montgomery will serve as a model for other such collaborations.

- The Chronicle of Higher Education
August 28, 2011

In Need of 300,000 Faculty Members

India needs an extra 300,000 faculty members at its universities, according to recent numbers provided by a federal government panel appointed in January to study the problem.

“Besides the present shortage, in the coming decade it will increase at the rate of 100,000 faculty a year. This clearly needs massive mobilization of resources and a policy framework to ensure that the growing higher-education system maintains quality standards,” the panel said in a report it submitted to Kapil Sibal, India’s education minister.

The report noted that administrative bureaucracy was a major obstacle in hiring faculty. It added that various incentives should be offered to retain outstanding faculty members. It also proposed a plan to groom young faculty members while they are still completing their degrees.

- Live Mint
August 10, 2011

Japan

University of Tokyo Considers Moving Start of School Year to Fall Semester

The University of Tokyo (Todai), one of the country’s most influential institutions, is considering moving the start of its school year from spring to autumn. As the school has so much influence on Japan's educational community, the discussions have provoked various reactions from other higher education institutions and industry accustomed to "new beginnings" being marked by the cherry blossom season in April.

"By eliminating a major factor that's keeping (Japan) from globalizing, we can achieve a type of system reform," said Todai President Junichi Hamada at a meeting of the Central Education Council's basic educational promotion plan committee on July 21.

When the committee's vice chairman, former Keio University President Yuichiro Anzai, expressed support by saying that it was a great idea he'd like to see Todai achieve, Hamada sought more support from his colleagues: "We'd like to implement it along with other universities."

Nippon Steel Corp Chairman Akio Mimura, who serves as the committee's chairman, gave his seal of approval. "Companies want excellent students, whether it's April or September," he said. "We can easily handle accepting students in the fall."

The school year at universities in Europe and North America generally begin in the fall, and the common belief has been that the half-year difference in the timing of enrollment has been a major obstacle in promoting study abroad.

- The Mainichi Times
August 12, 2011

Malaysia

International Enrollments Top 90,000

Malaysia has the 11th largest enrollment of foreign students among countries that have large international students bodies. Private Higher Education Institutions Deputy Director-general Datin Dr Siti Hamisah Tapsir said in August that Malaysia now enrolls 2 percent of the world’s international student population. By June this year the number of international students in Malaysia exceeded 90,000, she said during a speech. The Higher Education Ministry is targeting 200,000 international students by 2020.

- Bernama
August 18, 2011

Singapore

Government to Cap Foreign Enrollments

In August, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that his government would be creating more places for Singaporeans at local universities in coming years, while also placing a future cap on foreign students.

The announcement is believed to be a reaction to the unhappiness expressed by some, who feel it is no longer “Singaporeans first” when it comes to local universities. And while Mr. Lee stressed that admitting foreign students has not been done at the expense of local students, he said that some 2,000 university places will be added over the next four years – all of which will go to Singaporeans.

Meanwhile, foreign enrollment levels will be capped at where they stand now, which means the proportion of foreign students will eventually shrink. Currently, they make up 18 percent of the overall university intake in the island nation. By 2015, the goal is that universities will take in 14,000 Singaporeans, as well as offer increased numbers of scholarships and bursaries.

- TODAY online
August 15, 2011

South Korea

Government to Vet Institutions Wishing to Enroll Foreign Students

South Korea’s Ministry of Education, Science and Technology is concerned that some colleges and universities are recruiting foreign students for purely financial reasons. In response, the ministry said that it will begin inspecting educational providers – both domestic and foreign – that enroll overseas undergraduates.

The inspections, which will start this fall, will examine whether the institutions have adequate facilities to serve international students and cultural programs that bring Koreans and foreigners together. Ministry officials said they worry that a few colleges are tainting the international image of the country’s higher-education system. They said that as many as 15 percent of the worst-performing universities will be forced to close or merge if they do not meet strict criteria under the new assessments of all Korean institutions due to begin in September.

The announcement comes at a time when Korean universities are making big efforts to increase overseas enrollments with the help of government initiatives. Universities certified to accommodate international students will be eligible to offer Global Korea Scholarships, a government funded program that provides financial support to foreign students. Certified schools will also receive priority consideration for job fairs.

- Korea Herald
August 15, 2011

43 Private Institutions Lose State Subsidies Because of Poor Standards

South Korea's Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has withdrawn state subsidies from 43 private universities, colleges and vocational institutions, after they were assessed as being poorly run. The move comes as part of the government's attempts to restructure and improve the higher education sector.

Together the 43 institutions received a total of 130 billion won (US$121.3 million) in state funding last year. These funds will now be channelled to the 85 percent of institutions that met the government's criteria.

"Our principle is simple - competitive institutions will receive more support, but there will be less support for under-performing institutions," said Hong Seung-yong, chair of the ministry's higher education restructuring panel.

The move is in advance of a major restructuring of the higher education sector so that the government can use funds to reduce soaring tuition fee levels, which caused huge protests in May and June. The 'name and shame' announcement came after an evaluation of the 346 private institutions, which make up 80 percent of the country's higher education colleges and universities. The main criteria for assessing performance were the employment rate of recent graduates, the student retention rate and the quality of faculty.

The evaluation began in July, and the ministry said it was now in the final stages of drawing up a list of 'poorly managed' public universities. It revealed that at least six state-run institutions would also be subject to restructuring.

- University World News
September 11, 2011

Sri Lanka

Government Plans to Attract Foreign Universities

The Sri Lankan government is seeking to attract foreign universities to the country under an initiative to expand access to tertiary education. According to a recent article in Lanka Business Online, the country is on track to meet that goal with the Bangkok-based Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) expected to set up a campus in Hambantota in southern Sri Lanka, according to Higher Education Ministry Secretary Sunil Jayantha Navaratne, while India's Manipal University is to set up a campus near Negombo, north of Sri Lanka's capital Colombo.

Australian Technical and Management College (ATMC), an institute that works as an education delivery service for the University of Ballarat in Australia said it was also in talks to set up a fully-fledged campus.

The government is offering land and tax breaks for recognized and accredited international institutions of higher education. Navaratne said the government was in advanced talks with about 10 institutes and relevant legislation was in the final stages of being drafted.

- Lanka Business Online
August 17, 2011

Six universities to Receive Additional Funding to Boost Rankings

Sri Lanka's Higher Education Ministry announced recently that it would be launching a program to upgrade six local universities by allocating just under US$1 million to each university. Funds are to be used to upgrade teaching, research and infrastructure to 'international' levels within the next few years. The universities to be upgraded are Colombo, Peradeniya, Moratuwa, Kelaniya, Ruhuna and Sri Jayewardenepura.

The government has expressed that it would like to see them rank among the top 1,000 universities in the world, as part of Sri Lanka's aim to become a knowledge hub for Asia. Three more universities - Rajarata, Jaffna and Eastern - have been mentioned for increased government investment in a second phase of upgrades in the future.

- Daily News
September 2, 2011

Taiwan

President Okays New 12-year Compulsory Education Plan

Students in Taiwan will enjoy a higher standard of education under the government’s 12-year compulsory education plan, which President Ma Ying-jeou signed off on in August.

Taiwan will extend compulsory education from nine to 12 years starting in 2014 in an effort to improve national competitiveness, according to the Ministry of Education. The plan will see students receive tuition-free education for their 12 years at secondary school.

Special admission to nationally competitive programs will be reserved for 25 percent of junior high graduates, with the remaining 75 percent enjoying exam-free admission in 15 school districts around the country. The ministry is currently drafting a senior high school education bill and amendments to the Junior College Law to provide legal foundation for the plan, according to officials.

- Taiwan Today
August 10, 2011

Academics Express Concern Over Brain Drain

A group of Taiwanese academics, artists, journalists, and business leaders are warning that Taiwan is losing its ability to keep top talent due to outdated laws and government bureaucracy.

In a joint statement published in August, they say the island nation “may see its competitive edge in industry and academe decline gradually,” if the government doesn’t take steps to ameliorate conditions for academics and researchers. For example, the statement says rules that limit how much education and research institutions can pay staff members should be revised because China, Hong Kong, and Singapore are able to offer larger salaries.

Despite such concerns, Taiwan has started to do more to recruit students from abroad. In April, it announced a plan to bring in 100,000 foreign students in five years and this year it is allowing students from mainland China to enroll in full-degree programs, the first time in 60 years.

- Agence France Presse
August 15, 2011

Vietnam

Developing a World Class University

Vietnam has emerged in recent years as a low-cost manufacturing center able to compete with China, it’s huge neighbor to the north, for contracts from the world’s biggest manufacturers. However, to continue competing and moving up the value chain, the country needs the requisite pool of skilled workers and innovative thinkers. To achieve this, it must improve its centers of learning.

The new University of Science and Technology Hanoi (USTH) is being developed to help push Vietnamese research and innovation to ‘world class’ levels. To support that goal, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in May announced a huge loan of US$190 million for USTH, as requested by the Vietnamese government.

A consortium of French universities has designed the new institution’s curriculum, which will be taught by professors from France until the university can attract or train top Vietnamese academics. Teaching will be in English and French, however USTH is not an international branch campus but a Vietnamese public university that intends to provide international standards of teaching and research. Degrees will be accredited jointly by a French university and USTH.

One major roadblock currently facing the institution is autonomy, of which Vietnamese institutions typically have a very limited amount. Enrollments are controlled, tuition fees are capped, and the ministry of education makes most decisions including those related to hiring and budgeting. According to a recent article in University World News, the Vietnamese government is having a hard time coming to terms with the concept of a public university autonomous of the government.

However, the ADB loan agreement to build the USTH campus to house 5,000 students and researchers, which will be completed in the next five to six years, includes clauses on academic freedom and institutional autonomy. The hope being that the new university will be a model for the manner in which ‘world class’ research universities operate.

- University World News
August 28, 2011

Europe


Using Social Media to Increase International Enrollments

The global explosion in access to the internet has had a transformative effect on the way internationally mobile students – currently 3.5 million strong – educate themselves about study opportunities abroad, according to a four-year global research project by the British Council's Education Intelligence Unit.

According to research manager Elizabeth Shepherd, "the evidence shows institutions that want to attract the best quality students must make information accessible in the easiest possible way and that means going the extra mile online."

The report, Online Marketing to a Global student Audience, states that, "there is no question that the online presentation of information on a branded website with added interactive features that often include multi-language translations, video content and downloadable documents, instantly accessible and at minimal cost, is the first point of call in a student's decision-making process.”

However Ms Shepherd states that many universities in major destination markets still look at their online presence, especially social-media, as add-ons, to complete after day jobs are done. “But social media is now a day job,” she says.

As to institutions that are getting it right she nominates the University of Auckland, for “a great online presence, mainly targeting China. They use a lot of rich media content with YouTube videos, blogs and chat functions and provide translations.”

The British Council report looked at 17,000 responses of students in 13 countries, deemed to be either “major players,” like China or India, or “new markets,” like Bangladesh and Nepal. It found that universities’ websites are the single most important source of information for students. But the report warns that as access increases, country-specific strategies shaped by local consumption patterns will become ever more essential in attracting prospective student interest. This means universities, for example, must invest in multi-lingual websites with country-specific information.

For social networking Facebook is the top choice in all markets, except China where the free instant messaging service QQ Tencent (QQ  to users) has 636 million accounts. The report warns against underestimating the importance of social media in China because Facebook is not dominant. China has “one of the most complex and developed social media landscapes in the world with a totally unique online culture that takes specialised understanding,” the report argues. And South Korea, which Facebook is targeting for growth, already has well-developed domestic social media sites.

But online resources have not replaced personal contact in the final decision phase. While web sites start the process, in the end, the report concludes, prospective students take advice face to face from people they trust and university staff or agents they can ask questions of face to face. The report concludes that buying a university course online is a leap of faith prospective students will not make.

- The Australian
August 12, 2011

Germany

Growth in Academic Mobility Into and Out of Germany

According to a recent survey by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the statistics agency HIS, Germany is sending more students abroad to study than other Western European countries while the number of international students in Germany is also on the increase.

In 2008, more than 100,000 Germans were studying abroad, a total greater than any other Western European nation. According to researchers at the HIS-Institut für Hochschulforschung, which specializes in higher education statistics, popular destinations for German masters students are universities in the United Kingdom in particular, but also Austria, France, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

As a study destination, Germany is also improving. In the 2010 academic year, 181,000 international students enrolled at a German institution of higher education, representing nearly 10 percent of the German student body. The biggest source countries were China, Russia, Poland and Bulgaria.

- University World News
August 7, 2011

A Positive Academic Reputation Among International Students

According to recent polling done by the university consortium GATE-Germany, a joint initiative of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the German Rectors' Conference, the national education system enjoys a reputation as being world class, with relatively low tuition fees, while the country is perceived as offering a high level of personal safety.

These were the findings of two recent surveys commissioned by the Gate-Germany consortium. The International Student Barometer is the largest annual survey on student mobility worldwide. In 2010, almost 160,000 international students were polled, including approximately 17,000 international students at 46 German universities. The 2010 exercise was the second annual survey; a third is to be launched this fall.

The Student Barometer results have been supplemented by a second survey, the Student Pulse, which polled 14,000 students and graduates who are either not yet studying at a German university or have opted for a different country to study in. Asked about their views of Germany, 94 percent rated the reputation of German academic degrees as good to very good. Germany ranks fifth in popularity behind the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, and Canada as a potential country of study.

- DAAD News release
August 16, 2011

Wooing Back German Talent

At the University of California at San Francisco in September about 300 German postdoctoral students at top North American universities were gathered by the German government’s top research organizations. The postdocs are among the most promising of the 5,000-plus German scholars with doctorates currently working in the United States.

Among those travelling to California to woo them back home, and to get ideas on how to make German universities better, were 10 university presidents, members of the German parliament, senior government and foundation officials, and representatives of 40-plus academic institutions. Their message was that German higher education is in the midst of a reformation, and that now is the time for young talent to push for more change.

Currently, about 85 percent of German postdocs who work in the United States come home, although only about 50 percent of those who earn their Ph.D.s in the United States do so. Educators organize this gathering every year -- known as GAIN (for German Academic International Network) -- to push those numbers higher, and to prevent any erosion of talent. However, most German postdocs in the United States say they were encouraged to look abroad for positions, and to focus on the United States.

"I tell my students that doing a postdoc in Germany would doom their academic careers," said Jürgen Rühe, vice rector of the University of Freiburg. “It is impossible to get a top university career without an international postdoc. People would look at it as a big minus."

Science today depends on international networks, said Rühe, a polymer scientist who has taught at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of California at Santa Barbara. The postdoc is where those ties can be created. But even as Germany pushes its young talent to cross the Atlantic, it wants round-trip tickets. Germany backs this desire up with money -- with special grants being offered for those researchers who are "re-engaging" with Germany, enough money to outfit laboratories and hire assistants.

- Inside Higher Ed
September 7, 2011

Greece

New Bill Seeks to Reform Higher Education

The Greek Parliament in August passed a broad and controversial bill designed to reform Greece’s university sector, viewed by many as the most dysfunctional and underperforming in Europe. University rectors and students have come out strongly against key provisions of the bill, protesting in Athens as legislators debated, and then occupying more than 80 schools and departments across the country in September.

All of Greece's 24 universities and 16 technical institutes are public, and various attempts at transforming the country's higher-education system over the years have run into strong opposition. Anything seen as a step toward privatization in the higher-education sector has been especially controversial, even when, as is now the case, the government insists it has no intention of opening the door to privatization.

The bill aims at enhancing university autonomy and creating stronger, more accountable institutions that will be more competitive internationally. The effort comes at a time when the country is under international pressure to curb public spending and reduce its huge deficit, so many of the efforts are related to improving efficiency in how and what programs are delivered.

The changes also include a measure that will for the first time link university financing to performance. Greece's national quality-assurance agency will take over many of the functions that the ministry has overseen directly, and will be given new responsibilities, including allocating financing.

Studies will follow a three-cycle Bologna system: three years for undergraduates; a single year for graduate degrees and two years for a PhD. Students will earn credit points (60 for each year) and will be able to transfer them to other departments and institutions. There will be compulsory foreign language programs and fees for graduate studies, foreign students and special programs. Students will be required to complete their studies in the minimum required period plus four additional semesters (two extra years). Students who can prove they are working more than 20 hours a week - as most of them do - will be allowed double this additional time. If they do not complete their studies within this period, or do not register for two continuous exams, they will be struck off the register and lose their student status.

- The Chronicle of Higher Education
August 24, 2011

The Netherlands

International Mobility Trends

The Netherlands Organisation for International Cooperation in Higher Education (Nuffic) published in August its annual dataset on international mobility in higher education: Mapping Mobility 2011.

The report reveals a striking difference between inbound and outbound mobility. The total number of international students in the Netherlands according to Nuffic is currently 81,700; however, there are just 42,500 Dutch students abroad, just 3 percent of the total student body.

The top three source countries of foreign students in the Netherlands are Germany, China and Belgium.

- Nuffic
August 17, 2011

United Kingdom

Government Wants More Specialist Universities

More than a dozen small-scale institutions – often specializing in particular fields such as media, the arts, education or agriculture – could win the right to full university status as soon as next year, according to reports in the British media.

Currently, colleges of higher education must attract at least 4,000 full-time students – at least 3,000 of whom must take degree courses – before becoming eligible for university status. The government is proposing to drop that threshold to just 1,000.

If passed, the plan would likely herald the biggest expansion of universities since more than 60 former polytechnics and higher education colleges were awarded the title by the Conservative Party in the early 1990s. The reforms come as part of wider proposals to create more competition and diversity in English higher education. It follows the publication of alternative plans to grant full degree-awarding powers to private colleges and give students greater access to subsidized grants and loans to take part-time programs.

In all, it is believed the title could be extended to around 14 institutions. Those eligible for the change already have degree awarding powers and carry out Government-funded research.

- The Telegraph
August 4, 2011

Enrollment Declines Expected at Half of English Universities

More than half of English universities are predicting enrollment declines, based largely on the significant increases in tuition this year, according to data from the Higher Education Funding Council for England. Total enrollment is expected to decline by 2 percent.

The report shows 56 universities expect to be teaching fewer undergraduates once tuition fees rise to up to £9,000 per year in fall 2012, while universities across the board expect the number of students from outside the UK and the EU to rise between 3 percent and 6 percent.

- The Guardian
August 4, 2011

Cambridge Again Ranked Best in the World by QS

The University of Cambridge has again been ranked as the best university in the world by QS World University Rankings, an influential player in the increasingly crowded market of international university rankings.

Cambridge was again followed by Harvard University in the ranking and a host of other American institutions, which took more than 50 of the top 200 spots. There were a total of four British institutions in the top 10, but QS’s head of research told the BBC that it was “inevitable” that their future performance would suffer in the face of “financial pressures,” including “cuts to teaching and research budgets.”

In 18th place, ETH Zurich remains the leading university in continental Europe, ahead of the École Normal Supérieur (33rd), the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (35th) and l'Institut des Sciences et Technologies Paris (36th). Australian universities again performed strongly, with all G8 universities in the top 100. The Australian National University (26th) ranked highest, with Melbourne (31st) closing the gap from 18 places to five, while Sydney is placed 38th.

Top universities in Asia are also highly placed with Hong Kong University (22nd) ahead of Tokyo (25th), the National University of Singapore (28th) and Kyoto (32th). In China, Tsinghua (47th) has joined Peking (46) in the top 50.

The rankings include for the first time this year comparative data on tuition rates at universities.

- QS
September 2011

Middle East


Universities from Region Perform Well in New Shanghai Ranking

While the top-ranked institutions in the 2011 Academic Ranking of World Universities remained largely in place, there was a fair degree of shuffling lower down in the tables, with universities from the Middle East faring particularly well.

Hebrew University of Jerusalem moved up to 57 from 72, primarily because a 2010 Fields Medal was awarded to mathematics Professor Elon Lindenstrauss. The Shanghai ranking uses Fields Medals and Nobel Prizes among academics as one proxy for institutional research strength.

The Academic Ranking of World Universities rates more than 1,000 universities worldwide but only publishes the list of the top 500. It uses six indicators: the number of alumni and staff winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals; number of highly cited researchers selected by Thomson Scientific; number of articles published in Nature and Science; number of articles in the Science Citation Index-Expanded and Social Sciences Citation Index; and per capita performance with respect to the size of an institution.

King Saud University in Saudi Arabia appears for the first time in the top 300 institutions, while Saudi Arabia's King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Turkey's Istanbul University and Iran's University of Teheran moved into the top 400. In 2003, there was only one institution from a majority-Muslim country that made the ranking, while this year there were six. Cairo University and Universiti Malaya are also in the top 500.

- Shanghai JiaoTong
August 15, 2011

Jordan

Major University Reforms Announced: Greater University Autonomy, Fewer Places

Under the 2012-2015 Higher Education Action Plan, the Kingdom’s public universities will be given the autonomy to set their own admission criteria, while the overall number of student places is to be cut, in a bid to improve quality standards.

Students will able to submit applications directly to the university, and not through the Unified Admission Committee affiliated with the Ministry of Higher Education as is currently the case. In addition, admissions will be based on more than just grades achieved on the centralized admissions test, or Tawjihi, which is currently the deciding factor for most public universities. Admission will also be supported by pre-admission examinations and interviews.

Some universities have already started implementing this criterion for certain subjects, including veterinary studies. Students wishing to study architectural engineering can apply directly to universities starting in 2012. Autonomy over admissions will be phased in gradually for other disciplines.

The ministry has also stated that it will be reducing the number of students who enter university and redirecting demand to the polytechnic sector. Currently, 90 percent of candidates who are successful on the Tawjihi are enrolled in universities, as is their right. The ministry plans to reduce that number to 60 to 70 percent.

- Jordan Times
August 15, 2011

United Arab Emirates

Middle East, and UAE in Particular, See Huge Growth in International Schools

According to ISC Research, a company which maps the world's international schools, the Middle East was responsible for two-thirds of global growth in international primary and secondary schooling in 2010/11, a year which saw a record number of schools and a record number of enrollments.

The leading cities for international schools are Dubai with 175 schools, Doha with 101 international schools, Bangkok with 100 international schools and Karachi with 99. In Dubai alone, 143,661 students study in international schools taught by 11,453 English-speaking teachers.

Just over 50 percent of schools in the UAE use an English curriculum, with 22 percent following an American-based curriculum, and 19 percent following an international curriculum such as the International Primary Curriculum (IPC).

The growth of international schools in Dubai and the UAE has been significant. In the year 2000 there were 97 international schools in the UAE teaching 77,000 students. By 2009, this had increased to 251 international schools teaching 174,600 students and today there are 357 international schools in the UAE teaching 302,300 children.

- Khaleej Times
September 14, 2011

Consortium of German Universities Helps Launch Logistics College

A German-partnered college designed to meet the region’s growing need for logistics experts was launched in September in Abu Dhabi in collaboration with the Higher Colleges of Technology.

The German-UAE College of Logistics, which is a joint venture between HCT and a consortium of three German Universities, was officially opened in Abu Dhabi in front of an audience that included the German Ambassador to the UAE Mr Frank Newmann, newly selected students, industry experts and college officials.

The three German universities are the Technical University of Applied Sciences, Wildau; the Bremen University of Applied Sciences and the Jade University of Applied Sciences. The College of Logistics will offer a joint German/UAE four-year Bachelor of Engineering (Logistics Management) and also a Masters of Engineering.

- HCT News Release
September 13, 2011

Russia and CIS

Russia

Not Enough Students

Russian universities are facing a shortage of students for state-funded places this year, due to the economic crisis and a demographic crisis that economists predict could lead to the loss of 100,000 university teaching positions by 2020.

Experts at the Russian Higher School of Economics (RHSE), Russia's leading specialist university for the social sciences, predict that more than half of private universities and regional branches of state universities could close over the next nine years. From a total of 484,000 available state-funded places this year, an estimated 7,000 to 10,000 remained unfilled. Analysts believe the student shortfall will be higher next year.

The number of secondary school graduates in Russia has fallen from 1.2 million in 2006 to fewer than 800,000 this year, while the number of state-funded places in Russian universities has remained unchanged.

- University World News
August 28, 2011

Putin Calls for Modernization of Russian Universities

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said in August that Russia needs to not only invest more money in its universities, as it is currently doing, but also to modernize them.

"Now that we've laid the foundation, our next steps should be aimed at modernizing the entire network of higher education institutions in Russia, to make it so that the honorable title of university, academy or institute indeed mean in practice modern quality and ample education, contemporary education," Putin said at a meeting with the heads of Russian universities, as reported by RIA Novosti.

Russia has allocated nine billion rubles (over US$300 million) to improve the educational infrastructure in Russian universities between 2010 and 2012. In addition, higher education budget expenditures have more than doubled since 2005.

"In the next five years some 70 billion rubles ($2.4 billion) will be allocated to support higher education (federal and national research universities)," Putin said, adding that educational institutions taking part in the program should become the driving force in developing whole regions and strategically important industrial sectors.

- RIA Novosti
August 24, 2011

Tajikistan

Government Closes Islamic Schools in the North

Tajik authorities have suspended teaching at four higher education Islamic schools in the northern part of the country, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Students at the four schools were admitted after studying for nine or 11 years at state schools. After a three-year course of study they obtain a bachelor's degree in Islamic theology.

Ostensibly the schools were closed for reasons largely related to insufficient infrastructure, however, some experts said closing madrasahs is a further step in the government's policy to curtail religious activities. They recall that last year authorities brought home hundreds of Tajik students studying at Islamic universities and madrasahs in various countries.

- RFE/RL
August 8, 2011

Tajiks Who Studied Religion Abroad Face Legal Action

Police in southern Tajikistan have opened criminal cases against 22 former students at Islamic universities and religious schools abroad who returned to Tajikistan in the past year, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

In August 2010, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon expressed concern that foreign religious schools were indoctrinating Tajik students with radical Islamist ideology. He urged parents of students studying at foreign madrasahs and universities to bring them home. Since then, officials say some 900 former religious students have returned to the southern Khatlon Province alone.

Local observer Muhammadiqbol Imomiddin told RFE/RL that the authorities opened criminal cases against some of the returned students to warn them and others that they should stay away from religious extremists and banned Islamic groups.

- RFE/RL
August 19, 2011

Turkmenistan

New ‘Spiritual Book’ to Enter School Curriculum

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov will soon release a new "spiritual guidebook" for the country that will replace the long-used "Rukhnama" (Book of the Soul) of his predecessor, RFE/RL's Turkmen Service reports.

RFE/RL sources suggest that the book will either be called "Turkmennama" (Book for Turkmen) or "Adamnama" (Book for Humanity). Those two names were also suggested by Turkmen publicist and writer Tachgeldi Gutliyev in an article published by the state-controlled "Turkmen dili" (Turkmen Language) newspaper in May.

Gutliyev had written about the need for a new guidebook that will be essential for a "new period in Turkmen history" -- since Berdymukhammedov came to power -- which state ideology describes as "an era of Great Renaissance." It follows the "Golden Age" of President Saparmurat Niyazov, who died in December 2006 and was the reputed author of "Rukhnama."

The content of the new guidebook has not been made public and it's not clear when it will be launched. The Rukhnama was made a compulsory part of the curriculum at all levels of the country's educational system and it was expected to be prominently displayed in public places and kept in every home. Though "Rukhnama" is still used in Turkmen primary and secondary schools, state universities and institutes have been allowed in recent years to remove its study from their programs.

- RFE/RL
September 5, 2011

Ukraine

Academics Warm Against University Centralization Plans

Leading academics in Ukaraine are warning that Education Minister Dmytro Tabachnyk's plans to centralize control over the nation’s universities risks dragging Ukraine away from international standards in higher education.

Educators and officials from Kyiv Mohyla Academy and Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, two of the country's leading institutions, said in interviews with the Kiev Post that reducing their independence by introducing greater control over financing and curricula would damage the quality of teaching and research. Experts have also said that such moves contradict the ideals of the Bologna Process, an attempt to align European education systems with an emphasis on university autonomy.

Experts said the Education Ministry is trying to improve quality across the board by taking greater control of the country’s notoriously corrupt universities. This could, however, lead to a situation where “the worst universities might even get better, but the better universities get worse when controlled,” said a top official from one leading university, speaking on condition of anonymity.

A parliament committee in February rejected Tabachnyk's draft legislation for further central control following protests by academics and students. But the minister, seen by many as pro-Russian in his views, appears to be pushing ahead with his plans despite protest.

- Kyiv Post
August 25, 2011

Feature
Emerging Models of Indian-European Higher Education Collaborations

Rahul Choudaha, PhD and Kata Orosz

With more than 100,000 Indian students enrolled in the United States, as compared to 43,000 in Europe1, the country commands strong brand equity among Indian students (earlier article on US-India academic partnerships). However, several recent initiatives show increasing interest from Indian and European institutions in forging partnerships. The European Commission decreed India as one of its strategic partners in scientific research and higher education collaboration and signed a joint declaration on education with India in 2008. One example of this European strategic approach was the launch of the India-EU Study Centres Programme. The program contributed to the establishment of 15 study centers in the two regions; each center facilitates higher education capacity building through its network of partner institutions. In addition to pan-European efforts, bi-lateral agreements with India have also been announced by countries such as Germany, France and the United Kingdom.

At the institutional level, several research and academic initiatives have also been announced. However, Indian higher education is fraught with complexity and challenges along with excitement and opportunities. 

This article looks at emerging models of collaboration between Indian and European higher education institutions. Indian and foreign institutions can learn from these existing models and adapt them according to their needs, priorities and availability of resources. The article is structured around a conceptual framework of collaborations between Indian and European institutions based on the intensity of resources required to forge and sustain the partnerships (see Table 1).

Table 1. Conceptual Framework of Indian-European higher education collaborations

Type of partnership Example

Down Arrow: (H)  Intensity of resources required (L)
Research collaboration Visva Barathi University & Hariot-Watt University (UK): Research on renewable energy systems
Study abroad and academic exchange Bocconi University (Italy) & Indian Institutes of Management (Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Kolkata, Lucknow, Kozhikode): Student exchange programs
Twinning program VIT University (Vellore) & Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences (Germany): M.Sc in Sensor System Technology
Dual degree program SRM University (Chennai) & University of Warwick (UK): B.Tech./M.Sc. in Biotechnology
Joint degree program Indian Institute of Science (Bangalore) & University of Regensburg (Germany): Joint Ph.D. in Chemistry
Branch campus G.D. Goenka World Institute Lancaster University (UK)

Research Collaboration

Research collaboration between Indian and European institutions has often evolved from existing faculty relations (see for example the faculty research profiles at the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee). Since the early 2000s, several country-level efforts were also announced to facilitate scientific research collaboration between India and Europe. In June 2011, the European Union sent a science and technology awareness-raising ‘roadshow’ to India, through which representatives of European research institutes visited 27 Indian research centers, exploring possibilities of scientific research collaboration.

European funds to support transnational collaborative research are distributed through the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) of the European Commission. FP7 funds individual research projects as well as networking platforms such as New INDIGO or the EU-India Window, which seek to match European research organizations with Indian partners. Key fields of Indian-European research collaboration include biotechnology, renewable energy and climate change, communication technology, and nanotechnology.

Some examples of research collaboration between Indian and European universities:

Study Abroad and Academic Exchange

Some European countries use scholarship programs to encourage international students to choose their universities and colleges as study-abroad destinations. Examples include the Chevening Scholarship (U.K.), the Eiffel Scholarship (France) or the DAAD Scholarship (Germany), all of which are open to Indian students. Just recently, Germany announced that it had allocated 12 million EUR (17.2 million USD) in  scholarship funds to attract more Indian students to German universities.

The European Commission promotes the recruitment of Indian students to European universities through Action 2 of the Erasmus Mundus (EM) Programme. A recent study reported that around 1,350 Indian students studied in Europe with the help of EM scholarships in the period 2004-2010 and approximately 30 million EUR (42.5 million USD) was allocated to India-Europe higher education cooperation projects from the EM budget for the period 2007-2013.

In addition to recruiting Indian students to European degree programs, universities also run numerous short-term, non-degree exchange programs. The Association of Commonwealth Universities facilitates academic exchange between universities in the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries, including India. A consortium of 12 European universities invites graduate students from India, with Indian partner institutions hosting European students in exchange. Other forms of short term academic exchange include leadership development programs for higher education professionals from India and Europe, as well as summer schools jointly organized by European and Indian partners. Depending on the specific elements of the program, students may or may not earn credit during academic exchange.

Indian-European study abroad and academic exchange is characteristically lopsided. For example, in the graduate exchange program mentioned here, 300 students and faculty from India have the opportunity to study in European institutions, while only 100 European students will go to Indian institutions in exchange. Examples of study programs aimed at attracting international students to India are scarce. One example is the ‘Study in India’ summer program of the University of Hyderabad.

Reasons for this imbalance of mobility may partly be due to student perceptions about the quality of Indian higher education institutions and India in general. Study abroad students also value the cultural and living component of the educational experience and hence are less likely to choose India as compared to Western Europe, the United States or Australia. Many Indian institutions also have trouble in providing well-developed student services that would help deliver safe and comfortable living and learning experiences to European students.

Academic Collaboration

Academic collaborations at the program level can be sub-classified into twinning programs, dual degree programs and joint degree programs.

Twinning programs are based on credit transfer agreement between collaborating institutions. These are typically 2+2 or 3+1 types of arrangement where courses taken at an Indian institution are recognized and easily transferred to collaborating foreign institutions.

Dual degree programs (also called double degree programs) involve the curriculum cooperation of two or more higher education institutions. A report published by the Institute of International Education (IIE) offers the following definition: “Students study at (at least) two higher education institutions and receive upon completion of the study program a separate degree certificate from each of the participating institutions” (p. 10).

Joint degree programs, following the definition of the IIE report, are arrangements where “students study at (at least) two higher education institutions and receive upon completion of the study program a single degree certificate issued and signed by all the participating institutions jointly” (p. 10).

All three forms of collaboration exist in the India-Europe context, with twinning programs and dual degree programs being the more popular as compared to joint degree programs due to regulatory and institutional approval mechanisms.

Twinning Programs

Manipal University (Manipal, India) offers a wide range of twinning programs through its International Center for Applied Sciences. These programs offer bachelor degrees in various branches of engineering, with the first two years of coursework undertaken at Manipal and the third and fourth years of specialized study completed at one of the partner institutions. While most of its university partners are from the United States and Australia, Manipal has also partnered with four institutions from the United Kingdom: City University of London, Lancaster University, Sheffield Hallam University, and Leicester University.

Vidya Prasarak Mandal College (Thane, India) has established a twinning program with the University of Skövde (Skövde, Sweden) in the fields of Biomedicine and Cell- and Molecular Biology. According to the program description, students enrolled in the program are registered in Vidya Prasarak Mandal in their first year but course content and examinations are closely monitored by Skövde. In the second year, students undertake coursework provided by Skövde from India through distance learning. The third year of studies is undertaken in Sweden, at the end of which the University of Skövde issues a B.Sc. degree.

Additional examples of twinning programs include:

Dual and Joint Degree Programs

SRM University (Chennai, India) has over 20,000 students and offers programs in Engineering, Management, Medicine and Health Sciences, and Science and Humanities. SRM also offers a number of twinning and dual degree programs in collaboration with European universities.

The Indian-German Graduate School of Advanced Organic Synthesis for a Sustainable Future (INDIGO) is an interesting example of a joint degree program partnership at the doctoral level. The graduate school is a joint venture of 14 higher education institutions from Germany and India. The Indian Institute of Science (Bangalore, India) and the University of Regensburg (Regensburg, Germany) coordinate the program. Indian and German students alike start with coursework in their home country, then spend a research semester abroad in one of the participating institutions. Industrial internships and intercultural training are also offered in the three-year program. A joint doctoral degree in Chemistry is awarded by the University of Regensburg or the Technical University of Munich (Germany) and one of the participating Indian Institutes of Science.

Additional examples of dual and joint degree programs include:

Business and Management Programs

Dual and joint degrees are most common in the business and management fields. According to a recent report, interest in European business and management programs has grown by 90 percent over the past five years. Most of the growth was registered from emerging markets, including India. The increasing popularity of European business schools is attributable to several factors, such as the widespread use of English as the language of instruction in European business schools, in addition to the fact that most MBA programs in Europe take one year to complete, as opposed to the two-year business school model of the United States.

The increasing popularity of European business schools among Indian students has prompted several Indian institutions to seek partnerships in Europe. Examples include:

International Branch Campuses

Establishing international branch campuses is still predominantly a U.S. venture. According to Global Higher Education, out of 159 international branch campuses operating in 2011, 80 were owned by U.S. entities. However, some British universities have been more entrepreneurial and aggressive in starting foreign campuses in India. In fact, they did not even wait for the enactment of the foreign universities bill, which was passed by the Cabinet of the Indian Government in March 2010 but is not yet approved by the Parliament. The Cabinet approval generated a sense of excitement and confusion among many Indian and foreign institutions about the implications and opportunities presented by the bill, however, British universities took the entrepreneurial jump to start the campuses with the support of corporate partners.

GD Goenka World Institute (Gurgaon, India) is owned by GD Goenka Group, a business group with interests in real estate, education and travel-tourism. The World Institute, one of the many educational ventures of the group, was established in partnership with Lancaster University Management School (U.K.) in 2009. The Institute offers engineering and business programs and the degrees are awarded by Lancaster University.

Leeds MET India (Bhopal, India) collaborated with Leeds Metropolitan University (U.K.) to offer mostly management programs. The degree is awarded by Leeds MET. However, the institute is not approved by local regulatory authorities like AICTE, which regulates management programs in India and has been issued a show-cause notice.

Asian School of Communication (Delhi, India) was established in 2011 by Marwah Studios Group, a creative enterprise in India. Marwah Studios established other educational ventures in Asia before partnering with the University of Central Lancashire UCLAN (U.K.) to offer undergraduate and graduate programs in film production, international journalism, and screenwriting. Degrees are awarded by UCLAN.

Challenges and Future Opportunities

As previous examples and models show, there is an increasing range of activities between European and Indian institutions. More institutions are experimenting with different models and becoming open to the possibilities of collaborations. Growing economic cooperation between India and Europe is also driving more mobility of talent, which in turn is contributing to further engagement with European institutions.  

However, expanding and building new partnerships between Indian and European universities is fraught with several challenges. First, Indian institutions have strong brand affinity for U.S. institutions. This requires “educating” Indian institutions that there are many world-class institutions in Europe.

Second, the scale and complexity of the Indian higher education system is not easy to navigate. In addition, the regulatory framework has not matured sufficiently to provide consistent measures of quality. Thus, European institutions often struggle to find trusted partners who are committed to quality and not using internationalization as a profit-making exercise.

Third, while the majority of European institutions have a public focus, most of the entrepreneurial and internationally open universities in India are private.  This may sometimes lead to differences in culture and differences in understanding as to what the primary purpose of the collaborations is and how that should be executed.

Fourth, funding for many programs remains a challenge. While Erasmus Mundus has sponsored numerous partnerships at the systemic level it is quite difficult to allocate funds at the institutional level.

Fifth, although English programs have increased in Europe, perception among Indian students and institutions has not evolved at the same pace. Furthermore, social immersion along with employment and immigration potential within Europe remains less appealing than North American options for many Indians.

While Europe-India higher education collaborations have their share of challenges, the future is promising and there is great potential to build strong win-win relationships. European institutions are encouraged to be cautiously optimistic in exploring and experimenting with Indian institutions. There are many opportunities to support Indian institutions in infusing excellence and building capacity. Likewise, Indian institutions should become more open to the diversity of European institutions, which range from vocational institutions to research-intensive universities.


1 Of all European countries, the largest number of Indian students are enrolled in the U.K. According to UNESCO data, from a total of 43,333 Indian students studying in a European Union member country in 2009, 34,065 were studying in the U.K. In comparison, the second largest host country, Germany, hosted just  3,273 Indian students in the same year, followed by Cyprus (1,527) and France (1,252).


Rahul Choudaha, PhD is director of development and innovation at World Education Services, New York. He is reachable on rchoudah@wes.org

Kata Orosz is a research intern at World Education Services, New York and is reachable on korosz@wes.org

Practical Information
Comparing Tertiary Education Systems Across the World in an Era of Internationalization

By Nick Clark, Editor, World Education News & Reviews

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released its annual set of indicators on educational performance this summer with comprehensive data related to education attainment, mobility and spending at all levels of education among the organization's member countries. The new findings, largely pertaining to data from 2009 (one year into the global economic downturn), show that the number of people with college degrees continues to grow significantly albeit at a slower rate than in previous years, with much of the growth coming from outside the OECD area. There was also growth in cross-border academic mobility in 2009, but again a slower rate of growth than in 2008. Also, for those without a college education, the global financial crisis has had a far greater impact than it has for those with a degree, the report found.

"Education at a Glance 2011,” published annually by the OECD, examines education data from the group's 34 economically advanced member countries, in addition to the non-OECD, G-20 countries of Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa. The report found significant links between educational attainment and employment levels. Across OECD countries, rates of unemployment among university graduates were 4.4 percent, which compares to an unemployment rate of 11.5 percent among people who did not complete high school, up from 8.7 percent in 2008.

Huge expansion of higher education in developing countries such as China and Brazil means that the balance of the world’s college graduates is now shifting from North America and Europe to the world’s emerging economies, especially those in Asia.

The United States still has by far the largest pool of graduates of any nation in the world, with 25.8 percent of the roughly 255 million working-age, college-educated people in OECD/G-20 countries; however, China is now home to 12.1 percent of graduates (likely higher as the Chinese figure pertains to data from 2000) versus Japan’s 11.4 percent share. Brazil, with 4.1 percent of graduates, is catching up with the United Kingdom (4.7%), while Korea – which has the highest percentage of young people in tertiary programs among OECD countries – is catching up to Germany's 4.6 percent share of the graduate pool. Canada (3.6%), France (3.6%), and Spain (3.1%) make up the other top 10 countries.

According to the report, one in three university-educated retirees in OECD countries resides in the United States, whereas just one in five university graduates entering the workforce does so. The report’s authors predict that based on higher secondary completion rates, the proportion of the world's graduates in China might reach as much as one in three of G20 and OECD graduates within a few years, which will inevitably lead to further shrinkage of advanced economies’ shares because of slower growth in tertiary participation rates.

However, while emerging economies are putting more children through school and increasing capacity in their tertiary systems, questions related to the quality of education and the types of degrees that students are graduating with are also key considerations.

Quality versus quantity

A 2005 study examining the quantity and quality of engineering graduates from China and the United States found that while China was producing many more engineering graduates than the United States, when degree type was examined the disparity became far less significant, especially when normalized for population sizes. The Duke University study made a distinction between transactional and dynamic engineers, arguing that dynamic engineers have the leadership and creative skills necessary to become innovators while transactional engineers, who have earned sub-baccalaureate degrees only have technical expertise, but not the capabilities for innovation. The study found that the number of engineering baccalaureate graduates per million citizens in the United States was significantly larger than in China, despite an almost 3:1 imbalance in absolute numbers of engineering graduates at all levels.

A McKinsey and Company Global Institute labor study, also published in 2005, found that just 10 percent of China’s engineers, and 25 percent of India’s, could compete in the global market. That report found that a higher percentage of engineers in low-wage nations like Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Malaysia, than in China and India, were competitive in the global job market.

Most international rankings of universities and university departments currently mirror this perception from an institutional-quality standpoint. However, according to Andreas Schleicher, the OECD's head of education statistics and indicators: "One mistake we should not make is to assume that countries that upgrade quantity cannot upgrade quality at similar speeds. A lot is happening in China. They are not just putting more people into the higher education system."

It should also be noted that large and growing numbers of students from emerging economies are studying internationally at the world’s best universities. The data suggest that they are now returning in ever-greater numbers due to better academic or job opportunities at home and more stringent visa policies in the countries of study.

Graduate 'stay rates'

The OECD report points out that in countries with high proportions of international students like Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, "graduation rates are artificially inflated." By excluding international students from the data, graduation rates in those three countries drop by 15 percent, 9 percent, and 12 percent respectively.

This year, the OECD has included data on what it terms ‘stay rates,’ which it measures by looking at the number of international students who change from student status to another type of residence status. The rate is expressed as a percentage of international students changing to a status other than student to the amount of students not renewing their student permits in the same year.

The report found that stay rates averaged 25 percent among international students who did not renew their student permit in 2008 or 2009, and is above 25 percent in Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany and the Netherlands. In all countries with available data, the stay rate is higher than 17 percent and tops out at 33 percent in Canada. In 2009, 25 percent of foreign students in the United Kingdom converted their status from student to employed worker and decided to remain in the country. An average of 74 percent of students who change their status do so for work-related reasons.

The lack of time-series data on stay rates precludes any trends analysis, but tightening of visa standards in many popular education destinations, combined with better job opportunities in major sending countries like China and India suggest that stay rates in some of the bigger host countries are likely to trend down in the near term. In 2007, the Chinese government estimated the number of returning graduate students from abroad to be approximately 44,000. In 2010 that number was estimated at 135,000, growth of over 200 percent.

Much of this growth can currently be attributed to poor job prospects in host countries during a time of growing unemployment and high economic uncertainty; however, other factors are at play too. A reduction in the number allowed to remain, for example under new visa policies in the United Kingdom and Australia, are likely to have a strong impact on the size of the international graduate populations in those countries, factors that might further contribute to the reduction in their share of the talent pool when compared to developing economies around the world.

Trends in Internationalization

International academic mobility continues to grow. The OECD tells us that the number of students at the tertiary level moving across international borders for educational purposes increased in 2009 to almost 3.674 million students. This compares to 3.454 million students in 2008 or an increase of 6.4 percent, which is a slightly slower rate of growth than the 8 percent increase registered from 2007 to 2008.

Total global tertiary enrollments between 2008 and 2009 grew at 3.3 percent to 165 million (UNESCO - UIS), which again was slower than in the period between 2007 and 2008 when global tertiary enrollment registered a 3.6 percent increase. The OECD suggests that growth in international mobility might have been hampered during the period because of the financial crisis and reductions in support for studying abroad.

Australia (21.5%), the United Kingdom (15.3%), Austria (15.1%), Switzerland (14.9%) and New Zealand (14.6%) have the highest percentages of international students among their tertiary student bodies. They are the only OECD countries where international students make up 10 percent or more of total enrollments. However, at the research level, international enrollments account for more than 20 percent of the student body in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The United States continues to dominate in terms of the absolute number of foreign tertiary students its universities and colleges enroll, with 18 percent of the 3.7 million enrolled worldwide. The United Kingdom (9.9%), Australia (7%), Germany (7%), France (6.8 %), and Canada (5.2% (2008)) are the next five biggest host countries. Combined, these six countries enroll 53.9 percent of all internationally mobile students.

European countries have a 38 percent share of enrollments, followed by North America with 23 percent. The fastest growing regions of destination are Latin America and the Caribbean, Oceania, and Asia, a fact that highlights the internationalization of universities in a growing number of countries.

In the nine years between 2000 and 2009, the share of international students who chose the United States as their destination of tertiary studies dropped from 23 percent to 18 percent. That share fell two percentage points for Germany and one percentage point for the United Kingdom. By contrast, the shares of international students who chose to study in Australia, New Zealand and the Russian federation grew by almost two percentage points.

In absolute terms, the largest numbers of international students are from China, India and Korea. Asian students represent 52 percent of foreign students enrolled worldwide (among countries reporting data to the OECD). Students from China represent by far the largest group of international students originating from non-member countries, with 18.2 percent of all international students enrolled in the OECD area. Of that number, 21.9 percent are studying in the United States. Chinese students in OECD countries are followed by those from India (7.3%), Malaysia (1.9%), Morocco (1.6%), Vietnam (1.5%) and the Russian Federation (1.3%). Almost half of all Indian students studying abroad (48.1 percent) in an OECD country are in the United States.

The predominance of Asian students in OECD countries is most pronounced in Australia, Japan and Korea, where more than 75 percent of international or foreign students come from an Asian country. Altogether, 32 percent of international students enrolled in the OECD area originate from another OECD country.

Shorter and vocationally oriented programs of study tend to be less international in make-up than longer degree programs. This is the case in all OECD countries except Denmark, Japan, New Zealand, Portugal and Spain. Most countries enroll significantly higher numbers of international students relative to total enrollments in advanced research programs than in undergraduate programs.

What are International Students Studying?

The popularity of a field of study depends significantly on the country of study. Broadly speaking, international students are most likely to enroll in the social sciences, business and law, and far less likely to undertake degrees in the humanities.

However, in non-English-speaking countries international students have a greater preference for education, humanities and the arts, while the sciences tend to be relatively unpopular across the board with no single country having more than 20 percent of its international student body enrolled in science-based programs.

Health-related programs are popular among international students studying in Eastern European countries, Belgium, Italy and Spain. But the numbers are much lower in other European countries, in part due to quotas that restrict access to medical programs, which conversely might help explain the popularity of medical programs in countries that do not have quotas.

Business studies attracts more international students than any other discipline at both the undergraduate and research levels in 14 out of 22 countries within the OECD.

Overall the concentration of international students in various disciplines is due to both supply and demand, according to the OECD. On the supply side some destinations offer centers of excellence or traditional expertise, such as Finland and Germany in science, engineering, manufacturing and construction.

Conclusion

In an age of dramatically increased global mobility and interconnectedness, governments are no longer content to measure educational success against prior national standards alone, but increasingly against the world’s best performing systems. The OECD indicators are perhaps the best means of comparison right now for countries wishing to measure their education systems against those of the economically advanced countries that make up the OECD area. 

In order to move education policy forward, governments point to indicators as proxies for quality, and the OECD’s Education at a Glance report has become a pivotal tool in that arsenal, “providing indicators of educational performance that not only evaluate but also help shape public policy,” as the authors point out in the editorial at the front end of the report.

Expanding upon the theme of indicators as proxies for quality, the authors explain the need for greater, more detailed measures of educational quality: “As the quality of international indicators improves, so does their potential for influencing the development of education systems. At one level, indicators are no more than a metric for gauging progress towards goals. Yet increasingly, they are performing a more influential role. Indicators can prompt change by raising national concern over weak educational outcomes compared to international benchmarks; sometimes, they can even encourage stronger countries to consolidate their positions. When indicators build a profile of high-performing education systems, they can also inform the design of improvements for weaker systems.”