Volume 20, Issue 3
Tuition or Community Service: Students Choose
Seeking a political compromise on tuition fees, the newly formed coalition government of Austria has decided to give fee-paying students the choice of paying tuition or doing voluntary community service. Fees of 727 euro per year for EU citizens, and double for others, was one of the major stumbling blocks for the Austrian Peoples’ Party (ÖVP) and the Social Democrats (SPÖ) in negotiations preceding the formation of the new government. The education portfolio has also been compromised with the splitting of the current education ministry into a Ministry of Science and Research (Wissenschaft und Forschung), which will be in charge of the higher education sector, and the Ministry for Education, Science and Culture (Bildung, Wissenschaft und Kultur).
Universities Mergers on the Horizon
In order to meet the new demands of globalization, a higher-education working group has made proposals to the Finnish Ministry of Education and Science recommending the merger of Helsinki University of Technology, Helsinki School of Economics and the University of Art and Design in Helsinki by 2009. The other two proposals are to merge University of Turku and Turku School of Economics; and the University of Joensuu and University of Kuopio (to create University of Eastern Finland). Among Finnish universities of applied sciences (or polytechnics) there are currently three mergers in progress. There are currently 20 universities and 28 polytechnics operating under the ministry of education in Finland.
Finnish Ministry of Education
New Economics School with Lofty Ambitions Launched
The Paris School of Economics, a new institution that its founders hope will eventually rival top economics schools such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the London School of Economics and Political Science, was inaugurated in February through the collaboration of six existing French universities and research institutions, including the prestigious École Normale Supérieure and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. All six partners are public, but a newly created private foundation will run the Paris school, which has more than 300 master's and Ph.D. students, and some 200 affiliated professors and researchers. Organizers expect it to eventually have nearly 1,000 students and 350 staff members. All faculty members are affiliated with other institutions, from which they draw their main salaries, but that will not necessarily be the case for future hires.
The Chronicle of Higher Education
More States to Introduce Tuition
As German universities and lawmakers push to improve the quality of higher education, more and more states are introducing tuition to top up inadequate government funding. Although unpopular with many students, politicians and faculty members, the drive seems unstoppable, as it has been in other European states that have been forced to revise university funding models. The U.K. introduced undergraduate fees in 1998. Italy and Spain also charge university students. In seven of Germany's 16 states, university students now have to pay as much as 1,000 euros ($1,300) a year. All the states that have imposed fees are controlled by Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its coalition partner, the Free Democratic Union. The state of Hesse, which includes Frankfurt, will start charging students in October. In North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany's most populous state and one of those that imposed fees last October, first-year enrollment dropped 5.3 percent from a year earlier.
Most International-Friendly Universities Rewarded with Title, Funds
The universities of Bochum, Bonn and Marburg have been named by a consortium of organizations headed by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation as ‘Welcome Centers’ for internationally mobile researchers and funding. The universities have each been awarded 125,000 euro for winning the Welcome Centers Competition, organized in the spring of 2006. Encouraged by the level of enthusiasm and participation, the organizers are hoping to initiate a new round in the near future.
Alexander von Humboldt
Controversial Higher Education Reforms Approved by Parliament
After months of public protest on the streets and campuses of Athens, a highly controversial draft law that would overhaul the higher education sector in Greece has been rubber-stamped by the government, and passed by Parliament. The proposed law sets a maximum number of years allowed for the completion of undergraduate degrees (up to twice the duration of a typical degree program). Although this may not seem like cause for mass protest, as many as 94,000 undergraduate students who enrolled at university nearly eight years ago have yet to complete their four- or five-year programs, according to the National Statistical Service. Other provisions in the bill would change the asylum law which bans police from entering university grounds, and greatly increase institutional autonomy and state funding based on four-year strategic development plans. The New Democracy government's original deadline to table the draft law was June 2006. That became September, then October and finally was postponed until the spring. The delays were mainly due to the mounting opposition. The public university system remains in a state of turmoil, and several hundred university and technical college departments remain under student occupation. With the passage of the Bill through Parliament on March 8, an estimated 20,000 students, teachers and labor unionists rioted in the streets of Athens; scenes that the police department described as the worst unrest the city has seen for years.
Constitutional Amendment to Recognize Private Universities
In a proposal separate to the parliamentary bill discussed above, Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis appeared before a nationally televised session of parliament on February 14 to defend his government's decision to lift the state monopoly on public higher education. Citing developments connected to the development of the European Higher Education Area, the prime minister defended his government's plan to revise Article 16 of the Constitution, which currently prohibits the establishment of private universities in Greece, despite mobilization from opponents who believe the changes foreshadow a privatization of higher education and higher costs for students.
Report: Dutch Government Should Boost Foreign Enrollments by Easing Work Restrictions
An independent advisory committee to the Dutch government has advised that students from beyond the borders of the European Union be given a year after graduation to seek employment in the Netherlands. In its recent report the Advisory Committee on Alien Affairs states that the current three-month post-graduation period is not long enough, while also pointing out that the salary requirements for a residence permit are too high. Non-EU students currently account for approximately 3.5 percent of the student body in Holland; a figure that needs to increase, especially in the technical sector, according to the report.
Students Looking to Asia over English-Speaking Study Destinations
Australia Education International
Plans for German-Turkish University Announced
In 1997, the Turkish and German governments signed an agreement for the establishment of a joint Turkish-German university in Istanbul; however, those plans have since met a number of financial and conceptual roadblocks. Now, the project looks to be back on track and headed for reality after gaining high-level support. In October last year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan publicly gave their support to the idea. Despite the political support the initiative now enjoys, there are still numerous challenges to overcome if the private university is to become a reality. Foremost among these are location, funding and curriculum.
The Turkish Daily News
Rankings most Influential on the Ambitious and Talented
Recent research shows that unofficial newspaper rankings have most influence on university applicants looking to get into the best schools. The study by The Knowledge Partnership, a consultancy, also finds that established reputations will likely override short-term fluctuations in rank when it comes to student enrollment decisions. The report on reputation management draws the conclusion that there is no firm link between a consistent decline in rank and an institution’s share of domestic applications; however, a position in the top 10 of a league table pushes up the quality of applicants. The study also found that it is questionable whether or not rankings have more impact on international students, as is commonly believed. The research is based on the experiences of 13,000 students, of whom almost two-thirds said they looked at rankings before applying. If one could portray the average user of university rankings, according to the findings of the study he would be a younger school-leaving male Asian.
Students Spared Full Cost of Visa Fee Hike
International students will be spared visa fee increases designed to raise money to pay for a crackdown on illegal immigrants, the government announced in March. People moving to the UK to live or work will bear most of the additional cost of increased policing of illegal immigration. The cost of work permits will increase from £85 to £200, while the initial charge for student visas will drop from £129 to £99. This will make UK visas competitive with the United States and Australia, said Universities UK, the body which represents university vice chancellors. An Australian student visa currently costs the equivalent of £172 for the visa and £24 for permission to work. Students studying in the US pay about £50 for the visa plus £50 for the student tracking system. University heads have been lobbying the government after a sudden jump in student visa fees in 2005, which has been blamed for a fall in overseas applications.
Merger to Create ‘Super-University’
A new university is to be created following the announcement in March of a US$40 million merger between the University of Paisley and Hamilton-based Bell College. The new super-university is scheduled to begin operations as the University of the West of Scotland in August, and it will have approximately 16,600 students studying at four campuses in Ayr, Dumfries, Hamilton and Paisley. The news came only weeks after Glasgow University announced it was to pull out of the Dumfries campus, which it shares with Bell College and the University of Paisley.
© 2007 World Education Services
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