WENR, June 2016: Asia Pacific

Launch of Fulbright University Vietnam Sparks Controversy

On May 23, President Barack Obama announced the launch of the Fulbright University Vietnam. Funded by the U.S. government and expected to open in the fall of 2016, the institution will be the country’s first private non-profit university. The launch is meant to celebrate the deepening relationship between the two countries, but the announcement was quickly marred by controversy surrounding the appointment of former Navy seal Bob Kerrey as chairman of the board. In 1969, Kerrey participated in a wartime raid that led to the deaths of at least 13 Vietnamese women and children.

The Financial Times
May 31

 

Myanmar: NLD Frees Student Activists

One of the first acts the newly government installed democratic government of Myanmar, which assumed power March 31, was to grant amnesty to politicians, activists, and students jailed by the previous military regime. Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, or NLD, won a landslide victory in the November 2015 general election. Revitalization of the country’s ravaged higher education system is expected to rank high on the party’s list of action items.

The University World News
May 20

China and Cambodia Agree on Educational Exchanges

China and Cambodia have signed an agreement to establish exchange programs for students and professors between Guangxi University and a not-yet-completed Cambodian institution, the University of Kratie. The latter school is about 70 percent complete, and is being funded with about $10 million from the Chinese government and another $2.2 million from the Kratie Foundation for Higher Education. China supports higher education exchanges as a form of “soft power” to increase its influence in other countries. For instance, in early 2016, China’s government announced the establishment of10,000 scholarships for nationals of Arab League member states and 30,000 scholarships for students from Africa.

Phnom Penh Post
May 19

Chinese Student Numbers Overwhelm Korean Universities

Last year South Korea’s ministry of education set an audacious goal of nearly tripling the country’s foreign student enrollment in eight years. By 2023, the country sought to host 200,000 foreign student. In the wake of that announcement a new criticism has emerged: “Colleges and universities have resorted to recruiting as many Chinese students as possible in their blind pursuit of money,” notes The Korea Times, “without having proper programs to cater to their needs and provide quality education.”

The Korea Times
May 18

China: New University Admissions Guidelines Raise Ire

Thousands of parents in cities across China took to the streets to protest new admissions guidelines that would open prestigious urban universities to students from rural areas. Their concern? That new quotas on admitting students from poorer areas to universities would lock their own students out of highly desirable schools. China’s Ministry of Education and the National Development and Reform Commission announced the new quotas in early May. The out-of-province quota system allows students from certain provinces to add marks to their total gaokao score. The change is one of several aimed at reducing the overwhelming importance of standardized test scores in admissions. Social mobility in China is highly dependent on attending top-tier universities.

University World News
May 17

Posted in Asia Pacific, Regional News Summaries