eWENR, March/April 2000: Regional News, Asia & Pacific
Asia & Pacific
Occasional rifts in the Taliban regime have served to benefit the status of women in Afghanistan. The government recently permitted 10,000 girls in Kabul to attend schools in mosques and in private homes. Classes for the children (boys as well as girls) are being funded through international aid groups. When asked about the landmark decision to educate females, the head of one German aid organization described the Taliban as being “a very heterogeneous movement.”
In 1998, he was approached by several clergy members who wanted to hold classes in their mosques for both boys and girls. The project was shortly thereafter approved through the Ministry of Education. However, once classes began, the minister of Islamic affairs raised objections to the teaching of girls. He ruled that although it was permissible for girls to learn how to read, they should not be allowed to write, and he wanted their notebooks and pencils confiscated.
As luck would have it the minister’s second deputy was secretly in favor of educating girls. He invited the minister to sit in on a class and asked one of the girls to go to the blackboard and write a religious statement. When she had finished, he turned to the minister and asked, “Tell us what is wrong with this?”
— New York Times
Jan. 23, 2000
According to a recent government report published last fall, international student enrollments at Australian universities are bouncing back from the profound effects of the Asian crisis.
In 1999, almost 45,000 new students from overseas began higher education studies in Australia, up 20.5 percent from 1998 and up 350 percent compared to a decade ago when there were fewer than 10,000 students enrolled at Australian colleges and universities.
From 1995 to 1997, foreign enrollments were about 20 percent but dropped to 11.6 percent in 1998, one year after the economic crisis hit many countries throughout Asia.
International students, the majority of whom pay their own fees, account for 12.1 percent of all enrollments at Australian institutions of higher education. Although the report did not reveal where the students came from, student statistics from 1998 cited Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Indonesia as providing the lion’s share of international students enrolled at colleges and universities in Australia.
There has been some concern that the volatile situation in East Timor and hostility towards Australia in Jakarta could have a negative impact of future student enrollments from Indonesia. However, Fazal Rizvi, pro-vice-chancellor international at RMIT University in Melbourne, believes that the problem is only temporary and said things will probably return to normal in a few months.
The 1998 report also showed that the number of Australian students beginning university programs that year increased 0.9 percent after a two-year decline. There were big increases in the number of students studying mathematics, computing, engineering and business while other subjects, such as education and agriculture, suffered losses. Women currently account for 55 percent of all students studying in Australia.
— Times Higher Education Supplement
Oct. 8, 1999
China’s ministry of education has promised to boost college enrollment for the 1999/2000 academic year by 44 percent. The rise in quota reflects the development needs of an increasingly market-oriented economy in addition to the government’s willingness to satisfy the rising demand for higher education.
In the 1970s, reforms were implemented which gradually loosened the state’s control over the economy while giving people more freedom to choose. However, the state did not begin to reform the education system until the early 1990s when tuition fees were introduced and students were given more choice in terms of degrees and courses.
Universities and colleges are also being allowed to upgrade academic programs and increase efficiency without the intervention of the state. Reformers argue that increased autonomy will enable institutions to better adjust to market demands.
While higher education is becoming more and more market driven, most people in China still cannot afford to send their children to college. But many Chinese see higher education as the key to succeeding in today’s expanding market economy and are willing to save more to help their children with educational expenses.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, 44 percent of all Chinese people now save most of their money for their children’s education. In comparison, 38 percent put money aside for retirement while 20 percent save to buy homes. A recent survey showed that parents today spend as much as 42.8 percent of their savings on their children’s education.
At the same time, colleges and universities are taking advantage of the rising demand for higher education by charging exorbitant tuition fees. Some institutions are even lowering their admission scores to charge more money for students who normally would not be able to gain admittance. The People’s Daily Report claims that students with low entrance scores now have to pay as much as an additional 100,000 yuan (U.S. $12,000) a year compared to the 3,000 yuan (U.S. $360) paid by normally admitted students.
Although the provincial government of Guangdong authorized colleges to increase tuition by 20 percent to 30 percent, many institutions charge even more than this, claiming that students can afford to pay the added costs. Some schools are even raising the tuition fees of students other than freshmen.
However, critics argue that ordinary people in China cannot begin to pay out that kind of money for higher education. According to the 1998 edition of China Almanac, the per capita disposable income for Chinese farmers was 2,090 yuan (U.S. $252) a year. Annual expenditures add up to 1,617 yuan (U.S. $195) leaving them with only 483 yuan (U.S. $58).
With such low income, critics argue, it is easy to see how the 10 percent tuition hike in 1997 prevented 11 percent of the country’s aspiring students from entering college.
— China Daily
Oct. 21, 1999
There is a plethora of management institutes in India, many of which are up and coming. Each year, these schools award MBA degrees and business diplomas to about 38,000 students (25,000 full-timers, 6,700 part-timers, and 5,400 students enrolled in distance-learning programs).
The popularity in management education among Indian students and their parents has traditionally been fueled by the business community’s positive response to these particular institutes. About100 companies have absorbed thousands of graduates from the top 10 management institutes, offering them attractive salaries and compensation packages. Moreover, many of these students were hired by Indian and multinational corporations on campus, sometimes six or eight months before they completed their programs.
In addition to these ranking 10 schools, there are between 20 and 30 management institutes in India, which also have solid reputations among companies and students. Although graduates from these schools are well placed, they generally do not enjoy the kind of compensation packages offered to applicants coming from one of the top 10.
However, apart from the top-10 and second-tier schools, there are another 400 business schools scattered throughout the country. It is estimated that at least 300 of these are inadequate in terms of the following: functional freedom and autonomy; quality of students accepted; existence of core faculty, quality of visiting faculty, feedback to students and campus unrest.
The recent proliferation of poor-quality business schools has caused interest in management studies among parents and students to decline markedly as evidenced by the drop in the number of applications for admission into MBA programs at these schools.
Establishing quality controls at these 300 or so schools is difficult. The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) is attempting to monitor them at the national level. Despite strict guidelines for granting recognition to new management institutions, schools with the right connections can obtain accreditation status even if they do not meet the national standards.
Many state governments have started conducting their own regulatory procedures, which include administering common entrance exams, establishing centralized counseling, and regulating fee structures and the utilization of funds. In many ways, state agencies have been more successful than the AICTE in preventing unfair practices adopted by some management institutions with regard to MBA admissions.
— University News
Feb 28, 2000
Starting this fall, Allama Iqbal Open University (AIOU) in Islamabad will offer a master’s degree in computer science and a post-graduate diploma in computers.
The vice chancellor of AIOU, Dr. Anwar Hussein announced that the new programs reflect the university’s commitment to promote higher education in computer science. AIOU currently offers a bachelor’s degree program in computer science.
AIOU was established in 1974 as the People’s Open University but was renamed in 1977. The university offers degree and certificate programs in the following subjects: Arabic, education, special education, Islamic studies, mass communications, business administration, Urdu, teaching English as a second language, library and information science, and primary and secondary school teaching. .
Classes are taught in both Urdu and English.
Feb. 8, 2000
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