eWENR, March/April 2001: Asia Pacific
The School of Medicine at James Cook University has passed the initial review by the Australian Medical Council, the national accreditation body for undergraduate medical education. When the accreditation process is completed, the new course is expected to graduate doctors with a better understanding of the problems confronting remote, agricultural communities. The School of Medicine is the first new medical school in the country since 1976.
In related news, the new medical course at the University of Western Australia has been accredited through 2007. Also the university has pledged to review its assessment plans for students and better its mechanisms for coordinating teaching and student support.
— Campus Review
Nov. 29, 2001
The University of Melbourne purchased the Edinburgh School of English in hopes of expanding its international network of English language schools. Future plans at Melbourne Enterprises International (MEI), the University’s commercial arm, include similar purchases in Vancouver and Dublin. MEI and the University of Melbourne do not have an immediate agenda to drastically change the school’s program, which remains a Scottish company and enrolls only 200 students. However, within the next two years MEI aims to encourage the enrollment of Asian students and add more academic-oriented English courses, bolstering the school as a premier site for study-abroad English language instruction.
— Times Higher Education Supplement
University access has emerged as a major issue in the upcoming general election scheduled for November. Labor Party leaders have announced their plans for a new public online university, which they claim will offer higher education to 100,000 additional students. The new university is part of the Labor Party’s program to retain Australian specialists and teachers. Opponents of the plan claim that such an institution would be extraneous in light of the already existing “open university,” Open Learning Australia, which was likewise the result of a previous Labor Party proposal. The OLA has announced its intentions of moving to online instruction in the near future and increasing its current enrollment of 10,000 students.
— Times Higher Education Supplement
The Educational Testing Services (ETS) has issued a letter to American universities advising caution in treating the results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language and Graduate Record Examinations administered in China. An excerpt from the ETS release reads: “It is always important to review all elements of an applicant’s file. In the present circumstances, it is particularly important that all evidence submitted by an applicant from China be reviewed, and that test-score results be fully supported by other elements of the file.”
ETS recently filed a lawsuit against the New Oriental School, a test-coaching program, for allegedly stealing questions from the current tests and using them to unfairly prepare the students. The school’s distribution of the questions has cast doubt on test scores from October 1999 to September 2000.
Chinese students have decried the admonition, claiming that their hard work in preparation for the test should not be tarnished for reasons outside of their control.
— Chronicle of Higher Education
Feb. 16, 2001
Falling birthrates have led to a decrease in demand for higher education, a trend that is forcing Japanese universities into harsh competition for students. The country’s population of 18-year olds has fallen to 1.51 million in 2001 from 2.04 million in 1991. Many predict that by 2009 the population will equal the capacity of the country’s universities, threatening the growth of educational institutions.
Schools have begun to respond to this development by streamlining and outsourcing. Many junior colleges have collapsed into related universities. Nearly 30 universities in Tokyo have agreed to form joint classes to supplement their individual programs. The pressure to attract students has been felt even at Waseda University, a top-tier school that has graduated a number of Japan’s political leaders. In April, Waseda will initiate a unit-exchange program with four other private universities to make itself more appealing.
The president of Tama University, Gregory Clark, has taken a different route to boost enrollments. He will place greater emphasis on recruiting foreign students and the development of professional, business-oriented courses of study. Many prognosticators believe that adult and professional education must inevitably be further incorporated into the university to ensure its survival.
— The Japan Times
Feb. 1, 2001
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has announced an unprecedented plan to enroll students without high school diplomas. The Japanese government requires admitted students to have graduated from high school or attained equivalent certification. Under the new plan, the four Tokyo Metropolitan schools will offer a “challenge enrollment” system that will give applicants a trial period to prove their ability. This measure intends to accommodate competent students who do not excel at the state-run entrance examinations.
The planned reforms also include the complete reorganization of the four schools: the Tokyo Metropolitan University, Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Technology, Tokyo Metropolitan University of Health Sciences and the Tokyo Metropolitan College. All schools will share facilities, general requirements and a common credit system. Officials have allotted four years for the complete implementation of the plans, if introduced.
Feb 10, 2001
Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha had included in the annual federal budget a huge provision for students seeking loans to pursue higher education abroad. Under the new policy, up to 1.5 million rupees (US$ 32,000) will be available for overseas study student loans, with low-interest fees and repayment required after as many as seven years. That sum is twice as much as the maximum loan available to Indian students seeking higher education within the country.
The majority of the country has praised the initiative, which evidently is geared to facilitate overseas study for students from low-income households. Previously, foreign degrees, highly regarded throughout the country as symbols of status and prestige, have been confined to the lucky few in the upper class. Proponents of the new budget say it will level the playing field and maximize the country’s intellectual resources.
However, leftist political parties, most notably the Communist Party of India, have voiced their belief that the loans will only strengthen the urban middle class and obscure the government’s neglect of educational institutions within the country.
North American and European institutions welcome the measures and are expecting an increase in students enrollments from India.
— The Times Higher Education Supplement
March 16, 2001
Aga Khan University, based in Pakistan, will open three new campuses on three different continents. In its first initiatives to expand internationally, the university plans to establish an Institute of Islamic Civilizations in London and an Advanced Nursing Program in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. At home, Aga Khan University will open a College of Arts and Sciences in the Sindh Province, which will take the mold of a liberal arts college and keep a steady focus on Muslim issues and ethics.
These steps are the first in the university’s long-term agenda to expand internationally. Officials hope that these institutions will be effective in breaking stereotypes about Islam and Islamic education in the West, while providing new educational opportunities for Muslims outside of predominantly Muslim countries.
— ACU Bulletin
The Ministry of Education has decided to restructure its policies on university governance and funding, electing to give universities more autonomy in their salary distribution. In the past, universities, most notably the National University of Singapore, have submitted pay plans to the government for review and approval. The new structure allows for the university to determine the salaries of professors out of a lump sum granted to the institution every three years.
The impetus behind the change is to give the universities the capacity to attract higher quality educators. Freeing up the pay structure allows for professors to operate in a talent market, wherein universities can offer what a particular employee is worth. Vice chancellors throughout the country hope this new freedom will put their universities on an internationally competitive level to attract skilled teachers and researchers.
— NUS Campus News
In a landmark advance in Korean-Japanese relations, Seoul National University (SNU), Korea’s first modern university, has announced it will offer the first Japanese language course in the school’s history. In addition, the university plans to offer a degree in Japanese studies, while the University of Tokyo has agreed to offer a degree in Korean studies. Formed in 1946, the SNU has traditionally neglected the study of Japanese culture due to Korea’s resented colonial history under Japanese rule, from 1905 to 1945.
— Chronicle of Higher Education
Jan. 5, 2001
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