WENR, Sept./Oct. 2001: Europe

Regional News



United Nations agencies and private contributions will fund the launching of a World Trade University in Brussels. The purpose of the new institution is to give the world’s poor access to training in international trade and finance. The school is expected to open in 2003 and hopes to attract more than 600 students during its first year. Campuses also will be established in Beijing and Toronto. Fifteen additional campuses based in various developing countries will later follow.
Times Higher Education Supplement


June 1, 2001


Educators and students continue to debate the pros and cons of France’s secondary school leaving exam, the baccalauréat. The “bac”, as it is sometimes referred to, is taken at the end of the last year of secondary school and leads to university enrollment. Critics have accused the exam of being elitist, allowing only a portion of French students to gain access to higher education.
However, attempts to reform the “bac” have not met with success. As the exam was established in 1801, it has become an entrenched institution and remains resistant to change. Past efforts to introduce reforms have often resulted in students and teachers going on strike.
In 1985, repeated calls to “democratize” the baccalauréat prompted the Ministry of Education to proclaim that its main objective would be to raise the number of students passing the exam to 80 percent. However, while close to 80 percent of students taking the exam in 2000 received a passing grade, only 64 percent of that total age group actually made it to the end of secondary school when the baccalauréat is administered.
According to one survey, 70 percent of French teachers are opposed to democratizing the “bac” saying the result of such reform initiatives would be to lower educational standards by allowing more students to enter universities. In contrast, the 25 percent advocating reform said that France needs to educate more of its citizens—not merely the best and the brightest.
Le Monde de l’èducation

June, 2001


A new Italian-Arab university recently opened in Palermo, Sicily, to help bridge the divide between Italy and the Arab world. The Libera Università Italio-Arabia (LUIA) is the first university of its kind in Italy. A similar institution operates in Spain.
The LUIA opened its doors in September and offers a half-year, postgraduate master’s degree in Euro-Mediterranean economics. Bachelor-degree programs will commence in November. The Sicilian regional government is providing 20 scholarships; it is hoped that the universities of Damascus, Tunis and Cairo will also contribute.
The master’s program will be taught in English and French, while the undergraduate programs, in law, sociology and economics, will require students to study either Italian or Arabic.
Although the LUIA is financed by the regional government, it is independent of Italy’s state university system. The school is currently seeking international accreditation so that its degrees will be recognized in Italy, Syria, Egypt and Tunisia.
Times Higher Education Supplement


June 1, 2001


The academic year at the University of Sussex is divided into three terms: autumn, spring and summer. The school recently came up with a plan to make its shorter autumn term more compatible with North American students, who have a longer fall semester.
The new program, “Sussex in September,” is designed especially for North American students and is comprised of intensive three-week courses that end a week before the beginning of the regular autumn term. Among the subjects offered in this format are English literature, history, the European Union, environmental policy, archaeology and medicinal chemistry.
Students who complete the program will acquire a full fall semester in credits (half a year’s work). They can then continue on to finish the autumn term, stay for a full year or transfer to another university in the United Kingdom.
The program is popular with American study-abroad students who prefer not to spend an entire academic year away from home. Further information is available at www.sussex.ac.uk/international/admissions/sxsept.shtml.
Education: British Council


May 2001



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