New Arctic School Offers First Online Course
The University of the Arctic
, a new network of academic institutions and programs in the Arctic or “circumpolar” North, recently launched its first online course.
The class, BCS 100 “Introduction to the Circumpolar World,” is comprised of 27 students from six Northern areas, including Canada, Greenland, Finland and Russia.
“We’re very excited,” said Sally Weber, chairwoman of the Council of the University of the Arctic. “BCS 100 has been developed by leading scholars and educators from around the circumpolar world. It’s interdisciplinary. It’s circumpolar. And it’s very, very current. For the first time ever, so far as we know, students from all over the circumpolar world will be part of a single virtual classroom.”
The introductory, university-level course examines the world’s northernmost peoples and the issues they face. Course instructor Amanda Graham said, “It’s an affordable way to bring the Northern world to our home communities, and vice versa. The future looks bright.”
While University of the Arctic is a cooperating network of universities, colleges and other organizations concerned with higher education and research, it is not yet an individual, degree-granting institution. The school’s goal is for students to share resources, facilities and knowledge to build postsecondary education that is pertinent and accessible to Northern students.
Education Overhaul to Benefit Roma Minority
The Czech Republic’s school system is getting revamped after years of international scorn and internal fighting. The new changes are meant to improve education opportunities for the Roma Gypsy minority.
Relations between Czechs and Roma have been, at best, difficult in years past, and the new reforms seek to close the ethnic gap by instilling a new awareness between the two peoples and by breaking down discrimination and segregation of the more than 250,000 Gypsies in the country.
In the past, the “special schools” where Gypsies were allowed to study were blamed for preventing Romas from advancing to secondary or trade schools, since graduating students were considered unprepared for entry exams and the rigors of higher education. In short, many believe, the system was a mirror of the prejudices of the Czech majority.
Criticism of the country’s policy on Romas has come under fire from a host of sources, including other Eastern European governments and the United Nations. Parents, school administrators, children and teachers are being asked to participate in the integration.
The program will begin in September 2002, when the current Roma school system will be eliminated and replaced with a program designed to integrate Roma students into mainstream primary schools. In addition, older students denied a secondary education in the past would have a chance to receive additional training to qualify them for the second level. The integration will begin with a series of pilot schools where Roma students will be welcomed into primary classes.
Government Weighs Move Toward Bologna Model
Finland’s government is considering a move that would bring its higher education standards and requirements in accordance with the Bologna recommendations for European convergence.
A ministerial committee proposed to Finland’s Ministry of Education
that it adopt a two-tiered degree system comprised of 120 weeks of study for the first degree with an additional 60 weeks of study for a master’s degree. Such a system would more closely resemble the 3+2 Bologna Model.
The proposed first degree (kandidaatintutkinto), according to the committee, should serve as a stand-alone qualification providing access to the labor market while also serving as an entry qualification for a master’s degree program. The ministry is concerned that the many differing qualifications in use today are confusing to employers.
20 Polytechnics to Test Postgraduate Degrees
Twenty polytechnics will undergo a three-year trial period for awarding postgraduate degrees. These degrees are aimed at people with a polytechnic (undergraduate) degree, or some other applicable degree, and who have accumulated at least three years’ work experience since graduation.
The polytechnic postgraduate degree was designed to respond to the needs of the labor market. For the Aug. 1-July 31, 2005, trial period, 300 adult student places have been reserved.
Berlin University to Boost Turk-German Relations
A new trilingual university is being created in Berlin with the aim of engendering better cultural understanding between Turks and Germans. The International Turkish European University will likely be operational by 2004 and will provide instruction in Turkish, German and English, with an initial focus on the arts and humanities.
Europe-based Turks will be the primary draw, but the university wants to attract a multi-ethnic range of students, and hopes to facilitate enhanced cooperation and communication between Turkey and European countries. The school will offer both undergraduate and graduate degrees.
Thousands Protest Possible Teaching Job Cuts
Nearly 30,000 students, parents and teachers hit the streets of Milan recently to protest a government proposal that would cut nearly 1,200 education-related jobs in northern Italy’s Lombardy region.
Student numbers are rising considerably, and protesters fear reducing the number of teachers may negatively impact the quality of education. Organizers said the number of protesters far exceeded their expectations.
PUP Says Collegiate Plan Needs Changes
Revamping Northern Ireland’s collegiate system is once again the subject of a heated debate . Education Minister Martin McGuinness recently met with Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) representatives to discuss a recommendation that a collegiate system of schools be set up across the country to share resources and expertise. But a PUP education spokesman said changes need to be made to the plan before his party endorses
“Every child has the right to a good education wherever they live, whether they are Protestant, Catholic or Dissenter, well-off or disadvantaged, whatever their abilities,” McGuinness said. “We must ensure that the debate concentrates on educational issues and is not allowed to deteriorate into a unionist/nationalist argument.”
Lack of University Reform Draws Fire
The Spanish government pledged to make education a top priority during its presidency of the European Union, but many in the country feel it is not delivering on its promises.
Education was named as one of the five priorities of the Barcelona Council
, a key event hosted in March by the Spanish presidency of the EU. In addition, Spain was one of the signatories of the Bologna Declaration, which aims to bring about higher education convergence in Europe by 2010. But critics say all the necessary measures needed for such convergence have been ignored, and that Spain needs to spend more money on reforming its education system. Others note that while universities have made well-intended efforts towards convergence, they need more backing from the government.
New English Exams for Overseas Nurses
It was recently announced that nurses trained outside of Europe would soon be required to pass English language exams before they can work in the United Kingdom.
In the past year, 27 overseas nurses have been reported to the Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting
over allegations of professional misconduct. The council cited the general lack of English-language competence among foreign nurses as the main reason behind the infractions.
Increasing numbers of overseas nurses, particularly from the Philippines, have been flocking to Britain because of its nursing shortage. The number of foreign-trained nurses has more than doubled since 1998-99.
The new rule does not apply to nurses from European countries.
Cornwall University Initiative Under Way
The Combined Universities in Cornwall
initiative, a US$154.1 million project aimed at transforming higher education in Cornwall, moved further ahead as two institutions agreed to jointly operate the Trenough
New Diploma Recognizes Achievements
The government recently announced it will introduce a “matriculation diploma” to recognize many elements in a student’s learning, including the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) and Advanced levels, as well participation in work-based learning and active citizenship.
In its effort to reform the curriculum in England and encourage teen-agers to stay on in education, the introduction of the matriculation diploma seeks to improve flexibility of vocational standards for students aged 14-19.
The diploma will “offer all learners a common, challenging goal that recognizes the width of their achievements,” the government noted. The diplomas could be awarded nationally as early as 2007.