WENR, August 2005: Asia Pacific
World-Class Universities Join Forces
Eight of the world’s top 20 universities have formed a global partnership that will allow their students to undertake joint degrees at any one of the universities, which span seven countries.
Students studying for a semester or longer at a partner institution will benefit from a credit-transfer agreement among all member universities. Oxford University is rumored to be interested in joining the group that will ultimately comprise 10 universities. Current signatories are Australian National University, ETH Zurich, National University of Singapore, Beijing University, University of California, Berkeley, University of Copenhagen, University of Tokyo and Yale University. The agreement includes arrangements for faculty exchange, research and teaching collaborations, in addition to the main goal of facilitating student mobility. The initiative will begin in January.
— The Australian
July 11, 2005
A Plan for Higher Education
Addressing a group of U.S. international education professionals in Washington in late July, Afghanistan’s minister of higher education reflected on the current state of the university system he oversees and the nature of the international partnerships that have developed between foreign institutions and those in his country.
In his speech to the Association Liaison Office for University Cooperation in Development, which backs partnerships between institutions in the United States and in developing countries, Amir Shah Hassanyer said his country is moving from an emergency phase to a period of consolidation and long-term strategic planning. The minister stressed that offers of assistance and partnership should focus on long-term goals rather than short-term fixes. There currently are 40,000 students enrolled at the country’s 19 institutions, compared to 4,000 at six institutions in 2002. Officials estimate a total enrollment of 100,000 by 2010.
Five partnerships exist between U.S. and Afghan institutions, with promises of many more. However, Hassanyer stressed that Afghanistan is only interested in establishing relationships that focus on the long haul. Currently, the ministry is focusing on strengthening four regional universities – in Herat, Kandahar, Nangahar and Balkh – in addition to opening two-year vocational institutions in each of Afghanistan’s 24 provinces. Other challenges facing the system include overhauling the 30-year-old curriculum; reconstructing, repairing and modernizing facilities; overcoming factional and ethnic institutional bias; and the dearth of library resources. Meanwhile, progress has been made in developing a credit-hour system, private education laws and the introduction of a national admissions system.
— Inside Higher Ed
July 28, 2005
Merger Rumors Swell Among Higher Education Reforms
In a new era of market competition ushered in by Education Minister Brendan Nelson, three West Australian universities could be on the verge of a merger that would create the nation’s largest university, with more than 70,000 students, reports The Australian newspaper. The proposed University of Perth would combine the resources and assets of Edith Cowan, Murdoch and Curtin universities.
Under Nelson’s recent higher education shake-up, the new university would compete aggressively with institutions in other states for students and industry and research funds. Speculation is rife in Australia that smaller institutions will find it difficult to survive under the Nelson reforms or will be forced to focus on teaching, not research. The new higher education policy environment includes the introduction of tuition fees for students, the rechanneling of research funding to major universities, a movement toward a three-tier university system in which some universities will be restricted to teaching only, and increasing government support of private universities.
— The Australian
June 22, 2005
Confucius Institute to Land on Australian Shores
The Chinese government has signed an agreement with the University of Western Australia (UWA) to establish a Chinese language and culture institute. The joint venture is the latest in a string of agreements the Chinese government has signed with various universities around the world to establish what are known as Confucius Institutes. The program is similar in nature to the British Council and Germany’s Goethe Institute.
A part of the new UWA Institute for International Development, the Confucius Institute was launched in May by UWA representatives and representatives from the Chinese government’s National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language. The Australian venture follows swiftly on the heels of similar agreements with universities in South Korea, the United States and Sweden. Another agreement also was announced recently between Shandong University and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.
Funding for the institute will be split between the Chinese government and UWA. A portion of the Chinese contribution may come in the form of Chinese-language teachers, for which there is a global shortage.
Melbourne’s Private-Sector Experiment Ends in Closure
After eight years and an estimated loss of US$15.5 million, Melbourne University has decided to cease operations at its somewhat controversial private arm, Melbourne University Private (MUP). The institution was established in 1997 as an independent operation.
In essence, the commercial operation will be made public under plans to merge it with Melbourne University. MUP’s 600 students will be able to complete their courses at Melbourne University. The original vision for MUP and its eight regional campuses foresaw enrollments of 2,500 students by 2008, a target that clearly will not be achieved. The venture was attacked from its inception, with critics accusing Melbourne of straying too far from its charter as a public university in search of financial gains.
The institution will hand back its university license to the Victorian state government by the end of the year.
Somewhat ironically, Australian universities can now charge the fees that formerly only private universities could, after the introduction of domestic fee-paying places in 1998 and government loans for full-fee students beginning this year. Essentially, the University of Melbourne was in competition with itself, in the form of MUP.
— The Age
June 8, 2005
Kingdom to Open Desperately Needed Degree-Granting College
Bhutan has a rapidly growing college-age population but very few institutions to meet the demand for tertiary-level studies. To address that need, the Education Ministry said a second liberal arts college will be opened by 2008. Sherubtse College, the country’s only liberal arts institution, currently admits just 200 students a year. Most other institutes fall under the umbrella of the recently created Royal University of Bhutan; however, they award mainly diplomas and certificates in subjects such as traditional medicine and forestry. For the majority of Bhutanese seeking a degree-level education, the only option is to look outside the country’s borders.
— The Chronicle of Higher Education
July 15, 2005
University of Michigan Expands Chinese Presence with New Agreements
Spearheading a University of Michigan (UM) delegation to China in June, President Mary Coleman concluded agreements with four of China’s most prestigious universities, in addition to meeting with Minister of Education Zhou Ji to discuss the possibility of further collaborations.
Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) and the UM College of Engineering will establish a joint engineering institute that will manage and direct an array of degree-granting programs offered by the universities to students from both nations, as well as cooperative research and exchange programs for students and faculty.
In 2001, UM became the first U.S. university to be granted the right to award graduate engineering degrees in China. It has since conferred more than 50 degrees to SJTU students. The new joint institute will provide a framework for future collaboration beyond the engineering disciplines, eventually involving additional U.S. universities.
With Beijing University, U M will create the Joint Center for Interdisciplinary Humanities and Social Sciences, which will manage a program to support research and training in the quantitative social sciences. Additionally, UM and Beijing University will collaborate with Qinghua University to globalize interdisciplinary Chinese studies to support research and training in approaches that draw on multiple academic disciplines. The fourth agreement was between Fudan University and the UM women’s studies program, which will create China’s first gender studies institute. The program will offer a UM-granted graduate degree. Responsibility for teaching the courses will be shared by UM and universities in China.
— University of Michigan news release
June 24, 2005
China, US Agree New Student Visa Arrangements
A reciprocal agreement reached by officials from the United States and China now permits students and scholars from both countries to apply for one-year, multiple-entry visas. This supplants current regulations that allow for six-month, two-entry-only visas.
The new arrangement means students and scholars will be able to save time and money by not having to return home as often to renew their visas. According to an announcement from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, Chinese applications for study in the United States have been rising recently, in part because of the recent changes to the Visa Mantis clearance system for foreign students and scholars who work in sensitive fields, which are now good for four years, instead of one. The U.S. Embassy issued 60 percent more student (F-1/F-2) and exchange-visitor (J-1/J-2) visas in May than a year earlier, up from 1,827 to 2,931.
— The U.S. Embassy in China
June 14, 2005
British University Set to Admit Students in September
The University of Nottingham-Ningbo, the first Sino-foreign joint venture university to be granted a license to operate an independent campus in China (see May/June 2004 issue of WENR), will welcome its first cohort of students in September in the East Coast city of Ningbo.
The university, jointly run by Zhejiang Wanli University and the University of Nottingham, will offer programs in three fields: commerce, modern languages and international communication. All subjects will be taught in English, and students will graduate with a University of Nottingham degree.
— People’s Daily Online
June 10, 2005
University Mergers Announced
Prestigious Shanghai Jiao Tong University has merged with Shanghai Second Medical University to form Jiaotong University of Shanghai. Also announced in July was the merger of Southwest Normal University with Southwest Agriculture University to form the Southwest University of China, located in Chongqing, Sichuan.
— Xinhua News Agency
July 18, 2005
Report: Jiang’s Education Reforms Continue Breakneck Growth
A recent article in the Christian Science Monitor reflected on China’s progress toward the massification and rapid expansion of its higher education system, a reform program announced in 1998 by then-President Jiang Zemin. Ideas that even a decade ago would have been almost unimaginable, such as the introduction of private institutions of higher education, are now mainstream. Today, there are approximately 1,300 private universities dotting the country.
With its ongoing march onto the global economic stage, China is undergoing one of the most ambitious higher education expansions ever witnessed. Spurred by a government call in the late 1990s to build world-class universities and broaden access to the masses, the country is opening the doors of top institutions that formerly served a narrow elite. Not only is it encouraging private ventures, it is also pouring money into research and broadening the curriculum to ensure that its graduates are not too narrowly focused in today’s knowledge-based world economy. It also is ensuring that technical programs are responding to market needs through industry tie-ups and joint ventures.
Since Jiang’s announcement in 1998, overall college enrollment in China has roughly tripled. The country now outpaces the United States, India, Russia and Japan in total enrollments at colleges and universities. By 2010, Chinese officials estimate, at least 20 percent of high school graduates will be enrolled in some form of higher education; that number is expected to rise to 50 percent by 2050. China currently has approximately 20 million students pursuing higher education. Many are planning to get master’s degrees and doctorates. Indeed, China almost doubled the number of science and engineering doctorates between 1996 and 2001, to more than 8,000. Some observers say that within a decade, China likely will boast some of the world’s leading engineering schools.
For new graduates, the most dramatic change may be that a bachelor’s degree from a top school – once a guaranteed steppingstone to success – is now not necessarily the banker it once was. Although a place at one of the nation’s seven premier institutions, such as Qinghua or Beijing University, is still the gold standard, its graduates face fierce competition in a tight job market from the graduates of the ever-expanding private sector, many of whom are likely to find employment with a company affiliated with their alma mater.
— Christian Science Monitor
July 29, 2005
New Regulations Posted for Foreign Institutions
The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has defined new regulations controlling the operation of foreign technical institutions in India.
The new regulations state that programs and qualifications offered by foreign institutions must be recognized in the parent country and the qualifications must be recognized as equivalent to the same degree offered at home. In addition, the nomenclature of the final award must be the same. Finally, the parent institution must be recognized in its home country. The AICTE Web site provides a list of approved foreign institutions that can operate in India. Currently there are only two such institutions listed: the University of Huddersfield and Staffordshire University, both in the United Kingdom.
The new AICTE regulations come in addition to recommendations recently issued by the government-appointed CNR Rao Committee on the entry of foreign education providers into India (FEPs). If adopted, the Rao-Committee recommendations would require FEPs to undergo a two-tier approval process: a probationary period followed by review and, if successful, application for a long-term license. Similar to the AICTE regulations, FEPs will only be permitted to undergo the probationary period if they are accredited in their home country. The recommendations come as part of the government’s preparations for the possible implementation of the World Trade Organization’s General Agreement on the Trade in Services (GATS).
A summary of AICTE’s procedures and conditions for the entry of foreign universities to India are available at: http://www.aicte.ernet.in/ForeignUniversites/forgin_05.DOC.
May 16, 2005
Chhattisgarh Redrafts Private Universities Bill
After the fiasco of the 2002 Private University Act and the subsequent closure of all 112 private universities in the state (see January/February 2005 issue of WENR), the state of Chhattisgarh has drafted new legislation to again allow for the operation of private universities within its boundaries.
The state Cabinet has approved the draft bill, which will be discussed in the current session of the state Assembly. Minister for Higher Education Ajay Chandrakar has restated his government’s commitment to allowing the establishment of private universities as a means of increasing access to the tertiary sector, while assuring that the new legislation will prevent “infrastructure-deprived institutions from using a university only for revenue generation at the cost of the student’s future.”
Under the new bill, organizations interested in establishing a private university would be required to:
- Provide a minimum deposit of US$230,000 to reimburse students should the institution close.
- Acquire a plot of land of 25 acres or more.
- Register the details of all courses to be offered, its sources of income and its procedures for appointing teaching and nonteaching staff.
Because the public sector could not meet the demand for university education, the 2002 act was implemented to encourage private-sector investment. The legislation was poorly drafted, however. More than 125 license applications were received, and nearly all were granted the right to establish as a university. Many of the newly established private universities were of a dubious standard and were often little more than a storefront. Many of these private universities also opened campuses outside the state, enrolling hundreds of students in various courses. The new draft of the bill does not allow for the establishment of outside branch campuses.
— Asian News International
July 9, 2005
Visa Regulations Eased for Foreign Students
The Indian government announced in July the easing of visa restrictions for foreign students studying at the nation’s institutions of higher education. Under the new rules, students will not be restricted in the number of courses they wish to take each semester, nor will they be required to pursue all studies at the same institution.
— Times of India
July 11, 2005
Tamil Nadu’s Controversial Testing Decree Ruled Unconstitutional
The Tamil Nadu state government announced on June 6 that the results of all common entrance tests (CET) to institutes of professional education for 2005-06 would not be used for admissions purposes. At that time, 25,000 students already had taken several entrance examinations, including the Tamil Nadu Professional Courses Entrance Examination, All India Engineering Entrance Examination and the state government’s ‘improvement examination.’ Under the decree, marks obtained in the class XII Plus Two examination were to be the sole criterion for admissions into colleges of professional education. The rationale behind the move was to create a level playing field for rural school leavers who don’t have access to expensive CET preparation classes, common in large urban centers such as Chennai (Madras).
The decision stirred up a great deal of controversy and protest. Writ petitions were filed to the Madras High Court by 400 students who had already taken examinations and complained that money, time and effort expended on the exams counted for nothing. The High Court sided with the students, and on June 27 struck down the June 6 order. The judges opined that the state government behaved unconstitutionally in overruling statutory provisions in the Indian Medical Council Act and the All India Council for Technical Education Act, which mandate common entrance tests in states with more than one school examination board. Since Tamil Nadu has schools affiliated with three boards – the State Board, Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) – common entrance examinations are mandatory in the state, the judges observed.
Complaints also were raised by students who had taken CISCE and CBSE class XII examinations, who said the state board examinations are much less demanding than the national examinations. The June 6 ruling would have treated the results from all three boards on a par with each other. Others pointed out that in order for Plus Two examinations to be considered adequate as admissions tests, extra aptitude, analytical skills and reasoning components need to be added.
— Education World
University Bankruptcies on Horizon as Enrollments Plummet
As Japan’s population grows older and the number of college-age students continues to drop, it seems logical that a certain percentage of the universities and colleges servicing those students will begin to close. In the public sector this has been the case; the government reacted in 2003 to the shrinking pool of high school graduates by enforcing a series of mergers among 35 of the country’s 100 national universities. Between 2003 and 2004, the number of national universities dropped to 87. The number of universities in the private sector, however, has curiously continued to grow. Although the government has encouraged private institutions to merge, the response has been less than enthusiastic. The writing could soon be on the wall, however, as it was announced recently that Hagi International University has become the first university in Japan to apply for bankruptcy protection because of a lack of students.
A record 160 of 550 private universities failed to fill their student intake quotas in this year’s entrance examination, according to a survey released by the Promotion and Mutual Aid Corporation for Private Schools of Japan. The situation was even more serious for the nation’s 383 private junior colleges, 41.3 percent of which failed to meet their quotas. Given the tight job market for graduates, universities are beginning to realize that they need to refocus or face closure. For example, the Kanazawa Institute of Technology’s career services program boasts of securing 99 percent of its graduates with jobs, while Ochanomizu Women’s University now offers child-care services to attract mature students. Other schools are offering discounted tuition fees, while still others are offering alternate means of admission such as interviews and essays in place of written examinations. To the detriment of the rapidly shrinking junior college sector, many private universities are now accepting transfer credits from junior colleges, an accommodation that in the not-so-distant past would have been unthinkable. As for Hagi, new investors are considering relaunching it as a training school for social services, such as elderly care.
— Time Asia
July 4, 2005
Ireland Warns of “Bogus” Institution in Malaysia
The Irish government has warned Malaysian education authorities against a private higher education institution located near the capital of Kuala Lumpur.
According to Irish Ambassador to Malaysia Daniel Mulhull, Irish International University does “not offer any courses or conduct any classes in Ireland … they are neither Irish nor a university,” he told the New Straits Times.
Private institutions in Malaysia are registered with and approved by the Ministry of Education. Due to the limited number of places available at public institutions, private institutions in recent years have become increasingly popular with both Malaysians and overseas students. According to government figures, there were 539 private higher education institutions in 2003.There has, however, been increasing criticism from educators over the quality of these private institutions.
— Agence France Presse
July 24, 2005
Report: Education System Receives Failing Grade
Pakistan’s education system ranks last of 14 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, according to a new report compiled by a network of development organizations.
The Asia Pacific Report Card on Education for All was published by the Asian South Pacific Bureau of Adult Education, a network of 200 adult education bodies, in cooperation with the Global Campaign for Education, a coalition of developmental organizations in more than 100 countries. The 14 countries were graded and ranked according to their performance in five main subjects: basic education, state action on free education, inputs and resources, gender equality and overall equity.
Pakistani Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s government was criticized for spending the lion’s share of its GDP on the military at the expense of its education and health systems. Thailand ranks first, with an A grade, while Malaysia is second with a similar grade. Sri Lanka (B), the Philippines (C) and China (C) follow. Vietnam was awarded a D, while Bangladesh, Cambodia, India and Indonesia all received E’s. Nepal, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Pakistan all were awarded F grades.
— UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
July 18, 2005
Momentum Gathers for Opening of Australian University
The University of New South Wales (UNSW) Council has approved the first round of undergraduate programs for its groundbreaking Singapore campus.
Prospective students at UNSW Asia will be able to apply to the departments of science, engineering, international studies, commerce or design and media, within which 20 specific majors have been approved. Classes are scheduled to start in 2007. While the purpose-built campus is under construction, UNSW Asia students will attend classes in a nearby polytechnic.
Supported by the government of Singapore and its Economic Development Board, UNSW Asia will be Singapore’s first private foreign university; it also will be the first wholly owned and operated research and teaching campus to be established overseas by an Australian university.
— The Star Online
May 29, 2005
Universitas 21 Confers First MBAs
Universitas 21 Global, an online graduate school, is celebrating its second full year of operation this month, along with the graduation of its first class of MBA students.
The school’s master’s in business administration program, which currently has 700 students from more than 40 countries, is a partnership involving 16 universities and one of the world’s educational publishing giants, Thomson Learning. Officials from the Singapore-based institution believe the school has yet to be affected by the downturn in demand for MBAs. Rather, they believe they can tap into demand for business learning in two ways: first, by offering online courses that are backed by the distinctive pedigree of its parent institutions and, second, by doing this for as little as one-fifth the cost students would usually incur by studying at a top-flight school. Universitas 21 currently is seeking to establish itself in places where officials believe the bubble in management education never fully formed. To date, the strongest interest has been registered in China, India and the Middle East.
As well as its three founding Australian universities – Melbourne, New South Wales and Queensland – the consortium has member institutions in Britain, Canada, mainland China and Hong Kong, Germany, New Zealand, Singapore, Sweden and the United States.
— The Australian
June 15, 2005
Medical School Reforms Meet Stiff Opposition
Some of South Korea’s top universities have defied a government reform program designed to alter the way doctors in the country are trained. Seoul National University, Yonsei University and Korea University all have refused to implement the government’s new four-year graduate medical school program and will instead maintain their current six-year programs.
Only 14 of the nation’s 41 medical colleges are planning to or have already adopted the new system that would see potential doctors first complete their four-year undergraduate education before applying to medical school. The graduate program would take another four years to complete, extending the number of years required to complete a medical education from six years to eight.
The Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development believes the new system will guarantee a more in-depth and well-rounded education for future doctors. Critics believe the longer program will only make a medical education more costly, without greatly improving the student’s overall education. Currently, implementation of graduate medical studies is voluntary, although there are financial incentives for medical departments to implement the new four-year program.
— The Korea Times
June 6, 2005
Universities to Merge, Cut Enrollments
Ten national universities are to merge into five by 2006 as part of an Education Ministry plan to cut the number of national universities from 50 to 35 over the next two years, the ministry announced in July. The ministry also announced that Korea, Yonsei, Kyunghee and four other high-profile private universities in the Seoul area will be obligated to reduce their total enrollments by 3,170 by 2007.
In addition to the cuts and mergers, the Education Ministry’s five-year plan includes cutting overall student enrollment 15 percent by 2009 and increasing the level of specialization and competition at top universities (see March/April 2005 issue of WENR).
Under current plans, Pusan National University will be merged with Miryang National University, Chonnam National University with Yosu National University, Kyungpook National University with Sangju National University, Kangwon National University with Samchok National University and Chungju National University with Chungju National College of Science and Technology. Subsidies totaling US$79 million are being offered by the government to fund the transition. The Education Ministry also plans to allocate a large sum of money toward creating 15 “world-class universities” from existing institutions.
— The Dong-A Ilbo
July 5, 2005
Government in Admissions Row With Top Universities
The South Korean government has clashed with top-ranked Seoul National University (SNU) over its plans to defy ministry policies requiring the university to amend its admissions procedures, which center on its own test and which the government says forces students to rely too heavily on private tutoring. The government’s new college admission plan for 2008 is designed to lessen the weighting of the College Scholastic Ability Test in admissions decisions.
SNU and other institutions defying the government order to rely on school grades and other standardized tests for admission purposes face the prospect of financial penalties if they do not step in line by 2008, when the new admissions policies are scheduled to begin. Officials from the public university have been outspoken about what they view as an unacceptable government encroachment on institutional autonomy. Currently, the government allows private and national universities to conduct essay tests as an additional means of selecting students, but bans them from administering so-called bongosa tests that combine multiple subjects. It is this type of multi-subject test that SNU and other institutions are proposing to introduce and which the government and parents believe place an unwelcome emphasis on private tutoring to score well.
— The Korea Herald
July 7, 2005