WENR, Oct. 2005: Europe


EU to Step in to Solve Admissions Dilemma

An EU working group looking into the mobility of students will be set up to investigate fears that upwards of 60,000 German students will flood the university system in Austria. The European Court of Justice ruled in July that the Austrian university system has been discriminating against non-Austrian students by only admitting them if they could prove that they had also qualified for a corresponding place in their home country (see July/August issue of WENR). In July 2004, a similar ruling was issued against Belgium with respect to French students studying in Wallonia, the French-speaking part of Belgium.

The Austrian ruling, which has set a new precedent for the free movement of students within the EU, opened the gates for German students to enroll at Austrian universities, especially in professional fields such as medicine, veterinary science, and dentistry — courses for which Germany has a quota system. According to the Austrian news agency APA, Vienna University had in August 610 remaining medical school places for which more than 1,500 applications were received, 1,200 of them from German nationals. As an emergency measure the Austrian parliament has taken the position of allowing a limit on the number of study places (via entrance examinations or objective selection procedures during the course of study) in the disciplines of medicine, dentistry, veterinary science, pharmacy, biology, psychology, business and communication studies. The other 160 programs offered at Austrian institutions of higher education will not have these limitations. The country is still trying to find a long-term solution for the admission of international students. The European Commission has stated that it will help Austria find a “non-discriminating solution through its working group that will consist of representatives from Austria, the European Commission and other concerned countries.

Sept. 8, 2005


Ministry Calls for Tuition Fees for Non-EU Students

The Ministry of Education is calling for the introduction of annual tuition fees of US$4,200 to US$14,500 for international students from outside the European Union. The proposal exempts from the fees those doing postgraduate doctoral studies, while introducing a system of financial aid for undergraduate- and graduate-level students.

The aim of the fees would be to improve the quality of teaching in foreign languages, and to cover part of the costs of teaching non-Finns. The upper limit of the fees increased from the previously proposed US$11,400 because some fields, such as dentistry, medicine and the arts, require more individualized instruction. It is a controversial move, however, since Finland has in the past provided free education for all. In an effort to keep foreign talent in the country after graduation, students would be allowed to deduct some of their tuition fees from future income taxes. The proposed plan would take effect in August 2007.

Helsingin Sanomat
Sept. 12, 2005


Unique Global MBA Program Launched

Representatives from universities in Germany (Fachhochschule Darmstadt), India (T.A. Pai Management Institute, Manipal) and the (University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh) recently signed an agreement to begin a “one-of-a-kind global master of business administration (MBA) program.”

The intensive, 15-month program will be designed for working professionals. It will begin in June with 10 students from each campus. Sixty percent of the coursework for the 33-credit program will be completed online. The rest will be delivered on-site, requiring students to travel to each country.

Wisconsin Business News Source
Aug. 25, 2005

Elite Funding Finally Approved

After approximately 1 ½ years of negotiations, the German government announced in September the details of its long-awaited, and somewhat controversial, funding plan for “elite universities” (see August 2005 issue of WENR). The Excellence Initiative will make US$2.3 billion available over a five-year period, starting in 2006. The federal government will provide 75 percent of the funding, with the remainder coming from the individual states.

Deutsche Welle
Sept. 12, 2005

University Graduates Older than Ever; Few Graduate from New Short Program

Record numbers are graduating from German universities at record ages. According to the Federal Statistics Office, the average graduate for a first degree was 28 years old in 2004, a year that saw 230,000 students graduate from German universities, an increase of approximately 6 percent over the previous year. The vast majority received magister or diplom degrees. Students graduating from the new bachelor/master programs, which in time are expected to replace the longer integrated degrees and now available at most German universities, still comprise just five percent of graduates. Students in those programs earned their degrees on average in a little less than four years, compared to more than five for students in the old system.

Germany Information Center
Sept 20, 2005


Top Marks for Access to Education

According to the recent Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development ”Education at a Glance” report, Iceland has the highest percentage of “young people entering higher education.” Iceland reportedly sends over 80 percent of its young people (eligible students under 25) to higher education, just topping New Zealand and Sweden, which are also near the 80 percent mark. Poland, Hungary and Australia send nearly 70 percent, with Italy and South Korea hovering around 50 percent.

BBC News
Sept. 13, 2005


Mandatory Schooling Extended

The government is planning to introduce a new dual-track secondary system. Beginning in September 2006, 14-year-olds will have to choose between five years in the academic stream, leading to the university entrance exam (esami di maturita), or three to four years preparing for a vocational or professional qualification. The goal, the Italian government said, is to keep more students in school, making it mandatory for them to get at least three years of upper secondary schooling. Students will have the option of moving between academic and technical streams, if they choose.

In the vocational stream, students can leave school after completing courses for the diploma di qualifica after three years, or for a more advanced four-year diploma. Students wishing to continue with tertiary studies at a technical or academic institution can complete a fifth year of study.

Italian Ministry of Education
August 2005

The Netherlands

Dutch Schools Step Up Marketing

Dutch tertiary institutes are offering close to 1,100 courses in English in the coming academic year, as advertised in the Study in Holland packet, which is produced by the Netherlands Organization for Cooperation in Higher Education (Nuffic). The courses vary from short training courses to doctoral-level programs across most academic fields.

According to the Nuffic news release, the Netherlands is expecting approximately 40,000 foreign students for the coming academic year. The number of Netherlands Education Support Offices also is on the increase. Existing offices are in Beijing, Taipei and Jakarta, with offices due to open in India, Thailand, Vietnam and Latin America.

Nuffic news release
July 26, 2005

Northern Ireland

16 Colleges to Merge

Sixteen further education colleges in Northern Ireland are to be merged into six larger schools after a major review of the sector. The Association of Northern Ireland Colleges (ANIC), which represents the 16 schools, welcomed the announcement. However, the main teaching union, NATFHE, representing close to 2,000 lecturers, said it would mean job losses and years of uncertainty for staff. The new college groupings will be:

BBC News
Sept. 6, 2005


New Higher Education Act Introduces Bologna Degrees

On Aug. 22, Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski signed into law the Higher Education Act, which introduces a three-tier structure of university studies. The act states that high school final exams (maturity certificates, or swiadectwo dojrzlosci) will be the new basis for admission to university studies. The act went into effect Sept. 1.

The three distinct divisions are in line with the structural norms of the Bologna Process: undergraduate and engineering studies, master’s degree studies and doctoral studies. The new structure will be phased in and, as with most other countries making structural reforms, the new first and second degrees will be offered in parallel with the former five-year program.

University of Bialystok
Aug. 23, 2005


Private University Fails in Accreditation Bid

Based on the advice of the 21-member Accreditation Commission the Slovak Cabinet decided not to approve the private Kolegium Adama F. Kollara. The school’s curriculum was to focus on social education and pedagogy. The commission’s decision was based on the school’s lack of personnel and resources; panel members said the school would not be able to follow through on its curriculum agenda.

According to information provided by the Education Ministry, 26 companies and associations have so far applied for state approval to establish a private institution of higher education. The Accreditation Commission disapproved of seven applications and submitted a favorable opinion on four projects, which subsequently were approved by the Cabinet. The ministers failed to agree on three other applications. Seven applicants voluntarily withdrew their requests.

There currently are just three state-approved private higher education institutions in the Slovak Republic.

July 15, 2005


EISE Tops Economist Rankings; 2 Top U.S. Schools Boycott

Barcelona-based business school IESE of the University of Navarra recently was ranked best in the world by the Economist Intelligence Unit, a sister-publication of The Economist magazine, in a study called “Which MBA?”. For the first time ever, a non-U.S. institution has topped one of the leading global business school rankings.

The news comes with a caveat, however: Harvard Business School and the Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania were left out of the rankings because they refused to disclose information requested by the British magazine for the rankings exercise. The list is based on a number of criteria, but it relies heavily on student assessments of their educational experience. Both Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania refused to provide EIU with access to student records, preventing it from contacting alumni from the two business schools.

With an increasing number of publications performing such business school rankings, results seem at times almost arbitrary due to the different criteria taken to assess schools. IESE topped EIU’s list because it scored well in two categories: opening new career opportunities, and the starting salaries of its new graduates (an average of US$142,000 — higher than any U.S. school).

The Wall Street Journal recently undertook a similar ranking exercise, which relied on the perceptions of on-campus corporate recruiters. The Journal’s rankings had Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business ranked first, and had IESE ranked 19 th.

The Economist
Sept. 24, 2005

United Kingdom

Joint Venture Creates International College

The University of Sheffield will finalize this month a joint venture with Kaplan International College to develop a new international college. The college will offer pre-undergraduate foundation and pre-master’s courses to international students in a number of disciplines, including arts, social sciences, sciences and engineering. The first semester is planned for September 2006.

Kaplan International College provides academic preparation programs designed specifically for the needs of international students in the United Kingdom. The University of Sheffield is one of the United Kingdom’s leading and largest universities, with more than 24,000 students from 117 countries.

The Guardian
Sept. 20, 2005

Reform Plan Pilots Use of SAT in Admissions

The British government has announced plans for a radical change in the way students apply to university by giving SAT-style tests a comprehensive trial run over a five-year period. The pilot test will track the academic progress of up to 50,000 students who take the test this fall in advance of their A-levels.

The Department for Education and Skills, in outlining its proposals, said the new system will help universities distinguish the best students — they won’t have to rely on predicted A-level results. The SAT results from the trial run will not be used for admissions; rather, they will be used to gauge their utility in predicting ability. One major argument for the SAT test is that pupils from poorer families tend to suffer most under the current system because teachers often underestimate their grades.

Two other proposals would further overhaul the current system. Under the first, students would not submit formal university applications until they receive their A-level results. It is hoped the most-qualified students would secure the best spots, and not just on a first-come, first-serve basis. The second would offer some university places based on predicted grades, while other spots would be reserved for those students who performed better than predicted.

The proposals were welcomed in the higher education sector, but some university leaders have reservations, suggesting that the reforms would not leave enough time to consider applications between the distribution of A-level results and the start of the academic year.

The Daily Telegraph Newspaper
Sept. 9, 2005

University Signs Deal with Italian Business School

Buckingham University has signed a deal with the European School of Economics (ESE), a somewhat controversial, Italian-based business school.

Buckingham has agreed to sign its name to degrees awarded by the ESE, a school that has appeared in the “Whistleblower” column of The Times Higher Education Supplement on several occasions for such problems as failure to pay its staff.

The Times reports that Buckingham insists it has carried out extensive due diligence tests and is confident it will work well with ESE. The deal is projected to bring Buckingham US$878,000 by 2008 and double the number of students it graduates from 700 to 1,400.

ESE was formed by former Italian pop star and businessman Elios d’Anna and his brother, Stephano. Within six years it had 2,500 students on 12 campuses in Italy, Paris, London and New York. ESE has been in the news several times, going to court for failing to pay its staff, as well as over issues involving its Italian students postponing their military service.

The Times Higher Education Supplement
July 22, 2005

‘At Risk’ International Students May Pay Big for Visa

The Home Office plans to make international students from some countries pay a deposit of up to 7,000 pounds to gain a student visa. University and college heads have condemned the proposal.

The proposal states that students from “high-risk” countries, where the visa system has been abused, pay a “bond” that would be forfeited if they disappeared after entering the UK. The bond is expected to be set as a full year’s tuition, or up to 7,000 pounds. The Council for International Education and the Association of Colleges have attacked the proposals saying they could see “no advantages whatsoever.” They argue that legitimate students will not have access to these sorts of funds. Furthermore, for those who cannot afford the bonds, UKCOSA foresees a black-market of bonds and credentials, thereby benefiting those that cheat the system further.

In related news, universities are now being asked to inform the Home Office when international students fail to take up a place at university after they have been granted a visa to study in the UK. The move comes as part of a three-month pilot program to crack down on people gaining entry to the UK via a student visa after reports in early September revealed that 17,000 non-EU students failed to show up for classes after accepting an offer last year. This figure has been dismissed by the Home Office, which says that foreign students often get multiple offers, and not showing up at one university may mean they have gone somewhere else or decided not to come at all. A figure closer to 5,000 has also been quoted in the press in recent weeks. The Home Office would eventually aim to make the scheme compulsory for all universities.

The Times Higher Education Supplement
Aug. 19, 2005

Sept. 27, 2005

Schools Granted University Status

Bath Spa University College (BSUC) has been granted university status by the Privy Council and given the go-ahead to call itself Bath Spa University. Vice Chancellor Frank Morgan said the new institution planned significant expansion and strengthened international links over the next decade.

Meanwhile, University College London (UCL) announced at the end of September that it had been granted degree-awarding powers. UCL is the largest constituent college of the University of London, which traditionally awards degrees on behalf of its member colleges. The move calls into question the future of the federal university after the London School of Economics and King’s College London announced recently that they are seeking degree-awarding powers and Imperial has, like UCL, been granted them. The University of London has a membership of 19 colleges, some of which have of late expressed their displeasure over the large subscription they pay the central university. If either UCL or Imperial decide to use their degree-awarding power they would have to rescind their membership of the University of London and would no longer be able to use the brand name.

The Times Higher Education Supplement
Aug. 12, 2005

The Guardian
Sept. 27, 2005

The Times Higher Education Supplement
Aug. 12, 2005

Posted in Europe, Regional News Summaries