WENR, Feb. 2006: Europe
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EU Makes Plans to Retain Top Researchers
European Union leaders are taking steps to create a European Institute of Technology to compete with similar institutions in North America and Asia and to put a halt to migration of top scientists from the 25 member nations abroad. According to EU Education Commissioner Jan Fígel, plans for the proposed institute are still in the introductory phase and it has not yet been decided whether it would be housed in one location or in a network of European universities. The proposal has received support from the European University Association on the condition that the EU discuss the formation of a European Research Council to foster basic research and outline scientific priorities on the continent. The legislative go-ahead for the proposed institute will be formally discussed at a meeting of European Union heads of state in March.
— The Chronicle for Higher Education
University Cracks Down on Cheats
One Croatian center of higher education has decided to curb cheating among the student body by publicly humiliating offenders. University officials at Zagreb University will post the names of students who cheated on electrical engineering and computing exams on bulletin boards and publish them on the university website. Zagreb’s Vice Dean, Vedran Mornar, said that the campaign was a method of protecting the honest majority of undergraduates.
— Times Higher Education Supplement
Jan. 30, 2006
Brain Drain in Medical Field
The future of health care seems shaky as concern grows in Estonia’s healthcare establishment about losing their best and brightest in the field of medicine to lucrative job opportunities abroad. Issues like low salaries, lack of technical equipment, and scant funding are causing one in three health care professionals to consider leaving Estonia for greener pastures elsewhere. The prospect of immigration has become easier and more appealing for educated professionals in Estonia since the nation’s accession to the European Union in 2004.
A survey conducted by the Estonian think tank Praxis in 2003 found that 20.6 percent of Estonian physicians and 44.9 percent of resident doctors in training said they had a “developed” or a “definite” plan to emigrate. Finland has been one the most popular destinations for Estonian-educated medical professionals. Finland has a shortage of health professionals, while it shares linguistic similarities with Estonia and offers better job security. Dr. Hannu Halila, director of Education and Research at the Finnish Medical Association, estimated that since 2004, 300 Estonian doctors have applied for the necessary permits to practice medicine in Finland and that another 100 have recently started the process.
The Estonian Medical Association (EMA) cites a series of hospital mergers, the government’s regional ranking as the lowest spender of percentage GDP on healthcare, the lack of plans for future salary increases, and the cutting back of medical services as factors contributing to the country’s inability to retain its doctors. Estonia’s Health Care Board reported that 437 doctors, or 8 percent of the 5,100 registered doctors in the country, had applied for permission to work in EU member states.
— The Baltic Times
Jan. 20, 2006
European School of Management and Technology Begins Classes
The European School of Management and Technology (ESMT) became the first private university in Germany to offer an American-style MBA when thirty students started the program in January. Hoping to compete with Europe’s other leading business schools, ESMT offers its one-year MBA in English from its main campus in Berlin.
While the development of the new MBA program is consistent with the rest of Europe’s recent streamlining of post-secondary education, German universities have traditionally shunned the MBA for the more common Diplom Kaufmann, a four- to six-year degree in business administration. The MBA began to gain acceptance in the late 1990s, however, no German schools have yet appeared in any serious ranking of worldwide MBA programs. ESMT is hoping that the new program will help change that fact as evidenced by the program’s US$60,430 price tag.
The European School of Management and Technology is located on three campuses based in Berlin, Munich and Cologne. It was created through a foundation supported by 26 major German companies and organizations.
— The Economist
Jan. 25, 2006
Marburg Signs Cooperation Agreement with Chinese University
EUA to Evaluate Slovakian, Portuguese Universities
The European University Association (EUA) has signed agreements with the ministers of education from Slovakia and Portugal to conduct a sector-wide evaluation of the two nation’s higher education institutions. The evaluation, a function of the EUA’s Institutional Evaluation Program, will take place over the next two years and employ experienced international evaluators from both Europe and North America. Evaluators will be looking at decision-making structures, internal quality arrangements, research activities, lifelong learning provisions, and overall access to higher education.
The EUA launched the Institutional Evaluation Program 11 years ago and has evaluated over 150 universities in Europe and worldwide. Recent work conducted by the organization included a review of all Irish universities (2003-2004) and a series of evaluations in Catalonia (2004-2005).
— European University Association
Marburg University and China’s Wuhan University have signed a cooperation agreement that will encourage student exchange between the institutions and a merger of research expertise. Wuhan is recognized as one of the best research universities in China and houses the nation’s high security virological study laboratory.
Dec. 21, 2005
10 Vie for “Elite” Status
The top 10 German universities being considered for “elite” status (See Oct. issue of WENR) and the opportunity to receive millions of euro in extra funding have been announced. The academic institutions that will submit proposals for further consideration are:
– Aachen University of Technology
– Free University of Berlin
– University of Bremen
– University of Freiburg
– University of Heidelberg
– Karlsruhe Technical University
– Ludwig Maximilian University
– Munich Technical University
– University of Tübingen
– University of Würzburg
A committee comprised of members from the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the German Science Council made the selections. In an effort to improve Germany’s international reputation in education, the government has made available US$2.3 billion to spend over five years on promoting excellence at the five “elite” institutions. Money has also been allocated for 40 graduate schools and 30 clusters of excellence.
Government Issues Warning About Unrecognized Institutions
The Department of Education and Science (DES) is taking steps to deregister five companies calling themselves universities from the Companies Registration Office (CRO) in Dublin. Dublin Metropolitan University, Irish International University of Europa (IIUE), European University of Ireland, Irish University Business School, and Warnborough University are all unaccredited institutions promoting themselves abroad as government-recognized universities.
The IIUE has been using a sophisticated website to attract students by claiming they are accredited by the European Recognition Council, a body with no authority in the academic community. University College of Dublin, a government-recognized university, has protested that the IIUE claims to have a branch campus in Dublin that shares a name with its Dublin European Institute.
In related news, a virtual institution located in California, West Coast University, is also being investigated by the DES for claims of having an office in Dublin. West Coast claims to be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Higher Education based in the Pacific islands of Wallis and Futuna. In addition, several Irish institutions have been alerted that the highly questionable University of New Castle, also claiming legitimacy through the islands of Wallis and Futuna, has named them as authorized agents.
— Times Higher Education Supplement
Jan. 6, 2006
“Green Card” for Graduates
A new “green card” law being passed through government will make it easier for foreign graduates of Irish universities and their families to immigrate to the country upon graduation. The Minister of Education, Mary Hanafin, made the announcement about the new provision on a visit to India with Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern and prominent members of various Irish institutions of higher education.
The new green card system is designed to attract skilled immigrants from outside of the EU to help the rapidly growing Irish economy maintain its edge in the industries of pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. In addition to the new green card scheme, Education Ireland, established to promote education opportunities in Ireland, is being set up in countries like India with the goal of attracting young talent to Ireland for training in business management, information technology, science, and medicine. Ireland plans to produce 8,000 PhDs from its universities between 2006 and 2013, with skilled immigrants making up a large portion of those degrees.
— The Economic Times
Jan. 20, 2006
Touro College Expands to Italy
Touro College has signed an agreement with the Province of Rome and the Municipality of Zagarolo to establish its first branch campus in Italy. New York based Touro enrolls approximately 20,000 students around the world with branch campuses in California, Nevada, Jerusalem, Moscow and Berlin. The Palazzo Rospigliosi campus will house an international center for Jewish and general studies.
— Touro news release
Nov. 17, 2005
Students First to Earn New Degree
The 105 Maltese students who enrolled in the Malta College of Arts, Science, and Technology (MCAST) four years ago are the first to have graduated with the new Higher National Diploma (HND) in fields such as graphic design, engineering, and computing.
MCAST was founded with the goals of preparing students for a knowledge-based economy and attracting foreign based direct investment in the Maltese economy. The HND is recognized nationally but students still need a Matriculation Certificate in Malta to qualify for university admission. The college is negotiating with officials from the National Commission for Higher Education to develop university opportunities for these graduating students as well as MCAST courses in specific areas related to vocational education.
— The Times of Malta
Jan. 13, 2006
Ministry Appeals to International Students
The Ministry of Education has opened a new scholarship program, combining already existing programs, in an effort to attract greater numbers of international students. The Delta II program will subsidize approximately 1,000 incoming international students and almost 200 Dutch students studying abroad.
The 3 million euro (US$3.5 million) being allocated by the government to Delta II is part of a 10 million euro fund assigned by the Ministry to its 2006 Internationalization of Higher Education initiative. Half of this money will be invested in the development of international centers of excellence with the goal of increasing the number of top ranking students studying in the Netherlands by 650 each year. In the 2003-2004 academic year, Delta brought 1,053 international students to the Netherlands and saw 181 Dutch students go abroad to study. The Delta II goal is 14,000 international students by 2010.
Government Investing in Internationalizing the Campus
The Ministry of Education has committed to investing 5 million euro (US$6 million) next year to developing international centers of excellence. From 2010, the Ministry hopes to increase the number of top students coming to the Netherlands each year by 650. The aim is to have 14,000 international students studying at Dutch higher education institutions in five year’s time.
A total of 10 million euro has been allocated from the education budget to the internationalization of higher education. In addition to the funding for centers of excellence, 2.3 million euro will be available in 2006 for generic internationalization initiatives. Two million euro has been allocated to research universities and the rest will go to higher professional education.
Nov. 23, 2005
Academic Structure Deters Student Mobility
The international mobility of Dutch students is decreasing due to the two-cycle structure of the education system says the Dutch Education Council. In 2002, The Netherlands introduced bachelor and master programs to their system of education as part of the Bologna Process, which is aimed in part at increasing international student mobility by increasing the consistency and comparability of European education systems.
The study, which was conducted by the Dutch Government as part of its Internationalization Agenda for Education 2006-2011, found that mobility amongst Dutch students has actually decreased since the 2002 higher education reforms were introduced. The study cited various factors for the downswing in student mobility, including incompatible academic schedules and the rigidity of the Dutch system limiting the options available to students. Also cited by the study was the fact that other countries do not often recognize the difference between the Dutch professional and academic bachelor’s program. The nation’s unique one-year master’s program also hurts the ability of students to use the degree abroad.
Education Accord to Attract Pakistani Students
Pakistan and Norway signed in January an education agreement designed to increase collaboration between institutions of higher education in the two countries and also bring an undisclosed number (described as large) of Pakistani graduate and doctoral students to study in Norway. The focus of the agreement is in the areas of applied sciences, engineering, telecommunications and biotechnology.
Jan. 25, 2006
Universities of Applied Science Merge
The three universities of applied sciences in Northwestern Switzerland merged on January 1 to form a new network known as Fachhochschule Nordwestscheiz. The University of Applied Sciences Aargau (School of Technology and Engineering Science, School of Business Management and Economics, School of Art & Design, School of Education, School of Social Pedagogy and Social Work); University of Applied Sciences Basel (School of Business Management, School of Art & Design, School of Engineering); and the University of Applied Sciences Solothurn (School of Business Management, School of Social Sciences, School of Engineering) form the new network.
According to a fact sheet issue by the Conference of Universities of Applied Science, the initiative “will enable each institution to focus on strengthening its special fields and main programs whilst broadening the scope for interdisciplinary cooperation.”
— Fachhochschule Nordwestscheiz
15 New Universities to be Established
A bill has been passed by the Turkish Parliament calling for the establishment of 15 new universities in Turkey:
– Ahi Evran University in Kirsehir,
– Kastamonu University,
– Duzce University,
– Mehmet Akif Ersoy University in Burdur,
– Usak University,
– Rize University,
– Namik Kemal University in Tekirdag,
– Erzincan University,
– Aksaray University,
– Giresun University,
– Hitit University in Corum,
– Bozok University in Yozgat,
– Adiyaman University,
– Ordu University,
– Amasya University
The government plans to employ approximately 2,000 faculty members at these 15 new universities.
— Turks.US Daily News
Dec. 30, 2005
Aptitude Tests for Prospective Doctors
Next year students in the UK pursuing dental or medical degrees at 24 British universities will be required to take a new aptitude test as part of the application process. The universities of Edinburgh, Birmingham, Manchester, and King’s College in London are all part of a consortium developing the clinical aptitude test or UKat. The UKat will be used to evaluate top candidates for medical and dental studies before they complete their Ucas forms. The goal of the UKat is to give admissions officers more information about prospective student before they enroll in classes.
— Times Higher Education Supplement
Jan. 20, 2006
British Medical Students Finding East European Universities Increasingly Attractive
Competition for medical places at home and rising tuition fees is creating an exodus of British medical students to eastern European universities, according to the Times of London. Students graduating from schools within the EU, which welcomed a further 10 countries in 2004, are able to practice in the UK without any restrictions or additional requirements.
The latest figures in Britain show that 17,826 students applied to UK medical schools in 2004, but only 7,955 were accepted. Reportedly, the Czech Republic is a particularly popular destination, with well-regarded institutions such as Charles University hosting an estimated total of 700 British medical and dental students.
— The Sunday Times
Nov. 20, 2005
UK Establishes $7 million Partnership Unit with China
Reacting to fears that the United Kingdom is losing market share in attracting international students, the British government has made available 2 million pounds for the next two years (US$3.5 million) to develop the UK-China Partnership scheme, which will coordinate efforts to link institutions in the two countries.
According to the Department of Education and Skills, there are already 160 higher education partnerships between China and the United Kingdom — including a fully-fledged campus on the University of Nottingham, which was formally opened in 2005 by Prime Minister Tony Blair. The University of Liverpool is also planning to set up a university in China, in partnership with China’s Xi’an Jiaotong University (see December issue of WENR).
In related news, British chancellor Gordon Brown announced in December measures designed to improve the competitiveness of the UK as a study destination. The measures include a 50 percent increase in government funding for the promotion of British universities abroad. Graduating doctoral students will be eligible to work in the country for up to 12 months, and employment opportunities will be extended to non-doctoral tertiary students in shortage areas — a measure that will benefit an estimated 50,000 students.
— The BBC
Traditional Degree Classifications May be Reformed
Under reforms proposed by a committee set up by Universities UK and the Standing Conference of Principals, degree classifications will be replaced by a simpler, pass/fail system accompanied by a transcript of records.
The consultation period ended in November and in addition to recommending the scrapping of degree classifications, the committee would introduce a distinction award for the top five percent in each subject at each institution each year, a measure aimed at capping grade inflation. Britain’s six-tier system of degree classification has long been considered outdated; the last two years have seen intensified criticism of a system that has been awarding more and more top grades. In 2003/04 over half of all graduates were awarded firsts or upper seconds.
In 2003, a White Paper on higher education called for a review of the system, suggesting that the grading of degrees needed to be radically overhauled. It is said that the current award structure is inherently unfair and wastes three years worth of assessment in a single cumulative judgment, while drawing arbitrary lines between students. For example, the difference between 69 percent (upper second class) and 71 percent (first class) is more significant than the 30 percentage points above 70 percent (all firsts). Proponents of the reforms say that transcripts offer much more detailed information for potential employers or graduate admissions departments. The introduction of the reforms is still a long way off. November’s consultation session was the first of two, and the reforms, if introduced at all, are still two years off. The reforms will also require the support of employers, universities and lawmakers alike in order to gain any traction.
— The Independent
Dec. 15, 2005
Imperial Parts Ways with University of London
Stressing that it has its own international reputation and identity, Imperial College is ending its union with the University of London and seeking approval from the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) to award its own degrees. The move comes after the University of London was recently hit with criticism from the QAA for poor oversight of its degrees. The London School of Economics and King’s College are also seeking the right to award their own degrees and University College London has already earned the privilege though they have not yet decided whether or not to exercise it. Current Imperial College student will be able to decide the name of the institution displayed on their diplomas.
— The Guardian
Dec. 9, 2005
Number of University Students Highest Ever
The number of students entering higher education in the UK this year rose by almost 28,000 from last year. Out of nearly half a million applicants 405,369 students were accepted into programs according to the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas). The number of international students rose 4.3 percent due largely to an increase in students from the European Union. The number of Polish students applying to British universities rose by over 100 percent and Nigerians 70 percent. After climbing consistently in recent years, the number of Chinese students applying for university places this year declined by 22.8 percent.
Jan. 19, 2006