WENR, January 2007: Europe
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Widespread Change in European Higher Ed
Major reforms are occurring in the higher education systems of numerous European countries. Tuition is being introduced for the first time at universities continent-wide, private universities are opening in greater numbers, and admissions offices are becoming more selective about the students they admit to their degree programs. Despite resistance from the traditionalists in European higher education, institutions across the region are reshaping their administration in order to boost their international profile and remain competitive in research and development with growing education markets such as Asia.
Academics and Business Leaders Question European Institute
The European Union’s plan to establish a European Institute of Technology that would spark world-class research and innovation using a model similar to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States has failed to gain support from business leaders and academics on the continent. The new institute would consist of a network of clusters, known as Knowledge and Innovation Communities, around Europe and a central hub. It would have a budget of about US$3 billion for its first five years. The proposed institution has been a controversial topic among European academics primarily due to questions over its location, academic structure, how degrees would be awarded, and financing.
— The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription)
Nov. 3, 2006
Double Cohort, Boomers’ Grandchildren to Create 2011 “Student Mountain”
The Federal Ministry of Education and Research is predicting a “student mountain” in the year 2011 due to the combined effects of a double graduating cohort, caused by the shortening of secondary schooling from 13 years to 12 years, and the graduation of grandchildren of the baby-boomer generation. The Ministry has warned that it may struggle to cope with the estimated one-year 30 percent increase in tertiary enrollments.
— Market New Zealand
Dec. 14, 2006
States Charging Tuition Fees see Drop in Enrollments
In October, three federal states increased tuition fees at public institutions of higher education by €500 a semester. More states will follow in 2007. Those states that introduced tuition fees for the academic year 2006-2007 saw a seven percent drop in enrollments.
— Market New Zealand
Dec. 14, 2006
Universities Successfully Implementing Bologna Accords
Macedonian universities are implementing reforms related to the policies of Europe’s Bologna Process, an EU initiative designed to harmonize higher education across national borders. According to rectors of the nation’s universities, Macedonian institutions have achieved a level of transparency that will allow increased cooperation with universities in neighboring countries.
— Makfax news agency
Nov. 9, 2006
Dutch Reform Immigration Policy to Accommodate International Students
The Dutch Cabinet’s new plan for immigration policy will allow international students who obtain advanced degrees in the Netherlands an extended visa while they search for employment. The new strategy will also make it easier for foreign researchers to enter positions in the Netherlands. This policy will provide higher education institutions and companies that recruit international talent an advantageous position in comparison to its worldwide competitors.
Nov. 8, 2006
University Opens International Feeder College to Increase Foreign Enrollment
The University of Glasgow (GU) has signed an agreement with Kaplan International, a U.S.-based for-profit education company, to open an international feeder-college program that they hope will recruit nearly 1,000 international students per year. Under the new agreement, students from countries such as China, Vietnam, Korea, India and the Gulf States will be recruited by Kaplan to attend a one-year program in Glasgow that would prepare them to enter the second year of undergraduate education or enter postgraduate study at GU. Students would pay all fees for the first year to Kaplan to study basic courses such as English language and university learning techniques before joining classes at the parent university. The initiative is designed to improve GU’s international reputation and ranking as well as capitalize on financial opportunities in the lucrative international student market.
— The Herald
Nov. 6, 2006
Universities Admonished by Private Sector
Slovak universities do not prepare their students in line with the expectations of the private sector, according to a survey conducted by the European Association of Universities (EAU). The survey claims that Slovak faculties still offer study programs that are of little use in practical life situations. The EAU also pointed out that the government budgets less than the European average for higher education (0.7 vs. 1% of GDP), which means that universities struggle to attract top academics because of low wages. The association was contracted by the Slovak government in 2005 to assess quality standards in Slovak higher education. The EAU visited 10 public universities in the course of its study. Slovakia has 20 public, 3 state and 10 private universities. The Slovak Education Ministry plans to act on the EAU study in a revised University Law.
— Slovak Spectator
Nov. 14, 2006
New Swedish Degree Structure In-Line with Bologna Process
Beginning with the 2007 academic year, Swedish institutions of higher education will convert to a three-tiered degree structure and switch to the European standard ECTS credit system. The reforms are part of the Bologna Process, a continent-wide initiative that aims to standardize all European higher education by 2010. Under the new system there will be two degree options at the undergraduate level of study, two advanced level degree options, and a licentiate as well as doctoral degrees available for advanced researchers.
2006 Marks Completion of Bologna Transformation
This year will be the first that all Swiss university degrees are harmonized according to reforms implemented as part of the Bologna Process. First introduced in 1999, the Bologna reforms are now uniform across all levels of higher education with the exceptions of medical and veterinary education, which are scheduled to be updated in 2007. There is still some skepticism among students about possible shortcomings of the new system, but officials are optimistic that Swiss higher education is improving because of the recent structural changes.
— NZZ Online
Oct. 23, 2006
US For-Profit Provider Enters Turkish Market
Laureate Education Inc. has signed a partnership agreement with Istanbul Bilgi University, one of the leading private institutions in Turkey. The deal, announced in November, involves the creation of a company to be jointly owned by Laureate and a local partner. The Baltimore-based company will provide management, marketing, technology, and student services to the 9,000-student university, which will pay Laureate in return. The arrangement is a way for Laureate to operate in Turkey despite laws there that ban for-profit universities. Bilgi would become a part of that Laureate International Universities network, which includes campuses in Asia, Europe, and Latin America, and allows students to transfer credits between institutions.
— Laureate news release
Nov. 22, 2006
New York-Based Kaplan Mulls the Opening of UK University
Under newly relaxed laws on degree-awarding powers, US education company Kaplan is planning to become the UK’s first for-profit university. The company would establish its university around courses in law, business and IT from colleges it already owns in the UK and through its joint ventures with Nottingham Trent and Sheffield universities. Last year it bought Holborn College, a private law and business college in London with 1,900 students. According to Kaplan chief executive William Macpherson in an interview with the Guardian newspaper, the company will soon make a formal application to the Quality Assurance Agency, the sector regulator, to run a degree-awarding institution that would be a forerunner of a private university. In addition to Holborn, Kaplan owns Dublin Business School, which awards its own degrees as well as being involved in several partnerships with British universities. Under current law, Kaplan would have to provide degree-level instruction for four years, with awards validated by an existing university, before acquiring its own powers to award degrees. So far, the College of Law is the only institution to have been granted this right since degree-granting laws were relaxed.
— The Guardian
Nov. 21, 2006
Working with Private Firms to Boost International Student Recruitment
A number of British universities are negotiating deals with a private firm that would recruit, educate and accommodate international students under a joint-venture agreement. Into University Partnership (Into) already has an agreement with the University of East Anglia to build an international center on campus, develop courses and spend almost US$7 million on marketing. It is looking to ink similar deals with up to 11 universities in the near future and reports that it is currently in negotiations with the universities of Exeter and Newcastle. The business model is based on partnership, with international centers set up as separate companies owned 50-50 by the university and Into. The company stresses that their model is a departure from outsourced agreements with greater quality control mechanisms built in.
— The Guardian
Nov. 21, 2006
Reform Visa Procedures or Lose Students, Report Warns
If the cost and time taken to apply for a visa is not reduced then more than a third of international students might choose to study elsewhere, a report by the UK Council for International Education (UKCosa) on further education reveals. The report says “UKvisas should address the problems encountered by one-third of students in obtaining visas – 18% found it a lengthy and difficult process even though their first application was eventually successful, 8% were initially refused but received a visa on a second application and 5% received one after appealing their initial refusal.” The report continues by stating that “the government should reconsider the proposed removal of appeal rights for visa applicants in the light of the finding that 5% of our sample received a visa only after appeal.” When students were asked whether increases in visa charges would affect their decision to study in the UK in the future, ten percent said they would definitely not study in the UK in future and a further 35% said they would look at other destinations if the charges were lower there. Overall impressions were good, however, with 88% satisfied or better with their program.
— The Guardian
Nov. 15, 2006
International Student Numbers Drop for Second Straight Year
The number of international students enrolling in first-degree programs at British universities has dropped for the second year running, according to figures released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency in January. The latest data confirm warnings from university leaders that the number of fee-paying international students on which they depend financially is being stunted by government visa policies and increased competition from countries such as North America, Australia and emerging rivals such as Singapore and Malaysia. Overall, there was a six percent drop at the undergraduate level. Over the past two years, the number of new international undergraduate enrollments has fallen by 4,200 to under 45,000. At the graduate level, numbers appear to have plateaued after four years of healthy growth.
— The Guardian
Jan 9, 2007