WENR

WENR, April 2007: Asia Pacific

Regional News

Asia-Pacific

Afghanistan

Access Problems to be Tackled through Distance Learning

There are far more applicants than university places currently in Afghanistan, especially since the fall of the Taliban and the boom in public high school education. In an effort to help meet the demand of the approximately 70 percent of students left out of the state university system, the Ministry of Information and Culture has decided to institute the Open University, a system that allows students to follow tertiary-level courses via televised classes. Courses in history and literature are currently being offered once a week, for two hours, on the national television channel during the pilot phase. Professors are drawn from top public institutions such as Kabul University [1] and the Afghan Academy of Sciences, and thus far 2,000 students have enrolled. Once the trial period is complete and the university opens officially, it will award diplomas to graduates. However, it must first gain recognition from the Ministry of Higher Education [2].

The Institute for War & Peace Reporting [3]
March 9, 2007

South Asian University Proposal Endorsed by Intergovernmental Regional Org.

The 14th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation [4] (SAARC) summit endorsed in April a proposal to establish the South Asian University (SAU) within the next two years. India is expected to pick up the preliminary costs of the SAU. Under the proposal, postgraduate classes would be conducted in India, while undergraduate classes would be conducted in SAARC member countries. Founded in 1985, SAARC members comprise the countries of Bhutan, Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Times of India [5]
March 27, 2007

Australia

Third Confucius Institute to Establish at Adelaide University

Education officials in South Australia hope a new Confucius Institute at the University of Adelaide [6] will help the region forge stronger academic, economic and trade partnerships with China. Confucius institutes are a Chinese government vehicle for promoting Chinese language and culture. Universities in Perth [7] and Melbourne [8] already have institutes and Adelaide’s was launched in cooperation with Shandong University [9] and the Office of Chinese Language Council International [10] in March by Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer.

The Australian [11]
March 14, 2007

New U.S.-Style Bachelor’s Degree Faces Uphill Battle

Melbourne University [12] has introduced six new, U.S.-style generalist undergraduate degree programs that it admits will be a tough sell in the first few years. Uphill struggle or not, the university is spending A$85 million (US$70 million) on introducing the new model, which will involve replacing hundreds of undergraduate programs with six “new generation” degrees as well as a series of graduate degrees from next year, starting with law and architecture.

The Australian [13]
March 30, 2007

China

Government Introduces Incentives to Encourage Students Graduating Abroad to Return Home

The Chinese government announced on Thursday that Chinese students studying abroad would have special privileges if they return to China after graduation. These incentives include the right to work wherever they please without residency restrictions, personnel quotas or pay limits, according to a document jointly issued by the ministries of personnel and education. China maintains a residency control policy in major cities like Beijing and Shanghai, limiting incoming migrants looking for work. In addition, the Personnel Ministry will, with other ministries, provide special funds to attract graduates with urgently needed skills. Skilled graduates will also enjoy simplified procedures at border entry and exit points. A total of 1.07 million Chinese students have studied abroad, but less than a quarter have returned since graduating. Last year, 42,000 came back, 21.3 percent up from the number in 2005.

Xinhua [14]
March 30, 2007

Consortium of Universities Supports Sustainable Mountain Development

Leaders from universities in five countries – Afghanistan, China, India, Nepal and Pakistan – and from five major regional and European development organizations announced the launching of the Himalayan University Consortium in March, which, among other things, will focus on ways of supporting the development of Kabul University [1]. Discussion at the meeting which launched the consortium also focused on ways to develop a strong alliance for teaching, research, training and policy advocacy. All consortia universities expressed a particular interest in promoting and developing curricula specific to mountain-related issues and society, while also promoting academic mobility in the region. The overarching aim is to promote the mountain agenda and support sustainable development of the greater Himalayan mountain region.

According to the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development [15] (ICIMOD), the host organization, the Consortium will be open to universities and other institutions in the greater Himalayan region, as well as those located elsewhere but engaged in sustainable mountain development initiatives in the region. The first activities of the Consortium will focus on ways to build the capacity of Kabul University and thus help to rebuild and develop its Faculties of Agriculture, Science and others in order to support the long-term development of Afghanistan.

Himalaya Times [16]
March 27, 2007

Government Criticized on Education Spending

A political advisory body has criticized the Government’s failure to reach education spending targets. Despite a rapid expansion in student numbers since the 1990s, China’s education spending has remained low at about 3 percent of gross domestic product.

“The growth of education spending should at least keep pace with growth in state revenue and military spending,” said Bou Shorgan, a delegate of the education group of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and president of Inner Mongolia University [17]. China’s economy expanded by 10.7% last year, and state revenue rose by 24.3%. The Government has set a 17.9% growth target for military spending this year. “It is unacceptable that our country’s education spending is even less than that of India’s and the developing world’s average,” said Dong Zixiao, another education group delegate. Jin Renqing, the Finance Minister, stated that spending on education is likely to exceed 3% of GDP this year. However, this still falls short of a target set by China in 1993, when the Government pledged to raise spending to 4% of GDP by 2000. The Government renewed this aim last year, saying it hoped to reach 4% by 2010. “The Government should do whatever it can to reach this target,” Mr. Dong said, “no matter what difficulties they come across.”

The Times Higher Education Supplement [18]
March 3, 2007

List of newly approved Chinese-Foreign Cooperative Programs and Institutions Released

In January of this year the Ministry of Education issued a notification of Related Information (in part) for Chinese-foreign Cooperative Institutions and Programs, outlining institutions and programs that are approved to offer undergraduate- and graduate-level education, including those institutions and programs already offering overseas bachelor and/or above level education.

Australia Education International [19]
March 21, 2007

Students at Private Institutions of Higher Education Number 2.8 Million

More than 2.8 million students are studying at privately run universities in China, according to the Ministry of Education [20]. Of that number, 1.34 million students are studying at 278 independent universities, which normally award junior college diplomas, and 1.47 million studying for undergraduate degrees at 318 private colleges affiliated with public universities. In total, private college students account for about 11 percent of the country’s 25 million university students.

Xinhua News Agency [21]
March 28, 2007

Hong Kong

First Private University Inaugurated

Hong Kong Shue Yan College [22] was officially upgraded to university status in February at an inauguration ceremony following approval from the Chief Executive in Council. The name of the institution remains the same, with exception of its new “university” suffix.

Australia Education International [19]
March 14, 2007

India

New Regulations for Engineering Admissions

The All India Council for Technical Education [23] is set to change admissions requirements for engineering programs. Under the new regulations, Bachelor of Science students in their second year of study will now be allowed lateral entry to Bachelor of Technology programs in engineering, where in the past only engineering diploma holders were eligible for admission to second-year engineering programs. The Times of India reports that the change has been prompted by a lack of employment opportunities for science students.

The Times of India [24]
March 11, 2007

138 Saudi Students Set to Study in India

A group of 138 Saudi students will study in India under the King Abdullah Scholarship Program, reports Arab News.

Arab News [25]
March 27, 2007

U.S. Universities Eagerly Anticipating Opening of Indian Market

American universities eager for a slice of the Indian higher education market are increasingly looking at ways to get a foothold on the subcontinent, especially with an anticipated relaxing of the laws governing the operations of foreign schools in India. The current vague laws governing such matters would be eased under a draft law on foreign investment in Indian education, to be introduced to Parliament in April. Most U.S. universities that do currently have operations in India do so in partnership with existing Indian institutions. Some examples cited by the New York Times are as follows:

The New York Times [33]
March 26, 2007

Controversial University Quotas for Lower Castes Suspended

In March India’s Supreme Court suspended a highly controversial government program that would reserve spots for lower-caste students at the country’s top medical, engineering and professional schools. The quota system for India’s prestigious state-run professional schools was to come into effect with the current academic year in the coming months. But the court temporarily halted the program on March 29, saying it could not be implemented until judges have ruled on its legality. While opponents of the quotas claimed victory Thursday, the program’s supporters said they would press on undeterred, saying the court would let them stand once officials got a chance to present their complete plan for implementing it.

Associated Press [34]
March 29, 2007

British Universities get a Taste of Reality

A reality TV show is to offer Indian students a chance to compete for five undergraduate scholarships to British universities, worth up to US$80,000 each. The winners will start classes in the fall and their fees and living expenses will be paid for three years with the option of a one-year work placement after graduation. Scholar Hunt: Destination UK is expecting thousands of applications from students in the last week of April and its website [35] went live a few weeks ago. Places are on offer at five universities, and contestants will enter in the subject they want to study – management at Leeds [36], biomedical sciences at Sheffield [37], computing science at Middlesex [38], journalism and media at Cardiff [39] and engineering at Warwick [40]. The show goes live on TV twice a week in July, with quizzes and tests selecting winners subject by subject. It runs until November, following the winners to their universities.

The Guardian [41]
April 4, 2007

Groundbreaking Online University Opens for Business

Japan’s first Internet-only university began offering classes in April to an inaugural class of 516 students. Japan Cyber University [42] currently offers four years of online coursework leading to a bachelor’s degree in two disciplines: information technology or world heritage. A majority of the university’s students are in their late 20s and early 30s, and many of them are juggling jobs and study while trying to negotiate a labor market that is no longer ruled by the tradition of jobs for life.

Agence France Presse [43]
April 2, 2007

Korean Peninsular (North and South)

Joint North-South University to Open in September

South Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea are planning to open a joint university in September, according to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency. The Pyongyang University of Science and Technology will initially recruit 150 students to its master’s program in business administration at its campus in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang. The university is being backed by the NorthEast Asia Foundation for Education and Culture [44], a Seoul-based non-profit organization, and South Korean universities such as the Pohang Science and Technology University [45].

The Korea Herald [46]
April 4, 2007

Pakistan

China to Help Establish Engineering University

A consortium of Chinese universities will work with the government of Pakistan to establish a new technology university, according to a statement from Pakistan’s Higher Education Commission [47] (HEC). Pakistan China University (PCU) will be one of nine technology universities that are being established in partnership with foreign institutions over the next ten years. The Chinese consortium will collaborate with the HEC through the leadership of the Beijing Institute of Technology [48] (BIT), and the new institution will be established at one of several possible sites. Under the agreement, up to 70% of faculty will be appointed from Chinese universities, a number which will be reduced to 25% as Pakistani faculty are appointed to replace them. Students studying at the new university will be awarded dual degrees, and top students will receive funding to pursue doctoral studies in China, after which they will be required to teach at PCU. The university is scheduled for a 2008 launch.

Associated Press of Pakistan [49]
April 6, 2007

South Korea

Internationalizing the Campus

In a bid to internationalize the South Korean education system, the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development [50] said in March that it is developing plans to attract a greater number of foreign students. Beginning next year, South Korean universities will recognize a greater amount of course credits earned at foreign universities in order to encourage students to study at both foreign and domestic universities and to make it easier to earn a double major while doing so.

To attract greater numbers of foreign students, the ministry plans to grant equivalency to secondary school credentials from the Philippines, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and some regions of China. In addition, the ministry plans to require universities to raise the amount of English-only classes to 3.1 percent by 2010 from the 2.19 percent level in 2006. The ministry will also require each university to hire more foreign professors in order to raise the number from the average 3.67 percent of the faculty at Korean universities in 2006 to 5.0 percent by 2010. The ministry also plans to ease regulations that would make it easier for South Korean universities to build branch schools overseas.

Hankyoreh [51]
March 3, 2007

Government Announces Far-Reaching English-Language Plan

Korean President Roh Moo-hyun announced in April that the government will systematically build a nationwide infrastructure for English-language education, stressing that English proficiency among Koreans is indispensable to the nation’s survival in the future. Yonhap News Agency quoted the president as saying, “Korean students spend over 10 trillion won (US$10.5 billion) annually on private English study lectures and programs, but they are still considered weak in English. The government will gradually expand investments in social infrastructure for English education.” Roh made the remarks during his congratulatory speech on the opening of the country’s first English-only television channel. He added that, “by 2009, an English experience center will be built at about 1,300 elementary schools nationwide at an expense of 240 billion won (US$252 billion). In addition, all domestic middle schools will have at least one native English-speaking teacher by 2010.” To illustrate the government’s commitment, Roh drew attention to a large-scale English education town on Jeju Island, which is designed to accommodate about 9,000 students and is scheduled to be established this year.

Korea Herald [52]
April 6, 2007