WENR, August 2007: Europe
University Bill Enacted
The French government passed a bill August 1 that boosts university autonomy over fundraising, and also allows universities to cooperate with businesses. To be implemented over the next five years, the bill transfers a degree of budgetary and staffing decision-making powers from the government to the institution, allowing universities to create foundations and to establish their own recruitment procedures. In addition, universities will be permitted to open their administrations to external staff, allowing, for example, representatives of the business world to take part in university governance.
The passage of the bill has been welcomed by many professional associations, however, a group of 25 trade unions, including teacher and student unions, have opposed the new legislation saying it will lead to the disengagement of the state from university funding and the creation of a multi-tier university structure dependent on private funding, despite the government’s announcement of a 5 percent increase in university funding.-Euractive
August 3, 2007
New Institute of Technology Established
In a bid to establish itself as a leading international technology institute, and with increased federal funding as one of Germany’s first three ‘elite universities,’ the University of Karlsruhe has established the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in collaboration with the Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe, a science and engineering research center. The new institute will focus on research in micro- and nanotechnologies, scientific computing and materials research for the energy sector. Billed as “the biggest experiment in the German educational and research landscape,” by Chairman of the Board, Eberhard Umbach, in an interview with the Financial Times Deutschland, KIT will have a staff of around 8,000 with an annual budget of 600 million euros.
KIT has reportedly signed industry cooperation agreements with a host of companies, including BOSCH and SAP. Currently KIT is working on its founding treaty, which is to be signed at the end of the year.
– Young Germany
July 26, 2007
China Remains Largest Source of Foreign Students
China continues to be the top country of origin for international students studying in Germany. In 2006, almost 27,400 Chinese nationals chose to study in Germany. The Chinese contingent makes up 11 percent of all international students in Germany. A further nine percent of the market (or approximately 22,400) were Turkish nationals. Rounding out the top five countries of origin were Poland, Bulgaria, and Russia, respectively. Swapping places with the Republic of Georgia, the United States fell one slot from 2005 and was ranked 20th in 2006 with almost 3,200 American students studying in Germany.
Private Money Increasingly Funding Higher Education Worldwide, 4 European Countries Aside
College enrollments have boomed in many countries across the globe, and increasingly it is private money in the form of tuition, business ties and institutional fundraising that is paying for it, as public support has failed to keep up with demand. Notable exceptions to this international trend are the Czech Republic, Ireland, Norway and Spain, according to a report by the Institute for Higher Education Policy. Global demand for higher education has increased for two main reasons: public school systems have expanded, and the international market has shifted toward a “knowledge” economy that increasingly requires employees with a college education.
Although the idea remains highly controversial in many countries and regions, and is often the cause of widespread student protest, the introduction of tuition fees is becoming increasingly common. The report by the Washington D.C.-based research organization, The Global State of Higher Education and the Rise of Private Finance , found wide differences among countries. In the 53 (mainly industrialized) countries for which the institute found compatible data, private financing in 2002 accounted on average for 37 percent of all expenditures on higher education. In eight middle-income countries for which figures were available – including Argentina, Chile, and Jamaica – money from private sources accounted for 43 percent of all spending on higher education. In richer countries, private financing generally played a smaller role. It accounted for 23 percent of all higher-education expenditures in 2003 among the wealthier nations in the study.
The countries that showed the greatest increases were Australia, Britain, and Italy. In the first two, this is largely explained by government decisions to introduce tuition at public universities in the late 1990s. In China, college enrollments more than doubled between 1998 and 2004. That expansion followed the introduction of tuition at Chinese institutions. By one estimate, from 1990 to 2001, the share of public financing in Chinese higher education dropped from 99 percent to 55 percent.
|– Institute for Higher Education Policy
August 7, 2007
Republic of Ireland
Top Private Colleges to Merge
Two of Ireland’s top private colleges announced that they had agreed to merger terms in August. Under the terms of the agreement, Dublin Business School will acquire Portobello College for an undisclosed sum. Portobello programs and accreditation status will continue uninterrupted. Portobello was established in 1989, as publicly funded colleges were struggling to cope with massive growth in tertiary enrollments.
The amalgamated college will have a student population of more than 8,500 and the potential to deliver close to 100 programs at both the undergraduate and graduate level. DBS is part of international education provider Kaplan, Inc, a subsidiary of The Washington Post Company.
– The Independent
August 2, 2007
Academic Corruption Runs Rampant
According to reporting from the Times Higher Education Supplement, a culture of academic corruption is scandalizing Serbia and the economic and structural problems that underlie it. This culture of corruption was brought to the fore recently by the arrest of Emilija Stankovic, the Deputy Minister of Higher Education and a senior member of the faculty of law at the University of Kragujevac on suspicion of graft along with several members of her faculty.
Investigators say they have uncovered a thriving industry at Kragujevac where a single exam pass costs approximately US$800 while a degree, without the trouble of classes and exams, will cost just over $8,000. So far, one third of the Kragujevac law faculty has been arrested. At another Serbian university, one faculty is said to have issued more than 1,000 fake degrees between 1999 and 2004. Allegations of similar practices at institutions elsewhere in Eastern Europe are commonplace in the popular press. Levels of public cynicism are high as a result.
Commonly cited reasons for the high levels of corruption include low academic salaries, pressure from senior staff and political superiors to pass certain individuals, and the abundance of bogus credentials. Corruption tends to appear most commonly in the enrollment and qualification processes, although it is also believed that academics have also benefited professionally from corrupt practices.
– The Times Higher Education Supplement
August 10, 2007
Report Suggests Cutting Number of Universities by a Third
A recent proposal to cut the number of universities in Sweden from fourteen to a more manageable 5 has met with mixed reactions. A report by the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education has suggested that the country would benefit from such a measure, and it is being touted by the agency’s chancellor, Anders Flodström.
While Swedish universities remain relatively competitive, they are no longer among the best in the world, according to Flodström. He believes the answer is to amalgamate institutions. Universities in Denmark and Finland have already begun moving in this direction, he noted.
Parties within the center-right coalition government see the suggestion as a possible means of incresaing the profile of the nation’s universities at home and abroad, but also say that it’s too soon to take a position. Sweden’s institutions of higher learning will present their ideas to the government this fall.
– Radio Sweden
August 7, 2007
New Visa Law to Crack down on Bogus Colleges
Private colleges and schools outside the public review system will be required to obtain official accreditation from 2009. The new system will replace a registration scheme that has been blamed for allowing fake students to enter the country on student visas by registering at colleges and language schools that have been accused of acting as a front for people working illegally. Institutions will also be required to report students who fail to meet minimum attendance requirements.
About 300,000 foreign students are registered in the UK each year. A minority are thought to get their visas through bogus language schools taking money for largely non-existent programs. Government ministers are advising unaccredited institutions to seek accreditation by one of three approved academic bodies before the new rules come into effect. Some foreign institutions offering only part of their programs in the United Kingdom will be excluded from the requirement.
– The BBC
July 24, 2007
UK Universities Failing to Collaborate Internationally
According to the findings of a parliamentary select committee, British universities are failing to build partnerships with institutions abroad as compared to their peers and competition in other countries. The education select committee’s report quotes Professor Lan Xue of Tsinghua University in China as testifying that UK universities have been aiming largely at attracting students to the UK rather than developing collaborative programs.
“The UK was not in the top five of countries whose [higher education] institutions were involved in joint programs with Chinese universities,” Professor Lan told the committee.
The report stressed that international student flows had to be a two-way street with more British students being encouraged to spend at least part of their programs studying overseas. In addition, the report noted that the key to continued success was to maintain high standards, and that British institutions could lose their appeal to students from India and China as their own higher education systems grow. It also said the government and private sector should fund prestigious scholarships and fellowships.
– BBC NEWS
August 4, 2007
Another Ranking Joins the Fray, Scores Cambridge #1
Confirming the findings of many other university rankings, both global and domestic, Cambridge University has been ranked number one in the United Kingdom followed by Oxford and Imperial College, London by the Good University Guide, a newcomer on the rankings scene (and not to be confused with the Times Good University Guide, produced annually by the Sunday Times).
The editor of the new ranking (and former researcher for the Times Good University Guide) told The Scotsman that his ranking differentiates itself from others by placing greater emphasis on student opinion gathered through the National Student Survey. Other factors used to create the rankings include entry grades, student-staff ratios, spending on academic facilities and infrastructure, percentage of first-class and upper-class degrees, graduate prospects, and international enrollments. The guide can be tailored for individual users who can choose the indicators they deem most valuable to them.
– The Good University Guide
16 Further Education Colleges Merged into Six Regional “Super Colleges”
The new colleges are:
- Belfast Metropolitan College incorporating: Belfast Institute of Further and Higher Education and Castlereagh College of Further and Higher Education.
- North West Regional College incorporating: North West Institute of Further and Higher Education and Limavady College of Further and Higher Education.
- Northern Regional College incorporating: Causeway Institute of Further and Higher Education, North East Institute of Further and Higher Education and East Antrim Institute of Further and Higher Education.
- Southern Regional College incorporating: Armagh College of Further and Higher Education, Newry and Kilkeel Institute of Further and Higher Education and Upper Bann Institute of Further and Higher Education.
- South West College incorporating: East Tyrone College of Further and Higher Education, Fermanagh College and Omagh College.
- South Eastern Regional College incorporating: East Down Institute of Further and Higher Education, Lisburn College of Further and Higher Education and North Down and Ards Institute of Further and Higher Education.
– The BBC
August 1, 2007
Regional University Created through Merger
The University of Paisley and Bell College have merged to form Scotland’s largest ‘modern university’ at a cost of approximately US$42 million over three years. The university will cater to more than 18,000 students across campuses in Ayr, Dumfries, Hamilton and Paisley. The institution claims to have the country’s largest School of Health, Nursing and Midwifery, and also claims to be within geographic reach of 40 percent of the Scottish population.The merger is expected to lead to the extension of current degree and postgraduate courses at Bell College in Hamilton. The university will reportedly change from the University of Paisley to the University of the West of Scotland by the end of the year.
– The BBC
August 1, 2007