WENR, May 2009: Asia Pacific
Asian University Presidents Call for Increased Academic Mobility Within Region
In just its fourth year, Asia Pacific’s largest organization of internationally focused universities and individuals attracted over 800 presidents of Asian and European universities to its annual conference in Beijing in April. The attendees at the annual meeting of the Asia-Pacific Association for International Education discussed the need for Asian universities to engage internationally, and to create regional mechanisms through which students and faculty members can move more easily from one country to another.
At the opening session of the conference Doo-Hee Lee, president of Korea University and head of the association, said that the region also needs to develop more broad-minded students, by moving away from “rote memorization” to develop the teaching of critical-thinking skills. The conference attracted a number of Europeans, but few Americans.
Drawing inspiration from Europe’s Erasmus program, which supports students who wish to study in other European countries, Mr. Lee said the association is developing an Asia Pacific Leaders program to provide study and internship opportunities for students in Asia.
– The Chronicle of Higher Education
April 17, 2009
Private University Sector Grows to Help Meet Demand
The international community pledged in March to help the Afghan government in expanding the nation’s higher education sector to create jobs and meet projected requirements for skills in key areas of the national economy.
The announcement was made on 31 March at a UN-backed international conference on Afghanistan held in The Hague. The war-plagued country has critical manpower shortages in many key sectors, requiring engineers, technicians, administrators, accountants, agriculturists, and business leaders to meet the needs of reconstruction and economic growth.
Universities are under-resourced in both human capital and in infrastructure, with university budgets barely sufficient to cover salaries. To meet the many needs of Afghan higher education, a strategic reform plan was recently launched with the aim of improving management, facilitating educational access, and increasing financial support, as well as enhancing quality in higher education through faculty development, curriculum reform and quality assurance over the next decade.
Enrollment targets of 100,000 students by 2010 have been set to meet the demands of an estimated one million high school graduates by 2014; teacher salaries were raised in March by 80 to 100 percent; 19 institutions of higher education have reopened their doors; and tertiary enrollment has increased from 4,000 students in 2001 to 37,000 in the fall of 2007.
New private universities include the American University of Afghanistan, established in Kabul in 2006; Khost University (Shaikh Zayed University), established in 2008 with funding of US$ 4.8 million from the United Arab Emirate’s late President Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan; and Iranian branch campuses of Payame Noor University and the University of Ferdowsi.
– University World News
April 26, 2009
Education Export Industry Grew 42% in 3 Years
Australia’s export education industry grew 42 percent in the three years to 2008, employing 126,000 people and contributing 1 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, according to a recent report.
The Access Economics study, “The Australian Education Sector and the Economic Contribution of International Students,” is the first to synthesize all available data on the economic contribution of international students to the Australian economy. It finds that the total impact of the export industry on the economy exceeds A$26.7 billion (US$19 billion), making it the third biggest behind coal and iron ore, outperforming travel, services (professional, business and technical), as well as exports of gold, crude petroleum and aluminum.
The report found that every dollar spent on education by an international student in Australia contributed an additional $1.91 to the economy. In a cautionary note, the report predicts that a five percent reduction in overseas student numbers would result in 6,300 jobs lost. The report found that Australia, with less than one percent of the world’s population, enrolled 7.5 percent of the world’s international students.
– The Australian
April 1, 2009
Universities Lose Millions
Australian universities have been hit hard by disastrous losses of A$800 million (US$566 million) to their investments, more than twice the amount expected. According to Universities Australia (UA), a representative body for the sector, the global recession has hit university investments particularly hard. It warned that student services, teaching quality and the ability of the sector to help the national economy recover from the downturn were all under threat.
The Australian newspaper reported that Glenn Withers, chief executive of UA, used the news to ramp up pressure on the government to increase higher education funding. “Now is not the time to pull back on investing in our universities,” he said. “What we need in the May Budget is a commitment to a five- to ten-year plan of substantial funding reform in the sector to give us some hope and certainty.”
– The Australian
April 8, 2009
Population Growth Will Lead to Huge Capacity Constraints at Universities
Writing in the Daily Star newspaper, Professor Halimur R Khan says that Bangladesh will need an additional 674 universities and 84,113 professors by 2025 to keep pace with neighboring India’s education system. The system already needs a massive increase in capacity to meet the needs of the growing population, and projections see the population growing by 45 million people to 192.9 million in 2025.
“Unless we realize the enormity of the impact of this population growth and adopt appropriate measures for the education sector, it will result in worsening of the quality and capacity of the nation’s education system,” the professor wrote.
– Daily Star
Record Numbers Studying Abroad in 2008
According to an official in charge of international cooperation with the Ministry of Education in late March, a record high of 179,800 Chinese students studied abroad in 2008. The official, Zhang Xiuqin said the number of Chinese studying abroad has increased since 2004 due to stable economic growth and a surging demand for higher education services.
The ministry did not release detailed information on top destinations, although the top three destinations for Chinese student are the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom. The number of Chinese returning home after overseas studies in 2008 was pegged at 69,300, a 56 percent increase from 2007, according to the ministry. Ministry statistics show that from 1978 to the end of 2008, more than 1.39 million Chinese studied abroad. Of those, 390,000 have returned home.
In 2008, 90 percent of students abroad were self-financed. The government has sponsored 5,000 overseas students annually under a program which currently extends to 2011. It also offers a US$5,000 scholarship to 300 self-financed overseas students.
Zhang also offered statistics on foreign students in China, which reached a record of 223,499 in 2008, an increase of over 14 percent on the year prior. Zhang pointed to improving government services in talking about the increase, noting that the government has increased scholarships for foreign students in recent years. In 2008, 13,516 foreign students received scholarships worth a total of US$71.4 million (33 percent more than in 2007). The Republic of Korea, the United States and Japan were the top three sources countries.
Graduate Unemployment Priority Issue
A record 6.1 million college graduates will enter the job market this year; not surprisingly, employment is at the top of the Chinese Government’s agenda. In recent sessions of the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Committee, employment was listed as the number-one priority.
The government is making over US$6 billion available to tackle the problem. Chen Guangjin, professor at China’s Academy of Social Sciences, told journalists at the end of last year that for the 5.59 million college students who graduated in 2008, the unemployment rate was above 12 percent – about three times the official national number. With the Chinese economy experiencing a serious slowdown, the situation looks set to get worse before it gets better.
The Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security and nine other ministries have adopted fresh policies since the end of 2008 to tackle the problem. For example, incentives are being introduced for college graduates to join the Army or to work or teach in China’s western regions and poorer areas for a certain number of years after graduation. In return, graduates are being offered reimbursement of tuition fees and student loans, or a grades discount when applying to join master’s programs.
Students are also being encouraged to start their own businesses after graduation, and loans are available to those who lack start-up capital. The Ministry of Education has also decided to organize one million college students to participate in various internship programs over the next three years, and to expand the number of places for double-bachelors and science and engineering masters’ students by 50,000 this year, including masters of business administration and public administration.
– The Times Higher Education Supplement
April 16, 2009
Chasing Global Talent
Hong Kong has high ambitions for its higher education sector, and its eight public universities have recently begun investing in the research necessary to turn them into global powerhouses.
Over the past several years, Hong Kong has been investing to raise its international educational profile by competing globally for students, scholars, and research projects. As part of the plan, it will, in 2012, restructure its higher-education system from the British three-year model to a four-year model more closely aligned to higher education structures in the United States and China. In adding one year to university studies in 2012, Hong Kong will also shorten high school from four years to three in a bid to encourage further studies. Current projections see a rise in enrollments from 50,000 now to 64,500 in 2012.
Officials see the investment and reform in higher education as a means of diversifying the territory’s reliance on logistical and financial services toward a more knowledge-based community, and have hopes of becoming a global education hub. In 2007, plans were outlined by authorities aimed at increasing the proportion of international and mainland students, and relaxing employment regulations for foreign students after graduation.
In recent years, the search for high-caliber academics has frequently led university administrators to the United States in search of both ideas for reforming undergraduate curricula and talent. Hong Kong is looking to bring as many as 1,000 tenure-track professors to its universities in the coming years at a time when other economies around the world are cutting university budgets. In addition, handsome grant opportunities abound and salaries are competitive with top schools in the United States. Some administrators say their strongest competition for academics right now comes not from Western countries, but Singapore which is also enticing scholars with attractive packages.
Currently three universities are on the Times Higher Education Supplement’s top 100 list of global universities: Hong Kong University, the University of Science and Technology, and Chinese University.
– The Chronicle of Higher Education
April 3, 3009
Indians May Be Turning Their Back on the United States
The Reuters news agency has reported that the economic crisis in the United States is making the dream of a U.S. education less likely for many Indians, who are opting for university studies and career opportunities at home.
In 2007-8 the number of Indian students attending American universities rose 12.8 percent, to 94,563, making India the largest source of foreign students in the United States, a position it has held since 2001. However, loans and scholarships to fund the high cost of an American education are drying up, while post-graduation job opportunities to repay loans for existing students seem likely to be scarce as unemployment numbers continue to rise in the United States.
The Educational Testing Service has reported that the number of Indian students taking the Graduate Record Examinations fell dramatically from 74,000 in 2007 to 55,000 in 2008. The GRE numbers suggest there will be a significant decline in graduate applications to U.S. universities, which enrolled almost 80 percent of the more than 120,000 Indian students who studied abroad last year.
March 26, 2009
A Call for GPAs
The University Grants Commission has made a recommendation, in response to suggestions from academics, to begin evaluating student performance on the basis of a cumulative grade-point score, as is common in the United States. According to a report in The Times of India, the recommendations put forth also suggest giving equal importance to classroom participation in assessing grades.
The move comes on the heels of an order from the regulator that all universities offer semester-based classes, with a system of course credits based on student choice within two years.
– Times of India
March 39, 2009
NIIT University Opens Doors in September
Information technology education provider, NIIT Ltd, is set to open NIIT University in September of this year. The private, not-for profit university will offer doctoral programs in computer science, engineering, educational technology, bioinformatics and biotechnology. In addition, it will offer master of technology programs in computer science, engineering and educational technology, bachelor’s programs in computer science and engineering.
The campus is located in Neemran, Rajasthan, and has been established with a mission of graduating students with industry-ready skills. As such, curricula are being designed in concert with industry partners.
– The Times of India
March 31, 2009
Reform Panel: Foreign Universities Should Serve India’s Needs
According to news reports, a high-level Indian higher-education reform committee will recommend that foreign universities wishing to set up shop in India be regulated by a proposed Higher Education Commission. The panel said it was in favor of allowing foreign universities to establish in India, but they wanted to make sure that they work in India’s interests, not just their own.
“We don’t want just any university to come here with its old or new material and equipment,” said Yash Pal, chairman of the committee. “Like home universities, foreign entrants will have to be accredited by the country’s rating agency,” said Mr. Pal, a physicist and former chairman of India’s higher-education regulatory group, the University Grants Commission.
Committee members have been holding discussions across the country with academics, whose feedback was incorporated into a final report submitted at the end of April to the ministry in charge of higher education. The committee’s other suggested reforms include asking the government not to interfere with the appointment of university heads and transforming the Indian Institutes of Technology into full-fledged universities – a move the institutes oppose.
– The Times of India
April 8, 2009
The Two-Hour faculty Contract
In a bid to pass regulator inspections in the southern state of Karnataka and elsewhere, medical, dental, and nursing colleges, facing severe faculty shortages, are reportedly flying in faculty members on ultra-short contracts — sometimes for just a few hours.
The Times of India reports that colleges hire the fake instructors for a few hours or days, until the inspection is completed, and then fly them home. For their efforts, the “professors” earn $100 to $500 and demand — and get — gold chains.
Regulatory bodies conduct annual inspections of medical colleges, in part to make sure they have a minimum number of instructors and professors. The Medical Council of India’s president, Ketan Desai, told the newspaper that the council had taken measures to crack down on “teachers” who work only during inspections.
– Times of India
April 12, 2009
New Private Business School Opens in Collaboration with Cambridge
The Karachi School for Business and Leadership (KSBL) is being established by the Karachi Education Initiative in partnership with the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School. It plans to offer executive development programs from next year, with an MBA following in 2011 and an executive MBA the year after that. It will also offer classes on operating private business schools.
Pakistan has very few high-quality business schools. The most prestigious is probably the Institute of Business Administration in Karachi, which was set up in 1955 by the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. Many students head out of the country to pursue their business education, something that KSBL hopes to address.
– The Economist
April 24, 2009
Planned Tuition Fee Increase Put on Hold Due to Economy
Singapore’s three public universities will keep tuition fees on hold through the global economic downturn. Students had been facing average fee hikes of 4-10 percent, The Straits Times newspaper reported, but the plans have been shelved for at least a year.
The National University of Singapore, the Nanyang Technological University and the Singapore Management University have all said that they will review the decision next year in light of any change in the economic situation. Annual fees at the universities range from S$6,620 (US$4,400) for programs in the arts and social sciences to S$18,960 for medicine.
– The Straits Times
March 16, 2009
Korean Students Staying Home
Cash-strapped Koreans holding a depreciated national currency appear to be staying home rather than studying abroad this year and last. Universities and colleges in Asia are enrolling far fewer South Koreans this year.
According to Chinese state media, the number of South Korean undergraduates in Beijing and Shanghai is down by as much as 50 percent on some campuses. In Japan, undergraduate enrollment among South Koreans at some private universities has sunk to almost zero. Enrollment is also reportedly down at universities in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Australia.
The value of the won against a range of other currencies has dropped sharply in recent months, almost doubling the cost of living abroad for South Korean students. It has begun to bounce back but remains volatile. South Korean students make up a large percentage of total enrollments in many education-exporting countries.
In the United States, almost 70,000 college students were studying in the United States in the fall of 2007, up 11 percent from the previous year. According to a report released in April by the Council of Graduate Schools (see Americas Section), applications from Korean students for enrollment in American universities this fall dropped seven percent from last year.
In January, Canada’s Ministry of Education said it would focus on China to make up for a drop in the number of international students in Vancouver and Surrey, British Columbia, mainly because of withdrawing Koreans.
– The Chronicle of Higher Education
April 7, 2009
Tertiary Participation Widens
A recent report from Taiwan’s Ministry of the Interior suggests that people with a tertiary education were the largest group among Taiwan’s literate population in 2008, indicating widening access to higher-education opportunities in Taiwan.
The report found that the number of Taiwanese with a tertiary education accounted for almost 35 percent of the population aged 15 and over. Those with a senior high school education accounted for 33 percent, while those with just an elementary school education made up 15 percent and those with junior high school levels accounted for just 14 percent. The percentage of people with a tertiary education has risen by 18.5 percent in 10 years.
– Taiwan News
March 22, 2009