WENR, September 2011: Asia Pacific


China Market Trending Down

New enrollments by students from China fell 1.2 percent in the year to July, according to data [1] from Australia Education International [2]. This follows a tiny decline in new enrollments for the year to June (0.16 percent) and modest growth in the year-to-date bulletins issued in March, April and May.

The trend downwards in new enrollments suggests tougher times ahead for universities reliant on the China trade. Total enrollment figures, which have less to say about the future, remain strong with higher education up 7.3 percent to 94,392 in the year to July. Total enrollments, across all markets and sectors, were down 9.4 percent to 487,704. New enrollments declined by 8 percent. China accounted for 40 percent of higher education enrollments.

Perhaps most worryingly for the Australian university sector, steep declines continued in the English language sector, a key source for university students, with both enrollment and commencements down 16 percent on the year to July. For the China market, student starts in English programs fell 20.4 percent. The corresponding decline for foundation and enabling courses, another early indicator of university enrollments, was 21.4 percent.

AEI [1]
August 2011

Kaplan Backs Out of Australia Campus in ‘University City’

Kaplan [3], the U.S. for-profit education arm of The Washington Post, has given up on its plans to establish a university in Adelaide, blaming complex regulatory approvals in Australia and the United States. Kaplan announced its plan for a university in Adelaide in September 2009 and had aimed to grow to 5,000 students, including online students, within five years of a 2011 start-up.

The decision is a setback for departing Premier Mike Rann’s ambition to make Adelaide a “university city.” Other international endeavors include the successful establishment of University College London [4]. However, growth at US-based Carnegie Mellon [5] has been modest compared with the $20 million in state subsidies it received, while British-based Cranfield University [6] has closed its campus.

Rival US group Laureate International Universities [7] has not given up on its bid to establish a university in the South Australian capital. A regulatory decision on that campus is expected soon. The group is hoping for approval before the end of the year.

Kaplan already has operations in South Australia through its business school, college group Carrick Education [8]. It also has a potential collaboration with the University of Adelaide [9] in the works.

The Australian [10]
August 26, 2011


Chinese Students Abandon Chinese Universities

Time magazine reports that Chinese students are looking for study options outside of China in increasing numbers, in part because they believe the quality of education in places such as the United States, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom is better than at Chinese universities that Time describes as being “hamstrung by an archaic education system in drastic need of reform.”

No longer are China’s top achievers in the national university admissions exam – the Gaokao – exclusively choosing top Chinese schools such as Beijing [11] and Tsinghua [12] universities. Instead they are increasingly looking at overseas options — a trend that has both China’s education experts and the general public worrying about the competitiveness of higher education in China.

While 9.3 million Chinese students took the college-entrance exam in 2011, close to 1 million high school graduates did not, and among them, some 200,000 chose to go to foreign universities instead. Today over 100,000 Chinese high school graduates attend college in the United States each fall, and this year at least 17 of the top 100 mainland students chose to go to the University of Hong Kong [13].

The exodus of the country’s brightest high school students has renewed discussions in the media about the ongoing problem of higher-education reform. And so far — in the absence of any clear evidence that reform is actually happening — public opinion of China’s universities has become more and more skeptical, if not downright negative, according to Time.

Beijing’s official response to the call for reform is contained in the 10-year blueprint for education reform issued by the State Council last July, with policies like “expanding the universities’ administrative authority” being listed — albeit vaguely — among its 70 bullet points.

Time [14]
August 2, 2011

Expanding Academic Mobility Ties with Southeast Asia

Education ties between China and Southeast Asian countries are on the rise. New figures from the China’s ministry of education show that between 2008 and 2010, the number of students from Association of Southeast Asian Nations studying in China rose from 34,000 to 49,000. In that same time period, the number of Chinese students in Southeast Asia rose from approximately 68,000 to 82,000.

Liu Baoli, deputy director of the Department of International Cooperation and Exchanges [15] at China’s Ministry of Education [16], noted that 31 Southeast Asian universities have 135 cooperation agreements with some 47 universities in China. Plans for the future include increasing the ability to mutually recognize each countries’ academic credentials.

Bolstering such higher-education ties within the region helps enhance economic ties and fosters cultural understanding, the Xinhua news agency said, pointing out that China aims to become the continent’s top destination for international students by 2020.

Xinhua [17]
August 18, 2011

Plagiarism Hinders Scientific Progress

Chinese universities are making great advances in science, but are being held back by widespread plagiarism that detracts from the quality of research produced, National Public Radio has reported.

In one example cited, when the Journal of Zhejiang University-Science became the first in China to use software to check for plagiarism, it found that 31 percent of papers had excessive copying. The figure rose to 40 percent for papers in computer science and life science.

However, China’s leaders have committed to fighting scientific fraud. And Helen Zhang, the journal editor, says that one year on, plagiarism at her publication has fallen noticeably, to 24 percent of all submissions.

NPR [18]
August 3, 2011

University Websites Considered Inadequate

More than 76 percent of respondents to a survey in China said that universities don’t disclose enough information about themselves. The survey found that many students rely on personal networks for basic information. As a result, many students receive inaccurate or incomplete information, according to an article published by the Xinhua news agency.

Approximately 1,900 people participated in the survey with a majority saying that China’s universities need to publish more information about their curriculum, teachers and employment perspectives. Almost 75 percent of the respondents said the universities should provide guidance about study and life on their campuses.

Xinhua [19]
August 31, 2011

Highly Regarded Shanghai Business School Opens Branch in London

One of China’s top business schools, the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business [20] (CKGSB), opened an office in London [21] in September, making it mainland China’s first domestic business school to establish an overseas branch, according to the state run Xinhua news agency.

The school will seek to provide customized business programs for European executives who are or will be dealing with business issues related to China and the rest of Asia. It promises to offer corporate clients insights into China’s economy and businesses, like how multinational corporations, state-owned enterprises and private companies compete and collaborate in China, East Asia and even in the global market.

CKGSB will also function as a bridge between East and West, it says, providing a platform for business leaders from both parts of the world to meet and compare notes, as well as network in an academic environment.

Xinhua [22]
September 7, 2011


A Single Admissions Test by 2013?

Kapil Sibal, India’s minister in charge of higher education, is advocating and pushing for a single exam to replace a system under which students take multiple tests for college admissions.

To expedite his plan of having a single college entry test in place by 2013, Sibal had his ministry of Human Resource Development [23] put together a committee to re-examine the test methodology for selecting students for undergraduate admissions. The committee was scheduled to complete its report by mid-September.

Sibal has been working to overhaul the college admissions system to ‘de-stress’ the admissions process and to distance it from the recent and controversial 100 percent cut-offs fixed by some institutions.

India Today [24]
July 30, 2011

U.S. Community Colleges Build Ties with India

The U.S. Department of State organized a meeting in collaboration with Washington D.C.-based Montgomery College [25] on community colleges in New Delhi recently. The symposium [26], along with planned faculty and student exchanges and curriculum-development work between Montgomery and three partner institutions in India, is a key component of a broader project to improve cooperation between colleges in the two countries.

In selecting Montgomery College for the $195,000 pilot project, the State Department picked an institution with experience in India. The college has in the past provided advice on skills training to the government of Haryana, a prosperous state just outside Delhi that is home to many multinational companies and high-tech start-ups.

The State Department-supported effort pairs Montgomery with three Indian educational institutions: one of the country’s thousands of Industrial Training Institutes; Guru Gobind Singh Government Polytechnic [27], which awards three-year diplomas in engineering; and O.P. Jindal Institute of Technology and Skills [28], started by a wealthy industrialist to meet immediate work-force demands. A delegation of 15 faculty and staff members from Montgomery traveled to India in March, visiting all three institutions.

Business-sector collaboration was a major theme of the two-day symposium, which drew administrators and instructors from all four partner institutions, business leaders, members of India’s Parliament, and the U.S. ambassador. The U.S.-India project has focused on biotech, automotive technology, and construction management because the three are heavily in demand in booming India. But the emphasis is also meant to underscore community colleges’ roles in preparing graduates for cutting-edge jobs, an important message in a country where the mind-set is very much geared towards university education.

American and Indian delegates will be taking a look at the Montgomery project when they visit Washington in October as part of a long-awaited U.S.-India higher-education summit. While the State Department does not plan to underwrite additional partnerships, the hope is that Montgomery will serve as a model for other such collaborations.

The Chronicle of Higher Education [29]
August 28, 2011

In Need of 300,000 Faculty Members

India needs an extra 300,000 faculty members at its universities, according to recent numbers provided by a federal government panel appointed in January to study the problem.

“Besides the present shortage, in the coming decade it will increase at the rate of 100,000 faculty a year. This clearly needs massive mobilization of resources and a policy framework to ensure that the growing higher-education system maintains quality standards,” the panel said in a report it submitted to Kapil Sibal, India’s education minister.

The report noted that administrative bureaucracy was a major obstacle in hiring faculty. It added that various incentives should be offered to retain outstanding faculty members. It also proposed a plan to groom young faculty members while they are still completing their degrees.

Live Mint [30]
August 10, 2011


University of Tokyo Considers Moving Start of School Year to Fall Semester

The University of Tokyo [31] (Todai), one of the country’s most influential institutions, is considering moving the start of its school year from spring to autumn. As the school has so much influence on Japan’s educational community, the discussions have provoked various reactions from other higher education institutions and industry accustomed to “new beginnings” being marked by the cherry blossom season in April.

“By eliminating a major factor that’s keeping (Japan) from globalizing, we can achieve a type of system reform,” said Todai President Junichi Hamada at a meeting of the Central Education Council’s basic educational promotion plan committee on July 21.

When the committee’s vice chairman, former Keio University [32] President Yuichiro Anzai, expressed support by saying that it was a great idea he’d like to see Todai achieve, Hamada sought more support from his colleagues: “We’d like to implement it along with other universities.”

Nippon Steel Corp Chairman Akio Mimura, who serves as the committee’s chairman, gave his seal of approval. “Companies want excellent students, whether it’s April or September,” he said. “We can easily handle accepting students in the fall.”

The school year at universities in Europe and North America generally begin in the fall, and the common belief has been that the half-year difference in the timing of enrollment has been a major obstacle in promoting study abroad.

The Mainichi Times [33]
August 12, 2011


International Enrollments Top 90,000

Malaysia has the 11th largest enrollment of foreign students among countries that have large international students bodies. Private Higher Education Institutions Deputy Director-general Datin Dr Siti Hamisah Tapsir said in August that Malaysia now enrolls 2 percent of the world’s international student population. By June this year the number of international students in Malaysia exceeded 90,000, she said during a speech. The Higher Education Ministry is targeting 200,000 international students by 2020.

Bernama [34]
August 18, 2011


Government to Cap Foreign Enrollments

In August, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that his government would be creating more places for Singaporeans at local universities in coming years, while also placing a future cap on foreign students.

The announcement is believed to be a reaction to the unhappiness expressed by some, who feel it is no longer “Singaporeans first” when it comes to local universities. And while Mr. Lee stressed that admitting foreign students has not been done at the expense of local students, he said that some 2,000 university places will be added over the next four years – all of which will go to Singaporeans.

Meanwhile, foreign enrollment levels will be capped at where they stand now, which means the proportion of foreign students will eventually shrink. Currently, they make up 18 percent of the overall university intake in the island nation. By 2015, the goal is that universities will take in 14,000 Singaporeans, as well as offer increased numbers of scholarships and bursaries.

TODAY online [35]
August 15, 2011

South Korea

Government to Vet Institutions Wishing to Enroll Foreign Students

South Korea’s Ministry of Education, Science and Technology [36] is concerned that some colleges and universities are recruiting foreign students for purely financial reasons. In response, the ministry said that it will begin inspecting educational providers – both domestic and foreign – that enroll overseas undergraduates.

The inspections, which will start this fall, will examine whether the institutions have adequate facilities to serve international students and cultural programs that bring Koreans and foreigners together. Ministry officials said they worry that a few colleges are tainting the international image of the country’s higher-education system. They said that as many as 15 percent of the worst-performing universities will be forced to close or merge if they do not meet strict criteria under the new assessments of all Korean institutions due to begin in September.

The announcement comes at a time when Korean universities are making big efforts to increase overseas enrollments with the help of government initiatives. Universities certified to accommodate international students will be eligible to offer Global Korea Scholarships, a government funded program that provides financial support to foreign students. Certified schools will also receive priority consideration for job fairs.

Korea Herald [37]
August 15, 2011

43 Private Institutions Lose State Subsidies Because of Poor Standards

South Korea’s Ministry of Education, Science and Technology [36] has withdrawn state subsidies from 43 private universities, colleges and vocational institutions, after they were assessed as being poorly run. The move comes as part of the government’s attempts to restructure and improve the higher education sector.

Together the 43 institutions received a total of 130 billion won (US$121.3 million) in state funding last year. These funds will now be channelled to the 85 percent of institutions that met the government’s criteria.

“Our principle is simple – competitive institutions will receive more support, but there will be less support for under-performing institutions,” said Hong Seung-yong, chair of the ministry’s higher education restructuring panel.

The move is in advance of a major restructuring of the higher education sector so that the government can use funds to reduce soaring tuition fee levels, which caused huge protests in May and June. The ‘name and shame’ announcement came after an evaluation of the 346 private institutions, which make up 80 percent of the country’s higher education colleges and universities. The main criteria for assessing performance were the employment rate of recent graduates, the student retention rate and the quality of faculty.

The evaluation began in July, and the ministry said it was now in the final stages of drawing up a list of ‘poorly managed’ public universities. It revealed that at least six state-run institutions would also be subject to restructuring.

University World News [38]
September 11, 2011

Sri Lanka

Government Plans to Attract Foreign Universities

The Sri Lankan government is seeking to attract foreign universities to the country under an initiative to expand access to tertiary education. According to a recent article in Lanka Business Online, the country is on track to meet that goal with the Bangkok-based Asian Institute of Technology [39] (AIT) expected to set up a campus in Hambantota in southern Sri Lanka, according to Higher Education Ministry Secretary Sunil Jayantha Navaratne, while India’s Manipal University [40] is to set up a campus near Negombo, north of Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo.

Australian Technical and Management College [41] (ATMC), an institute that works as an education delivery service for the University of Ballarat [42] in Australia said it was also in talks to set up a fully-fledged campus.

The government is offering land and tax breaks for recognized and accredited international institutions of higher education. Navaratne said the government was in advanced talks with about 10 institutes and relevant legislation was in the final stages of being drafted.

Lanka Business Online [43]
August 17, 2011

Six universities to Receive Additional Funding to Boost Rankings

Sri Lanka’s Higher Education Ministry [44] announced recently that it would be launching a program to upgrade six local universities by allocating just under US$1 million to each university. Funds are to be used to upgrade teaching, research and infrastructure to ‘international’ levels within the next few years. The universities to be upgraded are Colombo [45], Peradeniya [46], Moratuwa [47], Kelaniya [48], Ruhuna [49] and Sri Jayewardenepura [50].

The government has expressed that it would like to see them rank among the top 1,000 universities in the world, as part of Sri Lanka’s aim to become a knowledge hub for Asia. Three more universities – Rajarata [51], Jaffna [52] and Eastern [53] – have been mentioned for increased government investment in a second phase of upgrades in the future.

Daily News [54]
September 2, 2011


President Okays New 12-year Compulsory Education Plan

Students in Taiwan will enjoy a higher standard of education under the government’s 12-year compulsory education plan, which President Ma Ying-jeou signed off on in August.

Taiwan will extend compulsory education from nine to 12 years starting in 2014 in an effort to improve national competitiveness, according to the Ministry of Education. The plan will see students receive tuition-free education for their 12 years at secondary school.

Special admission to nationally competitive programs will be reserved for 25 percent of junior high graduates, with the remaining 75 percent enjoying exam-free admission in 15 school districts around the country. The ministry is currently drafting a senior high school education bill and amendments to the Junior College Law to provide legal foundation for the plan, according to officials.

Taiwan Today [55]
August 10, 2011

Academics Express Concern Over Brain Drain

A group of Taiwanese academics, artists, journalists, and business leaders are warning that Taiwan is losing its ability to keep top talent due to outdated laws and government bureaucracy.

In a joint statement [56] published in August, they say the island nation “may see its competitive edge in industry and academe decline gradually,” if the government doesn’t take steps to ameliorate conditions for academics and researchers. For example, the statement says rules that limit how much education and research institutions can pay staff members should be revised because China, Hong Kong, and Singapore are able to offer larger salaries.

Despite such concerns, Taiwan has started to do more to recruit students from abroad. In April, it announced a plan to bring in 100,000 foreign students in five years and this year it is allowing students from mainland China to enroll in full-degree programs, the first time in 60 years.

Agence France Presse [57]
August 15, 2011


Developing a World Class University

Vietnam has emerged in recent years as a low-cost manufacturing center able to compete with China, it’s huge neighbor to the north, for contracts from the world’s biggest manufacturers. However, to continue competing and moving up the value chain, the country needs the requisite pool of skilled workers and innovative thinkers. To achieve this, it must improve its centers of learning.

The new University of Science and Technology Hanoi (USTH) is being developed to help push Vietnamese research and innovation to ‘world class’ levels. To support that goal, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in May announced a huge loan of US$190 million for USTH, as requested by the Vietnamese government.

A consortium of French universities has designed the new institution’s curriculum, which will be taught by professors from France until the university can attract or train top Vietnamese academics. Teaching will be in English and French, however USTH is not an international branch campus but a Vietnamese public university that intends to provide international standards of teaching and research. Degrees will be accredited jointly by a French university and USTH.

One major roadblock currently facing the institution is autonomy, of which Vietnamese institutions typically have a very limited amount. Enrollments are controlled, tuition fees are capped, and the ministry of education makes most decisions including those related to hiring and budgeting. According to a recent article in University World News, the Vietnamese government is having a hard time coming to terms with the concept of a public university autonomous of the government.

However, the ADB loan agreement to build the USTH campus to house 5,000 students and researchers, which will be completed in the next five to six years, includes clauses on academic freedom and institutional autonomy. The hope being that the new university will be a model for the manner in which ‘world class’ research universities operate.

University World News [58]
August 28, 2011