WENR, January 2012: Asia Pacific
Ministers Agree on Mutual Recognition of Qualifications
Under a recently revised agreement on academic recognition in Asia-Pacific countries, students who complete studies at recognized universities in signatory countries will have their credentials recognized in other signatory countries as equivalent.
The UNESCO ministerial meeting, held in Tokyo in late November, drew delegates from 28 countries to discuss the 1983 convention on the recognition of qualifications in higher education in the Asia-Pacific region.
Under the new agreement, the student, even if he or she completes just three years of study in China or Australia, will be eligible to apply for graduate school in Korea, where it takes four years to earn a bachelor’s degree. The revised agreement aims to make degree standards and quality more comparable and compatible throughout Asia to promote academic mobility and exchange.
– The Korea Herald
November 27, 2011
Growth of International Branch Campuses Fastest in Asia
According to the latest report from the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education, the number of international branch campuses set up by universities has reached 200 with another 37 in the pipeline, and focus shifting from the Gulf region to Asia.
China now hosts 17 branches compared to 10 two years ago. It follows Singapore in Asia with 18, up from 12 in 2009. U.S. universities still have the most overseas campuses with 78, while the United Arab Emirates continues to host the largest number of campuses with 37. However, the report notes that there are no new branches planned in the UAE, while British universities have seen the biggest recent growth in activity, nearly doubling their number of outposts in the past two years to 25.
International Branch Campuses: Data and Developments, was published in early January and comes as an update to a similar OBHE study released in September 2009. The 200 branch campuses identified by the report represent an increase of 23 percent from 2009. However, the new analysis revises the definition of a branch campus – for example, excluding those offering only pre-degree-level courses – making direct comparisons with the 2009 figures difficult.
In addition to the 200 identified existing campuses, the report names 37 others planned by universities and scheduled to open in the next two years; 13 are from the United States. According to tuition fee data collected from 154 campuses, the undergraduate mean for 2010-11 was $13,800, while the median average was $9,700.
For universities, the benefits of branches include “greater access to an expanding student market, especially in Asia where demand…is expected to continue to outstrip supply for another 20 years,” the report says. For many governments, especially in Asia and Africa, hosting campuses is “preferable to the outward migration of young people.” Lower-risk niche campuses focusing on specific subject areas “represent a trend which is likely to assume greater prominence in coming years – and may become the typical branch-campus model,” the report adds.
– Times Higher Education
January 12, 2012
University to Do Away with Honors Degrees in Favor of Two-Year Masters
The University of Macquarie endorsed changes in November that will essentially abolish honors degrees in favor of two-year master’s degrees, which will become the standard pathway to doctoral study.
The university says the changes will bring its degree structures into line with those of Europe, China and North America, acknowledging that international recognition of one-year honors degrees – long an anomaly of British systems and those modeled on them – is diminishing. The move will be closely watched by other Australian universities as each repositions itself for a more competitive international environment.
The University of Melbourne now offers only six undergraduate degrees and has shifted professional programs such as law, architecture and medicine to the graduate level. The university continues to offer honors programs for all its undergraduate degrees, although not for all disciplines. The University of Western Australia is making a similar move, next year reducing its undergraduate offerings to five degrees. Professional fields such as social work, dentistry and pharmacy will only be offered to those with another bachelor degree. But the university has chosen to make honors a feature of its new structure.
– The Age
November 21, 2011
Students Heading Abroad Because of Corruption, Poor Standards at Home
The quality of university instruction in Cambodia is suffering from rampant corruption, funding shortages and an obsession with profit, according to students who say they are being driven overseas in search of masters and PhD programs.
If the government hopes to keep its best and brightest at home, it must resolve these issues and build a world-class university system from within, said Sim Socheata, one of three Cambodians on scholarship at the University of Melbourne, Australia, who spoke to the Phnom Penh Post about their frustrations with Cambodian education.
Obstacles hindering Cambodia’s higher education system include low salaries for teachers – which force them into second jobs – lack of materials and equipment and a “mushrooming” of the private system, which has encouraged a focus on profit over quality and flooded the labor market with graduates who can’t find work in their field, she said.
– Phnom Penh Post
January 3, 2012
Berkeley to Open Engineering Facility in Shanghai
The University of California at Berkeley’s College of Engineering says it plans to open a 50,000-square-foot facility in Shanghai to expand graduate education and research efforts in information technology, renewable energy, and other areas, according to a statement by the university.
The facility will be located in the Zhangjiang High-Tech Park, where several large American companies are already established. Shanghai and the company that runs the technology park will provide funding for the building of the academic center and allow the university to operate there rent-free for five years. The Zhangjiang High-Tech Park said it would raise at least $50 million over five years to support research partnerships between Berkeley and Chinese institutions.
– New York Times
November 16, 2011
Many More Chinese Have the Financial Ability to Pay for a U.S. University Education, but Lack English Skills
According to the findings of a survey of 18,000 Chinese students considering a U.S. university education, a majority have the financial means to do so but may lack the English-language skills.
In interviews lasting from 9 to twelve minutes, students’ English proficiency was assessed, using an approach based on international language tests. Students were then queried in Chinese about their family’s ability to pay for a college education. Fifty-three percent told Zinch China, a consulting company that advises American colleges and universities about China, that their families can afford to spend $40,000 or more per year on an undergraduate education. Another 22 percent reported they could spend between $10,000 and $40,000 a year.
However, over a third of those students were considered not to have adequate English-language skills to function in an American classroom, and just 18 percent have the advanced linguistic skills that would allow them to participate in a seminar-type setting.
The survey is based on interviews conducted between January and August 2011 with about 18,000 prospective students who enrolled in the Zinch China network to learn more about applying to college abroad.
Another British University to Establish China Campus
The Guangwai-Lancaster University, as the new campus will be known, will initially offer programs in a number of language- and business-related disciplines, followed by life science and engineering programs in the second year, and later humanities and social sciences. Eventual enrollment goals are between 8,000 and 10,000.
The curriculum and teaching methods are to follow those of Lancaster, allowing Guangwai-Lancaster students the opportunity to spend part of their studies in, or permanently transfer to, the Lancaster campus. By establishing the new campus in Guangzhou, Lancaster will join other UK universities such as Liverpool and Nottingham which already have bases in China.
– Times Higher Education
November 1, 2011
Chinese Universities to Scrap Programs in Low-Demand Employment Fields
With unemployment among recent university graduates on the rise, the Chinese Ministry of Education has announced that it will encourage universities to phase out or downsize majors whose graduates have an employment rate that falls below 60 percent for two consecutive years.
The proposal, contained in an official notice to universities and local governments, comes as the number of China’s university-educated citizens has jumped to 8,930 people per 100,000 in 2010, up nearly 150 percent from 2000, according to China’s 2010 Census. Although graduates from the humanities and social sciences are commonly viewed as being less employable than science graduates, the ministry has also issued notices to promote social sciences in recent weeks.
– China Daily
November 23, 2011
Ministry Encourages Universities to Conduct Independent Admissions Examinations
China’s Ministry of Education is looking at ways of diversifying the university admissions process beyond the nationally administered central admission examination. One such measure is to encourage top universities to use independent examinations, besides the national one, to test students hoping to enter universities in 2012.
“Encouraging universities to select students based on independent criteria is an important supplement to the country’s system of college entrance exams,” said a notice released by the ministry in November.
The announcement runs contrary to earlier rumors that China’s educational authorities were looking to mute the increasing number of university alliances holding independent university entrance examinations. Tsinghua University, the University of Science and Technology of China, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Xi’an Jiaotong University and Nanjing University formed China’s first alliance, named the Hua League, of independent entrance examinations in 2010. A similar examination collaboration was built later in the same year, with Peking University, Beijing Beihang University, Beijing Normal University, Nankai University, Fudan University, Xiamen University and Hong Kong University.
Students in Sino-Foreign Programs Now Required to Register with Ministry Website
Chinese students looking to enroll in programs jointly run by Chinese and foreign institutions of higher learning are now required to register online with the Ministry of Education, which is looking at ways to regulate and supervise Sino-foreign degree programs.
In recent years, there has been a large increase in the number of Chinese institutions offering programs in concert with foreign partners. Most are recognized and legitimate, but there has also been an increase in the number of programs being offered without official recognition and oversight, according to the ministry.
As of December, students enrolling in Sino-foreign programs are now required to register on an official ministry website. Once they finish their programs, students will be able to check their diploma details and verify them through the website. According to a November article from China Daily, 35,913 students attending 126 Sino-foreign educational programs had already registered.
– China Daily
November 21, 2011
Top Chinese Universities to Accept HK Students Based on Local Exam Results
Sixty-three of China’s top-ranked universities have said that they will accept Hong Kong students based on their new secondary school examination results. Candidates sitting the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education examinations and Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination next year are eligible for enrollment under the pilot scheme.
The universities will consider the admission of students from other special administrative regions based on local exam results – exempting them from taking the Joint Entrance Examination for Universities in the mainland, the Ministry of Education announced.
The institutions are located in 11 provinces and municipalities, including Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Chongqing, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian, Hubei, Sichuan and Yunnan. Students can apply online from February 20 to March 5. The Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority will provide students’ exam results to the Joint Enrollment Office, and the results will be forwarded to the institutions for admission confirmation.
– The Standard
November 29, 2011
Hong Kong U to Collaborate with Cambridge U in Recruiting from China
The University of Cambridge and the University of Hong Kong have teamed up to recruit top engineering students from China. Students will be recruited to study engineering at the University of Hong Kong, with the best being invited to switch to a four-year degree at Cambridge after their first year.
The partnership will essentially make HKU a feeder institution for Cambridge, but fewer than 15 students a year will be offered a place with the first ones starting in 2013. Hong Kong would benefit as they will be able to recruit top-quality mainland students with the Cambridge bait. Chinese students who are accepted by Cambridge will graduate with a bachelor’s and master’s degree, as the year at HKU will be classed as a foundation year.
– Times Higher Education
December 19, 2011
Indian Students Start to Look at New International Study Destinations
Indian students have for many years rarely looked beyond Britain, the US and Australia for overseas higher education. But changes in visa rules, fraudulent institutions, and lack of post-graduation work opportunities in the United Kingdom and United States have all been catalysts for students to seek newer, more welcoming destinations including Canada, New Zealand, continental Europe and Singapore.
“New Zealand attracted a large number of Indian students this year. Countries such as Canada will become increasingly popular. Australia, with its new visa norms, is all set to make a comeback,” said Ravi Lochan Singh, managing director of the educational consultancy Global Reach.
Changes in visa policies are a key factor in the search for new destinations. This year the U.K. scrapped the two-year post-study leave to remain in the U.K. for new non-E.U. students. Foreign graduates can stay only if they have highly paid skilled job offers.
By contrast, Australia announced new student visa regulations from November this year after a huge slump in the number of Indian students brought on by racist attacks on Indians and visa changes. Under its new regulation, international students who graduate with a bachelor or masters degree after studying for at least two years in Australia will be able to work in the country for two years after graduation.
In North America, U.S. universities still host the largest number of Indian students, but the U.S. reputation was tarnished in 2011 after high-profile incidents of fraudulent universities left Indian students stranded. Meanwhile, the slowdown in the U.S. economy and the lack of employment opportunities is giving Canada an edge over America, especially with Canada introducing new visa programs aimed at attracting skilled workers and students.
– University World News
November 20, 2011
Foreign University Bill Back on the Agenda
India is trying again to open its doors to foreign universities, with a parliamentary committee sending a new draft of the 2010 Foreign Universities bill to cabinet in late December. Cabinet approved a much-debated version of the original proposal in March 2010, however it languished in parliament behind a raft of other bills and fierce opposition.
In November, the parliamentary committee on human resource development recommended that a clause barring repatriation of profits be revised, and suggested that a fixed percentage of any surplus may be sent out of India by foreign institutions. The draft bill is now with the education ministry, which can accept or reject the recommendation before obtaining cabinet approval for a final draft. It can then be re-introduced to parliament.
Critics of the proposal claim that high fee foreign schools will do nothing to increase access to higher education and that they will drain research and teaching talent away from Indian institutions. While there is no national register, there are believed to be 160 international universities operating in India, nearly all of them from the U.S. and U.K. in collaboration with local partners.
– Business Standard
December 29, 2011
Cabinet Approves Plan for New Tertiary Regulator
India’s cabinet has approved a bill to set up a regulator that would oversee the whole higher education sector after two years of delay, replacing the multiple regulators that currently have overlapping and contradictory roles such as the University Grants Commission, the All India Council for Technical Education and the Council of Distance Education.
The 70-member body, called the National Council for Higher Education and Research, will oversee all higher-education providers except for medical and agricultural institutions. The legislation is expected to be introduced in Parliament soon. Approval by the cabinet is a key step in securing parliamentary approval.
– Deccan Chronicle
December 21, 2011
IITs to Partner with MIT’s OpenCourseWare Program
The Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) have agreed to join the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s OpenCourseWare Consortium, enabling anyone to access online the course content of the elite engineering schools.
Lectures from the IITs will also soon be available on Apple’s iTunes platform, and the institutions have set up a YouTube channel for their courses. When MIT first invited the Indian Institutes of Technology to join the OpenCourseWare effort in 2007, the institutions declined as they felt their online resources were not yet adequate.
– The Times of India
January 2, 2012
Student Loan Issuances for Overseas Study Slow
A weak Indian currency and high interest rates has resulted in a slow down in the number of students taking out loans for international study, a trend that may grow in the near term, according to recent news reports.
In the April-September period, education-loan disbursement grew only 18 percent compared with almost 24 percent growth in the same period a year earlier, the Indian government said. Indian bankers have pointed to global uncertainty and a slowing desire among Indian students to study abroad in explaining the slowdown.
– Business Standard
December 16, 2011
Government to Train 1,500 Academics Overseas
Facing massive faculty shortages and inadequate teaching standards, India’s education ministry recently stated that it is prepared to finance postdoctoral studies abroad for 1,500 Indian academics.
The ministry plans to pick the postdoctoral candidates from across India and support their studies at reputed institutions abroad. “The idea is that the government invests in improving and developing the faculty base on the condition that on completion of studies, this faculty must return to India and teach in institutes here,” said a ministry official.
– Express India
January 1, 2012
Government to Help Boost Study Abroad Numbers with 5,000 Scholarships
Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology has announced that it will provide funding for more than 5,000 high school and university students to study abroad through an expansion of its study abroad scholarship scheme in 2012.
The figure is five times higher than it is currently, and in its bid to encourage more Japanese students to go overseas the ministry aims to boost the number to approximately 10,000 five years from now. The ministry will extend financial aid to high school students and expand scholarship quotas for university students, ministry officials said.
According to the ministry, the number of Japanese studying abroad reached 82,945 in 2004 before steadily dropping to 66,833 in 2008, down 11 percent from a year before. High school students studying abroad totaled 3,190 in 2008, down 18 percent from 2006.
– The Mainichi Daily News
November 7, 2011
Japan to Assist in Establishing Engineering Institutions
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has signed a loan agreement with Malaysia to assist in the establishment of Japanese-style engineering education institutions in Malaysia.
The development assistance loan, worth up to 6.697 billion yen (US$86.9 million), will be used to further develop the Malaysia-Japan International Institute of Technology (MJIIT), which operates under Universiti Teknologi Malaysia and offers Japanese-style engineering education.
Based on an agreement between the two countries, the Malaysian government approved the project in May 2010 and the school opened in September 2011. Funds for this project will be used for the procurement of educational and research materials and equipment, as well as consulting services. Twenty-three Japanese universities are currently participating in the project.
– Asia Scientist
January 3, 2012
Yale and NUS Announce Governing Board for New Liberal-Arts College
The board includes industry leaders from both countries, a senior official from the Singapore Ministry of Education, a leading American liberal-arts college president, and the presidents of the two universities. Leading the board is Asian business leader Kay Kuok, executive chair of Shangri-La Hotel Limited and a member of National University of Singapore’s (NUS) board of trustees.
The two schools are currently working to build a curriculum and hire initial faculty members for the liberal-arts college, which is scheduled to enroll its first students in the 2013-14 academic year. Yale-NUS will be home to 1,000 students.
– Yale News
November 21, 2011
President Advises Students to Stay Out of College
South Korean President, Lee Myung-bak, has recently been warning of a glut of university graduates being trained for outdated 20th-century manufacturing skills, even going as far as to say that, “reckless entrance into college is bringing huge losses to families and the country alike.”
Currently, 3.8 million South Koreans are studying at the undergraduate or graduate level, out of a population of 50 million. Thanks to a huge two-decade expansion of higher education, 82 percent of students now go on to study at two- or four-year colleges, according to the government-financed Korea Educational Development Institute. As late as 1977, fewer than 5 percent of Korean 18- to 22-year-olds went to college. Mr. Lee has raised eyebrows by suggesting that too many students go to college.
With a declining population on the horizon, the government is recognizing that it might have too many universities. What that means for the nation’s 40 public universities and 400 private colleges is still being debated across the nation, however, Education Minister Lee Ju-Ho warns that student enrollment at Korean colleges will plummet by 40 percent in the next 12 years. By 2016, it is estimated that there will already be more university places than high-school graduates, meaning that institutional mergers and closures are imminent. Much of the pain will likely be felt among private providers, which currently cater to about 80 percent of Korean students.
Meanwhile, tuition fees have doubled in the last decade, and Korean families have become one of the world’s top spenders on educational services. In an effort to help families decrease education-related expenses, and ease rising graduate unemployment, President Lee has proposed that parents lower their educational aspirations and consider vocational schools or other job-training opportunities rather than expensive four-year universities.
– The Chronicle of Higher Education
November 27, 2011
Government Bans 11 Institutions from Enrolling Foreign Students
In its continuing efforts to improve institutional standards, South Korea’s Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has named 11 institutions that will be banned from admitting foreign students this year, joining six others that had previously been banned. Another 19 institutions have been ordered to improve policies on and management of international students if they are to retain the right to apply for visas for students from overseas in the future.
A total of 36 universities and two-year colleges have been named and shamed for having inadequate standards in place regarding foreign students. According to ministry figures, 83,840 overseas students attended Korean universities in 2010, four times more than in 2006. The number is expected to reach 100,000 this year. Approximately 70 of the current total of international students are from China. The latest sanctions come in the wake of the ministry’s four-month investigation into 347 institutions, including 200 universities
The ministry also named 10 universities as having the best international programs. They include the prestigious Seoul National University, Hanyang University, Yonsei University, Korea University and Sogang University.
– Korea Times
December 29, 2011
Private Universities Bill Withdrawn
Facing mounting opposition from lecturers and students, Sri Lanka’s higher education minister temporarily withdrew a proposed Private University Bill in January that was drafted in part to allow foreign institutions to set up branch campuses in Sri Lanka. Instead, he is hoping to present a revised quality assurance bill to parliament related to private higher education providers.
At a press conference Higher Education Minister SB Dissanayake said that the new Quality Assurance, Accreditation and Qualification Framework Bill is not a private university bill, rather it is designed to regulate and assure quality at private institutions of higher education in Sri Lanka. According to the minister, there are already 59 private institutions registered to award degrees; 32 of them are affiliated to local and foreign universities.
Students and faculty protested the bill, forcing the closure of two institutions and impacting the operations of seven others.
– University World News
January 18, 2012
Investment in Top University Programs Pays Dividends
According to the results of an assessment of Phase I of Taiwan’s “Aim for the Top University Program,” investment in elite universities has been paying dividends. Running from 2006 to 2010 and sponsored by the Ministry of Education of Taiwan with an investment of NT$50 billion (over $1.6 billion) in 12 universities across the country, the program aimed to strengthen the international competitiveness of the nation’s higher education institutions.
In December, program outcomes were highlighted at the Tainan-based National Cheng Kung University. During Phase I of the program, one recipient institution, the National Taiwan University, ranked among the top 100 world universities for three consecutive years, it was pointed out. Additionally, the program has engaged a number of world-class institutes – including Harvard, MIT, the University of Chicago, the University of California, Berkeley, and Imperial College London – as part of Taiwan’s Top University Strategic Alliance.
With the Program funding, the patent growth rate of participating universities has risen 112 percent, and the number of underprivileged students admitted has increased 117 percent – all in the past five years.
– Business Wire
December 7, 2011
Taiwan Loosens Restrictions on Mainland Chinese Students
Universities and colleges in Taiwan have been allowed to relax admission rules for mainland Chinese students looking to apply for graduate and doctorate programs, allowing them to choose up to five majors on each application, removing the limit on applicants’ age (above 40), and moving forward the application period, authorities said in January.
Mainland students are able to choose from 81 schools (48 public and 33 private) in Taiwan; however, the maximum enrollment number remains at 2,000. Taiwanese universities opened their doors to mainland students in 2011, in line with an initiative to increase cross-Taiwan Straits understanding among students from both sides and to boost overseas enrollments at Taiwanese universities.
A total of 937 mainland students pursued degree studies in Taiwan last year. The relatively low number was blamed in part on the late registration period, which has been brought forward from mid-April to mid-January so that students can apply right after the mainland graduate school entrance examination.
January 16, 2012
UK University to Open Branch Campus
Britain’s University of Central Lancashire is to open a campus in Bangkok – the first such move by a U.K. university in Thailand. The university will work with a Thai-based entrepreneur to open the university campus in 2014.
Degrees will be taught in English and validated by the University of Central Lancashire, whose vice-chancellor, Malcolm McVicar, said its market research showed “strong demand” for undergraduate and graduate programs in Thailand. Thailand has been identified as a hub for Southeast Asia, which it expects to be a “key area for future global growth,” according to McVicar in an interview with the BBC.
The UK university will invest £7.5 million (US$12 million) and will work alongside the entrepreneur Sitichai Charoenkajonkul. There are other U.K. universities which have partnerships with universities in Thailand, but the University of Central Lancashire claims to be the first from the U.K to set up a full university there. It expects to have 5,000 students in 10 years and will offer programs in areas such as business, built and natural environment, engineering, creative and performing arts and languages.
January 11, 2012
Too Many Low Quality Institutions
Over the last two decades, Vietnam’s higher education sector has grown rapidly, which while increasing access has led to quality problems that do not “match the demands of society and of the nation’s development”, Minister of Education and Training Pham Vu Luan told the country’s National Assembly in November.
“Vietnam is now suffering from an excess of low quality universities and a lack of high quality ones,” he told the assembly in response to almost 40 questions from deputies, most of them raising concerns that the deteriorating quality of higher education was becoming uncontrollable, especially in the private sector.
In 1987, Vietnam had just 87 higher education institutions. By 2011 the number had risen to 386, some 40 of them established from 2007 to 2010. While the Bureau of Testing and Education Quality Assurance under the education ministry was set up in 2005, the accreditation process remains voluntary, and according to lawmakers many universities have not met the requirements.
For those that can afford it, the overseas option is now becoming increasingly popular, with some 50,000 Vietnamese going abroad every year for higher education.
– University World News
December 4, 2011
Top Students to be Fast-Tracked into College
In its continued efforts to encourage excellence in education, the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training has announced new regulations exempting the nation’s highest achieving grade 12 students from having to sit otherwise mandatory university entrance exams.
Under the new regulations, any student who has won third prize or above in a national contest will be given the option of going straight from school to university. Similarly, those winning ‘encouragement’ prizes will be automatically eligible for enrolling in three-year programs at colleges or technical institutes. Additionally under the new regulations, any students taking part in the selection exam for international contests, usually known as Olympic contests, will also be exempt from high school graduation exams. Those actually making the Olympic team will be admitted directly into Vietnamese universities or colleges of their choice without sitting any entrance exam, in addition to gaining priority to study abroad on a government-paid scholarship.
Normally, Vietnamese students are required to take three exams of 180 minutes each for whichever stream they wish to pursue.
December 7, 2011
Australian Pathway Programs Ordered to Cease
Three private colleges in Vietnam have been ordered to stop teaching what government officials say are unlicensed pathway programs to Australian degrees. The crackdown by the Ministry of Education will impact the flow of international students to institutions in Singapore, the U.K and three private colleges in Australia, including the first such college to offer PhDs.
The action illustrates the potential pitfalls Australian institutions face when they enter partnership deals in countries like Vietnam, which is Australia’s fifth biggest market for offshore higher education. Raffles Vietnam, ILA Vietnam and ERC Vietnam, all based in Ho Chi Minh City, were ordered to stop providing “not permitted” pathway programs to overseas institutions in Australia, Singapore and the U.K.
– The Australian
January 4, 2011