WENR, June/July 2012: Europe
New President Reverses Sarkozy’s Restrictions on Foreign Students
The new French government has reversed a controversial circular issued by interior minister Claude Guéant a year ago that imposed tough visa restrictions on foreign students and graduates, as the newly elected president, François Hollande, had promised to do during his election campaign.
The move to abandon the so-called Guéant circular took place a year to the day after it came into force, and the “new circular is understood to tell the relevant officials not to deport students whose temporary right to stay has run out and to speed up the handling of requests for working papers,” RFI reports.
The circular tightened restrictions on non-European students and graduates living and working in France, many of whom have been expelled from the country. The measures were opposed by students, academics, and the organizations representing heads of universities and grandes écoles, and also by politicians and employers who feared France would no longer be able to attract talented foreigners. Foreign students currently account for 40 percent of French PhDs.
May 31, 2012
Overseas Enrollments Booming
The Republic of Georgia is enjoying an increasing level of popularity as a study destination, with its most popular institutions receiving as many as nine or ten times the number of applicants than they have places for.
According to a survey conducted by Georgian media site, The Financial, the nation’s universities accepted a record number of international students last year. Tbilisi State Medical University is leading the pack with just over 1,000 of its 5,000 students enrolled from overseas – including many from India, Sri Lanka, and Nigeria. Meanwhile, Ilia State University, or ISET, was quoted as having the largest share of foreign students, with approximately 50 percent of its student body coming from overseas.
Other well-represented nations at Georgian universities currently include Armenia and Azerbaijan, with Iran offering a potentially important market for future students. Tbilisi State University, for example, is already recognized by Iranian authorities, and travel between the two countries has recently become far easier with a no visa policy being introduced for all nationals.
In terms of overall applications (domestic and international), Georgian Technical University received the most with 65,704, while Tbilisi State University, accepted the largest number of freshman students – 4,550 this year. Internationally, Georgian universities accepted 1,709 international students last year as compared to 832 in the 2009-2010 academic year.
– The Financial
June 11, 2012
Five New Universities Awarded ‘Elite’ Status
Two universities from the former East Germany and three others have been named as ‘elite universities’ under the country’s Excellence Initiative. Humboldt University in Berlin and the University of Dresden are the former East German universities that will receive the extra funding under the program, while the University of Karlsruhe was among the institutions that failed to retain elite status in the second round of the Excellence Initiative.
The initiative was launched by the federal and state governments in 2005, with a first round of institutions named in 2006-07. It aims to promote internationally relevant top-level research and attract junior scientists and scholars from abroad. The initiative has three budget levels: clusters of excellence; graduate schools; and concepts for the future, which describe the strategic development of an institution. Funding can be awarded in a single line, but a university is only eligible for the title of an ‘elite university’ if its concept for the future is accepted, in addition to having at least one cluster of excellence and one graduate school.
The elite universities each receive €10 million (US$12.3 million) to €15 million ($18.5 million) a year up to 2017. The first round yielded nine elite universities: alongside Karlsruhe, Munich’s Technical and Ludwig Maximilians universities, Free University of Berlin, and the universities of Aachen, Constance, Heidelberg, Freiburg and Göttingen.
For the second round, the federal and state governments agreed on a maximum of 12 institutions in all, five of which should be new. The three additional institutions awarded the elite title are the Universities of Bremen, Cologne and Tübingen. Out of the winners of the first round, the universities of Karlsruhe, Göttingen and Freiburg lost their elite status.
– University World News
June 19, 2012
Greeks Find a Passion for German Language
Many Greeks are unhappy with Germany over its stance on the economic crisis in their country, but Greek students are flocking to German language courses, according to figures from the Goethe Institute, which runs German-language programs in Greece and around the world. The institute said demand had shot up by 50 percent in Greece in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2011.
Students are studying at German programs in Greece or traveling to German-speaking countries to learn the language, hoping to stay and find a good job. Demand in Italy had risen by 30 percent in the same period, the institute said, while classes were also overflowing in Spain, where youth unemployment stands at more than 50 percent.
According to the latest official statistics, there was a 19 percent increase in new arrivals to Germany during the first six months of 2011 – or 435,000 people. Eighty-four percent more Greeks moved to Germany in the first half of 2011 than in the same period in 2010 and 49 percent more Spaniards, the figures showed.
– Agence France Presse
June 8, 2012
Degrees from 210 Foreign Universities to be Recognized
Diplomas from 210 foreign universities now will be automatically recognized as equivalent to those from Russia without an additional state evaluation, according to a government order issued in May. The order was issued soon after the announcement of an overseas scholarship program for talented Russians.
The approved universities, from 25 countries, include top-tier institutions in addition to less-well-known ones. Most of the selected schools are in North America: 66 American and 14 Canadian, with 28 in Britain and 61 in other European countries. Also included are 11 Chinese colleges, nine Japanese and three South Korean.
The breakdown of European universities whose diplomas will now be recognized in Russia looks like this: 13 German, 10 Dutch, seven Swedish, six Swiss, five French, five Belgian, three Italian, three Danish, three Norwegian, two Spanish, two Austrian, one Irish and one Finnish. The other universities on the list include eight in Australia, three in Israel, two in Brazil, two in New Zealand, two in Singapore and one in South Africa. In addition to the universities on this new list, Russia also recognizes university diplomas from former Soviet republics.
Graduates from other foreign universities must undergo a four-month credential evaluation procedure if they want to have their diplomas officially recognized in Russia. In 2003, Russia signed on to the Bologna Process, which was launched in 1999 to harmonize degree systems across Europe. But many Russian graduates who go to work and study abroad still must have their diplomas certified.
– The Moscow Times
May 27, 2012
Enrollment Bar Lowered for New Universities
The British government has said it plans to allow for a new generation of universities by lowering the qualifying enrollment threshold for the ‘university’ title from 4,000 to 1,000 students (of which 750 must be studying for a degree). Giving smaller, high-quality institutions access to the “university” title will stimulate competition in higher education, the government said.
The move is one of the policies announced in a white paper last year that does not require legislation through a new higher education bill. The white paper set out plans to change the criteria for degree-awarding powers and university title as a way of making it “easier for new providers to enter the sector.” However, the proposed expansion of private provision via the opening of degree-awarding powers to non-teaching bodies will require legislation. Degree-awarding powers are, and will remain, a prerequisite for obtaining university title – leaving expansion on this front partially blocked.
– Times Higher Education
May 24, 2012
Overseas Applications to Top-Tier Institutions Remain Strong, Except from India
Applications from overseas students have risen by up to 26 percent at some major UK universities despite the government’s tougher visa requirements – but the number of Indian graduate applications has fallen dramatically at several institutions, according to a 2012-13 application-trends survey by Times Higher Education of top universities in the Russell Group and Million+.
Seven Russell Group and four Million+ universities supplied figures on their total applications from non-EU students. Data for the 11 institutions show an average increase of 9.4 percent in applications from non-EU students for 2012-13, compared with the same point in the 2011-12 admissions cycle.
Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, said: “Although application figures for this year appear to be holding firm, they do not reflect the full impact of the changes, many of which have just taken effect.” She warned of concern that “persistent, negative publicity surrounding visa changes will begin to bite in the near future”, which “could be hugely damaging for many universities that had planned on expanding their numbers.”
At some universities, graduate applications from India have dropped dramatically, with universities blaming the closure of the post-study work visa. This could present a major problem given that India is the second-largest source of overseas students for UK universities behind China, and the largest for overseas graduates. In April, the government withdrew the visa for non-EU students to stay in the UK to work for up to two years post-graduation.
– Times Higher Education
May 31, 2012
MBA Applications from Overseas Hit by Visa Reforms
Applications by international students to study Masters of Business Administration (MBA) programs in the UK have been hit by government changes to visa policies, according to a survey from the Association of MBAs (AMBA). Applications to full-time MBA courses, where international students make up 90 percent of the intake, were down by a fifth in 2011 compared with the previous year.
Sharon Bamford, chief executive of AMBA, said that there had been a “huge amount” of poor press in India over the past 15 months that had given the impression that the UK was closing its doors to international students. However, in China there “hasn’t been such an impact,” she said.
Applications also fell by more than a quarter to part-time MBA courses, where EU students, who are not affected by the visa changes, are in the majority. Actual enrollments on part-time courses were up 16 percent, however, because business schools made a greater proportion of offers to applications, and because more students accepted the offers. Total applications to all types of MBA programs in the UK were down from 30,777 in 2010 to 26,090 in 2011. The survey took data from the 41 business schools that are accredited by AMBA in the UK.
– Times Higher Education
July 3, 2012
Report Raises Questions About Agent Ethics in China
The British newspaper The Telegraph sent undercover reporters to talk to admissions agents in China about the chances of gaining admission to competitive British universities, and the answers have proven quite controversial.
According to the newspaper, agents that represent the universities are telling prospective Chinese students that they can earn admission with significantly lower test scores than would be needed by a British student. The Telegraph has also reported that headmasters of some British schools are reporting that their non-British students are earning admission to universities while British students with better test scores are being rejected.
– The Telegraph
June 26, 2012
Cambridge IGCSE O Levels Expand Globally
The Cambridge IGCSE O Level is the most popular international academic qualification for 14 to 16 year olds, and that popularity has been on the rise in recent years. Currently, more than 9,000 schools in 160 countries offer the Cambridge examination.
According to recent news reports, Malaysia and South Africa have been playing host to rapidly increasing numbers of test-takers, with more than 100 Cambridge-affiliated schools each, and student numbers steadily increasing. This year, for example, schools in Malaysia had over 54,000 entries for the Cambridge IGCSE and Cambridge International A Levels – a 10 percent rise since 2011. In South Africa, the growth was even more significant, with the number of students growing to 16,000 – a 21 percent increase from last year.
University of Cambridge International Examinations managers in both countries attribute this rapid growth to the fact that schools around the world are becoming more and more aware of the value of their approach, as well as “the importance of an international education in today’s global economy.”
– Africa Brains
June 21, 2012